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JimLewis
04-03-2007, 03:05 AM
The areas our company services for maintenance are fairly complex for someone who doesn't know the area. And our new office manager is great at managing the office, but definitely doesn't know our area very well.

So I am trying to figure out a very simple way for her to quickly check and see if a customer is inside of our service area or not.

I was hoping there was some sort of program or online map service where I could basically draw a boundary line around areas on the map that we service. Then she could type in an address and very quickly be able to tell if the customer on the phone was inside of our service area or not.

Anyone know of such a program or website?

rodfather
04-03-2007, 07:07 AM
Mapquest can do that for you...not only do they write out the directions from point A to point B, it includes a map with a heavy red line showing the route that is taken.

dave k
04-03-2007, 08:12 AM
Have you ever tried hanging a large map with a string in the center, draw the circle for your radius if you go that route? low tech but that is probably how it was done before computers and Mapquest, Yahoo and Rand McNalley also has good maps.
Good luck

supercuts
04-03-2007, 08:41 AM
perhaps you can limit it to by town only?? or try giving her a list of towns inwhich you cover the entire town and have her make your arrangements on those and simply have her take down the info on the questionable ones so you can get back to them or at least make the descion and have her call them back later.

i dont leave town which keeps my travel time and fuel to a "minimum" and still run a full schedual. it helps keep a much higher $/hr but it certainly seems your much bigger than a 100account business.

JimLewis
04-03-2007, 12:42 PM
Mapquest can do that for you...not only do they write out the directions from point A to point B, it includes a map with a heavy red line showing the route that is taken.

yah...that's not what I was asking for....

JimLewis
04-03-2007, 12:49 PM
Have you ever tried hanging a large map with a string in the center, draw the circle for your radius if you go that route? low tech but that is probably how it was done before computers and Mapquest, Yahoo and Rand McNalley also has good maps.
Good luck

I have such a map. But that's a little too low tech. Aside from the fact that there isn't any more room on our walls here. And aside from the fact that it would make the office quite a bit less attractive, it's just too dang slow. She'd have to go over to the map, find the street name on the key out of a list of thousands of streets, and then find it on the map. For someone who doesn't know the area that would take 5 minutes or more with every phone call. I am not wanting to put people on hold for that long. And I don't want to have to call them back or waste that much time either. The time spent doing that each week would be a bigger problem than I have now - which is just a minor one.

JimLewis
04-03-2007, 12:53 PM
perhaps you can limit it to by town only?? or try giving her a list of towns inwhich you cover the entire town and have her make your arrangements on those and simply have her take down the info on the questionable ones so you can get back to them or at least make the descion and have her call them back later.

Yah, that's what we're already doing. But we offer service for lawn care in about 7 different cities. And in several of them, we only service PART of the city. So knowing which parts is important. Calling them back later is what we do now too. But I'd prefer to just have a quick way to have her type in an address and some high-tech. map could just say yes or no. I know the technology is there. I am sure there's a program like this. But I don't know where.

MichaelMG
04-03-2007, 03:08 PM
I don't know of any, but I would think the delivery service industry might have such a tool. Might want to search that industry.

Good Luck!
Mike

Woody82986
04-03-2007, 05:46 PM
Could you possibly limit it to ZIP code? That wouldn't necessarily cover an entire city and you could just pound out a list of all the ZIP codes you cover for quick reference.

LwnmwrMan22
04-03-2007, 05:55 PM
I don't know of any, but I would think the delivery service industry might have such a tool. Might want to search that industry.

Good Luck!
Mike

Pizza joint, or there's a "Simon's Delivers" here, grocery delivery.

Bugs the crap out of my wife though... there's a BIG white line about 2 blocks over that they won't cross.... :laugh:

lawnMaster5000
04-03-2007, 06:21 PM
I assume you already use nextel phones.

I am pretty sure there is a mapping service that works with your phones job tracking abilities that you can draw boundaries on. After you draw the boundaries the office clerk would be able to type in an address and figure out not only if it is in your service area but possibly also what crew and what day they would be there.

I am not real familiar with this product as I dont use it. The company I do subbed snow work for is setting it up for the 07-08 season. I will talk to him for you.

I think it is called zoro or something like that. I cant find it online.

Precision
04-04-2007, 03:38 PM
quickbooks has a mapping service as well.

and lawnmaster is right, any GPS phone system should be able to do that for you.

Runner
04-04-2007, 03:57 PM
I am really wanting something that will automatically insert a certain stop into a route that is most feasible. For example; if I have about 20 routes with around 12 stops on them, when I get a new account, it will automatically tell me what route is the best one to insert it into - or better yet, do it automatically (asking first). I am told QXpress does this, and RealGreen does this. I would just like to do it for less than $3000 and an additional $1500 a year for their "support".

Precision
04-04-2007, 04:01 PM
now that I think a little more, I think it is outlook that has mapping, not quickbooks.

Fortunately, or unfortunately I am still to small to need to worry about that. I can still usually do it from my head.

Metro Lawn
04-04-2007, 05:55 PM
I'm still low tech....lol I use a city map for each of the cities we work in and push pins to show our jobs. Here is an example of one small area about 5 miles square. It does give you a good look at the concentration in certain areas though....lol

NNJLandman
04-04-2007, 06:15 PM
Try this new invention called training...just help them learn the area, i imagine they are from somewhere in your service area, try to teach the your service area, ask them to drive around, learn landmarks etc. I've worked for other lcos and didnt know the area at all. Now I know my way around most of north jersey.

Or you could try getting one of those Atlas's from the book stores usually cover several counties and areas, you can reference a street address, find the correct map and area. You could use this by saying well we service map 14, 12, 11, 9, 8 areas, highlight them or something. So when she references the map and it says go to map 7 oh well we dont service that area or she can see what part of map 7 you service. I dont think people would mind waiting for a min. or two while she checks

JimLewis
04-04-2007, 11:49 PM
Try this new invention called training...just help them learn the area, i imagine they are from somewhere in your service area, try to teach the your service area, ask them to drive around, learn landmarks etc. I've worked for other lcos and didnt know the area at all. Now I know my way around most of north jersey.

Thanks. That was a big friggin' help. :rolleyes:

Now....if anyone has an answer to my original question as to a WEBSITE OR PROGRAM that would allow me to set up a boundary, quickly type in an address from the desktop computer here in our office, and be able to instantly tell if said address is within our boundary or not, please let me know.

Otherwise, I am perfectly capable of figuring out a low-tech. solution to this problem. I can use zip codes, use a huge wall map, teach her the area, etc. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that stuff out. And I had already considered all of those options. But none of those options fix my problem right now and can be done in like 10 seconds while someone waits on the phone.

So if no such program or website exists, so be it. That's fine. But I don't need some guy from Jersey explaining to me the process of how to teach someone my local area. Smart ass responses like that aren't what I was looking for.

Runner
04-05-2007, 12:04 AM
Jim,
What about if for your needs you did this... Use Expedia, Mapquest, or one of these type programs. When you type in the destination address (your base/shop address stays in there as a default if you want), go to SHORTEST distance on the search. This will give you the number of miles away from the shop in the shortest route...which SHOULD be REAL close to a straight line out. Now, mind you - the "shortest distance" is usually by far not the quickest route there...but just for the purpose of perimeter measurement, this may be what would work for you.

JimLewis
04-05-2007, 12:13 AM
Jim,
What about if for your needs you did this... Use Expedia, Mapquest, or one of these type programs. When you type in the destination address (your base/shop address stays in there as a default if you want), go to SHORTEST distance on the search. This will give you the number of miles away from the shop in the shortest route...which SHOULD be REAL close to a straight line out. Now, mind you - the "shortest distance" is usually by far not the quickest route there...but just for the purpose of perimeter measurement, this may be what would work for you.

Yah, the problem is our perimeter isn't just a straight circle based on shortest distance. There are areas within 2 miles of our shop that we don't service. There are other areas that are 15 miles away from our shop that area within our service area. The perimeter, if you can call it that, would be a fairly squiggly line on a map.

There are several reasons why are service area is kind of akward like that. Some areas are a decent drive away from our current shop (which seems to change locations every 2-3 years) but we have 20 accounts right in that area. So it makes it worth the drive. While other areas that might be closer to our shop we don't service at all either because the demographics don't support our expensive service (most people in that area couldn't afford us) or because the area is difficult to navigate or maybe the homes aren't as densely populated. For a variety of reasons, our service areas are specific to areas where I've had proven results in year-after-year. But it's a little difficult to explain.

I am sure there's a program out there that does what I am looking for - from a PC. But I just haven't found it yet.


Something like this maybe......

http://www.download.com/Territory-Mapper-U-S-Edition/3000-2064_4-10440364.html?tag=lst-0-5

ColePyck
04-05-2007, 12:26 AM
www.randmcnally.com click on driving directions then add as many as ya want to the list

tinman
04-05-2007, 12:26 AM
maybe frapper.com

Google Earth might work. You can put digital
push pins in it for each account if u want. Not sure if you can draw a border for your area, but you may be able to say ,,, put digital push pins in a circle around your area.

JimLewis
04-05-2007, 01:36 AM
maybe frapper.com

Google Earth might work. You can put digital
push pins in it for each account if u want. Not sure if you can draw a border for your area, but you may be able to say ,,, put digital push pins in a circle around your area.

Actually, that is it! That would work!!!

I never thought of that. I have that program and I use it occasionally. But I never thought of just placing push pins all over to serve as my border. That could work, I think!

Also, I was just checking it out a little. I think with the add path / polygon feature, I can do it even easier.

Awesome. Thanks for the idea!

Envy Lawn Service
04-10-2007, 03:46 AM
Actually, that is it! That would work!!!

I never thought of that. I have that program and I use it occasionally. But I never thought of just placing push pins all over to serve as my border. That could work, I think!

Also, I was just checking it out a little. I think with the add path / polygon feature, I can do it even easier.

Awesome. Thanks for the idea!

Did that work Jim?

Or does someone need to write such a program?

Midwest Lawn Services
04-10-2007, 04:57 AM
We use Google Earth. Its a free download and allows the user to save pertinate information quite easily. It works well for us. Then, after info is received from Google Earth, we print a route, and place it in the office. Hope this helps.

Richard Martin
04-10-2007, 04:59 AM
You need something like www.ILOG.com has. I'm not sure it's going to be cheap though but you can at least call them and inquire.

MOW ED
04-10-2007, 08:56 AM
I am glad you found something Jim. I was waiting until you found a reasonable solution before I posted. '
There is software available but not for us. The 911 system has software that takes the phone number called from and gets the address or it picks the coordinates from the cell phone number to get a location of the caller. From that information the computer displays the appropriate agency to respond.

Think of how nice that would be to have your secretary answer the phone and know within 5 seconds if you cover that area.

Mayby I can figure something out here, I'll give you royalties. Good Luck this season. Sorry for the meaningless post but I have lots of snow on the ground here and I have to do something.:waving:

BSME
04-10-2007, 09:45 AM
day late and a dollar short....

that new map feature for google is pretty cool. you can save the address of every one of your customers if you like.... with that shape tool you can highlight areas you service.

I've started to use it this year so I can see where I spend most of my time

Lance L
04-10-2007, 10:29 AM
heres a couple, hundred... people that make what your looking for

http://www.business.com/directory/transportation_and_logistics/software_and_technology/software/mileage_and_routing/

Frontier-Lawn
04-10-2007, 11:53 AM
what i do is have a saved map on ms streets and trips and call it up when i need to check a address. i drew green line around and area and saved it. type in the address and if its out of that area i tell the client sorry your out of our current service area. im thinking about saying this now-(but if you can get 5 or more clients for us around your home we would expand to your area.)

MichaelMG
04-11-2007, 09:38 AM
Actually, that is it! That would work!!!

I never thought of that. I have that program and I use it occasionally. But I never thought of just placing push pins all over to serve as my border. That could work, I think!

Also, I was just checking it out a little. I think with the add path / polygon feature, I can do it even easier.

Awesome. Thanks for the idea!

Jim...I'm not sure if this is what your looking at, but I just noticed that google maps has a new feature called "my maps". It allows you to do the following...

Mark your favorite places on your map.
Draw lines and shapes to highlight paths and areas.
Add your own text, photos, and videos.
Publish your map to the web.
Share your map with friends and family.

Go to google.com/maps and click on the tab that says "my maps". It is free. Looks pretty cool.

Good luck,
Mike

JimLewis
04-12-2007, 12:29 AM
Jim...I'm not sure if this is what your looking at, but I just noticed that google maps has a new feature called "my maps". It allows you to do the following...

Mark your favorite places on your map.
Draw lines and shapes to highlight paths and areas.
Add your own text, photos, and videos.
Publish your map to the web.
Share your map with friends and family.

Go to google.com/maps and click on the tab that says "my maps". It is free. Looks pretty cool.

Good luck,
Mike


AHHH!!!!! That's EXACTLY what I was looking for. I knew it was simple. This is awesome! Thanks. I just drew out our 3 main coverage areas, saved it, and made it public. And it took me 20 minutes!

Now I can make it public and have both customers as well as my offer manager refer to it. Thanks again! This is perfect!

btw, here are the coverage maps I created:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&z=10&om=1&msid=106441387022799169963.00000111e3bbba7cf2c3a&msa=0

LindblomRJ
04-12-2007, 01:44 AM
Nice. Is the traffic feature new?

Wells
04-12-2007, 11:50 AM
That map turned out good Jim.
We use a GIS program to produce our maps, here is one of our mowing service area.

MichaelMG
04-12-2007, 12:57 PM
AHHH!!!!! That's EXACTLY what I was looking for. I knew it was simple. This is awesome! Thanks. I just drew out our 3 main coverage areas, saved it, and made it public. And it took me 20 minutes!

Now I can make it public and have both customers as well as my offer manager refer to it. Thanks again! This is perfect!

btw, here are the coverage maps I created:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&z=10&om=1&msid=106441387022799169963.00000111e3bbba7cf2c3a&msa=0

Looks good!! It would be really easy for someone to type in their address and tell quickly if they are in the service area. Looks great!

Mike