About two years ago, Lee Holland knew something had to change for his family’s four Southern Oil convenience stores. A series of unfortunate events, including the sudden illness of the company’s bookkeeper and a mounting pile of boxes filled with daily generated sales reports, spurred him to have a heart-to-heart talk with his dad.
“I told him we really needed to automate our processes,” Holland says. “We were putting a lot of man hours into doing it the old fashioned way. Our store managers were pushing a lot of paper, generating a lot of work, and we were literally keeping the reports in boxes in back of the warehouse.”
ROG had talked to Holland’s father many times about upgrading or replacing the system, but he wasn’t ready to address the issue. The problem was each store manager was sending in a report at the end of the day, every day, and it had to checked and verified and entered into the computer by hand. Holland had ROG’s contact information in his desk, so he reached out.
ROG presented the different hardware and software options, including an upgraded version of the company’s current system along with some new systems. Holland and his team decided on a new software system. The four stores received new computers, a new back office program, and scanning stations at retail.
The install and set up happened quickly and with minimal downtime or issues. The results were reduced paperwork and need for storage, and many other time-consuming and costly problems. Instead of each store manager printing out daily sales reports and inputting data into a worksheet to determine if the cash register balanced out, a new software program did the calculations for them.
“It did all the math for us and took out a lot of human error,” Holland says. He adds that the software tracked the company’s ordering process and gave them clear margins so they knew exactly where they were making or losing money.
“We had 300 different brands of cigarettes on the wall, all at different price points, and we had to get our hands around it,” he says. “Suddenly, we had tons more data, it cut down on a lot of the leg work and time we had spent buried under paper. The new process saved me about 15 hours a week in time, and two to three hours a day per store manager – an estimated total savings of 25 hours a week.
Rather than run the old system along with the new system in order to test it out like some companies, Holland said they simply didn’t have the manpower to do that, so they went cold turkey. There were snafus of course, like any installation, but within a month they had worked out any kinks.
The most significant benefit, he notes, was suddenly having access to heaps of data that Holland and his team never had before.
“We could see how every item was selling in our stores...which sold better at one store than another,” Holland says. “We gained endless amounts of data and control. Before that, we only knew what the managers told us. With the new system, we could say that a certain store sells 29% more Newports than another, rather than just saying it sells more cigarettes in general.” He also liked being able to change prices on every inventory item from my desk without having to rely on store managers to do it.