Our recent survey is providing insightful and useful information that will help mold the future of this newsletter. One affirmed suspicion is that our Eclipse tips are a hot item each month. While we wait for the final survey results to be tallied, we thought we’d treat you to some reverse tips … in other words, what NOT to do. Spending over five hundred hours per month in Eclipse-run distributors gives us unique perspective into some of the most common operational mistakes.
- Mass loads don’t fix everything. Without fail, when an Eclipse user runs into a problem, whether slight or serious, the first question out of their mouths is, “Can we write a mass load to fix that?” While mass loads can be helpful in certain situations, they are not a universal band-aid. In most cases, it takes just as long to write the mass load as it would to fix the issue manually. Whenever you come across a challenge, or need to repair a problem, you should first analyze your data set to determine if a mass load is truly warranted.
- Status code, what? We love salespeople. Their role is invaluable. But, they can be some of the worst offenders when it comes to working in Eclipse. One of the most common scenarios we come across is hearing them declare their individuality – “I’m different, you don’t understand what I do.” – whilst generalizing their orders and trying to make every customer situation the same. Let us explain. Every order with every single customer can potentially be different. Eclipse has useful functionality that allows you to customize each sales order by choosing the appropriate status code. Yet, most distributors we visit don’t use them, or don’t use them properly. These codes are intended to provide personalization, allowing you to treat the order exactly as the customer specified and making your customer service even better. So, why not use them?
- Prices schmices. Properly pricing products is a more important success factor than most realize; and, a lack of emphasis in this area can run your business ragged. We continue to be amazed by the number of distributors that don’t take advantage of Eclipse’s price matrix. In these cases, each time a salesperson enters an order, they fix the Gross Profit to be whatever works for the situation. In effect, this creates multiple pricing czars in the organization. And, unfortunately, not everybody can be an expert at product pricing. When you set up a pricing matrix, customers get consistent pricing, the sales staff gets to focus on what they do best, and you can effectively and predictably manage your margins.
- I don’t need no stinkin’ queue. Earlier we mentioned the shipping status and how it’s sadly ignored. But, the customer calling queue is an even greater misfit. It’s purpose is pretty straightforward: it’s turned on when a salesperson needs to be prompted to call a customer. As simple and potentially unnecessary as that sounds, it can really come in handy and improve overall service. For instance, if a customer wants material that you don’t have, you could just send it to them as soon as it gets in …. Or, when the product arrives, you could use it as an opportunity to call the customer. This allows you to have an additional customer touch, which could potentially become an up sell.
- Everyone’s a math whiz. Ahh, you thought we were just picking on salespeople, did you? Not so. We can take a moment to harp on purchasing, too. Why? Because Eclipse can add 2+2 in the Suggested PO’s just as good as a buyer can. Many times, they think they’re smarter than the system, letting us know that the Suggested PO queue can’t come up with the correct buy. So, they consistently change the buy. However, this is undoubtedly resulting in unnecessary fluctuations in inventory that could be avoided if Eclipse were allowed to do its thing. If the buys aren’t right, you should instead look at the data and the maintenance so that the queue can work as designed.
- Picking Déjà vu. Have you ever experienced this? Your warehouse picker shorted a ticket, so the ticket reprinted. Then, a second warehouse picker looks for the material. He can’t find it either, so the saga continues. If you’ve been here, it’s probably because your default control file for backorders is set to “A.” That means “ship when available;”and, it does just that, even if you’re on-hand is wrong. The system keeps thinking you have it, and your pickers will continue to look for it. If you instead change your default back order status to a calling status, this lack of efficiency can be eliminated.
- No love for the labels. It’s no surprise when we walk into a warehouse and see a perfectly good label printer that’s being used only for shelf labels. For truck deliveries, the workers are still using a giant permanent marker to list the route on all of the pretty boxes. Eclipse can print labels for shelves, for products, for shipping purposes, and for just about anything else that needs a label in the Eclipse environment. Put those label printers to use and you’ll instantly step up your efficiency and professionalism.