Encounter 2015 was a huge success!
by Rich Chadwick - Training Committee Chair
The Eclipse User's Conference, ENCOUNTER 2015, was held on September 14-15 in San Antonio, TX. The event was a success given the positive feedback provided by the users attending. The goal of the conference is to provide an Eclipse only event that provides an economical way for users to learn and network about their ERP software. One of the great things about the variety of sessions is that each session is typically filled by users who are using or want to use the feature involved. So if an issue comes up, there is a good chance somebody in the room has experience with it. That interchange of ideas and experiences is the heart to the conference, and provides the initial network contacts between many users that will continue on after the conference ends. With 21 third party vendors in attendance, the event is an excellent place to interact with an existing vendor and look over the offerings of new suppliers. The support of these vendors and the volunteer work of many users allows the cost per attendee to be very affordable. With a training and networking opportunity like this, many companies sent multiple users from different areas of their business.
Up from five subject areas in 2014 this year's event had eight tracks for different interests:
Purchasing/Inventory Control / Advance Sales / Accounting
Management / Pricing / Warehouse and Operations
Productivity Tools/IT / Vendor presentations and Roundtables
The trainers for the individual classes that make up these tracks come from Zerion, Eclipse users, Eclipse Product Management, Epicor Professional Services department and Third Party vendors.
Some of the highlights of the conference were:
With a Sunday arrival and check-in, some users where able to visit some of the local attractions before the Welcome Reception that night.
Monday's opening session had updates on the Users Group and the Enhancement Committee from Chris Bohn and Kevin Stevenson. Kami Kurth, head of Product Management gave an insightful update on Epicor.
Eclipse Product Manager Mark Artim did an excellent presentation on the development Roadmap for the Eclipse product. The Roadmap is the programming task list that drives what features will be in the product and when this will occur. With most of the Eclipse Product Management in attendance it was a chance for them to show the users what the future of the product will be.
Then it was off to the class sessions, which included things like Job Management, GL Report Writing, Branch Mgr. Responsibilities, Pricing Reports, RF Best Practices, User Defined Queues roundtable, and vendor presentations. There were opportunities to learn everything from Accounts Payable to how to prepare for Disaster Recovery. Camille Alberico, the head of Eclipse support, gave an update on the progress of the project to implement new support software. The current plan is for Eclipse to "lead the way" by going live in April 2016.
Monday night's reception had a Cowboys and Aliens theme, from the movie with the same name. It featured some great hors d'oeuvres and some very interesting outfits. Another opportunity to network, catch up with old friends, and enjoy some refreshments.
The conference hotel was the Wyndham located on the famous River Walk, peppered with eating establishments to fit any budget and taste. This being the third year, the conference really hit its stride and the number of attendance was up to 350. With ENCOUNTER 2015 filling all the meeting rooms and almost all of the hotel rooms, wherever you went, the people next to you were Eclipse users. At the bar the only people without a blue name tag were serving drinks.
Well so much for this year. Planning has already started for ENCOUNTER 2016. The location will be the Station Square Hotel in Pittsburgh, PA. September 11-13 2016. The hotel is located right on the river and provides a great starting point for visiting downtown Pittsburgh. The Training Committee is looking for input on the schedule of classes/events, and of course if you are willing to contribute by leading a class or roundtable please email Mary
, our Training Contact.
A Behavioral Approach to Higher Margin
Your sales people live in fear. Here's their nightmare scenario... they raise a price...the customer notices....they ask for an explanation...and stuff happens. Sales people know that they'll be scolded if margins are low, but if sales are lost look out.
If you've worked to improve margin, you've may have been frustrated by sales force resistance. The fear sales people have at the prospect of raising prices is real. Many Eclipse users have invested in intense pricing work only to be disappointed when the new pricing isn't used at the point of sales. Industry wide, less than 50% of prices suggested at order entry are used by the order writer.
The key to overcoming this challenge is to view pricing as a behavioral challenge. Start by recognizing that your sales people's fears are rational. They operate in a stressful environment. Competition is tough, customers know more and more. Faced with this situation, many sales people overact and assume they must maintain low margins on all sales. But in reality, most distributors have 30%+ of their sales that are not very price sensitive.
Distribution executives often rely on their sales compensation plans to prod their sales people to make more profit where they can. The reality is compensation plans move your sales people to focus on sales volume vs. margin, here's an example of why...
Consider the example of a real estate agent given by Levitt & Dubner in Freakonomics. A real estate agent is paid a percentage of a home's sales price. Both the agent and the homeowner have a common interest in the sales price. However, their interests are not identical. If a home price is reduced $10,000 it can reduce the homeowners equity substantially. On the other hand a $10,000 price drop may only reduce the agent's fee by $300 to $400. So guess who wants to sell the house fast vs. at the highest price? Here's a fact. When agents sell their own homes, the time their home is on the market is much higher than the average and the average sell price is 2% higher.
Similarly, a 1 point margin gain can increase many companies' earnings by 25 to 50%. How much is a 1 point gain worth to your sales person? Put yourself in their shoes. I'd suggest most sales people live in enough fear they will choose safety over a chance to earn a little more.
Financial incentives aren't enough to overcome fear. In our practice, our clients have increased margin by 1 to 2 points by following 5 basic strategies to overcome fear and gain the support of their sales team.
1. Play Defense First- The first step you should take is to reassure your sales team. They will breathe a sigh of relief if they know they don't have to worry about margin increases on competitive sales. We do this by identifying those sales that may be price sensitive to your customers. We look for price sensitivity indicators- i.e. Customer purchase frequency, amount purchased and the type of item. Once identified, we make sure these items are protected so the margin does not change.
2. Make the Process Transparent- When we conduct training meetings with client sales teams we hear one remark over and over. The remark is "just don't surprise me". Based on our experience we believe what sales people fear most is being surprised by a customer question on a price increase.
We suggest you involve your sales leadership at the outset of a margin improvement program. Make sure they and their people understand why it's important to increase margin. Help them understand how you will decide to increase margin, their vital role and what will be done step by step. Don't try to minimize the importance of the initiative. Rather, help them understand pricing management is another area where it's important for your company.
3. Start Slow- When taking on a new challenge, most of us are naturally more comfortable with a conservative approach. One of the best ways to reduce fear is to start slowly. You can substantially increase profits by focusing on your least price sensitive sales. Here's a fact from our practice...most distributors can increase margin 1 point in 3 months with modest price increases on incidental sales.
Most distributors have approximately 30% of their sales that can be considered "incidental". These are items where the customer spends an average of about $250 per item per year. They are non-competitive sales, typically purchased less than once per quarter. Aim for a 3 to 4 point increase initially. Your customers will pay less than $10 extra per item, per year. Focusing on incidentals is a low risk strategy your sales people can embrace.
4. Give Sales the Final Say- Once you move past the most incidental sales, give your sales people the opportunity to review margin increases.
Our clients' sales people review our margin increase recommendations. Sales people have the option to accept the recommendation, decline or suggest an alternate margin. Our client executives support this effort by assigning each reviewer with a specific gross profit increase objective for the review.
When assigned an objective, the reviewer looks at the business differently. As they start the review, they protect larger customers first. Then as they start to seek more profit, they become partners in looking for where they can safely get more gross profit dollars. Often, they will enter alternate margins higher than our recommendation.
We think the best validation of this strategy is the utilization of pricing accepted during the review. Our clients' sales people use 85+% of the prices they accepted on reviews.
5. Measure and Reward- The more effort placed on measurement and reward, the more margin you will gain. We urge our clients to set specific quarterly price utilization objectives. Then our job is to make sure each Order Writer and their managers get reporting analyzing their utilization and a detail of where they have overridden the system price.
Profit2 client executives who recognize building utilization is a marathon vs. a sprint are successful. Consistent follow-up and coaching have enabled P2 clients to move from less than 50% of system prices utilized to over 90%. Key to this effort is to recognize and reward performance. Our clients use different incentives, but the key is to directly reward the Order Writer for utilizing the system suggested price.
Overcoming fear to build margin is a challenge. Our clients have succeeded because they recognize pricing in the distribution business is foremost behavioral. They employ the same bedrock management techniques they use in other facets of their business. This combined with analytics and technology provide the path forward.
Information on the Author
Dave Roller is the founder of Profit2, a 19 partner firm dedicated to helping distributors safely increase margin by helping them improve how they price. Profit2 has helped many large Distributors and Manufacturers build margin and earnings for over 10 years. You can reach Dave at [email protected] or (913) 897-0159.
"The UFO Advice Column"
by 'Uncle' Frank Ousterhout
Dear Uncle Frank,
When I am using Quick Sales Order Entry the inquiry populates before I even finish typing the name. (I type slow.) Often I get a response of several hundred possibilities and I am told "Please extend your search keywords". Then as I start to type more, the number of possibilities reduces but again I am prompted to 'extend my search keywords'. Can this be changed?
Hunt & Peck Henry from Honolulu, Hawaii
Dear Uncle Frank,
When I am using Quick Sales Order Entry I must hit the enter button when searching for a customer name. But I see others that automatically populate a response as they keep typing their search. Can this be changed?
Speedy Typist Tom from Tigrett, Tennessee
Dear Henry and Tom,
The Rolling Stones may sing that you 'can't always get what you want' BUT in this case each of you CAN get what you want. There is a setting for each of your preferences.
On the File Menu, go to Preferences. Then click on the Advanced tab. The second item down says "Disable Auto-Completion in Widget Search".
- If this item is checked off, the system waits for you to hit Enter on Quick Sales Order Entry before it looks up your inquiry.
- If this item is NOT checked off, then the auto searching will begin without you hitting the Enter button.
As always, you need not enter full names nor must they be perfectly formatted. Eclipse takes all words in a name as keywords (plus other keywords that might be on the account.) For example, to look up 'Uncle Frank Consulting' you can just type 'Un Fr Co' or even 'Fran Un'. Any sequence or any partials of words. I find it an interesting challenge to figure out how little of a name I can enter to get the response I am looking for.
Note that when you change this setting, the system will remind you that 'You must re-log to see the change'.
ps - A big thank you to Sis Richardt for pointing this out to me last year. If anyone else wants to share a tip or ask a question, please respond to Mary Barlow
Eclipse Support Corner News
by Camille Alberico, Senior Manager, Eclipse Software Support/Customer Support
It was great to see so many Eclipse customers at the User Group's Encounter conference, and we missed those who weren't able to make it. A lot of wonderful, job- pertinent information was shared amongst an Eclipse centric audience, from customer to customer, along with many Epicor Eclipse employees who also participated. It was perfect collaboration!
One topic that was discussed during the conference was Chip-and-Pin (EMV) cards. We referenced a Question & Answer document that is on our website, and recommended that you review it. There is another important document related to Element changes that you should also read. In case you are wondering where these docs are located, follow these steps.
- Log into the customer website at http://erpcustomer.epicor.com/cws/public/signIn.do
- The 2 documents are located on the Home page as circled below.
- Please note that the document dated 8/25/15 has been updated, so even if you have already looked at it, you should go over it again.
9 new ideas this month! Don't forget to vote for your favorite ideas.
Accounting: 2 new ideas: Add a link to void a check from the A/P ledger; In A/P Entry, display the amount in addition to the order number and payable ID when searching for a PO number.
Advanced Technologies: 1 new idea: For ADP export, expand the time code to at least two characters.
E-Mobile & E-Commerce: No new ideas.
Inventory & Purchasing: 1 new idea: Create the ability to open the primary inventory maintenance screen in edit mode when accessed from inventory inquiry (currently view-only is the only option).
Order Entry: No new ideas. 2 ideas from last month were reviewed: Sales order entry - info line at bottom of body (display when viewing the total and header screens); Price branch - when doing SO lookups (when pressing F10 or question mark in order entry, display both the price and shipping branches).
Sales & Marketing: 1 new idea: Add an option to the Sell Price Override report to exclude overrides that are caused by subtotals.
Showroom: No new ideas.
Solar: 2 new ideas: Add "save and next" functionality to the recurring journal entry screen. Most other screens already have this option; Create OE MODE to track whether orders are entered in E-Term or Solar.
Systems & Utilities: 1 new idea: Sales budget monthly maintenance - create a "use default" option to apply changes to the default weighting to specific customers.
Warehouse Logistics: 1 new idea: Shipping manifest queue - create a branch transfer hotkey to merge/transfer individual orders from one manifest to another manifest.
Job Management: No new ideas.
Pricing & SPA: No new ideas.
Phocas Business Intelligence - Four simple tips and tricks you might not know about
Imagine being able to make faster, more informed decisions. What would that mean for your business? With Phocas Business Intelligence, you can have unrestricted, real time, mobile data and reporting at your fingertips.
Phocas enables users to drill down through all levels of your Eclipse data to develop reports that improve business. Rich Chadwick, Director of Organizational Improvement at United Electric Supply said, "When we purchased Phocas, we underestimated how powerful and easy to use it was...one of the software's greatest strengths is for a non-computer person to answer a sales question".
With more than 1,000 customers worldwide, 10% of them Eclipse users, Phocas rates highly for ease of use and its ability to deliver business results. Indeed, Gartner rates Phocas among the very best offerings in terms of ease of use and available support.
Join Jason Birch, VP of Sales and Product Development, on October 27 at 2pm EDT, for an educational webinar showcasing four exciting Phocas features:
- Mapping - visualize where things are happening with a single click
- Market Penetration - identify risk customers or products where you have not established a strong market
- CRM - assign activities, log phone calls or schedule meetings directly from Phocas
- Create Links to dashboards, scorecards or external websites from within reports
Phocas is known for its user-oriented, self-service business intelligence solutions designed to enable business users to analyze business data without the need for assistance from IT. Phocas tools are designed to be simple enough to be used by a broad range of users. Because Phocas solutions are available via the cloud on a subscription basis, organizations can get up and running quickly without requiring IT-intensive implementations. An extensive array of data connectors means that organizations can use Phocas with a wide range of existing business applications.
For more information or to register for the webinar, contact Jamie Brooks at [email protected] or 877.387.4004 x711.
User Tip about Bill-to and Ship-to Accounts
by John Heinzel, Revere Electric Supply
HOW TO COPY BILL TO INFORMATION TO ALL SHIP TO ACCOUNTS
Customer accounts in Eclipse can have a Type of Bill-To, Ship-To, or both (Bill-To/Ship-To). In Customer Maintenance, you can see the Customer Type checkboxes, as shown below.
When you are asked to make a change to a customer, it is important to know what kind of account is being changed so that you can question changes that don't make sense. For example, you may be asked to change a salesperson on an account, and when you look it's a Ship To only. Is the salesperson the same on the Bill To? If not, why would one Ship-To have a different salesperson than the Bill-To? What if you are asked to change the Outside Salesperson on a Bill-To or Bill-To/Ship-To: Should they also be set on all the related Ship-To accounts under that Bill-To? How do you know if there are any related Ship-To accounts?
How to Look for Ship To Accounts under a Bill-To
In Customer Maintenance on the Bill-To account, go to Additional>Entity Relations. This is a list of Ship-To accounts under the Bill-To (see inset above). You can open any of them with a double-click. If you are asked to change the Outside Salesperson on a Bill-To, you should look to see if there are related Ship-To accounts and question if these should also be changed.
How to Look at the Bill-To from a Ship To account
In Customer Maintenance for a Ship-To Only account, go to Additional>Entity Relations. The Bill-To account for this Ship-To will open up. You can then check the Outside Salesperson on the Bill-To.
How to Copy Fields from the Bill-To to Ship To Accounts
Many fields and settings can be copied from the Bill-To account to Ship-To accounts. The following fields can be copied:
Credit Settings, Credit Manager, Home Branch, Exclude from Service Charges, Commission Plan, Outside Salesperson, Inside Salesperson, Terms Code, and Price Class. To copy a change for one or more of these fields to one or more Ship To accounts, just follow these steps:
- Make the changes to the Bill-To or Bill-To / Ship-To account
- Go to File>Save to save the changes,
- NOTE: The change isn't actually made until you save, so you have to save before copying the change
- Go to Pricing>Credit Controls
- Go to File>Copy from Bill-To to Ship-To
- Under Fields to Update set any of the Fields you wish to update to Both
- If there are any Ship To Accounts you wish to exclude from this update, uncheck then on the left.
8. Exit this window
9. Click Yes on dialog to Copy Setting
Solar Classes are now on 9.0
|New Hire #1 Eterm Basic System Navigation
|Web - Zerion
|New Hire #2 Eterm Basic System Navigation Sales
|Web - Zerion
|New Hire #3 Eterm Basic System Navigation Purchasing
|New Hire #4 Eterm Basic System Navigation Warehousing
|Web - Zerion
Web - Zerion
ON-SITE Class - Zerion
Web - Zerion
Inventory Workshop - TORRCO, Waterbury CT
ON_SITE Class - Zerion
1104 N Parsons Ave
Brandon, FL 33510
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