U-Haul just made the move from MapQuest to Virtual Earth. Actually, U-Haul has been a long-standing MapPoint Web Service customer for several applications and they’ve decided to move over their Location Finder over to Virtual Earth – sweet. Hey, where do you think that whole "Mom’s Attic" name comes from for that area over the driver’s cabin? Either way, it makes for some great jokes of where the mother-in-law sits during the move.
Their location locator features an open search box allowing you to put in a postal code, city name or whatever you want to get a result (Virtual Earth flexible like that) and find the nearest U-Haul dealer to you. You can select from a few different amenities – trucks, storage, boxes, trailers, hitches and propane (propane, who knew?!?).
Like I’ve said in the past, everyone has to have a little custom spin on their locator, so in addition to the things you would expect – radius searching, contact information, a map, driving directions – U-Haul has added the ability to click through to get equipment rates for each store. So, basically, "Here’s the store you’re looking for, now would you like some equipment?" A direct link to e-commerce. That is The Goal, right? Make money? You can go through the process – from the locator – to pick the truck you want (one way or round trip) on the date you want at the price you want with the equipment you want…see where I’m going – what you want, where you want, when you want it? Why don’t more people link e-commerce to the store locator? Or, better yet, add the store locations into the e-commerce system so you can tell users "Yes we have what you’re looking for and THIS store has it right now, so bring us your money (right now)." Seems like a no-brainer.