This article was last updated June 2019
What are radius maps?
A radius map — also known as a buffer map — allows you to create a radius around your data points based on distance. While this may sound simple, radius maps can be used for powerful proximity analysis. For example, you can quickly judge how many of your customers are within 10 miles of your sales rep, and much more. This is useful for increasing efficiency because you can identify areas where there is too much or too little coverage and adjust accordingly.
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How radius maps can help you
1. Focus on a particular area and quickly assess its needs
Maybe you run a number of motor repair stores and you’re thinking about opening a new store. You don’t want it to be within five miles of another location to avoid customer cannibalization. Radius maps will show gaps in coverage that may be suitable for a new store, as well as areas where existing locations are too close together. It’s a useful tool for increasing efficiency and planning future business expansion.
2. Spot trends and meaningful patterns
With so much information available, sometimes the big picture can be daunting. This can lead you to overlook trends that are unique to certain regions or even industries. For example, consider mapping for risk assessment. You can create a radius map that shows areas with a history of flooding within a 50-mile radius of every city in a state. Then, in an instant, you can see where the risk is higher, and increase or reduce insurance premiums where necessary.
3. Keep transport and distribution costs to a minimum
If you have a business that involves high transport costs, such as a furniture delivery business, then you need to keep fuel costs to a minimum. This requires that you understand how far your distribution centers are from delivery locations. Knowing this will cut down on fuel costs and optimize delivery activity. Drivers will be operating efficiently, rather than going back and forth, erratically carrying out deliveries that could have been better handled by a different distribution center.
4. Assign on-the-road personnel to the right areas
Let’s say you run a boiler maintenance business. You have a team of 50 engineers working for you, spread across the country. Every day, clients book in service appointments. These bookings are logged, daily. If you create a dataset of these and then plot them on a map, which also contains a dataset of where your engineers are based, then allocating the right person to the right job is quick and simple. In addition, you can send each engineer a map via email (or embed it on your intranet) with their day’s appointment plotted on it. Using the mobile app for route mapping, they can then plan the fastest route between all their appointments.
5. Build customer relationships
You know it’s easier, and anywhere from five to 25 times cheaper, to keep an existing customer than to win a new one. Radius maps can help you here too. Let’s say you have field sales teams that’s goal is to win new business. But what if it’s a slow day or week and prospects are short on the ground? This may be the perfect time to pay a courtesy call to existing customers. Your field sales reps can follow-up to see how customers are doing with the product or explore the possibilities of up-selling the customer.
To make this possible, you should upload three datasets: existing customers, prospects and the locations of your sales reps. Now create a radius map where your field sales reps are the center point. This will keep your sales team constantly productive. If a prospect falls through, they can look at a map and visit the nearest existing customer for a courtesy call.
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What you need to create a radius map
To start, you need at least two sets of data to make a radius map. One dataset, like your sales rep locations, will provide the center point. The other will contain the data to be placed within the circle surrounding the center point (e.g. your customer locations).
If you have two datasets, you can create a radius map by following the steps below.
1. Log in and upload your data
To begin, you need to create an eSpatial trial account and prepare your datasets. If you already have an account, log in and and select ‘Upload new data’. You’ll be prompted to select your first file. The system will create a pin map by default.
Once you’ve reached the pin map, you can add your second dataset by clicking the ‘Add data’ button on the left side of your screen.
2. Analyze your data with a radius map
Next, click on the ‘Analyze Data’ button in the control panel on the top left of the screen.
When you’ve done that, you’ll be presented with a number of different options for analyzing maps. Click the ‘Radius’ button.
3. Choose your radius map settings
Now input your preferred radius distance. For example, the radius is set to 10 miles. Use the drop-down buttons to select the datasets you want to use as the center point, then what you want to appear in the radius circle. Check the ‘Include Outside Results’ box if you would like to be able to see customers that fall outside of a sales rep radius.
4. Complete your radius map
Finally, create your radius map by clicking ‘Complete’, and it’ll be generated like the example given below:
5. Using radius maps for analysis
After reviewing the above map, it looks like the sales reps could cover a larger distance. To expand the radii, click ‘Edit’ in the control panel, under the ‘Analyze’ button. This will bring back the radius settings screen where you can choose the distance and datasets. Update the distance to 20 miles and click complete to see if it makes a difference.
On the new map, we can see that customers in Springfield and Worcester are fairly well covered, but there are no sales reps in downtown Boston. This means we can hire an additional sales person and adjust the location of the other two to better cover all the customers.
By shifting the existing sales reps and hiring a third, we can cover far more of the customer accounts without expanding the 20-mile radius.
If you’d like to learn more about how radius maps can help you analyze your business data, sign up for a free eSpatial trial or chat with one of our mapping experts. You can talk with us any time by clicking the orange chat bubble in the bottom right corner of your screen.