UK Postcode System
How the UK Postcode System Can Be Used in Key Business Areas to Improve Operational Efficiency
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.
To find out more about the Postcode read are related articles on the History of the Postcode and the Postcode Structure.
One of the simplest uses of the Postcode is to find out where a customer (business or residential) is! Punch a Postcode into Google maps or multimap 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. Such systems can save a business hundreds of thousands through such efficient planning.
Locating customers 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. This is one of the most common applications for Postcode wall maps.
The most common way of defining field sales areas is also through the use of the Postcode system. postcode sector map 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 names sales people based on the persons home location - a sales person living in Harrogate may cover the postcodes in North Yorkshire and someone living in Manchester may cover Lancashire.
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 globes of the world biggest causes of friction in a field sales force - who has the most sales (and therefore commission) potential.
Franchise businesses have boomed over the past 20 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. We have worked with franchise companies where a Postcode District based franchise map of the British Isles is provided as an appendix to the franchise contract.