Interview with Family Center Farm & Home on the Secret to Multi-Location Inventory Management
The more stores you have, the more difficult it becomes to manage your inventory. Each location has its own stocking requirements, which makes it easy to accidentally overstock one of them and understock the other – or vice versa. And if you throw seasonality into the mix – as is the case with farm and home dealerships – then you have an even greater margin for error.
To avoid any potential disasters due to poor inventory tracking, Family Center Farm & Home has decided to ditch old paper-based methods in favor of something a little more modern – software-based automation.
We recently had the pleasure of discussing the switch to the new method with Jerod Ames, the current Power Equipment Director at the dealership. See what he had to say in our latest interview with him below!
What can you tell us about Family Center Farm & Home and your role in the business?
Jerod: “I’ve been with the company now for about eight years, with my current role as the Power Equipment Director. We are a family-owned and we operate the business with five current locations, soon to be six. The business has started out very small, selling tractor parts, and it has grown into what it is today.
All of our current locations are full-service independent dealers for Honda, Kawasaki, Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, Cub Cadet, Ferris and Stihl.”
What do you think makes Family Center Farm & Home so successful?
Jerod: “I would say our employees would be the number one reason we are so successful. We strive to deliver excellent customer service and a superb experience for our customers when they walk through the doors.
Along with carrying the best products in the industry and servicing everything we sell, we provide a great atmosphere for the customer.
We’re very unique in the farm and home industry, with our motto being ‘The Everything Store’ and ‘We service what we sell.’ We make it a priority to stand behind those statements.
Several Farm and Home stores can be perceived as ‘big box stores,’ but that’s not what we consider ourselves to be. By going above and beyond to provide the support customers demand and expect, we take pride in remaining true to our values. Ideal plays a huge role in providing this to our customers.”
What would you say are your key responsibilities?
Jerod: “My key responsibilities include the purchasing of power equipment for all of the store locations, keeping track of inventory, managing transfers between locations, customer support, managing and implementing new projects, policies and procedures, working with store managers and store employees, and making sure everything runs smoothly in our OPE departments company-wide.”
When did you implement the Ideal software and why?
Jerod: “We implemented Ideal at one of our locations about seven years ago, and now use it at all of our locations.
Prior to that, we were very old-fashioned. We were hand-writing tickets and performing most of our tasks manually, including wholegood tracking. We knew we were making money from the department but couldn’t pinpoint exactly where all the money was coming from, or going for that matter. We had a lot of wasted space in the parts rooms, so we wanted something that we would be able to use in several different aspects of the department.
We knew we had to do something quickly – to get organized and evolve with the ever-changing industry – or we would get left behind.”
How did you come across Ideal?
Jerod: “We sent one of our parts managers to the Green Industry & Equipment Expo – or the GIE – to find something that would help us, and we found Ideal. Ideal’s Sales Manager got us going with the system, and it’s been a huge success for us ever since.”
Which part of Ideal helps you with your responsibilities the most?
Jerod: “Inventory management. Since we have multiple stores, one of our biggest challenges has been keeping track of thousands of wholegood SKUs across all the locations. Until we implemented Ideal, we couldn’t keep up as accurately as we do now.
Another excellent feature is the ability to manage all the OPE departments from the corporate office. By using the reports and dashboard within Ideal, we can monitor the departments and make immediate changes in order to reach our daily goals and ensure customers are taken care of in a timely manner.”
How has Ideal contributed to your overall success so far?
Jerod: “Ideal has allowed us to manage parts, wholegoods, the service center, technicians, employees, employee training and basically every other aspect of our OPE business. It’s made us capable of harnessing the constant daily challenges and stresses of the OPE business and them into something manageable and easy to tolerate – and in turn make more money!
What was the Ideal support team like during the implementation process?
Jerod: “Very helpful. They made it very easy for us to get into Ideal and start using it quickly. It took us about a week to really start playing with it and figuring things out. After that, it just kind of took off.
We are still learning new things every day, and we’re constantly implementing fresh ideas in terms of how we can use the software to its fullest potential. However, that first step, which was learning the basics, was very easy.”
How is the support team when it comes to addressing your daily challenges?
Jerod: “It’s excellent. If we have any problems with the software, they call us back quickly. They’ve been a huge help for us whenever we need it – they listen to our wants and needs and address them in a timely manner.
We’ve had the pleasure of building a relationship that is no longer just a ‘business relationship.’ New dealers that take on Ideal will find out quickly that the entire Ideal team consists of amazing people, and it will be easy to soon call them your friends.”
How does Ideal help you with multi-location management?
Jerod: “By allowing me to look up detailed information and make changes, if needed, on each store at any given moment from anywhere, as long as I have my computer and internet connection.
Whenever we need to transfer a part or a wholegood from one location to another, we can log into the system and see where everything is. We can see everything at once and it’s very user-friendly. This lets us post transfers and keep the communication between everybody very simple and accurate. It saves us a ton of time that was wasted in the past on the phone, trying to hunt something down.”
How would you say Ideal has changed your professional life?
Jerod: “Ideal has given me the tools to make daily tasks more manageable. It’s helped me be more efficient when completing those tasks, and it’s given me the confidence that I’m doing everything possible to make the department more successful.
It has also helped me be more persistent with the duties that we know will help our business grow. It’s easy to log on in the morning, run reports to see what we did the previous day and check each location to make sure everything is running smoothly. It’s fun and exciting to come to work each morning to see how we did or what we need to do.
I can’t imagine what things would be like now if we were still running the department like we were seven years ago.”