Field Report: Meineke Car Care Centers - InformationWeek

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Field Report: Meineke Car Care Centers

Meineke Car Care Centers has more than 900 locations in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South America. Finding the best locations to attract customers is a challenge when there is intense competition for prime real estate, especially when your stores require good road access and visibility from major intersections.

Meineke Car Care Centers has more than 900 locations in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South America. Finding the best locations to attract customers is a challenge when there is intense competition for prime real estate, especially when your stores require good road access and visibility from major intersections. Meineke does its research using geoVue's ISITE location intelligence system. This desktop mapping tool lets Meineke create a market potential report that shows anticipated sales, based on auto-related information such as tire and car exhaust system sales. These automobile industry-specific data are supplied by Applied Geographics Solutions, a demographic data company. With geoVue's support, Meineke has developed its own internal demand index to determine where to locate car care centers. The systems are deployed to users in Meineke's real estate department as well as to the vice president, who finds it especially useful during travel.

This system helps Meineke to reach its expansion goals, according to Matthew Gygax, real estate systems manager. "Our online mapping tool is great for our field representatives," he says. "By April of this year, they will have the ability to run impact reports and determine the encroachment from the field." Even though most field reps are just learning the system, the feedback has been positive. In the future, Meineke hopes to integrate ISITE with information from the corporate databases. In this way, data can be updated in real time, giving field representatives the most recent information available.

Location intelligence systems like ISITE are becoming increasingly important to retail establishments. Much more demographic data is available to them, and it is often supplemented by purchasing behavior information captured from credit cards. Retailers routinely record ZIP codes from individuals and determine buying patterns to identify specific market groups. In turn, the particular lifestyles of geographic regions are recognized and targeted for ad campaigns and other marketing media. The task of targeting these groups becomes an even greater challenge as wireless technology offers a different means to present sales offers and merchandise discounts. From cell phones to in-vehicle navigation systems, real-time contact with an increasingly mobile clientele becomes extremely important, especially to a company like Meineke that has the opportunity to influence impulse buyers as they drive by each retail location.

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