AKRONWhen it comes to boosting a tire dealership's profits, owners often look at ways to increase sales and margins, but they also should look at ways to use software to reduce overhead costs.
With fully integrated software programs, a dealership can reduce the cost for personnel and paper while at the same time improving customer service.
When you are getting into software, you are looking at eliminating overhead, said Kim Angermeier, CEO of MaddenCo Inc. One of the key elements of our softwareand any software they should be looking atis full integration.
Fully integrated software connects the point-of-sale counter with the back office.
When you sell a product, it will automatically create an accounts payable invoice. You don't have to go to third-party software and rekey in all the financials or invoice, she told Tire Business.
Commercial tire dealerships, especially, should have software that is integrated with tire makers' national accounts systems.
If you don't have software that is fully integrated, you'll have full-time people who are logging into a Michelin system or a Goodyear system, just keying in all these national account information just so they can get their credits back, Ms. Angermeier said.
You can cut a lot of costs by going paperless, she added. You can get signature capture at the point-of-sale site or even at delivery and then that signature is emailed with the invoice. With the emailing of invoices and statements now you can get out of the printing and the mailing and all the costs of that. There's a lot of cost savings in that type of processing.
More and more software providers are getting into mobile solutions, as well, to enable improved productivity and customer service off-site.
With mobile apps, a salesperson can access customer information on their mobile screen, such as reviewing open orders, what's been shipped to them and accounts receivables.
If there is a question about an invoice, the salesperson can bring up the invoice on the app and email it to the customer sitting in front of them, she said.
That cuts out a lot of overhead right there, according to Ms. Angermeier. In the past, they would call back to the office, have somebody look it up and have them fax over a copy of the invoice, etc. I think you are going to see (mobile) grow a lot.
She noted that there is a trend toward creating mobile software for functions in the field.
We're looking at writing a module now so when the service guy goes out to a customer's yard with several vehicles, on a mobile device they can key in the services they are providing and look up things on-site.
I think everything is going mobile and scanning. Your shop can be a whole lot more efficient if you scan things from the moment they come in your door until they go out your door.
You can see a lot of cost savings with the scanningthey are seeing that at their retread shops or at their warehouses or at the retail stores, but they are currently not doing it when they send a guy out mobile with the service trucks. So that's what we're writing now so they can still do the scanning even when they are not at their site.
Scanning software also can help curb internal theft.
When everything is scanned coming in and out, you have more accurate inventory and you can see when things start to disappear quicker, Ms. Angermeier said. When people are doing things by hand, there are so many mistakes that you don't (notice) the theft until you do physical inventory....
But with online scanning, you're getting everything real-time, and you've got a good idea if inventory starts to go missing.
Mobile apps also put more information in the owner's hands.
You'll see a lot of the owners carry their iPads now. We give them a sign-on that will show them their locations, their sales, their profits all on one screen. We make it simple.... They can see if profits are out of line, and they can go see the individual items and tickets and see if something is out of line.
The mobile world has helped in that sense with the ownersyou just give them a little information but it's the little information they want to see she said.
Another growing trend is the shift to cloud-based storage. MaddenCo, for example, has offered cloud-based software since 2000.
That eliminates a lot of overhead costs for our customers, Ms. Angermeier said. They don't have to support the hardware. They don't have to have an IT person to support that hardware for them. They don't have to worry about insurance.
Ninety-five percent of our customer base is cloud-based now. We haven't sold a server in probably eight yearswhich shows that tire dealers are headed in the right direction with having their software and everything hosted with their software providers.
That's a huge savings because that gives them time to sell tires and not worry about keeping their server up and doing backups.
To reach this reporter: [email protected] crain.com; 330-865-6127; Twitter@kmcarr.