Notes from the President

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

Instead of telling you what I think this month, I’ll just ask some questions to provoke some thought. If these questions look familiar, and you’ve been asking them for a while, it might be because I asked similar questions in this newsletter about eleven years ago. Don’t just read the questions, actually think about your answers.
Are you controlling your business, or is your business controlling you?
Do you control the expenses in your business by operating from a budget, or do you operate by the “seat of your pants”?
Do you have processes in place (and documented) for internal job functions, or do you assume everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing?
You know that everyone in your organization has certain responsibilities. Have they been clearly communicated, and do the people in your organization know they have these responsibilities?
Do you know the true cost of items that you produce or buy for resale, including indirect costs?
Do you know your most profitable items and those items that are not so profitable and maybe should be discontinued?
Do you know your businesses key financial ratios, what they mean, and where the danger levels are?
Do you analyze the return on new asset purchases before the purchase is made?
If you think you have good answers to all of these questions, good for you. I challenge you to continually ask these questions throughout the year, and improve operations through better management. At Red Wing Software, we evaluate our position and try to answer these questions regularly. We fear that once we think we know all the answers, we stop improving.

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

One of Red Wing Software’s core values is to have fun. As an example, while I’m writing this, I hear a chorus of voices singing Happy Birthday in someone’s office. Don’t get me wrong, everyone takes their respective job seriously and wants to live up to our Vision – “Creating the Best Management Software Experience.” But, occasionally, a bean bag tournament will break out.

When you work with the best people and have great customers, then get them together, as we recently did at a classroom training in our Minnesota office, it’s hard not to enjoy the experience. On several occasions over the three-day training, attendees would ask, “Can I meet (fill in the blank)? I talk to them all the time and would like to put a face to the name.” We’d get them together, and then I’d hear the customer say, “I’m the person that always calls and bugs you about …”. Of course, the answer from our staff is always, “You’re not bugging me; that’s my job and we’re here to help. We would much rather you call and get help than struggle and get frustrated. We like to hear from you.”

Our team really does enjoy doing their jobs. During one of the breaks, a customer wanted to discuss something they were struggling with in the software, and had a suggestion for a new feature. Within about two minutes we had a small team assembled to hear what the issues were and find ways to help. Believe me when I say, “These team members didn’t drop what they were doing just because I asked them to - they truly wanted to know what we could do to improve the customer experience.”

Join us in having fun, and help us have fun by letting us help you.

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

I recently read an article in Software Executive magazine about customer success. While this information related specifically to the software industry, it could easily be applied to virtually any business. The story talked about going beyond just answering your customers’ questions and focused more on getting the users of your product to use more of the capabilities built into your product.

At Red Wing Software, we have a team that focusses on creating helpful information for using our software. This includes installation instructions, getting started guides, online documents and videos that help our users navigate through the processes of getting information into the software, and running the reports needed to make informed financial decisions for your business.

In addition to these helpful documents, videos, and “How2” instructions, we offer multi-day classroom training, one and two-hour webinars on specific functionality, and on-site professional services. While we try to make it as easy as we can to use the software, we are spending additional resources to help our customers get more out of their software investment.

I challenge everyone to take a look at the product or service they sell and look for ways to help your customers get more out of your offering. You have invested a lot of time, money, and energy to create the products your business offers. Are your customers taking advantage of all the effort you have invested, or are they just using enough to get by?

I also challenge all of our customers to take advantage of what we have created over the last 39 years of software development. Poke around a little in the many reports in the system. You can’t hurt anything in your data by running reports, and you might find some valuable information about your business that you can use to be more profitable.

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

In July, a few staff members from Red Wing Software participated in two different conferences discussing current accounting and technology issues. The first event was a meeting of Certified Public Accountants that takes place every other year. I was fortunate enough to be a presenter on two different panels during this conference, talking about current technologies specifically related to accounting. The other conference was a meeting of professionals dealing with standards for gathering and reporting financial data for specific vertical markets. Dick Moore, Development Manager, and Julie Strain, Sales Engineer, presented information on management accounting implementation and challenges.

At both meetings, one of the major topics of discussion was the effects and consequences of the new tax laws on businesses. These discussions ranged from new depreciation rules, to the issues on the effect of taxes owed by a C Corporation, S Corporation, and Sole Proprietor. It was clear that there are still many questions about some of these new rules, and how they will be interpreted. We are still waiting for some guidelines from the IRS on how some of these changes should be handled.

I’m no tax expert, but one thing is clear: it will be more important than ever to be working with people that are experts on the subject. The best thing that each of us can do in our business is to keep the most accurate records possible, so when we work with our accountants and consultants to calculate taxes owed at year-end, we can provide the level of detail these experts need to accurately help us complete our tax forms.

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton is handing over the reins this month, for the Notes from the President section of the newsletter, to allow two long-term, valuable employees to share their thoughts as they take steps toward new and exciting changes.

Marlene Moore

There are times in one’s life that cause you to stop and reflect on the experiences and the people you have encountered. Retiring from a job that you have done for over 35 years is one of those times. What is even more astounding is that there are a lot of you I have been talking to since those first years of home computers in the 80s. Ken Hilton asked me to write an announcement to let our customers know that as of July 1st, I will be transitioning from doing phone support to a new position at Red Wing Software. In reflecting back to my first years with this company, I was trying to remember when I began doing support full time. My first years were part time doing various jobs while being additionally occupied with four young daughters. At that time, Ken was handling all of the customer support. Yes, that's right, Ken was a one-person support team! I don’t remember the exact date, but Ken was gone for a week at a trade show. When he returned, the support calls were all done. That marked the beginning of relationships I have accumulated with so many wonderful people we have as customers. In the midst of resolving your accounting and payroll puzzles, we have laughed a lot together, swapped stories, and sometimes shared tears. You have been friends, as well as customers.

My goal remains to help you, but in a different position assisting in the development of various CenterPoint training tools. I will also be in the office less hours giving me more time for our 12 grandchildren and their endless activities.

So why does one continue to work for the same company for 38+ years? For me, it is because I am proud to be part of the Red Wing Software team, I believe in the products we provide, and I have enjoyed what I do. Who wouldn’t want to sit in a comfortable chair all day, talk to a great bunch of folks from all over the country, and solve puzzles? That brings it back to you. Thank you for being gracious and loyal customers of Red Wing Software! You have been a pleasure to work with and I feel very privileged to have assisted you in your businesses through all the years. I wish you success and continued great relationships with the Red Wing Software team.

Mark Machtemes

As the days fly by bringing me to my retirement day at Red Wing Software, my mind reflects on many memories going back to 1982, when I first started in the software business and my relationship with Red Wing Software. Looking back 36 years, Red Wing Software was a pretty small company and the personal computer and software industries were just starting to be implemented by small businesses and farmers. As all of my time in the industry revolved around sales, it provided me the opportunity to meet lots of great people, many who are still customers, marketing partners, current and past employees and even competitors. It’s still exciting working with both new and long-time customers along with industry acquaintances, in many cases these people became life-long friends. I remember a sales mentor once explaining to me the difference between a good sales person and a great sales person; he said “A good sales person will remember a customer’s spouse and kid’s names, while a great sales person will remember the customer’s spouse name, their kid’s names and family dog’s name.” When you get to know the people you work with that well, it pretty much cements a long-time relationship.

While the industry continues to change at a very fast pace, sometimes creating some stressful moments and the need to learn new things, it also provides businesses the ability to improve efficiency and capture more financial information about their business. Through all the technology changes, Red Wing Software has strived to provide great software products and awesome software support services. If and when a conflict arises, Ken Hilton, President of Red Wing Software response is, “Let’s try to do what is in the customer’s best interest.” It’s easy to understand why Red Wing Software has many long-time customers. Seeing and hearing customers’ success stories is probably the best part of coming to work every day and being part of this organization.

Although retirement will allow me more time to golf, fish, travel, spend time with family and friends and probably drive my wife Pamela a little crazy, it’s also a little scary realizing I won’t be spending as much time with all the amazing staff at Red Wing Software.

I’ve already informed a fellow staff member to text me when Pam Hilton is making a batch of cookies, as the Terminator would say, “I’ll Be Back.”