Accessible Technologies, Inc. Supercharges Customer Service with IQMS and EnterpriseIQ ERP
Growth and Complexity
A driving force in supercharger technology, Accessible Technologies, Inc. (ATI) understands complexity. The Kansas-based firm designs, manufactures and markets ProCharger® brand supercharger systems for automotive, marine, truck, industrial and commercial applications, with automotive systems representing the bulk of ATI's business. Though ATI operates in a niche market, its sales volume is anything but small, and its products anything but simple.
The automotive enthusiasts who purchase ProCharger supercharger systems are truly passionate about their cars, spending on average four thousand dollars per system. Whether they make the purchase for street use or on the track, they know what they want and care about getting it right. For them, ATI crafts its supercharger systems specific to automobile make, and offers a variety of options to accommodate preferences such as horsepower and satin verses chrome finish. ProCharger systems are manufactured to stock and sold worldwide via a network of several hundred installation dealers. ATI also leads the industry in aftermarket sales, providing factory-direct parts and service to individual customers.
"At ATI, we're as passionate about customer service as our customers are about their cars," said Ken Jones, CEO at ATI. "The challenge for us is managing two distribution channels, many product options, and an extremely high part-number to sales ratio, while still ensuring the best possible experience for each customer."
ATI must also manage seasonal sales peaks and an ever growing demand for its products. Previously, the company was using a small Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and accounting package, another program to manage sales and marketing, and a third software solution for shipping. Yet even when bundled, these systems lacked the functionality and interoperability ATI needed to mange its business effectively.
"Having to maintain and reconcile three databases was slowing production, especially in periods of strong growth and during peak season," said Jones. "Customer service was also hindered by the lack of system integration and an inflexible order configuration process. To keep up with growth and, more importantly, to keep our customers happy, we needed a cohesive system that could manage all aspects of our business."
Single-Source ERP Software Drives Success
ATI evaluated over ten ERP software solutions before switching to EnterpriseIQ. Production management, inventory control, flexible order configuration and effective customer relationship management (CRM) were the company's top priorities. It was also important for ATI to protect its existing platform investment, which consisted of windows-based PCs and remote Macintosh desktops.
"IQMS was the only solution that met the challenge," said Jones. "Many of the solutions we considered had strong management tools, but IQMS takes it a step further by delivering a comprehensive set of tools that run as one system. We've been very pleased with how everything flows together."
For ATI, the ability to manage a dual service environment was imperative. Because dealer orders are serviced on demand, ATI must anticipate what system configurations dealers will want to stock. At the same time, the company must be at the ready to sell and ship single parts to individual customers, also on demand. This requires ATI to optimize a myriad of parts and system configurations against projected dealer orders and individual call volume. It also requires ATI to have production and shipping data readily available at all points down the line.
Along with the core EnterpriseIQ ERP software, ATI is using the IQMS business activity monitoring module, IQAlert, and EnterpriseIQ CRM. The company also purchased EnterpriseIQ wireless Warehouse Management for its scanner and barcode capabilities. According to Jones, several factors set the IQMS system apart from the others: flexible order configuration; visual drop-and-drag scheduling; comprehensive customer service capabilities; and the direct, full-service approach IQMS takes when servicing its clients.
"EnterpriseIQ lets us manage a high level of product and service complexities, and manage it well," said Jones. "It was by far the best ERP software solution for our business needs. We also liked the idea of buying direct from IQMS. A lot of other systems are sold through dealers, so we had the feeling IQMS would be more responsive to our needs, and we were right."
IQMS was also the only solutions provider that was able to assist ATI in establishing its new ERP platform around the company's existing, multi-system configuration, saving ATI money, both in capital investment costs and manpower during implementation.
High Performance Results
ATI went live with its new IQMS system in June 2005 and has since recognized gains in control and efficiency throughout the company. For example with IQAlert, ATI has automated many functions such as work flow procedures, document control and staff reminders. The benefit is faster, more precise communication, both internally and with customers. ATI also uses IQAlert to customize and automate internal data reporting, which lets Jones and his management team make projections and decisions based on accurate, real-time data.
"Areas that previously seemed like black holes where data reporting was concerned are now easy to monitor and control," explained Jones. "We've also greatly improved our gross margin, and even with sales up as much as 30% over what we experienced last year, product availability has improved as much as 50%."
With better visibility to schedule, ATI has gotten so far ahead in production that its machine shop no longer runs overtime. This has allowed the company to focus on preventative maintenance and improved product quality - both of which are tracked using EnterpriseIQ. ATI has also improved its on-time shipments, which in turn has reduced overall call volume.
"ProCharger technology has always been an industry best," said Jones. "But EnterpriseIQ has enabled us to take quality and timeliness to an all new level. We are now well equipped to push beyond our competition, not only in terms of innovative supercharger technology, but also in terms of providing the industry's best, overall customer experience."