How Noble Power Equipment Ties All of Its Departments Together to Drive Value
Anyone that has played sports knows the TEAM acronym: Together Everyone Achieves More. But sadly, many dealers that offer equipment, parts and service don’t act as one business. Others don’t link inventory to parts, so price list updates become a headache. Noble Power Equipment is keen on being greater than the whole, as inspired by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle.
Tim Peterson, the owner of Noble Power Equipment, is the quintessential dealer. He started as a technician and worked his way up to be the owner of the business. Noble Power Equipment, located in California’s beautiful San Luis Obispo, was founded in the 1940s and has been owned by Tim since 1985. We sat down and talked to him about how he ties all pieces of his business together to drive value.
What would you say separates your dealership from the competition?
Tim: “We’re a hometown business. In that way, we are different than the other companies that are out there, especially the larger stores. Being involved in the towns that we are in and getting to know the public has really helped us out. Knowing people in the community on a personal level has been a big benefit.
How do you compete with big-box stores?
Tim: “We take care of our customers. We offer sales, parts and service after the fact, whereas the big-box stores don’t offer that.
Service is probably the smallest part of our business from a financial point of view, but having that personal note makes a big difference in terms of customer loyalty. This gives us an opportunity to show what we can do for them versus the customer going in and walking out with just a box and not having any kind of a relationship.
Employees at big-box stores say hello and things like that; but because we have the knowledge of our customers and possibly their families, it gives us an edge over them. It helps us be a little closer and spend some time with our customers.
In our business, the service after the fact is what really matters. People in the community can come to a store for service and have someone remember them by name… and not just because it is printed on the front of their credit card.”
When did you implement Ideal, and what was the initial reason for doing so?
Tim: “In 1996. We got Ideal when it was still in the DOS format, and it was great. It saved us so much by making our business whole, rather than writing things down everywhere and trying to find them later.
When we have to look for work orders and pieces of machinery – that’s a big one for me. We used to have to go to a file or ask others, and then we would find out that it was already picked up several days before. It is frustrating when you spend a lot of time for no reason. So, it’s been great. You can find out so many different things, right from your workstation.
Being an older guy, I wasn’t used to Windows when we transitioned from the DOS format. My staff was much younger than I was, and they were all pushing for it. In the end, I was glad that we made the transition.”
What would you say are some of the must-haves when it comes to a system like Ideal?
Tim: “You cannot buy an individual module. You need to have everything because it all ties in together. If you have the inventory control and you never put your parts in there, you’ll never get your price list updates and then you lose a lot of money. Every time those price list updates come around, the system pays for itself.
Being able to use the inventory control in work orders, you’re dealing with something that, once again, ties together. You don’t have to redo a work order while the customer is standing there. Everything fits together.
Even when you go into the employees, integration matters. Knowing where they are and if they’re even on a shift; we’ve got employee clocks among other features. I can find out, from my two locations, if somebody is working that day. You have to get the whole thing, or it doesn’t work.”
What part of Ideal has helped your business the most?
Tim: “I would say it’s the reports. Every day, I go in, sit at my desk and I look at the reports of what me and my guys were able to accomplish the day before. I can find out how many work orders we have and what our scheduling is like.
I can get it in my office, and not have to walk around and talk to every single manager that I’ve got. I can easily see what they’re doing and what their direction is for that day. Everything is there. The reports are big for me.
It’s nice that within five or 10 minutes I can find out what the pulse is of my business, and I can see what we did in relation to the year before. That’s important for me because then I know that I’m not just wasting my time. Actually, my business is doing better every day.”
How much has Ideal contributed to the overall success of your dealership?
Tim: “It is definitely the last thing that I would like to go out of my doors. I could not run my business without it. Everything has tied into it, and it keeps track of the whole thing. My employees are able to find anything that they need at their fingertips. Without Ideal, I wouldn’t be in business.”