Manage your pricing faster!

Manage your pricing faster!

We just finished putting the final touches on huge, highly competitive design build project that could make or break our quarter, when the purchasing manager rushed into the owner’s office and told him we just received a price update from one of our key suppliers.  We had less than 30min before we had to leave the office.  What would you do?

Luckily we had just completed our conversion from Si4 to Si5 and now had EZ-Match in our bag of tricks.  We added a couple of columns to the vendor data (see below) and updated over 3000 Items in our database in less than 15min.  The sales person synced their local data, refreshed the prices  in the project file and reprinted the proposal with time to spare.  The vendor update included price reductions that could have been the reason we won the job.  The price of the project went down, but not our margins.  I can’t guarantee the lower price was the reason we won the deal, but it sure didn’t hurt.

Possibly the most despised, hated and avoided task for any dealer is maintaining accurate product prices.  As a result, we were just avoiding the task and it was either costing us business or margin.  Prior to EZ-Match, there was no good option short of writing our own Access queries or executing some multi-step complex spreadsheet export/import process.  Management was demanding ACCURATE pricing but our Si4 process was ad hoc and full of holes.

The D-Tools Development or Support staff can attest to the fact that I am not shy about voicing my opinions about D-Tools, positive or negative.  If fact Adam referred to me as his “Biggest pain in the a$$ client”.  He was probably right.  However, when a company gives me tools that deliver a dramatic and immediate positive impact to my bottom line, I think it is worth mentioning.  EZ-Match is one of those tools.

In fact, I believe if a dealer did all his quotes in QuickBooks and used none of the cool proposal generating Si5 features, it would still be worth the price, just to keep QB pricing up-to-date.

Let’s do a little quick math:
We have 3 sales staff and 5 engineers.  They turn out at least one proposal a week.  The average proposal has about 100 items and verifying the pricing takes about a minute each.  They have a fully burdened labor cost of at least $75/hr.  So this cost comes to:
• 8 employees * 100items /60min per hour * 52wks * $75 = $52,000
• $6,500 per employee, per year

That buys a handful of D-Tools licenses.

This does not even take into account the other two major business issues:
1. Submitting proposals with outdated (higher) pricing can result in the appearance of price gouging and loss of competitive pricing.
2. Or even worse, your price is too low and you lose precious margin dollars.

These days, who can afford either of these alternatives?

Now that we are using EZ-Match, our biggest problem is getting manufacturers to send us data in a reasonable format.  We ask for EZip or spreadsheet data and they send us spreadsheets from the marketing department.  Reformatting spreadsheets is the most time consuming part of the process.  However we have begun to push back.  The manufacturers tell us all the time, “No Other Dealer asks for simple column data”, or “We have never heard of EZip.  We give them two choices,
1 Provide the data in a usable format or
2 We remove them from our vendor list.  We also provide a list of their competitors that do comply.  It usually works, particularly in this economy.

If the Vendor is small and I REALLY like them, I will format their data once and send it to them as an example, but only once.

You would not believe how many times we hear that we are the ONLY dealer that asks for data in a simple columns.  This is both good and bad news.  The good news is that apparently no other dealer is using EZ-Match, which gives us a distinct advantage in overhead cost management.  However, the bad news is that manufacturers have little incentive to change their habits.

Luckily some of the big boys at Infocomm have realized that computers exist and have initialed an effort to popularize the EZip format.  Here is some information on eZip:
• eZip FAQ
• eZip Overview

About 25% of our manufacturers now provide product data in EZip.  We can update a D-Tools Manufacturer in less than 5mins with an EZip file.  You should pressure ALL your manufacturers to support EZip.  Tell them why this is important and how you are able to rapidly update prices and lower your overhead.  Show them that by advertising support of EZip they get a lot of free press.   D-Tools and EZip is a perfect match.

EZ-Match and MVP
You gotta love those MVP manufacturers.  Once you get your price sheets imported drop into the MMPD Import process and use EZ-Match to update all the dimensional and I/O data.  EZ-Match will figure out which Items need updating without you having to figure that out on your own.  Just pick a Category and sit back and let EZ-Match do the work.  There are a few minor gotchas that we cover in more detail in the “How To” pdf.  (see below)

How do you know if the price is current?
Out of the box, Si5 MMPD does not tell you the date the price was last updated, but thank goodness for Custom Properties.
When we get a new price sheet we add the following columns:
1. Margin: (we calculate UnitPrice based on Cost and Margin, you may use a different method, but the idea is the same)
2. UnitPrice: based on Cost and Margin.  We have this cool Excel Formula that will never allow the UnitPrice to Exceed MSRP and it rounds to the nearest $.10.  See contact info below for all the gory details.
3. Taxable: I hate having to check this box, so we set it here.
4. Category:  This is used if you want to Add new items as part of the EZ-Match process.  Don’t get me started on this topic (see previous comment being a PIA customer).
5. CustomProperty5 (CP5):  You can use any Custom Property field you like.   We use this field to track who updated the price and when, e.g.( “Purchasing 10/1/09”).  This is extremely helpful to a salesman creating a proposal.  If an engineer or sales person makes a change to the Cost of an Item they put their initials and date, “rp 10/13/09”.  This is ONLY used for new Items or Manufacturers that have not provided xls formatted data.

We then expose CP5 in the Project Data Matrix.  If the field is blank, they need to check the price.  If the initials are one of the sales staff, you might want to check it anyway.  At a glance, the Si5 user can tell what they need to check.  This saves a lot of time and aggravation.

Each week purchasing reviews all entries with Initials and double-checks the price.  It is then given Purchasing Approval by updating CP5.

Discovering Discontinued Items
One of the huge benefits of taking this approach is discovering Discontinued Items.  For instance, Eiki produces a new price list almost every month.  All items that did NOT find a match with the most recent EZ-Match update will show the previous month’s date.  Highlight these Items in MMPD and check the Discontinued Button.  This process works great for AMX, Crestron and other large manufacturers that have thousands of items in their price book.

After 6mths or so we go through and delete Discontinued products from the database.

If you would like to get a ‘How To” pdf , “Step-By-Step EZ-Match Process”, just send an email to .  I promise he won’t try to sell you something.  Actually, all kidding aside, if you don’t have MED’s video training materials, you’re not getting a maximum ROI from your D-Tools investment.  Talk to Ryan, he can set you up.

Reed Phillips
D-Tools Data Expert