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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?

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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

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

Courier Drivers ‘Have to speed’ but could route optimisation help?

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.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, satnav, software, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Route Optimisation for Retail Merchandisers

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?

October 5, 2010 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Delivery, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, petrol, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, Sales, software, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Route Optimisation for Retail Deliveries Return On Investment Part Two

In my previous blog I talked about the immediate dollar benefits of reordering your retail furniture deliveries so that you would drive the least distance, saving both time and money. I gave examples of actual returns using GeoSmart’s Route2GO Lite application which is designed for anyone to use. In other words, you don’t need to be a computer geek to be able to use it. You need to understand your business.

I gave the example of getting up to 1200% ROI on a single run and this is genuinely achievable. But there are so many more benefits to be had. Lets have a look at some of these.

First if you combine the knowledge of how long it is going to take to get from the shop or warehouse to each customer, you will be able to work out how much work the vehicle can do in the trip or in a day. This has a number of benefits. Firstly it provides clarity for sales people and the sales counter of what deliveries can be achieved in a day. Imagine if a customer came into your shop wanting to buy a bedroom suite as they have guests coming in the weekend. If you can’t guarantee delivery, your store loses the sale. That being the case, the sales person loses commission, your competitor gets your sale and the would be customer will be telling people not to visit your store, even if you have great product for a great price.

In the optimised example below, we have identified not only the driving time for each job, but based on experience, how long the driver would typically be on site unloading the truck and carrying the product into the customer’s home or premises. This is of course very important when planning the entire day.

The next thing that is really important for consumers is some sort of certainty as to when the truck will arrive with their treasured new purchase. They want the experience to be gratifying and they don’t want to be waiting around in the morning for someone who isn’t going to arrive in the afternoon.

Now you can actually provide some clarity. you wouldn’t of course tell Mrs Smith that her new bed will arrive at 9:43 AM, but it would be fair to say it should arrive between 9:30 and 10:30 or perhaps 11AM allowing you to under promise and over deliver. She may have had to take time off from work to be home for the delivery. We always hear complaints about delivery people who don’t turn up when promised and the flush of excitement can quickly turn into anger and frustration.

Deliver as promised and you don’t just have a happy customer today, you have a customer advocate who will be back at your store next time she is open to buy furniture and will be recommending you to her friends. People don’t buy furniture every day, but they may do so dozens of times during the lifetime of your business. There are loads of stories showing that people favour service ahead of price, so these repeat customers will also possibly be very profitable customers who will haggle less and make a decision more quickly because they like and trust your business.

Of course the delivery people will be much happier too. Who wants to deliver to a customer who is telling them off for not arriving on time. They are just doing their job, probably what they have been told to do. They don’t need to have their day soured by unnecessarily unhappy customers.

Because we know the order we are going to do the deliveries in, we can also produce a document that tells us how to load the truck in reverse order.

Lets face it, furniture is heavy and it makes a lot of sense to handle each item once onto the truck and once getting it off. There’s no benefit in having to move things around every time the truck stops, its inefficient, hard work and wastes time.

A list like this makes life easy for the truck driver and also for the warehouse staff, ensuring that all items get on the truck in the correct order. All it actually is, is the delivery list in reverse order. That’s what this is ultimately what this is about. It’s not rocket science, yet we do need a computer to work out the optimisation because the driver doesn’t know every one way street, no right turn, median strips where the truck can’t do a U-turn.

So now we have paid a few dollars to use this application on the web. We can see that we have enough resource to do some more deliveries if we get some more sales, which will inspire confidence in the sales staff. You get happy loyal customers who will come back and spend more with you and tell their friends to do the same. You can provide a better service than your competitors and your staff will be happy in their work knowing that their day will be less complicated and they will have happy customers.

The best part is you don’t have to take our word for it. Give us a few of your old runs in the order that you did them in and we will optimise them for you for free to prove our point. No cost, no risk, no obligation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not contact us now?

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Delivery, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, location based services, map tools, maps, Marketing, new zealand, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, Sales, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Retail Delivery Route Optimisation Savings: Return On Investment Part One

In my last blog I looked at the example of a furniture store using Route2GO Lite to optimise a day’s deliveries. This time we are going to look at the payback, or as I like to call it WIIFM, What’s In It For Me.

The first thing to look at with any business investment is what you are trying to achieve. One furniture retailer we are talking to, told us that they currently achieve an average of 8 deliveries per truck per day and would like to achieve 10 per day. That’s great because it is easily measurable. Start with a goal in mind, but there is of course much more and I’m going to look at two levels of Return On Investment (ROI). They are tangible and intangible.In this blog I will focus on the tangible, but as you will read in the next one, intangible is equally as important if not more so. Bookmark or subscribe to this blog and come back to find out why.

Tangible

First you have your fixed overheads as far as deliveries go. The first one is your vehicle. It is difficult to get specific vehicle running costs for commercial vehicles. As it was explained to me, when you buy a car, they come off the production line in 10’s of thousand identical vehicles. In theory they should have the same lifetime costs. When you buy a truck or van, you will have a choice of gearbox, and everything that goes on the chassis. For example you could have a metal truck with a luton over the cab, it could be a flatbed, it could have cloth sides. It may have low gearing because it is designed to carry heavy loads etc.  This means that there is no list available that will tell you cost per km for commercial vehicles. I managed to get hold of a document that says that a new 3001 cc diesel car running 14,000km a year has an average cost of 98.4 cents per km over a 5 year life span. Obviously commercial vehicles will drive far more than 14,000km a year and will have great costs.

The best thing you can do is ask your accountant, they will be able to work it out very quickly. I suspect at best you’ll get no change from $1.30 per km.

Let’s back track for a second. What is route optimisation again? It is a tool which looks at all the stops you want to make on a journey and calculating the sequence that you should do them in, in order to drive the least distance in the shortest time.

Why use GeoSmart’s Route2GO and not leave it up to the driver? Because we have a full turn restriction dataset for routing. That means we take into consideration a variety of factors including main roads vs. minor roads (designed for faster traffic flow), one-way roads, no right turns, implicit turn restrictions where you may be able to legally turn but a large vehicle couldn’t safely complete the manoeuvre, roads with median strips where you can’t do a U-turn etc.

Proof? Don’t take my word for it. Give me some run sheets of completed days trips in the order they were done and we will process them and show you the difference. We did this recently for a firm with half a dozen routes. Half of them returned modest results, but the other half generated some significant savings. Consider that if you could cut as little as 20km off a day’s deliveries for one vehicle at $1.30 per km, that’s a saving of $26. Do that every day over a year and you have saved almost $10,000! Of course petrol and diesel prices aren’t coming down any time soon!

But wait there’s more: What about labour costs? Your truck or van doesn’t drive itself. It has at least one, or in the case of bulky or heavy items such as furniture two people on board who have a cost. What do those people cost you per hour? No I don’t mean what do you pay them. Employing staff includes all sorts of things. Perhaps office space, special clothing, phone, desk, mobile, Taxes, ACC Levies, training, holidays, insurance, management and of course all the ancillary costs of doing business, accounts, kitchen facilities, tea and coffee, bathrooms etc. I think you’re getting the picture.

Whatever way you measure the cost of your staff, they key is productivity and in the area of productivity, the simplest way of looking at it to start with from an ROI perspective is, if you can increase their productivity without increasing your overheads, you are making more money right? Let’s say you could have your driver be more productive by half an hour per working day. From memory, we work around 222 days a year after taking off weekends, public and annual holidays. Half an hour a day increase in productivity is almost 3 weeks over a year. I’m not going to guess that cost, but your accountant can tell you what that represents.

These are only two tangible ROI Factors, but they on their own already produce an impressive result.

What does it cost? What’s the catch. I’m glad you asked that question.

The great thing with Route2GO Lite is that it is a web application. You don’t buy it, you don’t pay a monthly fee, you only pay for what you use. When you are not using it, you pay nothing.It is volume based and the more you use it, the cheaper it is per use, but even at the lowest entry level it is very economic.

Route optimisation comes with 2 components. The first part is what we call geocoding. This is where we get the geographic coordinates of the address. That could be the driveway of a home, or it could be somewhere inside a complex, such as a school or a business park. The dearest this gets is 12.5 cents per address. You only do this the first time for each address, so if you have regular customers, this is a once of cost.

The second part is the route optimisation. You tell us the starting location and optionally the end location and our application then looks at every possible combination of the route many times until it is satisfied it has the best combination. This starts at 50 cents per location.

So let’s look at a hypothetical example. We looked at a typical customer trip in the furniture delivery example. We saved a vehicle with 2 staff 20km at a total of $26 savings on a standard trip.  Lets say we also saved $40 in wages. We now have $66 in savings. The cost for Route2GO Lite was 8 geo-codes at 12.5 cents = $1 plus optimising a journey with 8 stops at 50 cents each = $4. So total cost to save $66 was $5. As I mentioned, there are no additional costs, no set up costs, no monthly license fees, its pay as you go.

But wait, there’s more ROI, plus you aren’t going to dock these guys half an hour in pay, you want them to do 2 more deliveries. Well now you have time to do that, so you can increase their productivity. You probably charge per delivery, but your fixed overheads aren’t going to change much, so you will save even more.

If you found this interesting, please bookmark this page or subscribe to this blog, because there is much more coming. The ROI on this page equals more than 1200% return, but the intangible benefits also make very interesting and exciting reading, so please come back to find out how this works. Also if you know anyone in the retail industry that does deliveries, why not email them a link to this page and share the knowledge.

If you want to give Route2GO a try and get us to compare a few of your routes for free with no obligation, contact us.

September 28, 2010 Posted by | Delivery, driving, Freight, Furniture Delivery, geosmart, GIS, location based services, map tools, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Return On Delivery, route optimisation, Route2GO, Sales, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GeoSmart seeks channel partners and Systems Integrators for Route²GO Lite

We have had a route optimisation  product Route²GO for several years, but it has been at the complex end and designed for companies with a skilled IT department or systems integrators who typically work with Fleet Management companies such as Navman Wireless. This is great for the big guys who can cost justify a semi bespoke integration into their legacy systems or a new installation, but that doesn’t fit most companies in New Zealand.

We have just completed a new product called Route²GO Lite. This product can work stand-alone for people that have database skills and we are happy to offer it to companies who can deal with it, however what we are really looking for is companies who already have solutions that support people who travel in the field, mostly for business purposes of some sort. Route²GO Lite can add value to your application and of course we offer a generous income stream for software companies and channel partners who wish to add value to their products and services. It is a SAAS (Software as a Service) product and the pricing is based around usage of the services, with pricing scaled around volume usage. Please contact us to discuss how this can work for you.

Route²GO Lite has 2 components. The first component is geocoding. Geocoding is essentially generating spatial co-ordinates for each location (usually a street address, but could be anywhere, for example a jetty or a park bench for pizza delivery). Essentially a CSV file is uploaded and those addresses that don’t already have co-ordinates will have them added. The second component is identifying in which order to make the stops on a trip.

This in itself is wonderful, but software developers and systems integrators can make it far more relevant to the specific industry segment or activity, adding serious value to their products and solutions and providing a great ROI for their customers, and thereby improving client retention and increasing new sales and revenue opportunities. Future blogs will discuss more specifics about value adds. You might like to subscribe to or bookmark this blog.

Our target is to partner with companies who develop or sell and set up software solutions. Examples of the type of applications we are looking for are:

  • Sales Force Automation – Sales is often about how many visits you can make in a day, especially for merchandisers and travelling sales people.
  • Routine Delivery / Swap Out Services – This would also be a classic case for many repeat delivery type sales situations, for example delivery and exchange of gas bottles, water bottles etc. Also time critical runs such as medical test samples, the list goes on. Most business these days requires a degree of software to automate their operations, but they are usually focussed on business imperatives rather than the location logistics which are a major factor in the timeliness and quality of service.
  • Field Service Automation – There are many aspects to the field service such as Preventative Maintenance (PM) visits where time is the difference between being competitive and profitable or not. This includes meter reading, building inspections, security system maintenance, air conditioning maintenance, an endless variety of industries.
  • CRM – A lot of customer relationships are about visits.
  • Retail specialist Point of Sale – There are many software applications designed for retail stores such as furniture, appliances and other large items that require delivery. They are often good at recording the sale, collecting the delivery address etc, but there are challenges around charging a fair price for the delivery, giving the customer an estimate of when to expect the delivery etc. Route²GO Lite would replace the traditional bullseye method of doing deliveries which often can’t reflect the actual driving distance.

  • Taxi despatch applications. There are often situations where a taxi van has to pick up and drop off a number of people to different locations. It could be picking up elderly people to go to their hospital appointments, taking special needs children to school, picking up people to go to or from the airport. All of these situations can benefit from optimisation to reduce distance, time and stress, which all impact on the quality of the service, often with serious implications.
  • Security Industry software. What’s the best order for travelling security personnel for checking business locations? This can determine how many staff are needed to meet contractual obligations and provide the best service.
  • ERP and Logistics. There are many applications of all sizes from massive to small that automate the value chain in a business. Most businesses ultimately have an element that involves vehicles making several stops in one run. These solutions are designed to work together with 3rd party applications and plugins.
  • Accounting Software. On a per capita basis New Zealand has a phenomenal number of different accounting packages. Most of these support export and import of data from other sources, probably all of them support CSV import and export which is where Route²GO Lite excels.

If you have a software application that supports any of the industries listed above, or support these tpes of businesses please contact us to discuss how we can work with you. GeoSmart wants to help.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Delivery, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 10

Wow, where did the year go? This has been a huge year for GeoSmart and 10 looks to be equally exciting.  If you want to catch up with us, you have a few hours before we close for summer holidays. We re-open on 11 January.

The big one for the year just gone has to be AA Traffic. This was a long time in the planning and it has been very exciting for us to set up this real time traffic service covering all of New Zealand. Have you tried it yet? Check the Traffic web site before you go on holiday.  You will find that we have extended the free email and txt alerts until the end of January. You may have finished work, but accidents and other incidents don’t go on holiday. On the traffic page you will also find that we have Cook Straight Ferries as well as domestic and international airline departures and arrivals for Auckland and Christchurch airports.

If you set up a free account, you can have Roadwatch automatically open up to the area you live, work or play in so that you can see if there is anything you need to know about. Road works and ramp closures can be really frustrating, so this is a good place to keep an eye out for anything that might get in your way. They are time sensitive, so it is worth looking at before you get in the car, you can also click on Upcoming Events, to see if there is anything happening in the future that might make you want to change your plans.

If you haven’t already, you will see that our AA Maps website is continuously evolving with new features.  One of my favourites is the proximity feature. Pick an address or Point of Interest and you will see that you can now look for something within a 5km radius. For example if you were going to Rotorua for Christmas, you could look for  restaurants or bars within walking distance of your accommodation. You can also plan an entire itinerary, and drag and drop and drop the stops to help you fit more into your time while saving gas and carbon emissions. You can plan your trip, drag the route on the map to change the roads you will drive on and print it all out to take in the car. Of course you can view AA Traffic incidents and web cams on AA Maps as well, which again makes it a great site to check before you hop in your car.

We are thrilled to be able to give people who buy new Navman car navigation devices between December and January a free Lifetime License to AA Traffic. This is the ultimate way to get your traffic alerts. We are currently broadcasting in the greater Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch areas and more will be added in the new year. This totally changes the concept of GPS and car navigation. You can set it so that it only warns you if there is an incident on your route and gives you the option to accept an alternate route avoiding the incident. Who wants to spend their holiday stuck in their cars in a line behind an accident you could have avoided? You might have avoided buying nav because you know your way around, but you would never have known that the road was blocked ahead for the next 4 hours due to a serious accident. You will also love the ability to find your nearest petrol station, ATM, cafe etc, or perhaps a rest area, or a dump site for your campervan. And when the kids ask “Are we nearly there yet?” You can say, “we will be there in 17 minutes”:)

Of course we love our partners TomTom very much too. Their IQ Routes (which of course uses our road data)  has even surprised me on occasion in finding a new way to drive home, that I had never thought of. Other than AA Traffic, they share all the same excellent information that our other car navigation partners do.

We continue to add new data to our car nav solutions including 3D buildings, lane guidance and enhanced Points of Interest data. Car nav is a never ending part of our product development and we stay aware of all the new developments and features that our partners are planning so that we can offer the best possible data for New Zealand going forward. Of course our data collection and driving never end. The RAPIDcV continues to collect lots of valuable data and we have some exciting plans for enhancing this in the new year.

We have joined the adoption of social networking with a Facebook Fan Page where we are engaging with the public with competitions and discussion related to traffic issues. We also have a Twitter page, which we use in a similar way to share information and develop a community of people interested in supporting our efforts to share up to date information.

We have a number of new web mapping clients and several more that will go live early in the new year. For businesses who want quality map data, routing and access to our extensive Points of Interest database, our data is updated 11 times a year making sure that you can rely on our products. We feature some of those sites on our home page.

We launched the new Route2GO web service, which was a long time coming. We have so many companies who have been waiting for this and are very exciting to see new 3rd party solutions being developed that will help businesses with route optimisation as well as calculation of fair pricing for freight and travel costs. Whether it is a large transport company, a taxi service or a furniture shop with a single van, we now have a solution that will make life easy for you. We are working with and seeking new partners who would like to integrate these tools into their solutions for their clients as our model is to work with partners, not to compete with our clients in developing end user products.

There have been exciting developments in Fleet Management and we have had many new companies join us this year for everything from vehicle tracking to Road User Charges, with a number starting to adopt the concept of digital hubometers. RUC is here to stay and with over 80% of Fleet Management companies using our data, it would be fair to say that it is the standard.

We are working on many off shore projects and you will hear our name much more often outside of New Zealand, mostly with partners. A major part of our IP is the knowledge of how to build quality map datasets and then provide web services and API’s around this data.

We ran the Location Innovation Awards and in May we sent the lucky winner to the USA to attend the Where 2.0 Conference. We are going to run the 2010 Location Innovation Awards and have already had some exciting offers of sponsorship in prizes and technical support. We are changing the timing  this year to make it easy for our university partners to fit the Awards into their calendar, as we were very excited about the work that many students, especially at Massey University prepared. New Zealand has a huge amount of untapped talent and we look forward to helping the legends of the future make themselves known. Location Based Services are going to hit their straps in the next couple of years and you will see the GeoSmart name a lot in this context.

If you haven’t seen them, we now have regular e-newsletters. We used to print them, but print means cutting down trees and isn’t as multidimensional. You can find them here and also subscribe if you would like them in your inbox.

If you are still with me, thanks for reading this blog. There was much more activity that I could tell you about, but it’s time to take a deep breath and recharge, ready for the most exciting year yet in 10. I hope that you will be a part of that with us as I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and warm happy holidays. Thanks to everyone at GeoSmart and our many partners for helping to make this year the success it has been. We look forward to catching up with you soon.

December 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment