EXEControl helps CR Wireless manage retail sales
CR Wireless, Inc., a wireless communications company headquartered near Albany, NY, has discovered the formula for success in its marketplace. Recently expanding to eight locations, Frank Grant and his team continue to plan and look ahead into the future. Specializing in cellular and paging equipment sales and service contracts for businesses and individuals, CR Wireless is the highest volume private retailer of cell phones and pagers in the New York Capital District. CR Wireless is a Cingular Wireless dealer as well as a Verizon Messaging agent.
Prior to purchasing EXEControl Global Solution’s retail software package, CR Wireless had been using leading industry specific software to manage their business. In specific, there were three programs in use; POS software, contact management software and an off-the-shelf accounting program.
Individually the programs were serving their purpose, however, it was clear the lack of integration and flexibility would soon become a stumbling block hindering the ability to manage growth and location expansion effectively. Eventually Frank Grant, President of CR Wireless, knew he had to find a better solution or say goodbye to his growth plans.
While on a sales call at EXEControl’s corporate headquarters, Frank was introduced to the EXEControl Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software with fully integrated point of sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM) and full accounting capable of supporting an unlimited number of store fronts.
Goals For EXEControl
On the surface it looked like a great match but Frank and his team had a list of business objectives they wanted to make sure were achieved. By achieving these goals, the CR Wireless team could focus more on doing those things that generated value for its customer base and the company as a whole. The list of objectives included:
- Improved inventory management. They needed inventory controls ranging from knowing which serial numbers were at which store to an automated centralized inventory reordering system, and from real-time inventory valuations by store to inventory transaction history.
- Improved “cellular agent commission” management. They wanted the ability to reconcile their cellular agent commissions received, to what they were expecting to receive. Increasing volumes made it increasingly more difficult to verify their agent commissions (earned from new activations and upgrades) were paid accurately.
- Improved billing management. They wanted a system that automatically setup the account billing based on the data captured during POS transaction entry. The manual process of selling pager services, and then separately having to remember to setup the account monthly service billing, left too great of a margin for error.
- Improved contact management. They wanted to ensure every customer received a series of customer satisfaction and renewal follow-up calls. Their steadily growing customer base and redundant data entry into a separate contact management package caused them to spend more time setting up the calls, than actually making them.
- Improved reporting. They wanted a system that made reporting timely, accurate, and with virtually no administrative overhead. Reports were manually created at the branch level, faxed to headquarters and manually consolidated. Their top management spent more time shuffling papers and entering data into Excel, than analyzing performance and reacting to information.
- Standardized data entry. They needed an integrated solution. With three separate systems, every transaction had to be handled at least three times.
The bottom line was that current procedures and systems made it difficult for CR Wireless to have a solid grip on operations and profitability, and EXEControl appeared to be the solution.
After demos, meetings and tours of existing EXEControl user sites, the decision was made to install EXEControl. Company President Frank Grant said, “We’re investing in state-of-the-art technology to help us maintain leadership in the regional cellular and paging industries. It will make us more efficient, more profitable, and better able to serve our customers.”
Point of Sale
CR Wireless’s business revolves around the sale of pagers, cellular phones, and airtime contracts. Capturing the correct information when you make a sale is critical, not just for the immediate sale, but for follow-on business. When you sell a pager, for example, you want to record the frequency and cap code for the pager, the serial number of the pager, and whether it is going to be a monthly, quarterly, or annual billing cycle. In addition, it is important that the person handling the sale offers the customer appropriate options such as extended warranty and voice mail and that the billing for these items is handled properly.
EXEControl streamlines the entire process by integrating the capture of information at the point of sale and storing all of it in a single unified database. When a sale is made, the software asks the sales person whether it is a pager or cell phone sale. Based on the answer, the sales person is then interactively prompted to enter the appropriate information for a pager or cellular phone. The transaction cannot proceed until the necessary information has been entered. Recurrent billing for an airtime contract is set up rapidly from the point of sale entry through a series of on-screen choices. The sales clerk is also prompted to offer appropriate accessories and options.
If the customer chooses to pay by credit card, the card is verified automatically from the point of sale. All eight stores verify credit cards using just a single phone line.
When Cingular cell phone service is sold, the commission Cingular owes CR Wireless is automatically calculated and recognized as a receivable. The salesperson’s commission is also automatically calculated. When agent commissions are received, EXEControl reconciles the payments and validates their accuracy to make sure that none are missed. When a pager contract is sold, the revenue is recognized in a deferred method over the life of the contract. The EXEControl system also offers the ability to distinguish between new airtime sales and recurring billing on financial reports.
Strong inventory management tools are essential for businesses to reduce obsolescence and shrinkage; also to maximize service, customer satisfaction, and asset (cash) utilization.
CR Wireless has been given a new level of control over its inventory through the EXEControl system, including the ability to create new inventory items quickly and easily, the printing of barcode labels, the ability to create a pricing matrix structure for easy pager pricing maintenance and the ability to print minimum/maximum reports of inventory for each store. In addition, managers have the capability to identify the value of the inventory at each store, to perform inventory counts using system generated count tickets, and to track loaners by transferring them to a separate inventory location.
Purchasing of inventory has been improved with the automatic creation of purchase orders when selected products reach their prescribed minimum levels. When invoices arrive, they are matched against purchase orders to prevent duplicate payments and ensure quantity accuracy.
Telemarketing and contact management
A certain key to profitability in the cellular communications and paging business is customer retention for year after year repeat business. To support this requirement, the “telemarketing center” in EXEControl generates for each store a list of customers who must be called the following day.
As the records are accessed, information about previous calls can be viewed. As the customers are called, the account status can be updated with call details and the next call back date. In addition, managers can easily print reports that show the percentage of follow-up calls that are being made and how effective they are, measured by the dollars of additional sales generated per call. According to a cellular service industry study, annual turnover is well in excess of 30% of customers each year. CR Wireless admits its performance is significantly better than the industry average.
The Bottom Line
A switch in software was an absolute necessity to compete in a vast and mature market such as cell phone and pager sales. Since going live on the EXEControl system in early 2002, CR Wireless has recognized 60% growth in store locations. The EXEControl system has “greatly improved our repeat business” and “eliminated our reporting redundancy allowing us to focus on sales and profits.” (Mike Gourlay: Partner CR Wireless, Inc.)
In broad strokes, the EXEControl system has done three key things for CR Wireless:
First, EXEControl provides control, integrating the business systems of all the stores with corporate headquarters. It also provides the capability for remote training to ensure consistency of customer service.
Second, EXEControl improves efficiency, streamlining the entry of information, saving enormous amounts of time, eliminating the redundancy of duplicate data entry into multiple software packages, and slashing the opportunities for data input errors. The software also makes it easy to setup recurrent sales of airtime services at the same time that phones and pagers are sold.
Third, EXEControl delivers information to support rapid business decisions. Company managers can see a snapshot of any store’s business, including sales of products and services, inventory, and telemarketing activity at any time of day or night.
The capacity of the system is beyond what I imagined. I am still discovering what it can do.