The Last System You’ll Ever Need - A Closer Look
Construction Equipment Distribution magazine is published by the Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada. AED membership also includes equipment manufacturers and industry-service firms. CED magazine has been published continuously since 1920. Associated Equipment Distributors
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SECTION: A Closer Look

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The Last System You’ll Ever Need

Written By: Mary Sedor

Article Date: 11-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

WennSoft's dealer business system can help control costs and increase revenues.

While they may not be the typical AED member, WennSoft is the maker of a product every dealership can't live without - a business system.

In the early 1990s, before starting WennSoft, Jim Wenninger and his brother ran a contracting and service business. Fortunately for them, they couldn't find the software they needed to run the business and decided to create their own.
"We couldn't find software with a full-featured financial piece and true industry-specific pieces," said Wenninger. "As it turns out, the software we wrote was also a good fit for people who buy, rent and sell equipment."

At the time, Wenninger's software used the Great Plains operating system as a platform. In 2001, Microsoft acquired Great Plains, and WennSoft inherited the Microsoft technology stack including the database, mobile applications, portals, sharepoint and the financial platform through the use of Great Plains. (It's now called Microsoft Dynamics GP.) The acquisition meant that now the software was based on - and fully integrated into - Microsoft technology.

"We spend most of our time focusing on the construction and equipment business, not writing financials," said Wenninger. "We inherited all that stuff from Microsoft. It makes WennSoft a very focused and rich application."

In 2001, the brothers sold their contracting company, focusing solely on WennSoft, headquartered in New Berlin, Wis., which has continued to thrive over the past six years and today has 98 employees.

Dealer-Specific Benefits

WennSoft knows that in today's competitive equipment distribution market, controlling operational costs and expenses by streamlining processes and effectively managing data is vital to an equipment dealer's success. The WennSoft Equipment Distributor solution helps dealers increase revenue opportunities and reduce costs by enabling employees, empowering customers and streamlining processes.

WennSoft's dealer solution includes traditional equipment management and purchasing capabilities, the financial aspect, a complete service system, and parts and maintenance systems. WennSoft also has job-costing capabilities and the financial side can pick up the full inventory - including all parts and counter sales, fixed assets and payroll.

"It's a very robust offering," said Wenninger, "and it's all modular so dealers can pick and choose the pieces they want and go from there."

The WennSoft solution uses the Microsoft stack, whereas most dealerships use older AS400 or Unix technology. WennSoft's program looks like Microsoft Outlook, so if a dealer knows how to use Outlook, (s)he can quickly adopt and implement WennSoft's equipment distributor solution.

Other benefits of using WennSoft's system is that they believe in entering information once and using it throughout the program. With other systems, if the customer wants to know something dealers have to spend hours digging through files and searching for the information. Not with WennSoft.

"Our product eliminates busy work and allows your people to respond to customer needs more quickly," said Wenninger. "With our program people can do their jobs better. It's really easy to use and easy to access information. I think the benefit for most companies is that they don't have to enter the data two or three times."

The query tool gives dealers access to every search field and can search and sort it with compound data. For instance, a search of customers between X and Y date range in product line A is possible. The software will provide users with a list that can be automatically dropped into Microsoft Word or Excel at the touch of a button.

Another feature dealers look for is how it will allow them to know more than they did in the past. WennSoft uses Microsoft SharePoint as a collaboration site and document repository, and it allows dealers to send out pictures of every piece of equipment. For instance, a dealer could take a picture of a damaged piece of equipment, repair it, and then send the customer the pictures both before and after the repair. Along with the photos the dealer could also send a copy of the work order along with the bill.

"It really cuts down on arguments," said Wenninger. "A picture is worth 1,000 words. A picture means no call back asking why they have to pay for this."

These seemingly minor benefits can reap huge rewards for an equipment dealer's business.

"If you can collect cash faster, you'll not only have more operating funds but your customers will understand why you're doing what you're doing," said Wenninger.

For instance, if a dealer installed custom hydraulic controls on a piece of equipment, with WennSoft the dealer could maintain a file attached to the equipment in the system, including photos of the controls, drawings and instructions on how to use them. This information would then be maintained in the system as a part of that machine.

"The information travels with the equipment, so it makes servicing much easier," said Wenninger.

Invest in Your Dealership

WennSoft can also save dealers in terms of cost. Unlike other software providers, WennSoft sends updates to all of its customers as part of its maintenance plan. WennSoft will never be out of date and a new version won't ever be required - as long as the dealer remains on the maintenance plan.

For example, when Windows Vista came out, WennSoft sent an update to its customers so that their system was compatible with the new operating system.

"Anyone that's a part of the maintenance plan receives all the new technology and upgrades," said Wenninger. "We're never going to ask dealers to buy the newest and latest technology. At no point in time will WennSoft be suddenly out of date. Our system is the only one dealers will need for the rest of their lives."

The downside: the system probably costs anywhere from 15 to 20 percent more than the competition for the maintenance plan.

"At the end of five to seven years, our competitors are looking for dealers to upgrade and pay for a whole additional round of software where ours costs them nothing," said Wenninger. "It's a big investment and a big commitment, but it can make a world of difference."

Wenninger says they have found that the companies that stay on the maintenance plan allow their businesses to grow. The companies that take advantage of the software and allow their people to do more work can make more money.

"Software is a tool that can help equipment dealers become more successful," said Wenninger. "When it comes to making big decisions, there's nothing like having a lot of information to help you the way WennSoft can."

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