iZone Imaging is an imaging, printing, pressing, fabrication and logistics company that was established in 1999. The company is North America’s only Custom High Pressure Laminate manufacturer with fully integrated facilities.
In the past, daily operations at iZone proved to be tedious and cumbersome. The imaging process varied from one department to the next, resulting in a lack of cohesiveness. Quotes were created using Excel spreadsheets using complex calculations and formulas. Customer order information was troublesome to access as it was spread throughout several departments, amongst several files. The spreadsheets were changed countless times, causing a variety of problems when the person maintaining the spreadsheets left the company.
To complicate matters further, employees in other departments had to manually re-enter data into the spreadsheets, since nothing could be shared; the information contained in Excel couldn’t be re-purposed into other parts of the company’s workflow. Although iZone had an amazing product to sell, the lack of a centralized business management solution plagued the company with ineffective customer service and wasted labor. iZone was in dire need of an ERP solution; one which allowed its staff to provide better service to customers and share data seamlessly between departments.
“The primary challenges from a management perspective were the very limited ability to generate reports on performance metrics or market analysis of our customer base, specific sales levels of our product lines, sales representative activity levels, win/loss ratios, sales pipeline or really any of the many metrics that are important to having a complete understanding of the business performance,” said Grady Brown, President, iZone Imaging.
In addition to Excel spreadsheets, the company’s 21-40 employees depended on Microsoft Outlook and PDF files as part of its daily operations, which lead to even more difficult challenges for the company to overcome. “Additionally, the use of traditional office suite software for business operations created issues for data loss, file corruption, difficulty in historical research on existing customers, continual need for software upgrades and of course the fact that our staff could not access information when out of the office. From a customer perspective the challenges were less obvious because our staff had become very effective at communicating information with the tools they had and it just required a lot more effort to do so when working with manual systems and they had to be in the office to be able to do so,” said Grady.
Company staff also found that using traditional office software contributed to compromised annual revenue, problems in the sales process, and customer service issues. “Under our previous manual processes in our sales department our teams were almost completely reactive to the market and devoted the majority of their time to just developing proposals converting them to PDF files and e-mailing them to respective customers. The lead development process was based on printed forms being placed in mail boxes and e-mail exchanges to update on leads conversion to opportunities. Client relationship management was strictly in the hands of the sales representative and their e-mail systems, which didn’t allow for easy transition when the inevitable change in sales personnel would occur. Our relationship management and records primarily walked out the door with that respective departing sales representative.
Additionally, this manual sales process generated a significant amount of hard copies of information and filing cabinet upon filing cabinet full of folders on leads, opportunities, quotes, etc. Ultimately those orders won, becoming a completely separate set of hard copy files for the production information. Much time was spent by the sales and management team going back and forth between departments and significant loss in time, in just the handling of multiple unique folders— not to mention communicating with management and other departments in the processing of their manual work.
The impact of following a manual sales and marketing process was significant from a revenue generation perspective. It primarily left our organization in a reactive sales and marketing process. Our sales teams issued quotes and moved on to the next, and without an ability to track, record, task and follow-up with issued quotes in an effective way, they would just wait for an order to come in. This resulted in the market having more control over our revenues than our management and sales teams. Under our manual sales, marketing and production processes, we truly didn’t have a sufficient perspective on the state of our business or the status of our customer relations—other than the data we were spending considerable time updating manually. And that was not truly “real time” data.
As a result, we were regularly having customer service issues by not proactively following up on the sales process, the order status process or have a true appreciation of what our customer make up consisted of. We serve four unique market segments, and each has its own unique needs and expectations. The inability to have a comprehensive understanding of the balance of these respective market segments in our business resulted in having marketing and business focus in areas that were possibly not justified and not providing appropriate focus to the areas of the business that would provide the best returns,” said the company President.
The Mothernode Solution
iZone Imaging revamped their company by replacing all of the sales processes recorded in Excel spreadsheets or other traditional office software. The company decided to use the ERP version of Mothernode as the solution to manage their business, on a 100 percent basis. iZone’s staff can now measure the results of their marketing efforts and trade shows, and they depend on Mothernode Quotes to provide quick and accurate pricing to their customers. All employees can access the complete customer quoting history, and all information is quickly and easily communicated to multiple departments; helping to eliminate problems with duplicating efforts and duplicate entries when orders are fulfilled. And thanks to Mothernode’s versatility, work orders were customized to work similarly to the way iZone worked using Excel spreadsheets. Their older processes were made relevant and still functional—preserved by Mothernode’s modern ERP system (CRM Enterprise).
“Through the implementation of the Mothernode ERP system, we have been able to establish a much higher level of focus in our business by having clear understandings of who makes up our customer base, their buying habits, what marketing initiatives brought them to us and what levels of success we are achieving with them in a competitive market place. The ability to maintain historical data on individual customers, and then create reports that illustrated how those customers compared to other market segments—in order to prioritize our sales and marketing efforts—has been invaluable.
The additional benefits are the ability to keep legacy information on individual customers and the relationship status front and center; as well as managed better through the task and calendared events tools for our management, sales, marketing and business development departments to take appropriately timed actions, and track the sales and customer relationship processes.
An additional value is the means to standardize our customer communications protocols on sales, marketing and project management levels through the use of the communications tools for both internal and external communications, while also utilizing the e-mail campaign tools, as well as contacts databases that are specific to our four market segments. This allows for very targeted and personalized communications in a very effective way. This has been able to be significantly improved with the use of Mothernode reporting, opportunity status, tasking and calendaring of follow ups and ultimately having accurate data on our won, lost and open order status. We have been able to now take better control of our revenue stream and although we still can’t tell our customers when to approve our quotes, at least we know which ones we still need to push to, and those that we need to be better at winning next time,” said Grady.
Benefits and Results of Using Mothernode
Since implementing Mothernode to manage their business, iZone has streamlined the majority of its operations and further bridged the gap that existed between its people and processes. As a result, the company quickly realized increased revenue, improved efficiency, better service, and more.
“The Mothernode ERP system is an invaluable tool to our sales, marketing, business development, accounting and most importantly our business management processes. The ability to manage our business data in a 24/7/365 system provides greater transparency of our business and operations, which positioned us to truly measure our success and effectively implement strategies and tactics to continue to leverage those successes through continued effective use of the system, and the reports available. We are well on our way to crossing the bridge from being a good [company] to a great company, and Mothernode has been a big part of building that bridge,” said Grady.
When asked which modules and features have made the largest impact on the company’s internal business processes, Grady stated: “naturally, the Sales Management and Order Management Modules have provided us with the most benefit from a business revenue management and customer relationship management perspective. These modules have eliminated a significant amount of redundant manual processes and provided the greatest level of transparency to critical business performance metrics, which allow us to more effectively manage the business. The Dashboard module is also one of the most effective management tools that are made available through the system and has served our departmental and executive management teams very well.
Ultimately, each of the modules has provided means for improving our processes through automation of many processes that had been previously been done in manual and dispersed ways. Thanks to Mothernode, our business operations are centrally contained in a single system that each respective department is gaining benefits from using their respective modules, resulting in more consistent and cohesive operations, with maximum transparency to all levels of our team.”
In addition to positively impacting the company’s internal business processes, Mothernode has also been instrumental in improving the iZone’s customer service, customer satisfaction, and delivery model. “The Leads and Opportunities, Sales and Order Management modules have to be credited in providing us the tools to significantly improve our customer service levels, customer satisfaction levels, and ultimately improved our ability to deliver our orders. The consistency of information management and data transfer between these modules as well as further through the system has significantly improved our productivity.
Mothernode provides the ability to respond to our opportunities and implement orders in the most effective ways. The efficiencies created by the system’s use by our staff have been integral to our abilities to offer the highest level of responsiveness and order delivery in our market place. This has resulted in increasing not only the volume of business being produced but also increased our customer retention and loyalty levels,” said the President.