Raising Your Product Support IQWritten By Mary Sedor
Article Date: 12-03-2007
Copyright(C) 2007 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Knowing what your customers need before they do - now that's service. And in today's competitive landscape, it's the kind of edge dealers need to differentiate themselves. Our buyers' guide outlines key features of some new software and technologies available for making the parts and service departments run faster and smarter than ever.
As ingrained as our lives are with technology today, it's easy to forget the relatively short period of time that has transpired since computers and other technologies emerged and then took hold of almost every daily activity.
Twenty-five years ago, having a computer was a big deal. Now your dealership probably has dozens of computers running at any given time. Today your sales people and field service techs most likely carry laptops with them, not to mention the Blackberry that is nearly cemented to their - and your - hands.
Now more than ever, equipment dealers must learn to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and often that responsibility falls on the product support department. Technological advances are designed to make our lives - and businesses - run more smoothly. Dealerships that are not making the most of technology are not fully realizing their potential revenue.
Take advantage of all technology has to offer and help your product support department run as efficiently as possible by considering the following technologies. Not only will you make it easier to focus on the customer, but you just might help your bottom line.
Conduit Internet Technologies' SmartEnterprise Suite delivers content, product catalog, specifications, warranty, e-commerce, service parts catalogs, service manuals and Web site management functionality to distributors. The aftermarket service portal software includes an integrated electronic parts catalog with fully interactive assembly drawings, integrated online ordering capability, with account-specific pricing and multiple access levels. With Conduit's SmartEnterprise dynamic enterprise publisher, the portal can even generate up-to-the minute parts catalogs with the push of a button - straight to press-ready PDF.
For more information, call 800-493-5054
or visit www.conduit-it.com
DIS offers advanced software for product support. State-of-the-art technology allows DIS to integrate with manufacturers' back-end systems and their software providers. Through the DIS system, sales forces can track contacts, inventory, service and rental history through the CRM, which constantly feeds and pulls information from the system. Dealers using DIS' Internet-based parts store sell parts online and boost their parts sales. The parts integration is seamless - meaning dealers won't know when they leave the DIS system and are in their manufacturer's system.
Some of the many capabilities of DIS' system include increased parts counter efficiency through the availability of electronic manufacturer packing slips and invoices; incorporated time guides and warranty jobs into work order applications; electronic warranty submission; ease of work-in-progress through the system guiding the dealer; robust search capabilities; and flexible measuring capabilities.
For more information, visit
www.dis-corp.com or call 800-426-8870
Next for Windows is EBS' distributor business system. All areas of the solution are fully interactive and real-time, allowing instant access to information necessary for control and decision support at all levels of a dealership. The Next for Windows solution is a complete turnkey package specifically designed for Microsoft Windows and SQL Server - including data conversion, installation, on-site and remote training, support, and quarterly updates.
EBS' asset management system provides users with a comprehensive financial ledger that tracks cost and revenue on every asset, for life, across ownership. Distributors can also evaluate their customer's purchases and then implement the pricing policies to increase customer retention and to make them more profitable. The company also says their solution has supported order flat rating for more than 30 years.
For more information, call 719-939-1000
or visit www.ebs-next.com
The Irium Business System, from Edgerton Corp., uses a standard Windows interface. It is multilingual, multicurrency and stores images and sounds. Irium can be accessed through Internet Explorer, and is easily integrated with Outlook. The system is compatible with a Windows, Linux or Unix database. Other features include rapid deployment, customizable settings and colors, a data dictionary, easy reporting and easy graphing and charting. Core modules include: customer management, equipment management, parts management, inventory control system, order entry, service dispatching, rental management, vendor/supplier management, purchasing, warranty claims, accounts receivable and payable, fixed assets, general ledger, sales commissions and web portal.
For more information, call 440-268-0000
or visit www.edgertoncorp.com
e-Emphasys Technologies recently announced the release of its eXtend 4.0 dealer business system, delivering advanced capabilities for rental management, asset management, parts demand forecasting and advanced planning, mobile field service, preventive maintenance and accrual accounting. The parts management area of eXtend is a fully integrated solution designed to help manage parts planning, shortage handling, purchase and sales order execution with support for parts returns. The service module supports service-level management, service contracting, service provisioning, metering, costing, billing and reporting. The eXtend service order planning dashboard allows for effective planning and management of resources in the service department.
For more information, call 919-657-6565
or visit www.e-emphasys.com
The IntelliDealer dealer management system from PFW offers full integration - in other words no single aspect of the system is meant to be a standalone product. PFW's system allows customers 'round-the-clock electronic access to their account and equipment information as well as the ability to schedule service, order parts and print invoices. The wireless equipment inventory control and parts inventory control applications provide real-time access to inventory data.
PFW IntelliDealer Product Support Service aids in the optimization of service labor, and helps to increase the quality of your product support program. With Service, dealership staff can form better relationships with their customers through the delivery of better, more timely service, and by overseeing the finance and administration of product maintenance programs.
PFW IntelliDealer Customer Care gives dealers a real-world, real-time and on-demand view of their customers. Large amounts of data can be sorted, based on selection criteria, for a variety of marketing uses including customer analysis by geographic and business classifications, customer call-scheduling and analysis, and customer reports and marketing campaigns.
By recognizing an incoming phone call on a voice over IP (VoIP) phone, IntelliDealer is able to immediately bring up that customer's complete Customer Portal page - giving dealers all the information they need about their customers before they even pick up the phone.
For more information, call 519-474-3300
or visit www.pfw.com
QUALCOMM has pioneered the GlobalTRACS equipment management system, specifically designed to help dealers cultivate highly visible customer-service relationships and capture after-sale service and income by furnishing timely and accurate information about precisely when and where equipment is being used. With this data, dealers can acquire new streams of revenue, enjoy the savings of a more productive maintenance workforce, and reduce the negative impact of over- or under-servicing equipment.
The GlobalTRACS equipment management system automatically collects, wirelessly transmits and manages critical operational data - giving dealers the power to manage equipment, not just track it. QUALCOMM's Equipment Management Center (EMC) combines the power of the GlobalTRACS equipment management system with integrated reporting. In other words, dealers can manage their equipment through user-friendly software.
For more information, call 800-348-7227
or visit www.qualcomm.com/qwbs
A strategic service management solution provider, Servigistics offers service parts management, workforce management and pricing solutions that operate together on a single data model. The service parts management module provides functionality for forecasting, planning, and optimizing a global service parts network. Increasing revenue and maximizing service profitability is facilitated through the pricing management component, which combines patented pricing methodologies, advanced optimization techniques and market-adaptive business logic to provide service, finance and marketing professionals with decision-support information and tools.
Finally, the service workforce management solution allows companies to plan, monitor, dispatch and route field service technicians and vehicles to deliver on service commitments and maximize service resource utilization.
For more information,
SmartEquip's technology platform supports key strategic procurement activities - from whole goods and parts, to supplies and services - while bridging the technical exchange between equipment suppliers and their customers. SmartEquip technology improves transaction speed, accuracy and profitability.
The company's e-DealerPro solution provides parts availability, and product support across multiple product lines. The system enables standardized pricing, parts availability and parts and service information across the whole dealer base, and dealers gain a tool to more proactively market parts and service to their retail customers.
SmartEquip also recently introduced a new module - SE Wholegoods. This is the latest technology the company has developed to drive speed and accuracy and ultimately lower operating costs for all of its network participants - equipment fleet owners, dealers and manufacturers alike.
For more information, call 203-899-1800
or visit www.smartequip.com
WennSoft's Equipment Distribution Solutions offers several modules, including parts and service. The service module allows dealers to improve dispatching efficiency by allowing dispatchers to quickly prioritize, schedule and understand work order statuses at a glance. Dealers can use the system to assess technician utilization and costing trends, as well as assign the right skill levels to the right repair. Inventory management is enabled with inventory planning tools, reports and alerts that allow parts personnel to stay a step ahead of service technicians with the right parts at the right time.
On the parts side, WennSoft solutions deliver a combination of inventory, pricing and purchasing control tools. The WennSoft parts solution provides dealers with expedited sales processing through a one-screen sales order entry process. The ‘Available to Promise' function provides accurate available dates by looking at quantities in stock, on order, committed to other orders and lead times to manufacture. Sales order line items can be directly linked to a purchase order to ensure quick and accurate order fulfillment. Stock orders can be organized in a number of different ways with flexible order point parameters.
For more information,
Listen To Your Equipment
GPS and Oil Analysis are two technologies that could change the future of your product support department. Good preventive maintenance, when combined with oil analysis and detailed machine operating data via GPS technology, paves the way for an additional level of machine performance using condition-based maintenance.
According to George Wacaser, Time Service Consulting, almost all of the construction equipment produced today contain built-in computers. With GPS technology, that data can be transmitted and dealers can find out everything that's going on with that particular machine.
"It can be transmitted back to your laptop," he said. "You can know how much fuel that machine used last month; know if it's overheating; if it has any codes; and even the temperature of the transmission."
When combined with oil analysis, the dealer can know exactly what is going on with the machine everyday because the GPS technology can transmit data from its onboard computer.
"People are used to putting a laptop computer on a machine," he said. "Now that data can be transmitted right back to your business system using GPS. You can pull up the information, maybe even before the operator knows."
Wacaser says the initial GPS that has been available for many years only gives equipment location and hours. A few manufacturers have already begun implementing the next level of GPS technology, which connects directly with the computer on the machine. Now all of the machine data is transmitted by GPS, opening the door for dealers to perform maintenance based on the actual operating conditions rather than a pre-determined average interval. Wacaser says the process of integrating the data into your business system can range from very simple to complex, depending on your system.
"It automatically comes with new machines," he said. "You get the data free for a few years, like GM's On Star, so you get used to it and then you can't live without it."
Wacaser says dealers will find this helpful because they can ensure their equipment is running properly and save money. For instance, the data coming back from the machine would tell you whether it's working at 20 percent of total capacity, 50 percent of total capacity or 80 percent of total capacity of engine power all the time.
"Since engine oil is changed based on the number of gallons of fuel burned and how hard the machine is working, changing the oil by the operator's manual is never correct," he said. "This technology will help keep the machine running properly."
Wacaser says with the approach of ultra low diesel fuel, dealers will have to change the way they are thinking about oil change intervals. A few years ago that interval was 100 hours; now it's 500 hours, but Wacaser says that interval could stretch even further with the new fuel coming.
"Dealers might be able to go twice as long without changing the oil at all, but the oil analysis and GPS data can tell us how long we can go," he said.
Wacaser says this is definitely where the industry is moving.
"There is so much more data available instantly than we've ever had," he said. "We have to figure out how to use it. That data is useless unless you make some change and can lower cost or increase reliability."
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