For a system which was designed purely to simplify the delivery of mail to any property in the UK, the postcode has become an essential tool in the operations of almost every business in the UK. This article looks at some of the more common and powerful applications of the Postcode in businesses of all sizes.
There are approximately 1.7 million Postcodes covering the United Kingdom - a mix of large user Postcodes for businesses who receive large quantities of mail, non-residential Postcodes for small businesses and residential Postcodes which are shared, on average, by around 15 residential properties - usually a street.
One important feature of the Postcode system for businesses is that it is hierarchical - Postcodes are geographically grouped into Postcode Sectors (e.g. all Postcodes beginning with UB7 0 are grouped together) which in turn are grouped into Postcode Districts and these are grouped into the 124 Postcode Areas (e.g. UB). This makes it a perfect framework for covering the UK from a national level to a local street level.
One of the simplest uses of the Postcode is to find out where a business or residential customer is! Punch a Postcode into Google maps and you will see - reasonably accurately - where your customer is. In general the Postcode will take you to the correct street and from there you should be able to find the house number.
This ability to locate customers, prospects or suppliers has been extended using software systems that can then take a number of locations and plan the most efficient (quickest and most cost-effective) route to create a sales persons call plan or a logistics delivery route.
Locating addresses in this way is also used to allocate customers and prospects to field sales teams where sales territories and areas are defined by Postcode (see below). For example, if you receive an enquiry from a customer whose location is in LS26 3PX then you can easily allocate that prospect to your sales person who is responsible for the LS26 Postcode District.
The most common way of defining field sales areas is also through the use of the Postcode system.
Postcode Sector or District maps are generally the most popular maps for this purpose as they offer a a contiguous and complete coverage of the United Kingdom and can be allocated to named sales people based on the persons home location.
But using the Postcode can also make it easier to ensure that your sales people have the same workload or sales opportunities.
Using your customers Postcodes, you can run some analysis to determine the number of customers in each Postcode District and then allocate Districts to your sales people, adding up the customers as you go, until your sales people have an equal number of customers to visit.
This approach can help reduce one of the biggest causes of conflict in a field sales force - who has the most sales (and therefore commission) potential.
Franchise businesses have boomed over the past 30 years allowing people to have the opportunity of being their own boss with the security of the backing of a large successful business. Most franchises plan their network using the Postcode to ensure that franchisees do not encroach on other franchise areas.
In many cases, a Postcode District based franchise map (which illustrates for each franchisee the area they are allowed to trade in and market to) is provided as an appendix to the franchise contract.
Franchises can benefit from wall maps of their franchise areas to clearly visualise franchise territories and also from software to help analyse, plan and create the optimum franchise structure.
Most businesses rely on Postcode information in some way, so if you have a need to analyse, map or plan using Postcodes then just give us a call or send us a message and we'll be glad to help.