“A good business system is an absolute necessity in managing business. With our system, we have easily identified areas of concern as well as success. It has allowed us almost infinite measurability of efficiency, productivity and profitability.

“It has allowed us to move to a performance-based pay system that accurately rewards the top producers and also identifies those who need to be helped in all departments. This has also led to increased employee retention.”

— Bill Taranovich, North County Tractor Inc., Concord, N.H.

“I think the biggest change in how we manage our productivity is making all of our ‘best practices’ the standard job descriptions. We have moved from a philosophy of salespeople selling to account management. Also, we try to empower our branch managers even more than we used to, understanding that not every great idea is for every location and that we can run a branch somewhat uniquely.”

— Darren Nickel, Greenvalley Equipment Inc., Morden, Man.

“Until recently, we weren’t using the system to its full potential. Using the equipment module over the last 2 years, we have eliminated repetitive handwriting. Equipment receipting through the business systems saves a lot of time. No longer is handwriting and then keying everything in after the sale necessary. Recently, we began using the payroll module, which also eliminated needless handwriting of checks. We will begin using the bar code scanner in the near future, which will eliminate hand-keying all parts numbers for customer invoicing. This will save time and eliminate mistakes by keying in the wrong number.

“The bar code scanner will also be used for employee work hour tracking, and this will save the time and cost of an employee having to add and subtract two weeks worth of a dozen time cards. The system automatically inputs the information and printing checks is as easy as pressing a button. The bar code scanner will also allow work-order labor hours to be calculated and added to the system automatically.

“Managing inventory and printing up-to-date reports is also a time-saver. Being able to print labels and sort them by manufacturer or money spent with your business to mail invitations or advertisements to customers is a great feature, allowing you to target specific customers.

“I will admit that more modernized business software systems are available that allow access from anywhere with your smartphone or laptop computer. This software will also connect to your phone system so when the customer calls, their contact information and previous purchases automatically appear on the screen. These systems cost $30,000 or more. I hope to one day run our business utilizing such software, but until then, I will keep learning to get the maximum benefit and usage from our current software. It’s free and we couldn’t do without it.

“Many customers want their invoices emailed to them. Our software allows me to save the invoice in a PDF file and email it to the customer without the need to print, scan, save and email. Mailing invoices and saving postage is beneficial because printing and envelope expenses can also be eliminated, saving thousands of dollars each year.”

— Patty Iraggi, Rocky Mount Tractor, Rocky Mt., Va.

“As our system is older, it does not help productivity. It actually hinders it. We’ve had some companies in on a new operating system, but with its price, it will just have to wait.”

— Walter Steffler, Durham Kubota, Oshawa, Ont.

“Utilizing the dealer management system puts everything in place to be able to monitor my tech’s work orders, which has allowed us to see a dramatic increase in shop productivity and profitability in customer, warranty and sales department jobs.”

— Dave Camp, Coblentz Equipment and Parts, Montgomery, Ala.

“The information we can now get out of our dealer management system assists us in many ways. However, the ease in which we can get this information, as well as the amount and quality of that information, allows us to address and deal with situations much quicker than in the past. Thus, you are able to put in place action plans to attack and hopefully make improvements before they become bigger issues, which in turn improves your productivity.”

— Mark Foster, Birkey’s Farm Store Inc., Bloomington, Ill.