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Inventory Management - Ten Ways to Use Accounting Software to Improve Efficiency

clock March 14, 2011 8:54 AM by author StephanieE
  1. Integrate Order Entry

    Do your processes include writing down your customers' orders, only to have somebody else enter the information again to create an invoice? If so, you are spending more money and time than necessary by paying two people to do virtually the same job. You can save time and increase the accuracy of your orders by implementing order entry into your system. Using order entry allows one person to enter and save an order, and that same order can then be turned into an invoice when ready. You will save money, and also reduce human error, increasing customer satisfaction.

  2. Automate the selling of different units of measure.

    Some customers want a case, others want a whole pallet, and still others only want one of that same item. Sound familiar? Do you have to 'trick' your software into handling this scenario, or end up doing inventory adjustments? You can solve this costly problem by setting up one inventory item with multiple units of measure. By setting up the selling units you need for each item, you can have your system calculate how many you have in stock by unit, and you can easily buy, sell and stock your items how you choose. This can save you significant time and will also give you a more accurate picture of how many items you really have in stock. Most importantly, you can quickly tell your customer how many you have available in the unit of measure they choose.

  3. Set up and use assemblies to build or 'kit' items

    Do you put several items together and sell them as a kit? Or, do you manufacture something composed of many raw materials? Do you endure the painstaking process of entering each piece of the final item separately into your accounting system? If so, you can drastically cut down on time and increase accuracy by setting these items up as 'assemblies'. Setting up an assembly allows you to place a finished product on an order, and it will take all of its components out of stock for you behind the scenes. This cuts down on data entry and keeps your inventory counts and costs accurate.

  4. Take physical inventory more often

    Having an accurate count of the items in your inventory can save your company money, and your customers will be happy to get a quick and accurate answer on whether an item is available. You can make your physical inventory process easier by using a system that allows you to keep selling products while you take counts. The sales staff is happy because they can keep selling, the warehouse manager is happy because the counts are accurate, and the customer is happy to receive accurate information in a timely manner.

  5. Track inventory by location

    Is that item in the back warehouse? On the retail floor? Or is it out on one of the delivery trucks? If you store items in more than one location, you should quickly be able to see exactly where it is by location. You can accomplish this by setting up more than one inventory location in your software. If you have the ability to set up unlimited inventory locations, you can even set up (for example) a delivery truck as its own location. Setting up multiple warehouses saves you time searching, and can also reduce costly shrinkage.

  6. Automate tracking of serial and lot-numbered items

    Still tracking your serial or lot-numbered items on paper or in a spreadsheet? Not only does this make the receiving of those items time-consuming, there is no trail associating your customers with the serial or lot numbers for the items they purchase. You can set up your system to capture and store the serial or lot numbers for your inventory upon receipt. Then when you enter your customers' orders, you can choose which serial/lot numbers they have purchased. Your company will save significant time by keeping track of those numbers in one system, and you'll keep your customer happy by being able to quickly access which serial or lot numbers for the items they have purchased. This also helps you keep easy track of warranty information.

  7. Let your software system keep track of customer pricing

    Are you tired of flipping through files to find what your customer paid last time, only hoping that the page on top is the most up-to-date? You can eliminate this hassle by setting up your customer pricing in your software system. By setting up customer pricing in the software, you will ensure better accuracy, keeping your customers happy, and you'll also save yourself wasted time and hassle.

  8. Track profitability of inventory items

    How easy is it for you to see which items are the most profitable? How do you know that the items you promote or sell the most are bringing in the most revenue? With the ability to run reports showing profitability (Gross Profit Margin) by each individual item, you can check often to be sure you are selling the right items. By easily accessing this information, you can focus your sales and marketing departments on selling and promoting the most profitable items, enabling you to improve your bottom line.

  9. Enter purchase orders from order entry

    Have you ever run out of an item, and forgot to put it on order for your customer? You can have your system prompt you to enter a purchase order directly from the order entry screen. By doing this, you will be sure to get the items for your order, keeping your customer happy. You will also save time by taking care of both functions at once.

  10. Know which items you have so you can keep just the right number in stock

    Are you surprised when you run out of an item? Or how about when you find a huge overstock? Set up your system to keep a minimum and maximum amount for each item. Then you can easily run a report at any time, showing what you are running low on so you can order more before you run out. You can be sure you don't waste valuable shelf space by overstocking any items. This will streamline the purchase order process too, saving your company hours of time.



Creating a Successful Direct Mail Piece… It’s More Than Just a Pretty Face!!

clock March 7, 2011 8:35 AM by author cindyb

I think sometimes, we marketers make the mistake of putting too much emphasis on how a direct mail piece will look, rather than taking the time to execute a well thought out campaign. It is so easy to get excited about the size, graphics, and the color choices, that we fail to think about whom our target audience is, and what information of value can we give them, or what void or problem can our product solve.

As the marketing manager at Red Wing Software, a great emphasis is given to whom the message is being created for, i.e. existing customers, attendees for a trade show, or perhaps new prospects. Even though our graphic designer and I create the copy and design, input and ideas for the campaign can come from many different sources within our company. The sales team, technical support, development, and admin, all help us to pinpoint the right message.

For instance, when we created our new Fund Accounting Software, many months of research went into whom the right target audience would be, and what solutions would our software have that would be of value to municipalities and nonprofits. When it came to municipalities, we determined our software would be a great fit for small to mid-sized cities and towns. The goal of our first campaign was twofold, introduce our fund accounting software, and introduce our company itself. Thus our tagline “Big City Bang for Small Town Bucks” was born. We used this as our campaign slogan, it spoke to what our software was a good fit for, and our logo helped brand our company. You can click here to see an example of our first direct mail piece. To this day, this tagline is used on all of our direct mail pieces for fund accounting, as seen here in our 2011 campaign.

An important aspect for all successful direct mail campaigns is to have a good mailing list. Many companies buy lists for their prospecting or they create lists in-house using prospects or leads that have come in. When we prospect to a new market, we become members of the targeted groups associations, for instance, if we are prospecting small to mid-size municipalities in a certain state, we might join their League of Cities, and advertise in their publication, mail to their membership base, attend their trade show, etc. By taking the time to understand who our audience is, and what message of value we have for them, helps us to have a more successful direct mail campaign.



5 Ways to Get Good Tech Support

clock March 4, 2011 7:51 AM by author carolea

I recently ran across a blog that had great information for anyone who calls tech support for assistance. It doesn’t matter if you’re calling for help on your accounting software, your computer or your cable tv, the posted information can help you get your assistance in a quick and friendly way.

Thank you to librarianinblack.net for the great reminders on how we can all get better technical support. http://librarianinblack.typepad.com/librarianinblack/2007/07/5-ways-to-get-g.html

5 Ways to Get Good Tech Support

As someone who has both given and received copious amounts of tech support, I thought I could offer a few pointers on what works and what doesn't. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment!

  1. Don't be afraid or sheepish to ask for help. If I got a nickel for every time someone came to me asking for help saying "This is a stupid question," or "I'm sorry to ask you this, but...", well, I'd be rather wealthy. This is what the tech support people are there for! It's their job. You can certainly be nice to them, but don't be afraid to straight-out ask for help.
  2. Ask for help right away. Instead of plugging away for hours to try to figure out a problem, go ahead and tap their expertise early. The earlier you get to them, the less frustrated you will be and the more likely that you will have a pleasant interaction.
  3. Explain what you are trying to do when something went wrong and then what happened--exactly. Please don't give the whole story about where you are trying to go with your project and why you are trying to do what you're doing, and why you hate this particular program... If you can list the exact steps that took you to the problem point and then what happened, including any error messages you saw and screenshots, that will help the tech support person help you.
  4. Keep your goal in mind. Remember your goal is to get good tech support and to get your problem solved. So many tech support people get burned out. They're dealing with problems all day, never anything nice or a "wow this works great!" Remember that the tech support people are not the ones who built the product that is annoying you; they are the ones who are trying to help you. They want to help you. Remembering that, it will serve you well to say thank you when the solution is solved, and to be pleasant to the person during the interaction.
  5. Don't turn your emergency into someone else's. This goes out beyond tech report, but it also applies here. When we find ourselves in an emergency, or we left something to the last minute, we become crazed. As a result, we infect others around us with our craziness. If you infect tech support with your panic, you will not only get worse service, you will probably become "that guy" -- the person that the tech support people avoid in every possible way. You don't want to be "that guy," so calm down, get the help you need, and continue solving your emergency.

When calling about help with software issues, there are a few additional things to keep in mind…

  • Start with a reboot of your pc before you call support. They are machines and machines have fluky days too. Sometimes just simply rebooting (Shutdown or Restart) can correct the problem.
  • If you receive an error, write it down or take a print screen of it. And if you can, note exactly what key strokes or actions were processed right before the error was displayed.
  • Take a minute to think about what has changed on the computer recently? Did the operating system do an automatic update? Was a new printer or other hardware installed? Were any software updates installed (for the software having problems and others; sometimes an update to something like virus protection software can affect other programs installed on the same pc).


How Does the 80/20 Rule Apply To You?

clock February 28, 2011 10:54 AM by author StephanieE

Ah, the 80/20 rule. I am sure that at some point in your business or personal life, you have heard of it. Also known as the “Pareto Principle”, this rule says that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. We do use this rule here at Red Wing Software within our software products. When applied to product inventory, the rule says that 80% of your sales are from 20% of your inventory items. Knowing which items of the 20% are garnering the most sales can be crucial to growing your profits. That's where ABC analysis can come in handy. An ABC analysis within your accounting program can show you which items are most profitable. Our accounting software offers ABC analysis, which is an excellent tool for businesses.

But all science and math aside, have you ever noticed that the 80/20 rule can also apply to real life? As I think of my life, I can think of a few examples of where this rule might apply. For instance, about 80% of my free time is spent watching hockey and transporting my son to games. Yet when I originally signed him up, I would have thought it to be much less time consuming. My son’s hockey really only constitutes about 20% of the ways I love to spend my free time. Therefore, my surprisingly full and hockey-packed free time fits with the 80/20 rule!

What are some examples of the 80/20 rule in your life? Answers need not be serious or technical.



Three Unconventional Ways to Keep In Touch with Your Customers

clock February 25, 2011 9:10 AM by author StephanieE

I can still remember when the only way of reaching out to someone was by phone or mail, or in person. I know that many of you can too, even though the children in our lives are baffled when we tell them we had to actually just figure out plans ahead of time, talk in person, and sometimes, just wing it because we didn’t have a cell phone to call anybody. Of course, now there are cell phones, texting, e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, and so many more ways of reaching people! Here are some unconventional (and also not too painful) ways to take advantage of today’s technology to stay in touch with your customers.

  1. E-mail a useful document

    You can find an unbelievable amount of information on the internet for free, including case studies, white papers, marketing tips, research information, instructional videos and much more! The next time you find something that could be useful to one of your customers, send them that document via e-mail. It only takes a few minutes to send, and your customer will appreciate the fact that you thought of them!

  2. Invite them to connect.

    Some of you are probably thinking, “This is not an unconventional way of communicating—it’s the norm.” But for some people, connecting via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter is uncharted territory. A great place for a business to start connecting with customers on the internet is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a network of business professionals and is a place where you can learn all about your customers (if they are members), meet new contacts, join industry groups, answer business related questions, and much more. It’s completely free, too. Visit www.linkedin.com to learn more. In fact, I’d love to be your first connection! Click here to see my profile and invite me to be your connection.

  3. Invite them to a trade show.

    You are likely in an industry similar to your customer, so why not invite them to come along to the next trade show? If you are an exhibitor, some trade shows will pass out free passes for you to hand out to your customers. Take advantage of this, and provide your customers added value by letting them get in the doors for free. By the way, click here to view the Red Wing Software trade show calendar. If you are a customer interested in attending, we may be able to help. Send an email to marketing@redwingsoftware.com with a subject line of TRADE SHOW to learn more. Please include your customer name.



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