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Growing Revenue with Technology

Jeff Schroeder, Sr. Vice President of Operation and Technology, The Supply Room Companies, Inc.

The use of technology has been critical in improving operations and increasing efficiency and cost-savings across the board at The Supply Room Companies, Inc., an office supplies and furniture business.

So, how exactly did we use technology to grow our company? Here’s our answer: The Supply Room was one of the first companies to purchase RouteTrak, ECI²’s proof-of-delivery system.

Before we signed on the dotted line, we did our homework and reviewed both the product and the business case. We analyzed the delivery operation and all the associated business processes from the initial sale to billing. Once the analysis was complete, we began crunching the numbers. Projections showed that within three years of implementing RouteTrak, our savings would reach $60,000 to $70,000 per year.

It’s still too early to tell whether the savings from utilizing RouteTrak will equal or exceed our projections, but we are very optimistic based on the initial savings. We are already experiencing efficiency gains in several areas. RouteTrak has simplified processes for our drivers, eliminating paper manifests and cumbersome clipboards. It also provides us with the data necessary to better evaluate delivery routes and driver productivity.

Of course, we expected to improve delivery efficiency and reduce paper handling. However, RouteTrak also has enabled us to leverage less obvious benefits in other critical areas of the business. Utilizing RouteTrak has not only resulted in savings in the warehouse, but it has also improved collections and helped us generate additional revenue.

As every business owner knows, you cannot put a price on ensuring your customer’s positive impression of your product or service. We have found RouteTrak to be a selling and an image-building tool for our organization, offering us the ability to provide top-notch customer service. Our customers understand that we are very serious about service and are willing to make investments to ensure the best service possible, which provides us with an important competitive advantage.

In our case, customers understand our commitment to delivering the right product in the quickest and most cost-effective manner possible. In addition, our customer service staff has electronic access to the captured delivery information on every product ordered from our company. If a customer has a question, our staff can respond quickly, resolving delivery questions before they can turn into disputes and unhappy customers.

Another one of our cost savings goals is to eliminate paper-based sales processes by transitioning customers to electronic transactions. In January 2004, 29 percent of our business was conducted over the Internet.

By the end of 2005, that figure was 40 percent and growing, thanks in large part to RouteTrak. Our customers are more likely to order online because RouteTrak provides a means for customers to review product delivery status online. As a result, we are able to increase our business at a lower cost.

Moving business online also eliminates the need to generate paper invoices. Customers can print (or simply view) their own invoices through the company’s Dealer Station Web storefront. This type of electronic invoicing benefits both our company and its customers. It allows us to eliminate the costly process of generating and mailing paper invoices—a significant savings—while customers enjoy a streamlined purchasing experience.

Furthermore, the online invoices include delivery information, including captured signatures from RouteTrak, so customers can verify that products were delivered. This means that customers can process their invoices more quickly, which allows us to get paid that much sooner.

The Supply Room has become a large company with annual sales of $50 million. The benefits that a system like RouteTrak provides, however, can apply to any operation, small or large. The trickle-down savings are the same: as any business owner would agree, it is better to have employees selling products and talking to customers than filing manifests and delivery tickets.

© 2006 Jeff Schroeder. All rights reserved.

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