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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

Franchise Territory Mapping Part 2 with Demographics

A couple of days ago I blogged about using our new territory mapping application. In a business to consumer environment a powerful component is understanding who your target customers are.

One franchise industry I talked about was lawn mowing. One of the features of our new application is that it integrates the Department of Statistics Census Mesh Blocks. A mesh block is the smallest geographical unit in New Zealand and Australia and these can be spatially interrogated on the basis of a number of key questions asked in the Census which typically occurs every five years.

Meshblocks can vary in size from zero population to around 500 people and the information contained can be very powerful for decision makers if you ask the right questions.

So lets stick with the lawn mowing example for a bit. What sort of people would pay someone else to mow their lawns. Now I’m not in that business, but here are some thoughts. I would start with people who are time poor and have a reasonably high household income. Home ownership might be another criteria.

Our application will allow you to do your own queries within the Census data and we can even provide you with a list of all the street addresses within a meshblock that you identify as being a good target for marketing, so you can do some smart target marketing.

If you know the target demographics for your franchise business, our application will make it easy for you to determine the size of the franchise territories.

I’ve created a little example here to illustrate. Here we have a hypothetical lawn mowing franchise territory on Auckland’s North Shore. Using the GeoSmart Census Query Tool I have looked for mesh blocks within the territory using actual 2006 NZ Department of Statistics data. I’m looking for low hanging fruit, i.e. a demographic that I think would be easy to sell lawn mowing services to and probably other services if appropriate such as landscaping and general garden maintenance. I queried looking for mesh blocks which have a combined annual household income above $85,000 and greater than 85% of dwellings are occupied by their owners.


Owner Occupied high household income

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you agree that these mesh blocks would be a good area to target if I want to grow my business? So what next? Subscribe to this blog for more ideas, or bookmark it and come back for another look.

 

 

 

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, Business Analytics, geosmart, GIS, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, ROI, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Franchise Territory Mapping Part 1

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.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, geosmart, GIS, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, sales territory, software, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Business Territory Mapping

Mapping Sales Territories has always been a fundamental component in business, usually involving printed sheet maps, marker pens and perhaps map pins. You don’t want modify the territories because its a messy or painstaking job. It’s relatively one dimensional, you can’t show everything you want to be able to see, which limits the functionality and benefit you can achieve from it.

Territory management is of course very important and the map is only part of it. It allows you to delineate an area, usually to manage field workforces. It makes it easy for example if a potential client calls, to allocate resources to deal with an opportunity.

In the franchise business, the franchisee buys the rights to do business in a predefined area and the area has a value based partly on the land area, but really it is more about the number of potential clients in that area. Those clients might be other businesses, or it may be consumers. Of course the clients are then also categorised. For example if you are selling medical products for resale, your target clients are going to be pharmacies, medical practices etc. If you are offering lawn mowing or gardening services, your target market is consumers who can afford your services and perhaps are time poor.

GeoSmart is about to launch a SaaS web application which will allow you to not only create your business territories, but also to display existing potential clients, query population census demographic information from the New Zealand Department of Statistics and display that on the map and much more, as outlined in our end of year newsletter.This product will be available for New Zealand and Australia.

To learn more about this new application, please contact us or subscribe to this blog, where we will be exploring ways that you can analyse your business opportunities and results on a web map.

Creating Territories on a web map

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, Delivery, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, software, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anyone Can Use Route Optimisation with Route2GO Lite, it’s Easy!

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 info@geosmart.co.nz.

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Auckland, channel partner, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, GIS, lbs, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, optmisation, petrol, Retail Profit, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, software, systems integrator, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment