Downturn is a Catalyst for Forward-Looking Dealers - A Closer Look
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SECTION: A Closer Look

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Downturn is a Catalyst for Forward-Looking Dealers

By Joanne Costin

Article Date: 01-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

e-Emphasys eXtend delivers an enterprise solution that helps distributors position powerfully for recovery and strength in a changed economic environment.

At a time when the economy has encumbered many construction equipment dealers with daily struggles and difficult decisions, one software company is presenting distributor executives with a choice now that is proving to help counter the tough business environment, position their operations for turnaround, and equip them for the new economic reality.

As dealers take a close look at what e-Emphasys Technologies offers through its eXtend enterprise solution, they’re impressed with what they see, and benefiting from what the software helps them achieve.

For example, Dennis Romanson, president and CEO of Road Machinery LLC, checked out several software programs before selecting e-Emphasys eXtend software to replace the company’s antiquated operating system. The Phoenix-headquartered Komatsu dealer also visited several dealers throughout the selection process to see the system in operation.

"They outshone everyone else when we did our evaluations," said Romanson." What we saw from a capability perspective and from an architecture perspective in an ‘out of the box’ solution, was that eXtend, through its feature set, put them to the forefront."

To make business decisions, any dealer executive requires data to see what’s working and what’s not, to see how assets are performing. They need utilization rates, ROI, and, most of all, the ability to plan. "Dealers with the visibility to act effectively and decisively will survive the current economic conditions to emerge in a stronger competitive position," said Shriram Rajagopal, product director for e-Emphasys Technologies.

With e-Emphasys eXtend software, dealers are able to see and respond to data in ways that were not possible with legacy systems. Through a business modeling tool, based on a repository of dealer best business practices, e-Emphasys eXtend helps equipment and rental dealers improve their vision and efficiency in virtually every business process.

"Aligning technology with business strategy is the underlying driver in everything we do," contends Rajagopal.

He says e-Emphasys Technologies has been a pioneer in bringing enterprise solutions to the equipment dealer industry. "Enterprise systems have become a de facto standard in most industries," said Rajagopal. "Its modern underlying architecture provides greater flexibility to improve business insight, transparency, enhance best business practices and accelerate company growth."

Before introducing the first version of the product, e-Emphasys worked with various manufacturers and dealers over a three-year period to understand the specific requirements and current challenges of the dealer market. Recognizing that the dealer/rental market was underserved from an IT standpoint, they developed a vertical application for dealers, based on Infor Global Enterprise Software Solutions, a system used by many leading equipment manufacturers.

e- Emphasys then put their system to the test, implementing it in a diverse group of dealerships. "This approach not only helped us to bring to the table what dealers require, but also enabled the dealers to quickly realize the ROI multipliers and efficient businesses processes that modern technology can offer."

A Solution to Fit both Small and Large Dealerships

The company has found success meeting the needs of clients such as Road Machinery LLC, SMS Equipment, Scott Macon Equipment, and Tracey Road Equipment, to name a few. Its scalable system is designed to serve a small single location with a few users, as well as a large dealership with many branches and thousands of users.

According to Rajagopal, large dealers usually prefer the traditional on-premise model, where the dealer owns the hardware and software. Smaller dealers are attracted to the on-demand model, which significantly reduces the upfront investment because the hardware and software is hosted by e-Emphasys.

"Companies are rethinking their businesses," said Rajagopal. "They are looking for new ways to save money; they are seeking greater transparency and searching for insights on how to optimize their processes even further."

Dealers want to experience the value of what they will be getting for their investment, he says. Live demonstrations enable dealers to see the value of what they will be getting, before they buy. The company’s "Value Discovery" process demonstrates the results and success generated by others in the same line of business or with the same OEM, proving out the strength of the product.

"We actually map their business model using our repository of best business practices to simulate ‘a day in the dealer’s life;’ this helps them to benchmark against industry peers and develops a clear business case to invest in our solution," explained Rajagopal.

Additionally, the e-Emphasys system can help dealers manage the lifecycle cost of a machine, data which can be used to guide the business through buy/sell decisions.

Telematics Compatible

Romanson at Road Machinery is enthused about the program’s ability to capture machine population for every customer as well Komtrax data on each machine. A seamless interface with telematics systems such as Komtrax enables dealers to proactively plan preventative maintenance and identify additional market opportunities.

Locating a machine takes about 30 seconds with the new eXtend software, as opposed to 10 minutes on the old system, according to Tom Jensen, IT manager for Road Machinery. "It gives us the ability to go to that next level of customer service, where we can be more timely and can keep track of things better."

For example, when a customer calls in to the parts department, the software identifies the caller and a screen will immediately bring up the machine data, serial numbers, and details for the customer’s account. "That will save so much fumbling around that a customer has to do to provide the information that we need to order parts," explained Romanson.

The best practice modeling tool allows dealers to align strategy with execution. Alerts can let managers know when a machine is not performing to meet the goal. "You can take quick action," said Rajagopal.

"It’s much more real-time," added Jensen.

In addition, the e-Emphasys software can help dealers proactively plan inventories to improve customer service levels and fill rates. Smart devices improve the efficiency of rental yard and field service operations. Sales and operations are more coordinated when sales reps have online access to inventory and pricing. Quotes are more accurate and get into the hands of customers quicker.

One capability that was important to Road Machinery and unique to e-Emphasys was the ability of the system to process RAMP (Repair and Maintenance Programs) or MARC (Maintenance and Repair Contracts) agreements.

"It had the ability to track the invoice correctly and build the contract," said Jensen. "That was a huge plus."

According to Romanson, the system’s multilingual capability provided a big advantage to Road Machinery, which operates in Mexico. Their old system was only available in English, which limited the pool of people that the company could hire and resulted in many data entry errors. 

Implementation and System Set-Up

According to Rajagopal, the time needed to implement the software varies from four to five months for a larger dealer with about 50 branches, to six to eight weeks for a smaller dealer with one to 10 branches. e-Emphasys provides 24-hour support through an experienced team located in Cary, N.C.  Trainers from e-Emphasys typically train a group of key users with the organization, who then train the end-users.

During the implementation phase, e-Emphasys works with the dealer to set up the software according to their specific needs. Because a great amount of flexibility has already been built into the system, these changes are not costly or time consuming.

"They have been very responsive to any changes that we have wanted and have done those very quickly," said Jensen. "They have been awesome on the support side."

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