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Ageing of the workforce in freight and distribution

Baby boomers are a major part of our workforce today and play a very important part in the freight and distribution industry. I’m told that the average age of a truck driver in New Zealand today is 49. This presents positives and negatives.

The maturity and experience of these drivers makes them very valuable. They know the road, they know their vehicles and routes and get the job done. They are largely professional drivers, many of whom own their own vehicles. Many were able to do that by borrowing against their homes and the average freight company as we have discussed in previous blogs is 0-5 trucks.These operators tend to be very good at their job, but not well versed when it comes to technology. Applications to help them improve efficiencies in their work need to be very user friendly. That is something that GeoSmart puts a lot of energy to.

The flip side is that not a lot of people are rushing to become truck drivers. Many companies don’t really want them until they reach around 24-25 and have burnt out the lead foot testosterone which could be a disaster in a big half a million dollar rig. By that time, a lot of the working stock that might have gone into truck driving have chosen other career paths, or have moved to other shores such as the mines in Australia where they can earn 3 times what they can get paid in New Zealand. We can hope that they will come back to New Zealand with those savings and experience and use them to invest in their driving career back here. These people are of course extremely tech savvy and will expect to have access to applications and services such as Real Time Traffic, Route Optimisation, Car Navigation, Fleet Management and Business Intelligence.

Car navigation with real time traffic

Keeping these ageing drivers healthy and productive is a sustainability policy in itself. Providing them with tools starting with car navigation with real time traffic is a good start. It’s easy to use and whist these people may know the roads like the backs of their hands, they don’t know that there is an accident or traffic congestion that is going to stop them from getting where they are going. They also don’t necessarily know alternate routes they could be using or what the traffic conditions are there. It could be driving out of the frying pan into the fire. A device that tells them there is a 35 minute delay on their current route, but an alternate route will only have a 10 minute delay could be gold for these people. If you are looking at one of these, make sure it provides coverage for the are they are driving in and has the very latest map data as there have been many changes in New Zealand roads over the last year. GeoSmart produces new map updates every 3 months.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, territory management, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sustainability Generates Profit in the Transport Industry in New Zealand

This month I had the pleasure of presenting to the New Zealand Freight Summit at Auckland University to a diverse group of people from all facets of the transport industry. There were a number of common threads and one of them was sustainability. This is a word that is bandied around a lot, together with concepts like carbon emission trading and taxes, but I wonder how seriously a lot of companies are taking it.

One motivator is compliance. Government departments and many corporates today have KPI’s which require that they do business with companies who have sustainability policies and practices. We have responded to a number of tenders recently which have asked us to specify what sustainability practices we have put in place.

I have read many articles that say that companies which have sustainability practices are more profitable than those that don’t. Obviously the above is one good reason, effectively there are contracts they won’t win simply based on the policy.

There are of course other good reasons that also hit the bottom line. The most obvious one is the rising price of oil. If you use tools such as Route Optimisation and Business Intelligence, you can potentially do more work whilst driving shorter times and distance. That means reduced running costs, reduced maintenance costs, saved time which potentially means being able to do more work in the same amount of time and bottom line increase in profit. Whether your fleet is one vehicle or hundreds, there are savings to be made and they are easy to achieve.

Wellington Traffic 28 February 2012 1:15PM

I really enjoyed showing people AA Traffic by GeoSmart. Many of the delegates were not aware that we have real time traffic congestion information covering virtually all arterial roads and highways throughout New Zealand and Australia. There will be some announcements about this in the very near future. If you are a transport operator, how would you like to be able to see exactly where the congestion is in real time and on the same map, see your vehicle fleet?

Does traffic congestion cost your company by not letting your vehicles get where they want to be on time? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a birds eye of what was going on in real time 24/7? What would that mean to your business? We can help you with that.

Utilising technologies like this can help your company to focus on reducing overheads when the economy is tight and allows you to tell the market that you have sustainability practices, not just policies. Of course in doing so, you are actually taking practical steps to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and doing something good for your country and the planet.

Want to know more about how you can use these technologies in your business? We’d love to talk with you. Contact us today.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, route optimisation, territory management, Traffic, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Trust Crowd Sourced Recommendations?

We often hear businesses express concern about people rating products, services and premises on location based applications or web sites. There have been allegations from time to time that comments or ratings may be made by competitors or disgruntled customers, where perhaps the customer’s expectations were unreasonable.

Any of these may happen, but there is more to this situation, in fact several.

1. People are probably talking about your brand online now. The worst thing would be to not be aware of the conversation and not have the opportunity to engage one way or another. It could be to thank people for their positive feedback. It could be to address a concern they have. It is also an opportunity to share those with staff and colleagues. Often positive messages don’t get to those who need it.

2. People trust people they feel are like themselves. Generally they distrust advertising. Why? Because often advertising over-promises. I don’t need to give you examples. Next time you watch TV, study the first five adverts you see and decide whether the information is accurate. if you want underarm deoderant, would you be more likely to trust a TVC, or a friend? If you want to buy insurance or go on a holiday, same question.

3. What can you do about crowd sourced applications and the comments people leave on them? One thing you can do is develop one yourself, or with a group of businesses you are associated with. Another is to join in the conversation and have your voice heard. Another is to offer the sort of service you would like to enjoy if you were the customer, get buy in from your team and encourage your clients to share feedback.

Why

Here is an example from an applications developer called Springwise. Their mobile application has a bar code reader and the ability to scan a bar code, see what other people have said about it and why they think it is a good or not so good product. It also allows people to rate the comments or the person who left the comment. One thing I really like is that they have elements in it where you can click on an icon to explain why you gave the rating or comment, for example the product may or may not be sustainable. This one doesn’t currently have a location based element in it, but there’s an opportunity perhaps for a local developer to do something similar and get us to help.

Another application is being tested in Spain at present designed to allow people to share what appears to be a common problem there, which is where the drink you order may be substituted with cheaper quality or priced ingredients.

The bottom line is that people are talking about your brand or product. Why not get involved with our development partners and encourage the features in applications that you would like to see. Talk to your loyalty card program partners or your business association, or perhaps your mainstreet asssociation. It’s easier than you think. Talk to us:)

February 26, 2012 Posted by | geosmart, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Route Optimisation Is Simple and Accessible

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.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, Business Tools, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, location based services, Mapping Applications, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, territory management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment