I’ve blogged about route optimisation many times recently. One recent blog talked about Fleet Management, our new BIonaMAP application and some other wonderful concepts, as ideas on how to save your business money and time and thereby increasing productivity and productivity.
I would like to break this down a little bit because there is a misconception out there that all of this technology requires spending lots of money and installing expensive equipment in your company vehicles. Let me break it down for you. There are some wonderful solutions out there, many of which are offered by our valued partners and they all have a purpose and fulfil business needs. Some business problems are complex and require complex solutions and some are simple and provide very quick return on investment.
So here is a simple problem. You have one or more vehicles which need to go out on the road and do several jobs. They may be regular runs, or they may be different each day. Let’s make it even simpler. Let’s break it down to one vehicle. You may have lots of vehicles, but let’s just look at one of them.
Here we have a merchandiser, who has to visit a number of supermarkets. One person has to visit 9 grocery stores, checking their stocks, managing the shelf placement, demonstrating new products, taking orders. As do many field sales people in New Zealand and Australia, their territory comprises of urban calls and calls out in the country and they spend a lot of their time driving.
The problem is that you can only fit so much time in a working day. You can have a pretty good idea of what order to do the jobs in, probably the order you always do them in. The other problem is that the price of petrol is going up, prices are coming down and your budget is going up. You need to get smarter.
Our Route2GO Lite application is a simple web service. There is no software to be installed, no set up fees and as Software as a Service you only pay for what you use. In this case person, who is a great sales person, spent 28 1/2 hours in the car, dead time between calls in order to make those essential visits. Route2GO worked out how she could do the same visits but spending only 22 hours in the car. Now she can either fit in more calls in the same amount of time or spend more time with each client enhancing the relationship, doing product knowledge training with their staff and increasing the average sales she generates from those clients, which reduces the pressure on her and her sales manager to get the results the company needs.
We also cut over 400km in driving distance from this sales trip. At even $1 per km that’s a lot of money going back to the bottom line.
So what do you need in order to achieve a result like this? A PC with a web browser. An account with GeoSmart and a little time. For this run which included 9 clients and returning to base with a pile of orders, the total cost to GeoSmart would have been $6.25. No hidden surprises, that’s it. This includes the fee for geocoding (generating coordinates for calculating the route) and the optimisation from the office, to the 9 stores and back to the office. Oh and the cost of a piece of paper if you want to print off the above map and route.
It really is that simple. If you want to know more, why not contact us? We’ll even do a couple of runs for you for free, preferably ones you have already done previously so you can get a genuine comparison as to whether it will work for you. This was a dramatic example, in some cases it might only save you a little, but if we could help you visit one or two more customers in a trip without increasing your fixed overheads, every trip, hat would that add up to over a year?
We have more information about route optimisation in our blogs, so why not have a scroll through and see if you can find an example that’s relevant to your business. In an upcoming blog I will explain in simple terms what route optimisation actually is and why we can do it better than you can drawing pictures on a map. The key point of this exercise is that you can achieve dramatic results without putting in any money upfront and without having to buy any technology you don’t already have. Route2GO is available for New Zealand and Australia.
A few days ago I blogged about a new application we are launching soon which will allow you to create business territories in a Software as a Service (SaaS) environment. The great thing about this is that it doesn’t require the installation of any software, all you need is a web browser and an account.
Location based business analytics usually requires expensive GIS software and people with GIS experience to operate. One of the concepts we are big on at GeoSmart Maps is providing access to this type of technology to any business people who need information, without requiring specialist skills. By providing solutions like this, Route2GO route optimisation and others in a browser environment all you really need is business expertise and the desire to improve business efficiency and profit.
The franchise industry is of course about location and often involves creating territories, which are then licensed to the franchisee. Key concerns about these territories is that they offer a viable business opportunity and are priced according to the potential earning capacity and customer base. The GeoSmart solution makes it easy to do this. First of all, creating a territory is as simple as clicking with your mouse to create a polygon covering the area of the territory. Territories can be ‘snapped’ to each other so that boundaries can align perfectly.
Where a territory comes with existing clients, they can be displayed on the map and an associated table can provide the ability to display a count of existing clients and related tabular information, which can contain any required information that can be uploaded from the accounting package, CRM or franchise software.
For example if it was a lawnmowing franchise, it could display and list each customer with their address, frequency of mowing, the dollar value per job, whether there payments are up to date, how the customer was acquired and how long they have been a client and so on. It might show the last date the client was serviced, or the next date that their lawn is due for mowing.
Within the application, Boolean queries can allow the franchisee or franchisor to visualise their clients on the web map based on the criteria in the tables. For example you could display all clients on the map that are due for mowing and use this to plan which clients to visit today. You could view the most profitable customers on a map.
You could view customers by acquisition method which could be valuable for marketing purposes, displaying all clients who responded to print advertising, letter box flyers or word of mouth recommendations. This could be analysed to identify not only what methods of marketing work, differences by neighbourhood. It is amazing how visualising information on a map can highlight information that you may not notice when looking at reports and spreadsheets.
Franchise territory mapping can be a major asset to the franchise industry, helping people quickly and easily work on their business as well as in it. If this is of interest to you, please feel free to contact us and bookmark or subscribe to this blog where we will be providing more information on how to using territory mapping to improve your business.
A story in the Taranaki Daily News this morning, statements were made that courier drivers “have to break the law in order to survive”. In effect it said that due to pay rates owner drivers had to drive above the speed limits and work longer hours in order to survive financially.
Whilst the debates continue over regulations, there may be other things that courier companies can implement that may help.
GeoSmart has a solution called Route2GO Lite which we have blogged about before which may be able to help. This cost effective service can calculate the most cost and time efficient order in which to do a set run of jobs. If a driver can do more work in the same amount of time, they will have less pressure on them. They will have the ability to do more jobs in the same amount of time or at least not have to risk breaking the law in order to complete their day’s work. Now obviously this won’t work for all couriers, but it can work for those who have a run assigned to them.
As per this blog, we will happily process a number of historic runs for free, to allow a comparison between the time and distance travelled and the sequence our service would recommend. In effect we can show the improvement at no cost or risk.
A number of Fleet Management companies including eRoad and International Telematics, who use GeoSmart Maps in their systems have a digital hubometer which means that drivers don’t have to get out of their vehicles to note the distance travelled from stop to stop for their logbooks. Of course all good Fleet Management companies have the ability to show where tracked vehicles have been, at what time as well as driver behaviour including when and where they stopped, which can assist with compliance both from a business practice perspective and for legal requirements. An additional benefit is of course the ability to claim back Road User Charge (RUC) rebates by being able to prove the distance travelled on private roads and property.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have written about Route2GO Lite, which is a web based application which allows you to calculate the most cost effective order to make customer visits on the road. I talked about Furniture Stores and how they and other bulky goods retailers can get an immediate payback. I gave examples of added value things you can do such as creating a reverse order loading list for the truck and how to use a spreadsheet to calculate other factors such as estimated time on site for deliveries.
What is perhaps a little harder to get across is that this application is really simple to use. Large freight and distribution companies and service companies employ fleet controllers, dispatchers and other management staff and possibly highly skilled IT workers, who deal with things like route optimisation.
In New Zealand, most companies have very small fleets, ranging from 1 to 5 vehicles. They can’t afford to employ technical people and just want to get on with the job. The drivers will have key skills, for example a furniture delivery driver will know how to get in and out of tight spots, they’ll know how to carry furniture without damaging it or the house it is going into. They probably have good social skills and develop good relationships with customers. The problem though is that costs are going up and customers are expecting more for less. We have clients at the top end who have taken over smaller companies who can’t compete, those who don’t have an IT Department.
We have great news! You don’t need an IT Department. You don’t need to buy any software. All you need is access to a PC connected to the Internet and a browser, such as Firefox. That’s it, no special skills (correct spelling is helpful but we have some fuzzy logic), just a desire to improve efficiency, save some time and money and perhaps provide a better standard of service to your customers.
If you’re business is in New Zealand we invite you to give us a try. The best thing to do would be to give us a few lists of routes that have previously been driven, in the order they were done. That way we can give you the ability to evaluate the route based on the order we recommend. If you can put a dollar cost per driven km, you can calculate the immediate Return On Investment. Of course as per the previous links above, there are many more ways you can benefit from this product.
So here’s our offer: We will run up to 5 routes (Up to a maximum of 25 addresses per trip) for FREE. Our preference is for ones you have already driven so we can give you a real comparison. No risk or commitment required. If you are as excited about the result as we think you will be, we will invite you to set up an account with us. You can use it as often or as little as you like. There are no up front costs and no license fees. You only pay for what you use. In effect it is Software as a Service.
Why have we done this? The way I see it is that it is about working smarter rather than harder. You are good at what you do and we are good at our speciality which is mapping and everything to do with Location Based Services.We are a New Zealand owned company. We understand New Zealand business and New Zealand roads. We want to help New Zealand businesses achieve their goals by providing simple solutions that make a difference.
So why would you take us up on our free trial? I don’t know. I could think of lots of possible reasons, such as:
- Reduce costs and be more profitable
- Reduce stress by being able to deliver to your promise
- Be able to compete with bigger companies
- Have happy customers who keep coming back and buying or using more of your services
- Be able to do more jobs without increasing resources
- Not lose sales or work because you don’t have the ability to deliver quickly
- Work smarter rather than harder, rely on science instead of guesswork
- Find out if it is as easy as I say it is
- Have happier staff who know they can achieve what is expected of them
- Have customers who recommend you to their peers
I don’t know why you are in business. It could be to get rich, it might be so you can be your own boss, it could be for lifestyle. Whatever it is, we want to help. Why not contact us today on 09 966 8730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the last few blogs I have been writing about route optimisation for retail delivery vehicles, using a furniture shop as an example of how to to achieve significant return on investment. Of course the principles apply to commercial travellers.
Take the example of a retail merchandiser. There are hundreds of people travelling around the country daily visiting supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies, liquor stores and pretty much every type of retail store. A large percentage of these people have a mix of urban and rural stores in their sales territory that they visit on cycles. Some of them are regular cycles that they repeat periodically, others may be more ad hoc.
Typically retail merchandisers change jobs or territories fairly often, which means that they will not be familiar with where their clients are, or what the best order is to visit them in. They are often under a lot of pressure to make as many visits in a day or on a trip as possible.
Route2GO is the perfect tool for these people and their Managers. Just like the retail delivery people in the last blogs, there are many factors that determine Return On Investment.
The first and most obvious one is travel distance and time. The obvious one is to look at a day’s calls, calculating the best order to do the visits in, putting in the start location which could be the office, warehouse or even the person’s home and then the end location. If it is local and just a day trip, it is going to be pretty easy to calculate the order. This will provide travel time and distance. It could also include driving directions.
If it is a longer trip which includes overnight stays, you could look at the entire trip as if it was on one day to optimise the entire trip and then cut it into chunks for each day. One of the things that is often difficult for a traveller is estimating the travel times. Barring traffic accidents, congestion etc, we can provide a very good estimate of travel time. The traffic information itself we also provide by way of the Roadwatch and AA Maps websites. For $1.95 you can also subscribe to real time traffic alerts which you can receive by SMS or email for a 4-day trip at AA Traffic. This would give you some advance warning if there are any real issues. For example over the last couple of months, many highways including State Highway 1 have had road closures due to slips and floods. Being forewarned means that you can plan ahead.
Now that you know the travel time from one retailer to the next, you can start to do some planning. In merchandising their are obviously a variety of types of call. Some are easy to plan because it is simply shelf management and the merchandiser will know which products are ranged and have an idea of how much time a call will take. In some cases they don’t even need to see the manager. By doing a spreadsheet similar to the one in this blog, you can get a pretty good idea of what you can achieve.
Obviously where there is actual selling going on, or even getting orders signed, there can be extra delays, waiting to see the buyer and time on site will vary. This comes down to experience.
As per previous examples, the immediate tangible ROI is that Route2GO can tell you the best order to make the visits in and advise you of time and distance. This can save you tie and money and we invite you to contact us and send us a couple of trips in the order they were done in and we can optimise them and return them to you so you can see the order we would recommend and what the savings would be. There is no cost or obligation to you for this evaluation.
The next obvious benefit is establishing whether, with the time saved, you can either make more calls in a day or maximise the time spent on the calls to find ways to generate more revenue. Perhaps managing shelf facings, recommending new products or doing product knowledge training. We all know that if you don’t manage your shelf facings, they can shrink as your competitors products squeeze them out. Another issue is out of stocks. In today’s economy many retailers manage their inventory on a Just In Time basis. That means that if you do not meet your call cycle, you could have a situation where you are not only missing out of sales, but the out of stock situation could be introducing the retailers’ customers to your competitors alternatives.
Optimising and planning your trips, especially out of the city means that you can also do some advance planning, making appointments with buyers, with a reasonable degree of certainty as to when they can expect you. This is of course a professional way of doing business that will help your customer relationships and give you a competitive advantage. Lets face it, everyone is extra busy these days and the easier you are to do business with, the more likely you are to get an unfair share of the shelf space.
Probably the best part of Route2GO is that it is really easy to use. You don’t need a specialist, just the ability to create a list, with addresses of the customers you intend to visit. There is no up front cost, you pay as you go, which means that it pays for itself from day one. Why not give it a try for your next trip?
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