Any business that sends team members out on the road needs to be aware of drive time. Your staff have to travel the distance from Point A to Point B, and eventually to the end of each day’s route (Point Z, if you will). All those hours behind the wheel take away from time spent selling to new leads or supporting your valued customers. You want to minimize excess driving as much as possible – and a drive time map is an ideal tool for this purpose.
Fundamentals of drive time analysis
As its name implies, drive time analysis involves estimating how far your reps could travel within a certain amount of time. This can be done by selecting a central point, like a sales rep’s home or office, and using a tool like eSpatial to create a drive time radius around it. This can help you judge the efficiency of a territory, how many customers are within a reasonable drive-time of your locations, or even find clients to visit nearby when an appointment cancels. You need a detailed map to accomplish this most effectively.
For example, if reps from your field sales team are bringing in numbers that seem suspiciously low given their skill, you should look at whether they have enough leads within a reasonable driving distance.
If there seems to be enough opportunity, the next step is to analyze their routes. If the distance between each customer location is longer than it needs to be, then chances are it’s not their ability at sales that’s the issue – it’s a matter of navigation. (In labyrinthine metro areas like Los Angeles, routes can grow extremely circuitous if you’re not careful.) Along similar lines, if you had technicians who were late to appointments often enough for customers to notice – thus jeopardizing the service-level agreement you advertise to clients – the same issue might be to blame.
The drive time analysis feature within eSpatial is expressly designed to help sales and service teams become more productive. It allows you to create “buffers” from a starting or center point within a drive time map (also sometimes known as a polygon or isochrone map).
Creating an ideal drive time map in eSpatial
You can create drive time buffers in both the Maps and territories sections of eSpatial. Using this feature in Maps can help you dig in and analyze your data. Just click on any pin, select Buffer and then choose Drive Time. Once you’ve set your parameters, eSpatial will show you how far you could drive from your point in all directions within the designated time frame.
In Territory Manager, drive time analysis can help you create manageable territories. Just click on the Territories tab and select Create Manually. Based on a geographical boundary data set (available within eSpatial’s dataset library), you’ll now craft a region populated solely by locations you can reach within a certain time threshold.
If you’ve uploaded your own location data, such as your office locations, then you can select any pin on the map. If you’re starting from scratch, create a starting point either by searching for an address in the top toolbar or adding a location you already know and then dropping a pin on the map to identify it. Once you’ve chosen your starting point, click Buffer, select Drive Time (as opposed to Radius) and define the maximum time between the center point and the edge of the territory. You can make it as little as 1 minute or as many as 120, and set that parameter for up to 200 points in a single set of location data.
Use your drive time map to visualize coverage areas by time and distance and determine the most efficient routes for your road personnel. Doing so allows you to assign individual maps to each driver marked with accounts that are within specific driving distances of their starting location. This ensures thorough coverage in a more efficient manner – saving fuel costs and drive time – while better serving your clientele and bottom line.
Also, because users can access eSpatial maps when they’re on the road, they can quickly run a drive time buffer to identify any nearby clients who might not have been in their original itinerary. That’s a bonus for both employee and customer!
Using drive time maps for outside analysis
The eSpatial drive time analysis feature can do more than increase the efficiency of sales or service teams in the field. It’s also ideal for territory optimization and for finding the perfect representative for a given region or destination. Consider just a few scenarios in which eSpatial users have truly made the most of drive time analysis – some general, others specific:
- Utility dispatchers can determine how to provide faster service, by choosing the closest technician to a given client.
- Event planners can find venues located to a significant number of attendees, making logistics that much easier.
- The Minnesota-based, globally active hearing aid manufacturer Starkey created drive time maps to more efficiently plan visits to high-priority clients.
- Engel & Völkers, which provides services to more than 150 franchised real estate agents throughout North America, used the eSpatial mapping tool to optimize routes for sales reps according to drive time and ultimately plot the firm’s expansion more effectively.
eSpatial’s analytical capabilities aren’t limited to what you can do with each selected location within your drive time zones: You can also identify key points outside them to spot gaps in your coverage and repair them accordingly.
Discover how you can improve your team’s productivity using drive time analysis with eSpatial. Sign up for a free trial of eSpatial – which gives you full access to our Pro License features for 7 days – to begin visualizing and analyzing your route data on a detailed and easily shareable drive time map.