All businesses have coverage areas. From lemonade stands to wireless phone services, all businesses provide or sell services over a specific area. Many companies turn to business mapping software to display these critical areas of interest.
Coverage areas are important because they describe where a customer can expect to receive services. A home care agency can demonstrate how important coverage area maps are. By sharing a home care agency coverage area map for potential home care patients, families can tell in a glance if the agency is right for their loved one. Even more important in the era of COVID-19.
In addition to medical regions, coverage are maps are great for defining sales coverages, delivery zones, and service areas.
Create the Coverage Area
MapBusinessOnline provides a variety of ways to create a coverage area map. The two most direct way to achieve a coverage area map are:
- Create a shaded area on the map by importing a spread sheet of covered districts
- Manually select administrative districts on the map and then label them as a covered area or territory
Coverage areas are usually defined in terms of states, counties or ZIP codes. MapBusinessOnline can also enable shaded areas based on city limits, Census Tracts, school districts, and even Metropolitan Statistical Areas (a Census defined market unit). Usually a business will know exactly what their coverage area is based on ZIP codes or Counties.
A Coverage Map Example
Let’s assume that a business, Swizzle Sticks Are Us, has a coverage area made up of counties in the Cincinnati, OH area. A spreadsheet has been compiled by one of the sales managers.
For that spreadsheet to be converted into a coverage area map based on counties it will need to have at least two columns; one column for county name and one column for state. If that area was based on ZIP codes, only one column would be necessary. That’s because ZIP code numbers are unique – there are never duplicate ZIP codes. Counties are not unique. There are many US counties with the same name. Examples include:
|County||State 1||State 2|
|Essex County||New Jersey||Massachusetts|
|Morgan County||West Virginia||Georgia|
Get the picture? A business mapping software needs to understand County Name and State in order to plot the data correctly. This is always true when working with county data – not just for coverage area maps.
Armed with the correct spreadsheet, a user can simply upload that data into MapBusinessOnline either as a Point Layer using the Plot Data on the Map button or as a territory file using the Create Territories Button. The Create Territories approach will save a step in the process and you’ll end up with a highlight area of counties and a coverage area label. In this way a coverage area map is also a sales territory alignment map.
The Plot Data on the Map button places map points on the map at the center of each county imported. Click the button and navigate to your data. Then select the data for import and placement. The MapBusinessOnline map creator can than turn off the point layer and color shade the County Layer using the Color Code Map button (3-Puzzle Piece icon), which will then highlight the counties as a shaded coverage area.
My preferred coverage area method is using the Create Territories button on the Master Toolbar. The Create Territories button asks the user to create a map from an Excel spreadsheet. Here the process is slightly more direct. Simply navigate to your data, import your list of counties, and make sure to confirm your County layer and your “Territory name.” In the coverage map data include a column for Name and name it something like: “Swizel Stick Coverage Are.” Copy that name all the way down you list of counties.
Coverage areas can also be created manually (with no data importing) by selecting counties or other districts directly on the map using your mouse cursor. If a map user knows exactly which countries they want to display they can select a polygon search tool and run a draw line through the counties they want to include. Bring that draw line back to the beginning to complete the search. MapBusinessOnline will ask you to confirm the list of Counties being searched. You can then name that area – Swizzle Stick Coverage Area or something similar.
Using the create sales territory method for coverage area maps makes it obvious that a coverage area map is another name for a territory map. That’s OK. Just remember, when your boss is screaming for a coverage map, you can use sales territory mapping software like MapBusinessOnline to build it.
An alternative manual method is to select one county manually with your mouse, then hold down the shift key and keep selecting additional counties until your coverage area is complete. This method is nice if you are developing the map from scratch, maybe doing it over lunch with a few peers. “Hey! You forgot Cambridge County!”
This incremental process also highlights the way territories and coverage areas can be easily maintained or edited once created. Simply select a county with your mouse and click the Blue Puzzle piece icon to delete, add or update your coverage area.
Search for Business Lists Within Your Coverage Area
Business map users will sometimes want to search for business listings within a coverage area. There are multiple reasons to conduct such a search:
- To develop a list of prospect targets for sales contact
- To research a set of business resources for new support programs within your industry
- To conduct due diligence on businesses from a certain industry category
- To conduct a thorough potential market analysis
As of December 2018, Map Business Online includes a search and purchase function for business listings. Look for the Yellow Pages Icon with the Binoculars on the master tools bar. Learn more about how to search for business listings here.
Sharing Your Coverage Map
Once you’ve created your coverage map, I recommend saving the map as a template. You’ll find the Template options in the Save Map button. Name the map file and then choose Template in the drop down.
By saving the map as a template you can use your coverage map as a base map for other map projects. Open the Template and immediately save the map as a My Map file – naming it as a separate project. Now edit as required and save again. Your template is still there – untouched and you’ve created another map using your previously saved worked as a starter map. This is a smart habit to get into in map production.
Once your map is to your liking, click the Share Interactive Map button to share the map with your constituents. It’s an easy process. Choose the Public Sharing option and then Share Map. This will generate a URL that you can share for free for unlimited viewer sessions. Have your non-subscribing map viewer download the Free Map App to access the Map Viewer.
Otherwise, stick with a standard image file, PNG or Jpeg that may be not interactive but still displays your coverage area. And image files sharing is free too.
Coverage area maps differ from territories in that they quickly communicate the areas where services are provided for the customer. Territories clearly communicate areas of responsibility for service providers. Typically, coverage areas are for external communication and territory maps are for internal communication.
Some of our customers have used Microsoft MapPoint to build coverage maps and territory maps. Thousands of former MapPoint map users are finding MapBusinessOnline to be the perfect alternative to MapPoint. Similar cost, similar UI, way better support. They’ve waited in vain for a MapPoint update.
We recommend users access MapBusinessOnline via the downloadable Map App.
The Map App install is fast and easy. The Map App is a cloud-based service, once you’ve logged in you’ll have access to all of your previously saved maps and data. The Map App is a better user experience and provides access to more features than the Web App. The Flash-based Web App link will remain available until December 15, 2020.
The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for free non-subscriber map sharing.
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Contact: Geoffrey Ives firstname.lastname@example.org or Jason Henderson email@example.com (800) 425-9035