BACKGROUND: Meineke Discount Muffler Shops is a one-stop shop for all under-car repair and maintenance needs. Meineke has expanded its operations to over 900 locations worldwide. Meineke provides professional care and affordable service for your car (exhaust and brake replacement services, maintenance of CV joints, shocks, struts, transmission and motor mounts, catalytic converters and more), with a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee.

PLATFORMS: Windows NT and 95.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In today's competitive market, Meineke must make fast decisions based on global and local information. We needed a way to study demographic information to get insight into a market's overall potential. With twenty new locations opening this year, we needed a way to determine with relative certainty that we were choosing a successful location. TargetPro enables us to seamlessly integrate our proprietary corporate information with national data in order to translate raw statistics into effective business decisions. TargetPro allows us to study demographic and syndicated information from databases available through MapInfo. We also wanted a wider range of data available to fully understand a potential market. This allows us to do a lot of legwork before leaving the office, instead of sending someone out on location to do months of site selection.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We have so much more information available to us now. Because TargetPro is compatible with MapInfo Professional, we are able to visualize demographic data in a map format, allowing us to spot trends and patterns we might have missed had we only looked at the information on spreadsheets or tables. We are able to create high-quality maps that facilitate effective decision making and enhance reports and presentations.

STRENGTHS: TargetPro provides us with more details than we ever had before with any other demographic product. TargetPro can analyze over 600 variables ­ statistics on the number, year, model, types of vehicles in a certain area ­ as well as easily determine the number of vehicles that pass by a store on a given day and how many cars in a certain state will need new shock absorbers. The response time is extremely quick as well, much quicker than any other product we tried. TargetPro gives us confidence that we are choosing the appropriate location for a future site. TargetPro data is compressed onto one CD-ROM, providing flexibility and convenience. Previous demographic software consisted of boxes of CD-ROMs and we often had trouble figuring out where the needed information was stored.

WEAKNESSES: The manual does not have as much detail we would have liked on getting started and implementing TargetPro. We did not end up relying a lot on the manual for help as we worked closely with MapInfo to learn how TargetPro operates and the nuances of the system. We could have benefited from more detailed step-by-step instructions on how to use TargetPro.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We were already using MapInfo Professional and were extremely happy with how it performs sophisticated and detailed data analysis to better understand information. We looked at several other demographic software packages, but none had the ease of use and detailed data offered by TargetPro.

DELIVERABLES: We print out fifteen different reports that help us decide if a particular site is the best location for a future shop. The reports look at the detail population of the area, automotive potential, the type of vehicles residents in the area drive, income of residents as well as a plethora of other criteria that help determine if this is the optimal site for a shop.

VENDOR SUPPORT: MapInfo's vendor support is excellent. We would speak with MapInfo every day while we were getting started, and they would always take the time to help us and answer all our questions. They were helpful in making sure that we had everything that we needed.

DOCUMENTATION: The interface is user friendly with step-by-step tabs that guide users through the entire analysis process. The manual is a bit more complex to understand. But coupled with the great support from MapInfo, we were able to get up to speed extremely quickly.

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