Icas PaceSetter Provides WA Automotive Tools for Independence
Gaining Independence and a Whole Lot More
In 2003 WA Automotive in Boerne, Texas faced a huge challenge. After being part of a national distribution chain for many years, WA became an independent parts and service distributor. Not only did owner Richard Chapman have to find new sources of product, but he also had to replace the computer system that his previous supplier had been providing.
“Being 30 miles from the nearest major metro area, we would now be buying parts from four different warehouses, which stock parts from every major manufacturer.” Chapman said. “We needed a computer system to track thousands of part numbers and prices originating at many different manufacturers and coming to us via different vendors. In short, we needed the flexibility to be independent.”
The Need and the PaceSetter Solution
A new computer system had to meet a number of basic criteria. The system would have to incorporate both parts sales and the work order processing from the service shop. Another “must” was connectivity to the WA PC network, remote computers, wireless devices and supplier computer systems. Most importantly the system would have to provide high levels of inventory control and offer the tools to make proper buying and stocking decisions.
WA selected the PaceSetter system from Icas computer systems inc. Since PaceSetter has been installed just 18 months ago, the company has enjoyed a steady string of monthly sales increases over the same months in the prior year. For all of 2004 sales were up 25 percent over 2003.
How does WA explain that? “The system has enabled us to provide a much higher level of customer service,” Chapman said. “We can deal with the four warehouses quickly and accept several deliveries a day without exhausting our dock people. We have more of what our customers want when they want it.”
A key element in WA’s use of the Icas PaceSetter system is the ability to upload information quickly and easily. Regardless of the type of files in which a vendor keeps its information, WA can quickly import it into PaceSetter.
Chapman recalled a situation in which a lawn and garden parts vendor could not provide an electronic listing of prices and product codes. So Chapman called the manufacturer of those parts and explained his problem. Because there was no transfer or conversion issue to deal with, the manufacturer was able to send the information to WA over the Internet. Just 10 minutes later, WA had uploaded the information on 7,500 parts into PaceSetter. “We couldn’t do that manually, of course, or with our old system,” Chapman added. “And that’s another good example of how we could add to our offerings and raise our customer service level.”
Using the Internet
WA can now “visit” its vendors’ warehouses via the Internet, see their inventory and place stocking orders electronically. The days of faxing parts orders are gone.
In a similar way, Chapman said he can connect to his PaceSetter system from just about anywhere in the world—via the Internet and his laptop.
PaceSetter Provides Powerful Business Reports
Business reporting is another big plus with the Icas PaceSetter system. “I have reporting now that I had not seen in my 29 years in the business,” Chapman said. For example, the system can pinpoint to the day who bought what and at what price and margin. PaceSetter is flexible enough to allow WA to design and modify its own reports without having to use cumbersome report writers. Because PaceSetter is ODBC compliant, WA can also access its database through many Windows programs such as Excel.
Icas Offers Unmatched Customer Support
Chapman also likes the Icas approach to support service. A quick response is not the exception but the rule. “When we call Icas with a question we are not left holding the line or waiting days for a return phone call or email,” Chapman said. “Icas gets right back to us. If what we need leads to a software issue, they change the software.”
In his three decades in the automotive business, Chapman has seen his share of sales reps. More than a few systems salespeople told him their systems could do what he wanted or could be modified to. But too often the delivery is far short of the promise. That was not the case with Icas. “In fact, we’re finding new and better ways to use PaceSetter all the time,” Chapman said.
Smooth Implementation and Transition
Implementing a new computer system is never easy, but Icas helped make it manageable
for WA. Two Icas technical people were on hand for a full week to guarantee the system was installed correctly and the WA people could use it effectively. Because WA had to load all parts and pricing from scratch, Icas worked with the suppliers to automate the procedure and ensure that proper pricing was calculated. When special needs arose with pricing formulas across suppliers, the Icas representatives contacted technical people at its home office and explained the situation. Within the hour, Icas developed a new program to address this special need.
Because WA was moving from an antiquated system to state-of-the-art, installation seemed like a mammoth effort but within one week PaceSetter was in full use. When it came to training, Chapman designated one person to learn the system’s service applications, another focused on parts, a third on accounting and a fourth on management functions. In that way, the company could begin using the system sooner rather than later. Once it was operational, then cross training took place so that the business would be covered in the event one of the key people was away.
Icas and PaceSetter – “The Best Thing We Could Have Done”
“No doubt without the help of PaceSetter, we could not do the amount of business that we now do,” Chapman added. “We could not achieve the gross profit that we now enjoy. Hooking up with PaceSetter and the Icas people who stand behind it was the best thing we could have done.”