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The Need for Speed

Zap Courier of the Bay Area uses advanced dispatcher technology to stay ahead of the field.

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Zap Courier is one of the fastest – and fastest-growing – bike-messenger services in the Bay Area. Its fleet of 15 expert riders makes more than 300 deliveries each day to clients including Levi-Strauss, Miller-Freeman, and Pentagram Design. Still, Zap’s founder, Chris Neal, 35, knows that keeping up with the digital-era expectations of 200-plus clients takes more than sheer leg power. That’s why Neal jumped at the chance to adopt a state-of-the-art computer-aided dispatching system known as “free call.” Rather than depend on “addled dispatchers” to field calls, troubleshoot problems, and assign delivery jobs or “tags,” says Neal, the free-call protocol pushes information down to the street level – literally. Tags are called out in a constant stream over two-way radios to messengers in the field, who evaluate the job requirements to determine the best rider for the job. That autonomy means real results, says Neal: “When a messenger is allowed to follow his or her own initiative and intimate knowledge of the street, the job just gets done faster.”

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For more information, visit the Web www.zapcourier.com . Alex Frankel acfrankel@csi.com is a writer based in San Francisco.