Arbor Age

Green Media Technology and Software Special Edition - Aug'14

For more than 30 years, Arbor Age magazine has been covering new and innovative products, services, technology and research vital to tree care companies, municipal arborists and utility right-of-way maintenance companies

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10 Green Media / August 2014 Following up on a survey conducted for February 2013 OPE, we recently completed a survey with the following companies and individuals regarding the latest technology and trends in business management software systems and website services in the OPE industry. Their written responses, in the order they were received June 11-25, 2014, are as follows: JIM PHELAN VICE PRESIDENT & CFO C-SYSTEMS SOFTWARE,INC. (ARLINGTON, TEXAS) 1) What is the latest OPE industry-related news about your company? Jim Phelan: This has been a busy year for OPE industry- related news for c-Systems Software. We made numerous im- provements to our business management systems and have added many unique features to help our outdoor power equipment dealers operate more effi ciently and profi tably. Foremost news from c-Systems Software, Inc. is our con- tinued development of automated warranty claims transmis- sion to many of the outdoor power equipment industry's most prominent vendors. Last year, c-Systems' Infi nity busi- ness management system became the fi rst, and is still the only, business system to provide this needed feature to dealers that carry the Ariens and Gravely brands. This year, we are ex- tremely proud to announce that we have extended warranty claims transmission capabilities to dealers that sell Echo, Ex- mark, Kubota, Stihl and Toro. This new feature eliminates the tedious chore of manually keying and submitting warranty claims. Upon implementation of our warranty claims auto- mation, dealers are reporting fewer warranty claim errors, a reduction in missed claims submissions, and faster payment of claims. What once took many man hours, and possibly the efforts of several people, now takes minimal time from dealer- ship personnel. c-Systems' Infi nity business management system is also the only system that integrates vendor warranty fl at-rate labor times. Dealers use these labor times for automated comple- tion of warranty claims, but they also fi nd that using these labor fi les for normal labor repairs provides easier and more professional repair order billing. The next big news from c-Systems has to be our new mobile capabilities. Early this year, our I-Count, Inventory Count/Maintenance Application became available, and soon we will have I-Service, repair order entry, I-Stock, stock check, and I-PO, purchase order receipt applications ready for dealer use. Our mobile applications are all cross-platform capable and available for both Android and Apple users. 2) What are the latest trends and technological advances when it comes to business management software systems for the OPE industry? Jim Phelan: Business management software continues to evolve with each technological advance. As technology improves, OPE software trends or tendencies are always about adding more automation within dealer operations. In the past few years, many business management systems have started providing features like automated product registration transmission and electronic inventory lookup/stock check at the vendor or distributor level. Store kiosks for customer self-service or as an additional sales aid are now starting to pop up in more OPE dealerships. You will see a trend toward more "Marketing Automation" functions within business systems to help dealers attract and develop new customers, as well as maintaining their existing customer base. These marketing automation functions will include provisions to track vital customer buying trends so dealer management can develop better marketing strategies. Mobile applications are the "hot" topic with most deal- ers. Dealers want mobile apps for their use, as well as apps they can provide for their customers' use. A few OPE busi- ness management systems have already started providing some basic mobile applications in response to this demand, but this is an area that will see tremendous growth in the next few years. Being able to perform these tasks from the showroom fl oor will help strengthen the customer-dealer relationship. Cross-platform capabilities for Apple and An- droid devices will also provide multiple options to fi t each dealer's preference. 3) Why should OPE dealers invest in a business management software system, and what should be their key considerations when shopping for one? Jim Phelan: There are numerous reasons why an OPE dealer should invest in a business management software sys- tem. Business management software (BMS) is a signifi cant investment for any business, but one that, if implemented properly, will quickly pay for itself by providing a tremendous increase in effi ciency and, most importantly, increased dealer- ship profi tability. A business management system is an important tool to grow a business. It provides dealers with simplifi ed access to dealership information and reduces the amount of entries needed to be done by hand. A quality BMS supplies the tools needed to quickly pinpoint and solve dealership problems. SPECIAL FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURE BUSINESS MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE SYSTEM & WEBSITE SERVICES SURVEY

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