When Josh Carnley, owner of Vantage South (formerly Ag Management Solutions) in Samson, Alabama, started his business in 2013 it didn’t take him long to become overwhelmed by all the product and company data he had to handle.
Vantage South sells a variety of precision ag products and is increasingly selling data services to farmers and other customers in Alabama, southern Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle. The company has just six employees, including Carnley. But despite its small size, the operation generates a lot of information that needs to be tracked, monitored, and managed.
Like a lot of small companies, Carnley figured at first that he could satisfy his needs with QuickBooks®. And it did work for a while, but he quickly ran up against the software’s limitations.
The Inventory Challenge
“The first thing I struggled with was inventory, and the accuracy of our inventory numbers,” Carnley explains. “Because we don’t bill the customer until all our work is done, we would have products showing up in inventory that weren’t really there.”
For example, he says, the company might have had 10 guidance display systems on hand on Monday, showing up in the QuickBooks® inventory, but on Tuesday, they sold all of them and put them into customers’ hands. However, because they didn’t bill until all the setup and support work was done, those 10 systems continued to show up in inventory. On Wednesday, if three more customers wanted systems, there was confusion, although the systems had been delivered, QuickBooks® said they were still in inventory.
“It threw us because we couldn’t stay on top of what to order,” Carnley says. “This sort of thing made me feel like even though I was straining to constantly keep up with everything, I was failing.”
Early in 2014, Carnley was introduced to Iron Solutions’ PrecisionHQ business management solution at a Trimble® dealer event. He liked what he saw, but because it was more costly than QuickBooks®, he figured he’d try to get by with what he was using.
But then, “We went through a hectic spring, trying to keep up with spreadsheets for loaner equipment and a lot of other stuff out there. There was so much I just couldn’t do efficiently, but we had made a little money, and I decided I couldn’t go through another spring like that,” he says. Once he decided to find a better system, he began checking out alternative solutions. Realizing how difficult it would be to vet every company and every solution, he narrowed his search to a solution from an established company with the means to provide whatever support he needed. That led him to Iron Solutions’ PrecisionHQ.
The flexibility of the product suite, along with the ability to get a solution that fit his precise needs, appealed to Carnley. His company became a PrecisionHQ user in October 2014.
PrecisionHQ is a comprehensive, cloud-based business management system designed for precision ag dealers. It is specifically designed to support the mix of transactional and subscription aspects of the modern precision operation.
As a single integrated system for managing hardware, software, and services, sales, and profitability, PrecisionHQ consolidates dealer financials, customer management processes, ERP functions, and e-commerce into a single system. Powered by NetSuite®, the scalable PrecisionHQ improves efficiency and reduces costs. Its single sales, finance, and service management database contains all the information needed to deliver products, services, and subscriptions and to increase customer renewals.
What PrecisionHQ did for Vantage South was to eliminate the risks and errors of spreadsheet-based processes and unsophisticated financial systems. It gives Carnley and other dealers the visibility they need through its real-time analytical and dashboard reporting in order to improve their forecasting and planning.
Deployment of the system went smoothly, with on-site support from Iron Solutions during the launch. Downtime was held to an absolute minimum during the transition, and everything has worked smoothly ever since.
“What PrecisionHQ has done is give me peace of mind. Before, I was always wondering how much stuff went out the door that we hadn’t billed for properly because of the way we were managing the information,” Carnley says. “Now we have an efficient sales order process. We can create an estimate, turn it into a sales order, and then track the inventory. We maintain a smooth workflow.
“I like the fact that I can follow a transaction from start to finish. I can see where a product went, how it got there, and who it went to.”
One thing Carnley appreciates in PrecisionHQ, is it requires a serial number on orders involving more expensive equipment before the sales order can be completed. This guarantees that he is sure who gets which piece of equipment.
“Before, we might have had two products that went to different customers, but we didn’t know who got which product. We had to call them and ask them what their serial number was. We don’t have to do that anymore, so we have much better accuracy now,”Carnley notes.
Importance of the Cloud
The cloud-based features of the system have been invaluable for the field salespeople, who are always on the road and can access the system from anywhere. They can instantly log what they have done today, what they need to do tomorrow, and can easily generate accurate billings for their time and travel.
“We used to have to do all this via a spreadsheet, with lots of emails back and forth at night. This is much better.”
Vantage South also does its payroll through PrecisionHQ’s automated system, which Carnley says makes his life much easier. He is glad that the system can smoothly turn customer requests into work orders and then into invoices, and then pay the field sales people and others.