3 ways a growing distributor uses data to be customer centric

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When First Responders need equipment and gear between their large annual purchases, they need budget and they need a source. Those in the Midwest know they can rely on Dinges Fire Company to be their source.

Dinges Fire Company is the leading family-owned public safety equipment distribution company in the Midwest. Over the past 21 years it has more than doubled its territory and it is now recognized as a leader in fire equipment distribution, all thanks to an incredible team that positioned itself to scale with an agile financial technology stack and aligned with the best brands in the distribution industry.

“Our goal and our mission is to help fire departments find the equipment and resources that they need in a timely manner,” Renee Boyle, Chief Financial Officer at Dinges Fire Company states.

Moving off QuickBooks to fuel growth

When Dinges Fire Company acquired two businesses in 2017, their executive team knew that if they wanted to continue to grow, they would need to find an alternative to QuickBooks. Entering data more than once into different systems was no longer sustainable; not having visibility, access, or the ability to share data was no longer tolerable.

Renee led Dinges Fire Company through a smooth digital transformation, selecting Sage Intacct to replace QuickBooks and put them on the path of scalable growth. By moving to the cloud and automating processes to include the consolidation, validation and analysis of data, as well as integrating their in-house CRM system with Sage Intacct using its open API framework, Renee and team modernized their financial tech stack to create a single set of real-time data and become more customer centric.

Leveraging real-time data to gain a strategic advantage

From increasing inventory accuracy and accelerating throughput to reducing cost of goods sold (COGS) for better margins, Dinges Fire Company drastically improved efficiency and enablement by leveraging Sage Intacct’s distribution accounting software in the cloud. Here are three ways the Midwest’s leader in fire equipment distribution uses real-time financial and operational data to drive scalable growth.

1. Sales and Accounting Enablement

“We’re able to get more lift out of the day-to-day transactions and not just keep adding bodies to accommodate more volume.”

“I do think that the technology we have with Sage Intacct, in the accounting world, and our sales portal, from a selling and customer relationship standpoint, is a selling point for people that come on board with us, whether it be here in the accounting office or out in the sales world.”

Clicks may seem like a trivial data point; but, they aren’t. By using Smart Events in Sage Intacct, Renee has reduced the number of clicks needed to process inventory transactions. When fields auto-fill, documents are sent automatically and default values are used; this means fewer clicks and reduced data entry, which, in turn, improved accuracy, sped up processes, and enabled standardization for scalability.

“When we show them (Sales) what we can do and the tools that they’ll be able to use out in the field, it’s awesome. They can look up all the pricing information themselves, and they think, wow, I have access to so much more than I ever could have imagined.”

“So it’s (our technology stack) been a recruiting tool for
us with all the capabilities that we have.”

“We have about 175 active vendors. Each of those have thousands of SKUs and multiple configurations of those SKUs with numerous attributes. So we pare it back and give Sales a list of SKUs with all of the pricing built into either [Sage] Intacct or our sales portal. Now, as our team builds a quote for the customer, they can see real-time live pricing with our costs from the manufacturer and recommended selling prices. In competitive bid situations, they may need to reduce pricing and we have thresholds that allow a sales rep to alter the price, but once you get below a certain margin percentage it will throw a flag and require approval. These automated checks and balances allow a new level of transparency and monitoring over the company operations.

Within [Sage] Intacct, State Sales Managers have dashboards, filtered to their state, with standardized reports for them to view at any point in time. It’s absolutely wonderful to see that real-time data as the month progresses.

The last thing that I want is for our team to be waiting on me to crunch the numbers when I know it’s all at their fingertips in Intacct. We know the data is there, it’s easily accessible, and I want our team to have that information. Being able to react quickly, make decisions faster, see who’s performing and why can help our organization continue to grow. We want managers to be inquisitive about where and why things are happening financially, to dig in and understand their side of the business.”

Using Sage Intacct Dimensions to customize what they want to measure, Renee is able to measure margins, returns, and many other metrics on their products and product lines to be able to provide their customers with an evolving variety of the best quality products all in one place at the right price.

2. Customer Enablement

“We’re also striving to be a resource and knowledge base for fire departments.

The grants came along when Jeff Bryant started the business back in 2002 because so many of our rural fire departments do not have sufficient funding to purchase new technologies to help firefighters be more safe and do their job quicker and more effectively. So, he started talking to firefighters or fire departments about how to find grants and how to apply for them. We give them all the tools that they need to be able to tell their story, apply, and get the funding to help their community.

Then, we’re there to show them how they can use those funds to help them be compliant with today’s NFPA standards, which keep our firefighters safe when they’re in the field and help cancer prevention measures to protect them from particulates that are ultimately cancer causing in firefighters who make a career out of it.

By investing in firefighter training, doing the right thing by educating our customers and talking to them about funding, …doing all these things help fire departments have the information they need and eventually the orders follow for Dinges Fire Company.”

3. Supplier Enablement

“Around 90% of what we do is dropship. Within Sage Intacct, we use Inventory transactions to bring the goods in and then “ship them out,” even though they’re physically going directly from our vendor to our customer and they don’t physically come here. It helps us keep some checks and balances to make sure that if we’ve shipped something, and recorded the vendor bill, that we’re not forgetting to bill our customer. We have reports set up to monitor that dropship warehouse. It keeps us “in-line” from an accounting perspective, to make sure we have proper revenue and expense recognition.

There are all kinds of ways we can illustrate our purchasing power to a vendor. By using data from [Sage] Intacct, we can essentially gain leverage and prove that we’re doing our job as a dealer and distributor.

For example, we can go to our vendor and say, “Look how good of a job we’re doing… We have grown 35% in the Wisconsin marketplace this year! Could you help us with some marketing support? Could you come out and do a training? Since we’re really growing here, could we buy some more demo equipment at a discount to help our customers discover new products and help us sell more of your product.”

“We chose Sage Intacct as our future solution”

“The ability to grow is phenomenal – whether it be by adding entities or just adding volume with ease and not having to pile on additional overhead costs. Essentially, we are allowing people to do their jobs faster so that we can be more productive and more efficient as a whole.”

To learn how Sage Intacct Inventory Control works hand-in-hand with your purchasing and order entry processes for improved efficiency, real-time visibility, and more control across your procure to pay lifecycle, watch this short video or click the banner below for an overview.