R-Equipment is a family-owned and operated dealership through and through. In 1996, lifelong farmer, Ed Reichling, and his wife, Tammy, founded R-Equipment from their family farm. At the time, they were only selling used equipment, but quickly noticed a niche for bottom hopper commodity trailers in the grain belt of Illinois.
They expanded to a second location in Dodgeville, Wisconsin and picked up New Holland as a franchise in 2006. With the help of their daughter, Hilary, and two sons, Colby and Cash, the family opened a third location in Sycamore Illinois to take on BRP Can-Am, ATVs, and snowmobiles. At the time, BRP came out with a prerequisite that required R-Equipment to be on a particular DMS and, with that, they made the switch to CDK’s Intellidealer.
In just two months, they decided to switch back to Charter’s ASPEN business management system. We recently spoke with Hilary Demos, Financial Controller at R-Equipment, who shared her thoughts on what the experience was like with Intellidealer and what led to their decision to return to ASPEN.
What was it like using CDK’s Intellidealer compared to ASPEN?
Hilary: “I handle the bank rec and what rolls into a bank rec would be a check run. In ASPEN, when you create a check run from manufacturers, you get specific terms on a parts invoice where that could possibly mean that that invoice, although is a hundred dollars, they break it out into three payments. That’s just a promo for you. In ASPEN, you can create that invoice for a hundred dollars. Let’s say you forget to type in the payment terms, within that check run, you can change the amount you want to pay on that invoice, and it won’t alter. It will keep the remaining balance open so you can create a partial payment.
CDK – you cannot create a partial payment. If you want a partial payment on an invoice, you have to create an opposite voucher invoice, offsetting that original one. Then if it’s broken into three payments, you have to create three separate vouchers. So, you had to create four vouchers for the one voucher that you’re trying to pay off. The work is tenfold because that could happen on – no exaggeration – 60 to 100 invoices. It’s awful, absolutely awful.
Let’s say you make a keying error in CDK. It’s not so easy that you can go to voucher selection, like you can in ASPEN, click the voucher and either reverse it or void it. That cannot happen in CDK. Not only can that not happen, you have to go and create a complete, exact opposite by manually keying, but you can’t do that in the same day because the billing cycle will have run. So, you won’t see that you’ve done it until tomorrow. So that was very frustrating.”
What difficulties did you encounter from an accounting standpoint?
Hilary: “From the accounting standpoint, everyone had access to your Chart of Accounts, so nothing was automated. Our service department, when they were closing the work order, had to put it to the GL, like sales service, labor, location. Everyone was touching the Chart of Accounts. Within ASPEN, everything is preset. If they close a work order in Sycamore, it’s automatically set up to go to such and such account number.
It became an accounting nightmare because our parts department, our service managers, and our sales team when creating quotes all had access to the Chart of Accounts, which means that we had to be extra thorough and go into every single journal entry that was made on every single chart of account. Closing the month was a nightmare, which in full disclosure – we were unable to close any month with CDK so that was absolutely horrific.
The biggest struggle is that the CDK salesperson, when they came in they’re like, yes, we can do that. Oh, bank rec. Yes, we can do that. Then when we got on the platform, they’re like, we can’t do that yet – but we plan to in the future.”
What about for customers?
Hilary: “We have a lot of repeat customers, and we have customers who buy units from us and trade in units that they originally purchased from us, then we go and resell those. What we love about ASPEN is that the unit number stays with the serial number for the life of the unit. Where in CDK, if farmer Joe bought a trailer 112 from us, when he traded it in, it was assigned a new serial number or a new unit number. We did not like that.”
What other challenges did you face?
Hilary: “We also were unable to measure technicians. In ASPEN, you can go and see your clock status and see what your technicians are clocked onto. If Tristan clocked onto the wrong work order, let me just move him quickly.
I was not able to see the clock status in CDK. And even if I were able to go into that work order and see that, I would have to manually go into each individual work order to see who was on it. I was unable to move time from one technician to another, from any work order amongst the others. It really frustrates our service guys to no end.
The other major frustration with CDK is when doing reviewed financials. For instance, the trial balance is created in the DOS system. I’m 33 years old. I’ve never operated on the DOS system beyond Pac-Man when I was younger, so I had to learn how to use the DOS system to even create something on the Chart of Accounts.
And they used their cash on hand as general clearing. Everything they wanted to roll through cash on hand – we use our cash on hand for physical cash – it was just a lot of multi entries. It added the workload for our admin tenfold. We timed how long it took to do ASPEN voucher entries versus CDK. The time it took us to create an ASPEN voucher from start to finish was about a minute and 30 seconds. The shortest time that we could get that done in CDK was three minutes. It was double at least, and everything was additional steps.”
What contributed to the decision to come back to ASPEN?
Hilary: “We have five owners – my mom and dad and then my two brothers Cash and Colby. We bring all the major decisions to a vote. But I handled the admin side of the business, the accounting, and the financials. When I raised the flag and said, hey, my vote is to go back to ASPEN and we’re just going to beg BRP to put them in a DMS system, my suggestion carried weight on the financial side heavier than say, my brother, who’s all in sales. I trust his vote on the sales side like he does with mine on the financial.
So, when I say, hey, I will not be able to procure a reviewed financial on this CDK system because, if there are any changes made to that previous month, you cannot run an updated trial balance for that month. I would have a trial balance that I had to physically print. Then, I would have to print out every single journal entry that was made after that and have to manually add and subtract it. It was awful.
We knew how much better of a system there was with ASPEN, so we knew that there were more efficient practices. One of our major benefits, being that we are younger, is that we want to lean into modern technology. There are some dealerships that are older that had never experienced the more efficient way of a DMS system.
I kept a pulse on our employees and what they were thinking of CDK and how they were handling the transition and there were definitely frustrations, as there would be with any software conversion. But it was getting to the point that there were just so many roadblocks. When we were evaluating if we wanted to go back or if we could operate on CDK, I wanted everybody to have an open mind and question whether it was the capability of the business system or if this was just a learning curve.
We were finding that it was the capability of the business system.”