When assigning field territories, you must keep an eye out for inefficiencies so that you can tighten them up before they become a bigger problem. Inefficiencies can be anything from too much money spent on unnecessary travel expenses, too strong of a focus on a store that doesn't need the help, or, conversely, too little time spent with a store that does. Having the right data at your fingertips can help you achieve more successful territory management.
So what kind of costs should you be tallying up and measuring? Such costs as the total travel time it takes to get to and from a store, total time spent face-to-face with the store manager, total time spent on follow-up, total time spent on audits, etc. Measuring these factors can help you prioritize your stores based on who needs the most help.
Also, a word to the wise: don't use a pen and paper to crunch these numbers. You will be significantly more efficient and experience far fewer errors if you use field management software to help you balance your debits and credits. Why put yourself through hours of anguish trying to accomplish what can be done in a matter of seconds with such a software package? And you don't even have to worry about being so tired that you make a mistake -- your software has your back.
Pro Tip: Did you know that mobile field software can measure every action your reps take (even email, store prep, customer and manager face-time, etc.)? Ask your vendor if they have these capabilities and if not, it's time to update your solution.
Once you have the right technology under your belt, then the retail world is your oyster inasmuch as you can better prioritize and allocate territories to your field reps. But don't think that once you've made those changes that they are permanent and you no longer have to lift a finger ever again. Truly successful territory allocation comes when you are regularly re-evaluating your territories. Your goal should be to do this annually, but feel free to conduct a re-evaluation when a particular store needs a closer eye.
Don't realign your territories too often, as that can also hamper productivity. Your field reps will end up feeling frustrated and isolated if you're constantly changing their territories, especially if you do so without any of their input. Once you've got a handle on the data and what to expect from each store, then you shouldn't have to realign your territories any more than once every three to five years.
Something else to keep in mind: the skills of the field rep who is assigned to each store should not be a motivating factor for realignment; in fact, better field reps should be re-assigned to those higher-priority stores that need them the most to ensure that those stores are receiving adequate assistance in meeting their overall objectives.
How successful do you believe your territory management to be? See how you stack up against your peers by clicking below to receive our free Field Force Productivity Assessment.