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We Are Excited About the Franchise Expo in Auckland

We are exhibiting at the Franchise Expo in Auckland which runs on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland.

We will be demonstrating our new BIonaMAP application which has now been officially launched and from day one fully supports all of Australia and New Zealand.

BIonaMAP allows franchisors, franchise consultants, sales managers, service managers, distribution and the franchisee themselves to see what is going on in their business on a map. It allows you to create territories on a map on your browser, ask questions about your customers, prospects and analyse your business, viewing the results on a map without having to install any software.

Which Territory Does An Address Belong To?

It will allow you to download reports from your Accounting Software, Franchise Software, CRM and visualise what is going on in your business on a map. You can print off maps, publish aspects of the reports such as a query on a unique territory to a web page with custom controls and much more.

Features include being able to locate which territory a new prospect or customer belongs to. The ability to create territories using your mouse and snap them together so that noone gets missed out.

A powerful feature is the ability to query Department of Statistics Census data. If you know the demographic of the type of customer you are looking for, you can run queries and see the results on a map.

You can display your customers on the same map to see if what you think is your perfect customer demographic is in fact where you business is coming from.

There are so many features, you really need to come and visit us at the expo so we can discuss your unique business and how we can help.

A picture speaks a thousand words and can allow you to really understand what is going on in your business.

You can see more on the BIonaMAP website, but we would really love to speak with you in person about your business whether you are a consultant or business analyst looking to assist your clients, or you are a franchisor or startup, looking at how to really understand the growth opportunities for your business, how to create and manage fair and successful territories, we have a solution.

BIonaMAP is totally browser based and what we call Software as a Service. This means you can use it anywhere you have Internet access. No installation costs and you are in control of your data and how it is used. Please come and visit our stand at the Franchise Expo. If you do plan to visit, get a FREE EXPO PASS from this link. If you can’t make it, then please contact us on phone 09 966 8730 or email info@geosmart.co.nz and we will get back to you.

July 23, 2012 Posted by | driving, education, Fleet Management, foursquare, Freight, ICT, navman, new zealand, Return On Delivery, Reverse Geocoding, Rugby World Cup, SaaS, school, Sport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harnessing Your Business Data with a Map

There was a very good article on from eMarketer this month about the difficulties for online retailers in accessing, sharing and analysing information about their business. This is something we have found relates to all business, not just online. Business is all about numbers and understanding what your customers want and when. It doesn’t matter if you are a bricks and mortar retailer like the very successful Briscoes, a supermarket chain selling high volume for low margin or a company with a field sales or service workforce. Success comes down to being able to access quality information.

In retail the key information tends to be about stockturn, aged stock, shelf space, gross profit by product and category and so on. Retailers and department heads will have standard exception reports that arrive on their desks, daily, weekly and monthly and they will make their buying and promotional decisions based on these reports.

As per the table, research shows that often data is used for the key purposes of business as usual, but often it is only available to a few people and there is very little use made of information about who the customers are, where they come from, the context in which they do their shopping and much more.

GeoSmart’s BIonaMAP is a tool that can allow companies to visualise more information in a way that allows them to look strategically at location based information about their business. It might be a retail chain deciding where to place their next store, a loyalty program that wants to understand their customer demographics or a sales or divisional manager wanting to create fair and manageable sales territories.

By combining information from the Point of Sale system or the financials with a map, it becomes possible to cut through the clutter and see the big picture. BIonaMAP is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. What that effectively means is that all you need in order to use it is a web browser and an Internet connection. You don’t need to install any software.

Now you can share information with whoever needs it, management,sales and marketing, business partners and suppliers. It might be about where your customers live or work, which ones use one of your products but not another. It might be customers within a certain distance from a store or using demographics to decide where best to place your next store. The potential is limited by your imagination and currently to within Australia and New Zealand. Effectively anything that has a location element to it and where data can be exported as a CSV file from your financials, CRM or other application can be interrogated within BIonaMAP.

Do you suffer from death by spreadsheet or wish you could see the big picture, large corporate, franchise or SME, we would like to talk to you about how to harness your business data and increase your productivity and profit.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, geosmart, GIS, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, sales territory, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose territory does a new prospect belong to?

Does this sound familiar to you? We talk to companies all the time who have problems with who to allocate a new customer or prospect to when they ring the sales or franchise company or call centre. Sales territories have always been a bit of a problem to deal with, but this will no longer be a problem for people who use GeoSmart’s new BIonaMAP business intelligence SaaS (Software as a Service) application.

Old school BAU (Business As Usual) is still the way most sales and service companies work. They pin a map on the wall, draw the territory on it with a sharpie pen and write the name on the map. There are always arguments over whether a territory includes both sides of the road, where the suburb boundaries are and don’t even start about what happens when you want to modify a territory.

Queen Street

If the call centre or people taking the calls don’t have access to the map when new customers ring, there can be major time wasting and potential for problems ensuring that the right person is dealing with the client quickly and professionally in order to secure new business. There are also issues over making sure the address is correct. There are a dozen Queen Streets in Auckland and we have heard plenty of stories about people driving up and down a road in the wrong suburb looking for a client they are meant to be meeting with. Then there are vanity suburbs like the person on Remuera Road who say they are in Remuera, but they are actually in Newmarket and knowing which numbers of the street belong in which territory. It is a problem that has been around for years.

This problem goes away with BIonaMAP and there are a number of ways that we can deal with it. Some companies are simply going to use a query on the BIonaMAP home page which effectively allows you to start entering the address, with an autocompleter allowing you to select from a drop down menu to get the right one. Some companies are going to integrate this function right into their accounting software, CRM or other business database application, which means that the full correct address with Post Code and correct suburb as well as the coordinates are recorded into the right fields.

What makes this different? Database applications on their own can deal with suburbs or post codes, but typically can not deal with spatial queries, i.e. in what territory or polygon does this belong to? The answer effectively will be one of the following:

  • It belongs in Territory X.
  • It appears in Territory X and overlapping Territory Y (e.g. a sales and a service territory)
  • It doesn’t appear in any territory

If this is an issue that you have to grapple with in your business, why not contact us and ask us how BIonaMAP can help you?

BIonaMAP is available for New Zealand and Australia and has a host of location based business analytics capability. It is Software as a Service which means no software installation and it can be accessed by using a web browser. We also welcome inquiries from sales, service, franchise and other business consultants, resellers and systems integrators.

May 1, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, systems integrator, territory management, 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

How we are helping the future greening of New Zealand

A couple of statements by David J. LePoire drawn from his essay “Beyond (Conventional) Renewable Energy?” caught my eye this morning. He said that “If energy use had grown as fast as the economy, the United States would be using an estimated 60% more energy than it does now. We’ve improved energy use in buildings, electrical appliances, cars and industrial processes. These applications are often motivated by cost savings.” There are often stories about how companies who focus on sustainability in a concerted way will become more profitable as a result, but often there is little information on where the increased profitability will come from.

There has been a lot of discussion about how green New Zealand really is and which initiatives are going to help us go forward in the way I believe most Kiwis want toThe elections are close and the parties are all telling us what their policies are going to be.

Meanwhile there are many companies who are just working business as usual with an eye to a better future. GeoSmart is one of those companies. So what are we doing?

First, we have driven every road in New Zealand for many years, but in the last few years we have been driving with phenomenal technology put together in New Zealand by Kiwis, which allows us to map New Zealand roads to sub 1 metre accuracy even when there is GPS shadow or at times (not uncommon particularly in the South Island) where there is no GPS sugnal available at all for periods of time. Tests show that we tend to be accurate to around 15cm which is as good as I believe you can get without having surveyors and laser theodolites on the ground.

This in itself means that we are able to provide highly accurate data to users of our routing web services, such as AA Maps and mobile applications such as Rugby2GO. It means that people will not be sent up paper roads that don’t exist, confirms speed zones and intersection controls and other information that doesn’t always get provided to us by the authorities.

Quality routing means that people can get the best routing information to meet their needs. For example the shortest route is often not the fastest.

We also collect road inclinometer. That is the rate of incline on hills, of which we of course have many in New Zealand. Our car navigation clients are getting more involved in eco-routing which means you can choose the route which will consume the least fuel. That means that effectively, irrespective of what type of car you drive, you can save money while also helping to save our environment.

We are also collecting data about the camber or angle of the corners. Because of the volatile nature of our country with frequent earthquakes, floods and slips, geothermal activity, the condition of corners may change. When a corner changes and noone knows about it, this can be the cause of serious accidents, such as with large trucks and trailors who may be obeying the speed advisory signs, but the conditions have changed since they were set. We are working with sophisticated Fleet Management companies who are going to use this data, combined with their knowledge of their clients’ vehicle set ups, roll over specifications and load information to alert drivers that they may be going too fast for the conditions of the road. This can save insurance conmpanies millions of dollars, not to mention reducing the inconvenience of motorists having to deal with travel delays as the incidents are examined and detours put in place.

Another major area for us is real time traffic. You are probably aware that we built and maintain the AA Roadwatch website and and provide services including real time accident, incident and congestion data throughout New Zealand and Australia to major car navigation brands. AA Spokesperson Simon Lambourne was quoted in an article in the NZ Herald earlier this week that studies have shown that “when 10 per cent of drivers use real-time traffic information to avoid jams, journey times drop 5 per cent for everyone.” Find out more about AA Traffic by GeoSmart here.

Route optimisation is becoming more important. We have written a number of blogs on this topic and more and more companies are coming to us to use this service and variations of it. Essentially  if a person has a number of sites to stop at during a day’s work, our SaaS application Route2GO Lite geocodes and calculates the best order to make those visits in, to drive the least amount of time via the most efficient route. This results in increased productivity and reduced overheads. It is also sustainable. Are you able to tell your clients that your business uses technology to benefit the environment as well as the company’s bottom line and provide better service to boot?

Talk to us about how we can help you become more sustainable whilst increasing profit.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Australia, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, driving directions, geosmart, gps, Mapping Applications, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, SaaS, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding Location To Loyalty Card Apps

There are obviously lots of different kinds of loyalty cards. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 cards ranging from Coffee Cards through to Airline Frequent Flyer Cards. I have so many I can’t carry them all in my wallet, which is unfortunate when I find myself in a position to use one. I do carry a Smartphone, so there are opportunities to carry apps. Many retail companies in New Zealand now have apps, mostly on iPhone and Android. They range from cafe’s and fast food companies to tourism and banks. Features include the ability to order food from a specific store, the ability to view the store on the map, make reservations and view points.

A lot of companies have had back on using Smartphone applications for loyalty programs on the basis that there are not enough people using them. At the last Social Media Club Auckland event one of the panel questions was what is the penetration of Smartphones in New Zealand. No one had an answer as the telco’s generally don’t want to share this competitive information. However in this month’s IT Brief there was a quote from Tony Baird of Vodafone saying that 66% of their mobile users now have Smartphones. That’s pretty high penetration and growing rapidly as is their data traffic which grew from 60TB in June last year to 135 TB in June this year. It would be reasonable to expect at least Telecom to be showing similar penetration.

So, in my last post I talked about a number of aspects of getting to know your customers. Given the statistics in the poll on my previous blog almost 70% of loyalty card holders do not specifically head to shop at a store where they have a loyalty card. In effect this says that the loyalty card in most cases is not attracting people to do business, or effectively be loyal to the retailer or group who invest a lot of time and money into the card systems in manufacture, distribution and all the other aspects of running a loyalty program.

What is missing? I believe that one aspect is not really understanding the customer. Let’s start simple. How do you get a loyalty card? Obviously it varies. Some cards like a coffee card are as simple as the retailer offering the card to a customer when they are in the store buying a coffee, the retailer invites them to start using a card, typically offering your 11th cup free. At the other end of the scale there are forms to fill out, which confidentially provides the company with significant information about the person. This may include:

  • Home address
  • Home and Mobile Phone numbers
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Interests
  • Family details e.g. single, married, children under or over a certain age
  • Occupation
  • Email address

In theory this enables the loyalty program to target information to the member and under strict Direct Marketing opt in guidelines, make offers to the members, which typically comes in the form of eDM’s and Direct Mail. The latter is a very expensive form of marketing as is normal advertising such as print, radio and TVC’s. For many industries and products this is tough business. How often do you buy a lawn mower, a TV or an iPhone? The marketing only works when you are open to buy. I recently purchased a new lawn mower, but it was the first one in over 10 years. If I had kept every lawn mower advertisement that arrived in my letter box trying to sell me one and looked at the creative, print and distribution costs, it might have been cheaper for them to give me a lawnmower. Of course all of this advertising is focussed on products that everyone is selling, there is very little focus on products that are unique. Everyone has a promotion on a printer, a TV, an iPhone which forces everyone to focus on price, heavy discounts and the consumer wins if they are looking for that product. Profits up the value chain are massively eroded through the competitive pricing and costs of marketing.

Data Mining and Business Intelligence are already used by some companies and very soon GeoSmart will be launching the much anticipated BIonaMAP we have discussed in many blogs in the past. This will allow companies to better understand their customers on the basis of the data provided, including the ability to view their customers and query their information in relation to the Department of Statistics mesh blocks and area units.

Canberra Income $100,000+

In this example we looked for   where the average household income in Canberra (yes we do Australia too) is equal to or greater than $100,000. If we were looking for loyalty members who had higher than average discretionary spending capability, this could be a very useful tool for target marketing. We could potentially make special offers by overlaying our loyalty card members in this SaaS (Software as a Service) application and then querying them from a combination of the information we have about them and the information the statistics department has about people in the area.

In the coming blogs I will get into more detail about what the implications are from the perspective of location, but like anything you need to start at the beginning and in many cases as I have outlined,  scatter gun marketing, throwing leaflets into letter boxes does not effectively target people who might change their behaviour in favour of your product or brand.

The key to loyalty is a relationship and this comes from engagement. You don’t engage well by putting something in someone’s letterbox. You engage by understanding who they are, what their needs are, when they are out and about and open to buy. As a retailer with a loyalty program you have huge amounts of information about your clients at your fingertips, which is untouched.

Here’s a simple example to finish this blog. Paper Plus not only supports Fly Buys, but they also have their own card called My Big Deal. They run promotions for people who use that card. Right now they have a sale on certain children’s books. If you buy the books using your loyalty card and they store that information, they now know (if they didn’t ask in their registration form) that you either have children or have a relationship with children, perhaps as a grandparent. So they know you buy children’s books. This is valuable information that you could take advantage of in your proximity based marketing application.

More on the location based aspect for apps is coming up, now that we have covered some basics. If this is of interest, please bookmark or subscribe. If you know of someone else who might be interested, why not send them a link? If you would like to discuss these concepts with us about your own business, please contact us.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Print Advertising, proximity based marketing, Radio Advertising, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, territory management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dealing with Increasing Oil Prices for your Company Vehicles

In this morning’s NZ Herald, senior AA Analyst Mark Stockdale was quoted By Mathew Dearnaley as saying that there may be further pressure on petrol prices this week. The article pointed out that only part of the oil price increase has been passed on to consumers and the tense situation in Libya and other parts of the Middle East mean that the barrel price of oil could continue to increase dramatically.

It is clear that we have now well and truly crossed the psychological barrier of $2 per litre of 91 Octane petrol in NZ and I would be surprised if we drop below it again even if Saudi increases their oil production as suggested. AA’s Mark Stockdale made some good suggestions on ways to save fuel, all of which made good sense, especially if you own your vehicle and are paying for the fuel yourself.

I’m not saying they don’t make sense for all vehicles, but if the cost comes from your own back pocket and we have now crossed the psychological $2 barrier companies are also going to feel the pain and need to look at ways of saving money on their vehicle running costs.

You will remember the story of how to cook a frog. In 1869 Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that if you put a frog into a pot of water and heated it very slowly, the frog would not attempt to escape. Why he was doing it was another story which you can read here. The anecdote is important because we haven’t fundamentally changed our driving habits. Many of us have lead feet and as lovers of driving and fast cars, users of air conditioning and other features, we waste a lot of fuel. Perhaps the new price increases will make us jump out of the boiling water and modify our driving behaviour.

Many companies have been driving smart for some time. For example, large commercial fleet companies have been running with Fleet Management solutions using GeoSmart Maps for years. Many get total ROI from being able to claim Road User Charge RUC Rebates, which is being able to prove when they are driving on private roads or property. That means that the added benefits are free. Fleet Management uses technology to monitor many aspects of driver behaviour with a view to being able to improve driver training. For example it can monitor aspects such as harsh acceleration and braking, idling time is another aspect that consumes fuel.

Car Navigation is another tool that has been under rated. But lets look at some facts. If it costs over one dollar per km (before the latest fuel price hikes) to drive a relatively small vehicle (not counting staff costs and other items), what does it cost to run commercial vehicles? Can you afford to pay people to drive in circles looking for their next stop?

A new feature in car navigation that we have blogged about before is AA Real Time Traffic. This is a service that provides real time information advising of accidents, incidents and real time congestion covering all of New Zealand. This service is available on AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and as well as TXT and Email Alerts. What is really exciting is that you can now get this information direct to you car navigation devices including selected models from brands including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, and Pantera. This page shows how it works. If you consider how much time you have spent in congested traffic, wouldn’t it be great if you could be informed about incidents before you get stuck behind them. Note AA Traffic doesn’t just cover State Highways, it covers all arterials as well, so only really leaves out small residential streets. We are now discussing how to get this information into the Fleet Dispatch rooms of freight, distribution and service companies who are managing vehicle fleets and could better manage their operations if they can see their vehicles and the traffic incidents concurrently on the same map.

You may have noticed a number of references to the NZ Automobile Association. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZAA and as such are very much involved in helping NZ motorists, consumer and business and the initiatives in this blog outline many of our activities in this space.

Route Optimisation is another tool that has suddenly gained popularity. GeoSmart has offered these services for around 5 years. In effect the concept is that if you have a number of vehicles, we can tell you what order they should do their stops in, in order to drive the least distance and time. This doesn’t just take the shortest route, it takes into consideration aspects such as which roads have the least number of stops, the speed zones, the angles of corners, turn restrictions and more. It is a complex and involved problem which we have automated into an application that can be run from a web browser on a pay as you go basis. We blogged about this last week when we first heard of the $2 jump.

We made the offer of a fee trial whereby we will use Route2GO for free over up to 5 previous runs to allow you to compare the route driven, with what our recommendations would be. Many of the results have been astounding with time improvements of between half an hour and 2 hours on a run, with significant savings in fuel and other overheads, as well as the ability to do more work in the same day without an increase in fixed overheads. That offer is still available and of course the payback is now significantly increased.

So, if you have company vehicles that are more than just commuters, you may like to contact us and have a chat about how we can help. You can email us for information or a flyer or contact me (Luigi Cappel) direct on 09 9668768. We would love to help you save money, increase productivity and profit and remain competitive in the marketplace. Many companies will be forced to increase their prices and this will of course impact on inflation. On the other hand companies who work smarter could keep their prices the same or in some cases even reduce them. Historically those companies have increased their market share and in some cases taken over weaker competitors who didn’t think smart.

There are a few choices. One of them is to suffer and complain, the better one might be to contact us and see how we or are partner companies can help you prosper despite the difficult times.

I like the saying that there are 3 types of people and businesses. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Which are you?

March 6, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, satnav, software, territory management, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Petrol Price Hikes and Route Optimisation

If you are in business and have a fleet of vehicles on the road, you will be very aware of the increase in the price of petrol. This morning’s story in the NZ Herald Business Section suggests that fuel prices won’t be going down soon. There is of course the tension in the Middle East which has driven oil prices as high as US$103 a barrel and the NZ exchange rate has suffered not only with the Christchurch Earthquake, but also the expectation that the Reserve Bank will cut the cash rate on March 10. This makes our currency less attractive and we have dropped 2 cents against the US dollar in the last month.

One option is to shop around. Cardlink has a website called Pricewatch, which shows what people who have their fuel cards are paying, but of course these are discounted prices. Prices vary around the country, but even then you will struggle to find anything below $2 if you consider $1.999 as being below $2.

The AA Petrol Watch web page suggests that the oil companies have only passed on half their increase in costs, so far. There has also been talk of shielding Christchurch of increases which is great, but of course the rest of us will have to subsidise that.

The problem from a business perspective is that whilst our running costs increase, our clients expect to pay the same or less for our products and services. If your products and services involve distribution, delivery or field work, this becomes a serious problem. This is a problem that GeoSmart may be able to assist with.

Our solution is Route Optimisation. We have a solution called Route2Go, which you may have read about in previous blogs. In simple terms, give us a list of the jobs that a vehicle has to do in a day and our solution will advise you which order to do them in, to drive the least distance and in the shortest time by calculating the fastest route. Even without the price rises in petrol, this is saving clients a lot of cost, but now it is even more attractive.

The best thing is that we offer you the chance to evaluate this product in relation to your unique business for free. As per the PDF which you can download below, if you would like to send us the addresses of 5 existing daily runs (we don’t need to know the names of the companies, or will provide a confidentiality agreement) in the order that they have been done, we will optimise them for free and send you the results.

Route2GO is a Software a a Service (SaaS) application which means there is nothing to install and no set up fee. You simply pay for the number of locations you optimise to. With the results of the free trial, you will be able to see exactly what your savings can be as a result of using the service.

What have you got to lose? Try us now. Please note this service is currently only available in New Zealand.

Route2GO Flyer

P.S. Did I mention green? If you are reducing the distance you drive you are of course also reducing your carbon footprint.

P.P.S. Optimisation can also mean that you can fit more jobs into a day without increasing your fixed overheads.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Tools, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, new zealand, petrol, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, Sales, software, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Analysing Car Sales Using Web Map Part 2

Last week I blogged about analysing your car sales (picking an industry at random) from a dealership on a map. I looked at comparing sales between reps by looking at where the clients lived on a map.

The concept is that we have a rich amount of data about our customers, especially when it is large ticket items and their are warranty and other ongoing commitments, not to mention the desire for repeat business. I used examples such as gender, personal or business use, age group, whether there was a trade in and so on. There is of course a lot more information available and there are also of course KPI’s. Please note that in order to do the things I’m talking about, you do not need expensive GIS software or specialist engineers. You already have the people you need, although in some cases an external consultant may help you see things from a fresh perspective.

Selling high ticket items like cars, real estate, quality furniture and furnishings is a tough business, especially in New Zealand and Australia. It’s competitive and the industries also have high staff turnover meaning that personal relationships are likely to be lost. This means that business intelligence and the ability to data mine becomes a lot more important. But at the risk of playing a broken record, finding useful information from your CRM or accounting software other than basic information is difficult. Now most companies in these industries have done business a certain way for many years and often the sales people go from one company to the next, staying in the industry and reinforce the concepts that this is the way the industry does it and we know the industry.

Our focus takes a different tack. These industries have leaders who swim against the current and use whatever technology or new ideas they can find. Are the over achievers or sales champions working harder? I would argue that most of them are working smarter rather than harder. The difference is that they look for ways to work smarter, whereas the other 95% plus use what they are given. The fact that you are reading this blog puts you in the top 10%. I’ve been told that in the industries I’m writing about here, the Pareto Principle is actually way out. They say that the best business is actually done by less than 5% of the sales people.

So what can you do as a company to improve your odds? How about trying something different? Let us help you find the low hanging fruit that has been eluding you. Lets use some business intelligence and move on. Now ideally what I am talking about would start at Head Office with the Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Financial Controller or perhaps all of the above. Who is motivated to increase your profitability and productivity? How can you make it easy for your branches or dealerships to improve their performance?

In the last blog we talked about measuring performance at the dealership level, by the dealership. I’ve been in those offices and seen sales people going through the accounting system looking for people or companies whose leases are about to expire, or who last made a purchase 3-5 years ago and making prospecting phone calls. I’ve seen them cold calling using Yellow Pages or other directories. I’ve attended some of the sales meetings as a guest and seen the white board which shows the branch budget by model, the sales to date for the month and the stressed looks on the faces of all involved whose income and livelihood depend on achieving those targets. It’s very seat of the pants and very reactive.

Imagine if at head office, you could provide the dealerships with business intelligence that increased branch sales nationally. If you could give them information that allowed them to increase productivity and profitability and at the same time increase your brand market share. Wouldn’t it be nice to achieve the KPI’s you or the manufacturers are setting? Selling the cars (or whatever your product is) that have the higher margins, or perhaps more accessories which carry that extra margin.

How? I’m sorry but I’m going to tease you here. Have a look through the previous blogs here because a lot of the information I have to share works across multiple industries. Bookmark this page because I am going to write Part 3 of Analysing Car Sales Using Web Map some time in the next few days and give you some specific examples. Where are your potential low hanging fruit? Do you want to pick them? Jump on the school bus and drive through the opposition.

Drive through the opposition

Of course you can also contact us and discuss how we can help you or ask for a demonstration. You can also email me directly. We would also like to hear from business and franchise consultants looking to add tools to their toolbox.

Also please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions here on the blog, we welcome your feedback.

January 26, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Car Sales, competition, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Real Estate, ROI, SaaS, sales territory, software, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Analysing Car Sales Using WebMap Part 1

This can apply to any segment, but lets use car sales as an example today. Lets imagine you are Sales Manager for a car dealership. You have a budget to achieve and you need to understand what is going on in your territory. You have 6 sales people, each has a unit and dollar budget and you have a budget for each model of car you have on offer.

You have got some excellent sales history, because you are selling big ticket items and you know where the people live who purchased your cars. Using the GeoSmart Business Visualisation Application you can see the locations of all the cars sold in December.

Small Car Sales

In this example, you are looking at small engine car sales from your dealership in an area of Auckland’s North Shore. This already shows you that you seem to have made sales in clusters of area, but there are other areas where you haven’t made sales of this class of vehicle.

Now lets think about other things you can do. First we can also overlay in different colours, car sales for December of your other models. You can display each model’s sales in a different colour. Now you may start to see some change, you may see that you get clusters of SUV or high end sedan sales in other areas, or you may still see gaps.

Another thing you can do as a separate view is look at all sales by one of your sales people on the map. In the same way as you did with the car models, you can assign each sales person a colour and display their sales on the map at the same time. You may again see some interesting things. Maybe one sales person is getting more sales in a particular area. He may be using a referral technique that the others can learn from. I’m being simplistic and generalist here, but there is always going to be a reason for the results you are getting and these reasons are often impossible to find using spreadsheets and tables on their own.

Another query you could run is viewing car sales per sales person by model, comparing them with other sales people per model on the map.

Given that you have sales history for each month, you could do the same sort of thing by visualising the above information by date. Assign a different colour to each month and you can then view each map and see if you can spot any trends. In your financial systems you have a wealth of information and we provide the ability to query that information and display in on the map. For example, some of the things you might query are:

  • Gender of the purchaser?
  • Age Group?
  • Have they purchased from you before?
  • What was their last car? Same brand or change? Larger or smaller?
  • Was there a trade in?
  • Was it a profitable sale?
  • Was it for work or personal use?

The industry produces statistics each month. The latest reports on the AA Website say that the top selling model for December 2010 was the Toyota Corolla, but also interesting was that second was Toyota Hilux and third was Holden Commodore. So we have small to medium sized cars as most popular, but light commercials coming second and larger sedans coming third. Obviously there is much more to it and the dealership will have much more intelligence. The key here is whether the same trend is happening in your area and how you can capitalise on that knowledge, something I will look at in further blogs.

If this is of interest, please subscribe, or bookmark this blog and if you know anyone to whom this is of interest, why not send them a link. In business we all have a wealth of reports, but it is very easy to suffer death by statistics. There is an old adage that a picture speaks a thousand words and maps are a great way of delving into your business data to find knowledge that may otherwise remain hidden.

If you have questions, or would like to know more, please feel free to contact us.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Analytics, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, lbs, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail Profit, ROI, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment