Travelling salesman case study: reduce appointment time lag

by Niharika Sisodia
on Jul 12, 2018
Using TravelTime sales routing tools to help reduce response times in London

Like many businesses, Thomas Sanderson’s potential clients often live in busy urban areas. A fast and efficient way to travel to these potential clients leads to an increase in how many clients can be seen, and/or the length of time the team can spend with any given client. More time spent with the client often leads to higher conversion rates, more sales revenue, and greater customer satisfaction.

TravelTime efficiently routes field people to multiple appointments using all transport modes. In urban areas where public transport is often very efficient, it enables sales teams to spend less time on the road and more time with clients. The wider benefits for society include fewer cars on the road, less congestion, less pollution, less noise and less pressure on parking spaces.

Thomas Sanderson sells, manufacture and service high quality window shutters and blinds. 150 self-employed designers (salespeople) service clients and drive to appointments by car because the current demonstration kits are heavy and bulky. They’re part of the Hunter Douglas Group, global leaders in the shutters and blind industry generating annual sales of $2.6 billion.

Thomas Sanderson wanted to use TravelTime to route designers by public transport, and so reduce the time the designers waste in traffic congestion, eliminate the hassle of (not) finding parking spaces, and reduce the costs (and stress). If Thomas Sanderson could reduce the time-lag between creating the appointment and the salesperson arriving, they could generate significant additional sales.

How Thomas Sanderson used TravelTime’s ‘multiple calls and routing’ feature

The ‘travelling salesperson’ problem is well-known – simply, it is to structure the order of multiple calls for a travelling salesperson, and generate their route, to minimise overall travel times. The end result is the closest we’ve came to building a travelling salesman API.

This feature is within the TravelTime API, and Thomas Sanderson data was used to develop a demonstration of how the London design team could switch out of their cars and onto to public transport. The demonstration proved Thomas Sanderson can route design teams to appointments in London faster by public transport than by car. As a result, they are able to widen their recruitment pool and hire designers without cars – people who until now, Thomas Sanderson couldn’t hire. 

The ‘Multiple Calls and Routing’ feature enables Thomas Sanderson to make a financially sensible business decision that’s also socially responsible. The team at Thomas Sanderson are now exploring further ways to use TravelTime in other parts of the business, such as surveying, and maintenance.

Problem solving

Thomas Sanderson designers currently use bulky demonstration kits, which necessitate travelling to appointments by car. Although London offers Thomas Sanderson a big potential (enquiry levels are high, and the average value of each London sale is high), the conversion rate is lower in London than in the rest of the country.

The reason is simple; the sales team need cars to carry the sales kit, and road times are high because of the congestion. The longer the time-lag between the appointment being arranged and the salesperson arriving, the lower the conversion rate.

Outside London, where driving is easier, the time between arranging the appointment and the sales call itself is 5 days; in London, it’s 10 days and growing as traffic in London grinds to a halt.

To minimise the time lag in London, Thomas Sanderson is developing sales tools and techniques to reduce the size of the demonstration kit the team use.

Travelling_salesman

Once fully deployed, this ‘Metro Kit’ will make it possible for designers to travel by public transport.

TravelTime features used

TravelTime allocates calls efficiently amongst a sales team, then routes each team member around their allocated calls, by public transport (and all other modes). Thomas Sanderson trialled this feature in Spring 2018 by comparing door to door travel times by car and by public transport in South London.

Drive times included the real time to find a parking space, buy a parking ticket, get the kit out of the car and walk to the appointment. Public transit times included waiting at bus stops and train or underground stations.

It worked. In the trial, public transport was always as fast as driving, and often faster. Much faster. And of course, it was always cheaper, created less pollution, less congestion and used no parking spaces.

What they say

“The accuracy of the drive time and public transit data supplied within the TravelTime API meant we could make informed decisions about the future direction of our business. The platform helped us rethink how we plan sales appointments, plan the hiring new salespeople and plan how we travel to the customer. These decisions have the potential to generate millions of pounds of additional sales each year”

Angela Mills – Project Manager. Thomas Sanderson

Thomas Sanderson used TravelTime to discover how they could reduce the time lag between setting up an appointment and making the call in an urban area. Routing field teams by public transport in urban areas get them there faster leading to millions of pounds of additional sales each year. More time with the client (or seeing more clients) increases conversions and unlocks potential revenue.

Routing a field team by public transport also helps the city – it reduces pollution, congestion, noise, and the pressure on scarce parking spaces. TravelTime empowers companies to make commercially sensible decisions that are also socially responsible.

Are you interested in creating a sales routing platform using travel time? We can optimise 1000s of sales people, engineers, nurses and more using the TravelTime API.

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