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Marine Dealer Success: Blackburn Marine Distributing on Serving the Needs of a 300+ Dealer Network


blackburnBill Blackburn was first introduced to the marine industry in 1986 when he was a teenager who helped do odd jobs for his dad’s small propeller repair shop. Through the years, Bill and his father worked to grow the business into a wholesale distribution center for parts, engines and engine-related parts. Bill took over the business in the late 90s and during that time, he’s also worked to expand the service department, which now has the capacity to rebuild outdrives, powerheads and lower units for dealers.

We recently spoke with Bill to talk about how the business is able to successfully serve a network of over 300 + dealers.

Ideal: Blackburn Marine has been in business for nearly 30 years. Can you tell me how you became involved with the business and explain how the business has grown?

Bill:“My father started the business in 1986 as a propeller repair shop. I was around driving age at that time, so I was involved from the very beginning helping with sales, deliveries, and working in the shop. He and I grew the business until the late 90s when I bought the business from him.

The business has grown from a small propeller repair shop to a wholesale distributor of parts, engines and engine-related parts. In addition, we still do propeller repair and welding, but we’ve also grown to do machine work and rebuild outdrives, powerheads and lower units for dealers.”

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Dealer Success: The Power Shop on Bringing a New Sense of Professionalism to a Dealership


Power-ShopThe Power Shop, located in Centralia, WA, has had a 60-year reputation of providing great service on Outdoor Power Equipment. When Cedric and Diane Pruitt bought the business 10 years ago, they wanted to maintain the same level of service, but knew some upgrades would have to be made. One of those upgrades was to computerize the business. Another was to put their daughter, Rebekah Oliver, in charge of the finances.

We recently spoke with Rebekah to find out how the business has been able to grow since her parents took over and how computerization has added a new sense of professionalism to the business.

Ideal: When your parents took over The Power Shop, they had to make some upgrades, which included computerization. Can you explain how that process went?

Rebekah: “When we purchased the business, there wasn’t a complete computer system being that was being utilize. We felt for us to allow the business to grow and be able to accurately track our sales and inventory, we needed a complete and industry-specific solution. We chose to purchase the Ideal software. Overall we have been very happy with the program and look forward to continuing to grow our business with Ideal’s help and support.”

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Support Tip: Updating Your Dealer Number for the Central Power Systems PO Interface in Ideal


The Ideal Support Department has received several calls from customers in regards to updating the dealer number for the Central Power Systems (CPS) Purchase Order Interface.

From the Central Power Systems supplier in Ideal:

1 – Select the Properties button

2- Select the Additional tab

3 – In the Account # field, enter your new dealer number

4 – Click Ok



Measuring Key Metrics in Your Parts Department


It’s no secret that the better you are at managing key metrics in your dealership, the more efficient and profitable you will be.  When preparing for your busy season, one area you’ll want to analyze and develop key metrics for is your parts department.  Having the right parts and quantities in stock, the right people in place to sell parts effectively, and boosting the value of your part sales will prepare you to have a highly profitable year.

With the help of dealership expert Bob Clements, President of Bob Clements International, we’ve highlighted three areas of focus that will help you evaluate the growth, profitability, effectiveness and overall customer satisfaction in your parts department.

1)   Offer the right parts and stock the right quantities

With the increasing trend of parts sales via the internet, it’s essential to carry the parts your customers want, and have them readily available. The two best ways to achieve this are by maintaining seasonal minimum and maximum stocking levels and recording lost sales.  This means you have to track your sales history and lost sales.

The easiest way track these measurements is through your Ideal dealer management system.  Ideal has inventory fields that let you create minimum and maximum stocking levels, and will generate order recommendations based off of those levels.




Lost sales are something that many dealerships fail to track effectively due in large part to limitations in their software systems, and it can be a huge mistake. Ideal helps you easily track this information by providing you with the option to record a Lost Sale as you complete a transaction, or in the Product Information. Make it a point to use this feature to track all lost sales because it will help you determine which parts you should add to your inventory.

We understand that you aren’t going to stock every single part by a certain manufacturer to avoid a lost sale, but you do need to be smart with the parts that are on your shelves.
Bob Clements recommends that a part should become a new item in your inventory only if there have been three demands in 90 days. If you track your Lost Sales properly in Ideal, you will have the option to run a Lost Sales Report which will provide you with the necessary information you need to make smarter buying decisions.

You can then take these numbers and determine your fill rate out of stocking inventory. Clements says you can determine your fill rate by taking your Total Parts Sold – (Lost Sales + Special Orders + Emergency Orders) divided by Total Parts Sold. For example:

200 parts sold – (10 lost sale + 8 special orders + 2 emergency orders) / 200 parts sold = 90%

That’s an excellent fill rate out of stocking inventory!

Clements says dealers typically have a rate in the low 80s. By tracking these lost sales and measuring the numbers, you will have the ability to hit that 90% mark.


2) Boost Your Transaction Time
When it’s your busy season, there can be times where you are swamped and feel like you can’t serve customers fast enough. Bob Clements has visited many dealerships where one of their biggest complaints is that they don’t have enough people working the counter to handle transactions. He’s done some studies in this area to evaluate just how much time the average counterperson handles transactions each day and the results are eye-opening.

Clements says when evaluating the average transaction time per person, you need to evaluate both the people at the parts counter and the need to increase or reduce personnel. For example, if you are doing 800 transactions per month with two people, for each employee that breaks down to:
- 400 transactions per month
- 20 transactions per day
- 2.5 transactions per hour
- 1 transaction every 24 minutes

Seems pretty manageable, right?

There are always going to be ebbs and flows throughout the day when you are busier than others. During Clements’s studies, he’s determined that on average, the normal transaction time in a dealership is seven minutes. He suggests that the transaction time you should shoot for is four minutes, and there’s a highly effective way to do this without employing more people.

The first thing you need to do is determine your fastest moving parts. Ideal has a report that will show you Parts Sales by Volume. Once you’ve determined your fastest moving parts, Clements believes it’s well worth the investment to purchase a Stanley-Vidmar/Lista cabinet and keep it at your sales counter. This cabinet should hold all of your fastest moving parts based on seasonality. With your biggest sellers right at your fingertips, you should easily be able to cut the transaction time for those items in half to help you achieve that 4-minute goal.

In addition, when compared to hiring an extra employee to help speed up transaction time, it’s more cost effective to spend the money on a Stanley-Vidmar/Lista cabinet than it is to pay the salary of a new employee. Clements believes your ultimate goal should be to have well-paid, highly effective employees rather than the more employees who only produce average results.


3) Increase Your Average Transaction Value
With the right parts and the right people working behind your counter, the next area you need to focus on is the value of your average transaction.

Ideal has teamed with Bob Clements to provide you with several key areas to analyze when looking at your transactions. These metrics are located in your Dashboard (Applications>System Manager>Dashboard) and include :

- Total Number of Invoices per Day
- Average Revenue per Invoices per Day
- Average Profit per Invoice per Day
- Parts Revenue per Day
- Parts Gross Profit per Day
- Number of Parts Invoices per Day
- Parts Revenue per Manufacturer
- Total Invoice Revenue per Day
- Total Invoice Gross Profit per Day
- Total Invoice Gross Profit Percentage per Day




Bob Clements warns that just because you increase the profit on parts, this has no bearing on improving your actual transaction value. To get a true measure, you need to take your price bumps out of the equation and focus on upselling more merchandise per transaction. You can do this by using Ideal’s Parts Feature to relate parts that are often sold together. For example to you can group filter and pre-filter, battery and core charge, etc.

By knowing what you should be measuring in your parts department and how to pull that information from your Ideal system, you’ll have a better handle on the performance of your parts department and how to measure and increase your profitability.


Click the button below to download the guide in PDF:




Tips for Handling Spring Orders in Ideal


In preparation for the spring ordering season, we’ve highlighted some helpful tips for handling your orders in Ideal.  The following information is listed under Handling Spring Orders, located in the Popular Topics section of the Ideal Welcome Page as well as in the Help>Help Topics section of the Ideal software.  Please reference those resources for additional information.

Here are things you may want to consider when preparing a Spring Purchase Order:

Viewing Sales History

To help you determine the quantities of Products to add to your spring order, you may want to view your sales history for those Products.  You can run a Sales Summary Report using the Periodic Quantity – Compare to Previous option.  This will give you the quantities of the products you’ve sold in each period and compare that to the quantities sold in the previous year.  See the Viewing Sales History for Spring Orders topic in the Ideal Help for further instructions.

Creating a Purchase Order Recommendation based on Sales History

Purchase Order Recommendations based on sales history can be used to help you create a more accurate Spring Purchase Order.  See the Running a PO Rec Based on Sales History topic in the Ideal Help for further instructions.


Creating a Spring Purchase Order

One thing to consider when placing a spring order is that if you Finish and Complete the Purchase Order, items on this order may not get recommended on your other Purchase Orders.  This is because Purchase Order Recommendations will recognize that the product is already on a completed Purchase Order.

Tip:  If you want these items to still be added to Purchase Order Recommendations, mark the Leave as Incomplete option when you Finish the Purchase Order, and then do not mark the Treat Incomplete POs as ‘On Order’ check box on future Purchase Order Recommendations until you receive your spring Purchase Order.

Note:  You can still send the Purchase Order using electronic interfaces even when leaving the Purchase Order as Incomplete in Ideal.  After clicking Finished, simply select the Leave as Incomplete Purchase Order option, mark the Interface check box, and click OK.

Did You Know?  When creating a Purchase Order, you can click the Show Activity button to display the Product Activity for the item selected on the Order.  Once selected, click the Hide Activity button to no longer display the information.

Ideal - Purchase Order Entry

Interview with Dareck Makowski of Golf Cars of Arizona on Business Expansion and Adding Computerization to the Dealership



When Dareck Makowski, owner of Golf Cars of Arizona, bought the business, he knew he had some work to do. The previous owners left the dealership with no computerization and a bad reputation throughout the community. Through some renovations, promoting the new ownership and implementing Ideal as its dealer management system, the three-store business has added a fourth satellite location and is benefiting from a 20% per year growth.

We spoke with Dareck to find out how he’s been able to grow the business.

Ideal: How did you get involved with Golf Cars of Arizona and what changes have you made to make it a successful business?

Dareck: “We bought the business in April of 2012 with three locations. Nothing was computerized. There was no database and service was booked on recipe cards. I came into this business from the HVAC industry, and we had a program that I thought was the best one we worked with called Successware. And Ideal has far exceeded my expectations. It’s a software program that’s actually better and easier to use than Successware ever was.

We opened our fourth location last December. I call it a satellite sales office in a small town. Since I took over the company, we’re doing about 20% growth every year.”

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Technology Upgrades to Make Your 2015 More Successful


TechnologyNow that we are fully into the winter season, this tends to be the time of year a lot of dealerships are evaluating what happened the previous year, and what improvements can be done to make this year even better.  A lot of these improvements revolve around technology in your business.

Here’s some important things you should be evaluating right now, from a technology standpoint, to make your 2015 more successful:

Upgrades to your dealer management software
The livelihood of your business is stored within your Ideal dealer management software.  Looking back at your busy season, did your system provide you with the important data and processes needed to run your business efficiently?  Are there any upgrades you can make to boost your efficiency even further?

Ideal releases several updates per year and we’re always coming out with new tools and features to improve your user experience.  Now is the time to make sure you’re running on the most recent version. As of February 1st, Ideal’s current version is 8.7 build 208. To check which version you are on, click on Help from the toolbar then select About.

If you need to run an update, we recommend that you reboot your server, or the workstation that’s the dedicated server, before running an update. Here are some printable instructions on running the update:

It’s also a great time to add any new user licenses, modules, or new products to your business.

Mobile apps
Mobile technology is becoming more and more part of our everyday lives and the same can be said in dealerships.  Ideal has worked to tie this technology into the software to help you with parts inventory, service, wholegood look-ups, and more.  This is a great time to learn more about Ideal’s mobile capabilities and see how it can benefit your business.

Hardware upgrades
Now is also the time you should be evaluating your computers, cash drawers, scanners, and printers to determine if you need any upgrades before the spring season.  You can make all of the upgrades to your Ideal software that you want, but the performance of these upgrades relies heavily on the condition of your computers.  On average, a dealer should consider replacing their computers every three-four years to help ensure the computers are running the software at a high level and are functioning well in a shop environment that’s prone to more dust, dirt, and grime than an average business.

Credit card processors are another area that you have to keep an eye on.  With changes to compliance and the introduction of EMV (also referred to as chip-and-PIN or chip-and-signature technology), merchant service companies are asking for vendors to implement new readers equipped with EMV technology to avoid future issues.  Ideal has an integrated card payment system with ChargeItPro that provides you with the latest in PCI compliance and EMV terminals.

As always with any software, hardware or equipment upgrade, it’s extremely important that you consult with your preferred vendor and get their professional recommendation before any updates are made.  Your Ideal representatives are here to help you with software and hardware upgrades.  If you have any questions, contact Brian Mohr by phone 1-800-737-1620 ext. 209 or email or Ryan TeBockhorst at 1-800-737-1620 ext. 231 or  Click here to see who your account representative is.

From the Price List Department: Information on New Price Lists Coming out in 2015



We’ve received a lot of calls recently from dealers asking when the new price lists for 2015 will be available. Most manufacturer’s do not release a price file until the effective date, which means we don’t receive the files until then. For example, if Stihl releases a price list effective 1/15/15, we won’t have access to process it until then. Rest assured, we are aware of the manufacturers/distributors who do major updates in January and have been in contact with them. These files will be generated as we receive them so they can be available to you in a timely manner.

Once these price lists are available for you to download, you will receive a notification upon opening your Ideal system. You can open the Price List Loading screen from the notification prompt, or you can do it later by selecting Applications -> Product -> Load Price Lists from the main menu.

We thank you for your patience.


From the Support Department: How to Utilize the Ideal Program Help


We all have that time of year we call the “busy season” where the amount of customers who need service significantly increases.  As a dealer, your busy season is typically in the spring/summer.  At Ideal, this is our busy season.  The months of December, January, and February are when we see the highest call volume, and callback times can be longer than usual.

To help answer some of your questions in a quick and efficient way, we’d like to point you to some resources that will provide some of the quick answers you’re looking for.

The Ideal Welcome Page

We hold weekly meetings where our department provides input on what type of calls we are experiencing the most, and the solution.  These items can be found in the Popular Topics and Frequently Asked Questions sections.  In addition, links to how-to videos and program help are also provided on this page.

Ideal Built-in Screen-Sensitive Help

Ideal has a built-in help system which allows you to find help on most of your current screens.  If you are on a screen and don’t know what to do, click the F1 button to bring up help for the active screen.

Using the Product Help and How To Guide

The Product Help and How To guide provides step-by-step instructions and definitions for most tasks within Ideal.  Once open, the help can be navigated to find the information you’re looking for.  To open the guide, click Product Help and How To in the Resource Center on the Welcome Page.












Note that in the Table of Contents on the left, clicking the purple books will expand the sections to reveal relevant topics. Once you find a topic, click to display the contents on the right.


You can print a topic by right-clicking in the topic on the right and selecting Print from the menu that displays.


To search for a topic using key words, click the Search tab in the left-side and type in a word. Tip: Using the root (or less) of the word will help find all tenses (e.g. use “allocat” to find allocate, allocated, allocating, and so forth)


We appreciate your patience during our busy season and we will continue to provide you with the best in customer service both on the phone, and within the program.

From the Price List Department: Important Information about Reloading and Ordering New Lists


IdealCSIThe Ideal Price List Department has received some inquiries from customers in regards to notifications on new price lists and reloading old ones.  If you receive a fax or notification that a manufacturer has updated their pricing, you DO NOT want to go into the history of a backdated price list and reload the data.  Reloading an old price file DOES NOT have the new part numbers or pricing in it.

For example, if you received a notification that Honda came out with a price list on 11/01/14 and you have one from 8/15/14, you need to order the new 11/01/14 list in order for the new pricing to take effect.  Having the 8/15/14 list resent to you and reloading it will not work.

For more information about ordering new price lists, email or call 800-737-1620 and enter ext. 223 or 224.

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