In the first part of our chat with Hilary Demos, R-Equipment’s Financial Controller, she shared the various challenges their dealership encountered in the two months that they were with CDK’s Intellidealer and why they came back to ASPEN. In this second part, Hilary talks about Charter’s ASPEN business management system and how it was able to optimize dealership processes to help get R-Equipment back on track when they returned to Charter.
We are excited to have you back! How often are you using ASPEN and what has the process been like for you to return to it?
Hilary: “Every day. All day. We’re in the process of manually keying back in all the entries, which has been much easier than trying to take it out of ASPEN. And that’s not Charter or ASPEN – it’s CDK, the reports aren’t as clean. It’s just harder to pull information out of that system.”
How does R-Equipment set itself apart from the competition?
Hilary: “We are a really young ownership group. I’m 33, my older brother is 35 and my younger brother is 31. It’s extremely rare in the agriculture industry to have young ownership. On average, our employees are younger. So, we have the willingness to learn. We’re eager. We want to take on the new technology that I think some of our competitors have been a little bit resistant to just because it’s change and it’s new. That really sets us apart.
We’re also kind of a one-stop shop for work and play. So, BRP products can be crossed into leisure and then also agriculture. One of the major advantages we have is when one industry sees a slump in sales or has a little bit of a downturn. We can diversify enough that we don’t see that company-wide.”
Tell us more about your role as a Financial Controller.
Hilary: “I oversee the accounting and all the financial reports at R-Equipment. I head our reviewed financials and I also take control of the budgeting. I think what I took for granted the most with ASPEN is the point-in-time reporting. In the invoice balancing report, for instance, I could go and see where we were at, snapshot-wise, at any location at any point of the day.
With CDK, you have to wait until it batches out, which was set to 10:00 PM that night. I was kind of operating blindly on a day-to-day standpoint. So going and seeing all the comparative reports within ASPEN is phenomenal. It makes reviewed financials, an absolute breeze. If there was a question, for instance, on a particular general ledger, I could just go and pull up that report for the year with a click of a button.”
Since switching back to ASPEN, what are your favorite features?
Hilary: “I love the point in time, the invoice balancing. The check runs are fabulous. The standard setup – truly there are fewer clicks within ASPEN. We have a running joke that we never realized how much we all love the tab button until we got back to ASPEN.
Another great thing is being able to keep the tabs open on the items that you’re working on in the navigation system is phenomenal. You couldn’t do that in CDK. It was Internet Explorer-based, or whatever internet browser you use. But you could only be in one window at a time and if you X’ed out of it rather than closing, you lost your work.
I love that the work saves, and it just locks your console in ASPEN. So, that’s phenomenal.
Just, in general, looking up customers’ parts history is great. I know that my mom’s biggest thing was the advanced deposit report, and it shows by customer. That’s a great tool to have. The reporting is just nicer.”
What results do you anticipate having by using ASPEN again?
Hilary: “We would have clean, reviewed financials that we would be readily able to provide all the background work papers for, so that’s great. We are able to track the recovery and efficiency on our technicians, which their base pay is based on.
Having the point in time that if I see a check go through the deposit machine, I don’t need to track down each individual salesman. I can go into ASPEN and look at that. The budget is laid out much easier and overall user functionality.”
What are some challenges currently at your dealership that ASPEN is helping you overcome?
Hilary: “Efficiency. If we stuck with CDK, we would’ve had to double our admin workforce just from the amount of traffic on the Chart of Accounts and how long it took to just key random things like measuring our salesman commission.
The income statement by margin report is phenomenal because it gives you a quick and easy read of what your margin is by each specific line item. We have 22 lines, so that’s nice to be able to see that. Overall usability is great.
What are some of your goals for the dealership and how do you imagine ASPEN helping you to achieve them?
Hilary: “My brothers and I are young and we want to grow, so we’re hoping to pick up more dealerships, may that be through acquisitions or open territories. We’re open to each. We want to merge our proximity between each dealership a bit more as our next focus. ASPEN would help because it’s so easy to do transfers between departments, which is great, whether parts or whole goods. I jump between locations, and I oversee all three, so I like that I can see into each location or even separate expenses by location. I think that’s great.
I think a short-term goal would be to continue working with BRP to make sure that they can get ASPEN as one of their recognized DMS systems. It’s a personal goal of mine and I will attain it. We are actually the dealer of the year for the second year in a row with Ski-Doo. We will use our pull for that to make sure that they take it a little bit more seriously that we are not wanting to switch. We’re able to provide them cleaner financials within ASPEN than from one of their preferred DMS systems.”
Do you have any advice for others that are looking for a solution like ASPEN?
Hilary: “When we were looking at the CDK system, we were sold this bill of goods, but it wasn’t pulled through. When I was on CDK, it was not fun to come to work. I don’t like operating on CDK and I was in the business system all day long.
I think when they go through and do a trial of it, to see how much time it takes to do your standard daily practices – so what is the process of doing a bank rec, is it the same way that you’re used to?
With ASPEN, I can truthfully say, you will find it more efficient to do it this way than you would be on CDK. I have a great example. Our inventory manager came to us about a month before we switched to CDK, so we didn’t really train her on ASPEN. She came from a dealership that was using CDK. When we made the decision to switch back to ASPEN, of all 36 employees, she was the only one that was upset about it.
Now that we’re back, she’s ecstatic. She’s like, this is insane, I never realized how easy bringing an inventory of an item into the system is. And I’m like, yes, this is what we’ve been saying.”