Site Selection Mapping Projects – Decision Making Tools for Expansion Planning

One key element of business planning that lends itself nicely to business mapping is site selection. Whether your company is building from scratch or rebuilding, new sites are always a significant investment for any business. Selecting the best locations for a new building, storefront, manufacturing facility, or warehouse can be stressful, complex, and challenging. business mapping software offers a variety of features that can help organize the site selection process and narrow down the options so that a decision-making team can sort through impacting factors and land on the best five to ten candidates.

Depending on the extent of your site selection requirement,  you may require several types of maps that work together to narrow down the options. For example:

  • Urban area site selection map. A first-pass site selection process could determine the best two or three cities to support your expansion plan. Considerations at this level could include the best neighborhoods, crime stats, school systems, and perhaps a retail outlet inventory.
  • Demographic mapping to investigate customer or workforce characteristics. Population, ethnicity, and med income levels are likely demographic indicators.
  • Real estate maps display property options for employee home purchases, rental options, and city benefits.
  • Competitor maps that make clear any impact competing interests may have on your plans are valuable. Competitor maps also tend to illuminate labor pluses and minuses for the area.

MapBusinessOnline Standard and Pro provide various location-based tools to help your business sort through and select the optimum sites to put in front of your decision-making team.

Getting the City Right

In new site selection, choosing the proper city may not be up to you and your team. But in many cases, city selection is a necessary part of the process.

What urban area makes the most sense for your latest business venture? Business maps present a variety of map layers that can help define urban areas and match specific characteristics to your business requirements:

  • Demographic Profiles – Demographic layers offer population, income, age, ethnicity, and housing statistics. These factors can be thematically layered on the map or textually noted at the address or jurisdiction levels. ZIP code demographic profiles of areas where business succeeds today can be used to find similar regions around the nation that reflect the same demographic characteristics.
  • City Climate – Where a city is located has an impact – today more than ever before. If you’re building a warehouse that will last fifty years, coastal Florida might not be the wisest choice in the face of inevitable sea level rise. Likewise, strawberry storage may move north, and east as rising temperatures affect irrigation and soil conditions. Or perhaps you’re considering a mountain resort for your new call center site? Check future ski resort plans and hourly pay rates to ensure you have the labor pool required for a call center.
  • Housing values and City Services should be considered. Don’t locate a truck depot in an upper-crust real estate neighborhood or a high-crime area. Make sure water systems and power sources match your requirements.

It’s a wicked big country, and organizing your site selection at the city level is helpful. Sort or filter city records based on demographic and financial criteria. Limit options to the top five to fifteen urban area candidates for site placements. Business mapping map visualizations and tabular datasheet views offer easy and quick ranking comparisons.

Final retail site selection map using MapBusinessOnline.

Customer Requirements Matter

Strong consideration needs to be given to the nature of the customer base. The customer is king, especially for retail site selection. Site selection for retailers and services such as ophthalmologists, medical specialists, and dentists must accommodate the customer.

Ask yourself customer-related questions that help define your business customer sweet spot. Then look for those demographic characteristics within existing business areas. ZIP codes and Cities can be profiled in this way and then matched with areas surrounding your target cities.

  • Which population segments are most important to the business? Where do these people live?
  • What is the drive time tolerance of the average customer?
  • What products and services sell best in certain climates?
  • Explore consumer expenditure data in the Census Bureau Demographic categories available in MapBusinessOnline. Expose ZIP codes or areas where relevant expenditures proliferate.

A well-crafted site selection map should contain location datasets of customers by address, type, and historical sales activity. Customer concentrations are displayed by heat map layering or by color-coding address points. Usually, sites are selected in areas of high customer density to save on transportation and staffing costs for sales, service, and end-user travel.

Study informative customer map visualizations.

Transportation Considerations

Easy access to a loading dock or a front door is a concern for service deliveries and customer walk-ins. As site location options narrow, it is always a good idea to drive the area around the proposed site to get ground truth. What are the local speed limits, turn restrictions, and highway access roads?

It may make sense to procure business listings of vital support services by area of interest. Business Listings are a service for a fee within MapBusinessOnline. These downloadable data points can be color-coded on maps to display business locations by type. For instance, call center locations may require phone technicians, cleaning services, day-care centers, and emergency point-of-care service locations.

Mapping services can generate optimized vehicle routes that describe the most efficient ways in and out of an area. Often major cities come with traffic bottlenecks. London and New Orleans come to mind. Issues like parking, gas station locations and turn restrictions can turn what appears to be a simple route on paper into an afternoon nightmare for an unaware driver. Explore those key routes by driving them. MapBusinessOnline offers optimized vehicle routing with turn-by-turn directions. Keep an eye out for the PoPo.

Be sure to view highway and local road networks on your business map. Consider downloading business listings for essential transportation support, such as service stations, gas and EV charging stations, and car parts stores.

Driving Time & Distance Analysis

MapBusinessOnline Pro offers advanced driving time and distance analysis, which helps build your site selection map project. Use MapBusinessOnline Pro to conduct the following research:

  • Develop driving time or distance calculations between two disparate datasets. Compare facility site candidate addresses to resource and customer address lists to assess proximities.
  • Create multiple drive time territories at once for a more thorough visual and tabular analysis.
  • Generate sales potential reports and employee statistics using business listings and industry data.
  • Find and compare the nearest resources, customers, and prospects to site selection candidates.

Develop market profiles using drive time or distance analysis.

Workforce Considerations

Generally, new branch locations will require a workforce. Labor may be in short supply in some urban areas. Census Bureau population demographic data is typically available in business mapping applications. Coupled with Labor Bureau employment statistics, your site selection team can determine the critical metrics for optimum workforce pools.

Key elements to a labor search might be:

  • Knowledge of significant employers in the area. Is the labor marketplace made up primarily of retailers – grocery, department, or convenience stores? Or are there manufacturing businesses in the area? Which may indicate a higher skilled labor force.
  • What language skills are required for new service centers? A check of the Hispanic population demographics may reveal an excellent or lousy labor pool for alternative languages to English, depending upon your business.
  • Household demographic data categories can also suggest whether or not labor resources exist in the targeted areas that match job requirements.

Competing Businesses

Another type of business map we often talk about is a competitor map. Competitor maps show the most viable competitor locations to the originating business. When developing site assessment maps, it may be necessary to include competitive companies in your map project. Find competing business locations using the MapBusinessOnline Business Listing data service mentioned above.

Business listings include firmographic information such as sales estimates and employee counts. A competitor dataset in the site selection map can indicate areas saturated with sales or service coverage.

Quality of Life Areas

Any business expansion plan’s site selection process must consider the employee’s quality of life. Essential services and safety are always necessary.

  • Is the surrounding area a safe and fulfilling place to live?
  • Are commuting times for employees and customers reasonable?
  • Are essential life support services within reasonable distances of employee living areas?

Maps should reflect the inventory of affordable housing, medical service locations, elementary and secondary schools, and grocery and pharmacy stores. These critical location addresses are available through MapBusinessOnline business listings.

Selecting Site Candidates

With an idea of which areas suit your site selection needs, you are ready to place site selection locations on the site selection map. The city map suggested above now has a list of favored cities. Export that filtered city list from the Data Window and import it into a new site selection map. Save your preferred city map for reference. Or use your city map as the base map for your site placements.

Once you’ve gathered a set of proposed site addresses or latitude and longitude coordinates, create a spreadsheet of those locations and import into MapBusinessOnline using the Adding to Map, Dataset option on the Master Toolbar. Include columns for procurement costs, property descriptions, and other relevant data. Perhaps include a column for ranking.

Add other resource data and industry-related services to your map as layers. Your map will begin to take shape as a decision-making tool, providing visualization and tabular data views required to narrow down your site selection options and inform the selection process.

By generating these site selection maps as an overall map project, your business can consider the location-related aspects of new site selection, paving the way for a successful expansion of your business and new opportunities for your constituents.


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To access MapBusinessOnline, please register and download the Map App from the website –

After installing the Map App, the MapBusinessOnline launch button will be in the Windows Start Menu or Mac Application folder. Find the MapBusinessOnline folder in the Start Menu scrollbar. Click the folder’s dropdown arrow and choose the MapBusinessOnline option.

The Map App includes the Map Viewer app for free non-subscriber map sharing.

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Contact: Geoffrey Ives at or Jason Henderson at


About Geoffrey Ives

Geoffrey Ives lives and works in southwestern Maine. He grew up in Rockport, MA and graduated from Colby College. Located in Maine since 1986, Geoff joined DeLorme Publishing in the late 1990's and has since logged twenty-five years in the geospatial software industry. In addition to business mapping, he enjoys playing classical & jazz piano, gardening, and taking walks in the Maine mountains with his Yorkshire Terrier named Skye.
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