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D-Tools Case Study Featuring AVCON, Inc. Reduces Time And Costs By 25% And Increases Proposal Generation By As Much As 50% Utilizing D-Tools SI Software

 

Challenges:

•  Reduce time and cost on a per project basis
•  Streamline business processes
•  Better track time, labor, and materials

Based out of Cary, NC, AVCON, Inc. is an audio/video installation company specializing in designing, installing, and integrating high quality, yet easy to use custom high end audio/video for the residential and commercial markets.  AVCON, Inc. is the largest locally owned and operated audio-visual systems integration firm that specializes in serving corporations, houses of worship, and many other organizations.  AVCON is a full-service design/build systems integration firm, and provides projection/display, pro-audio, specialty lighting, recording/broadcasting, integrated control, data conferencing, and audio/video conferencing solutions.

Best Practices:

•  Reduced time and costs
•  Increased Proposal generation
•  Streamlined business processes

AVCON Inc., based out of Cary, NC, was founded in 1997.  Their goal from day one was to provide the best solutions and applications of audio visual technology for corporations and houses of worship. That goal still remains today. AVCON takes pride in delivering high quality and accurate services to its customers. AVCON turned to D-Tools to further enhance the quality of their business processes.

When AVCON was first starting out, it was typical to have separate issues for proposals and project management. Their data was chaotic, which often resulted in incorrect data and pricing, as well as drawings not corresponding to proposals.  The data was in Microsoft Excel while the drawings resided in other programs – which sometimes resulted in inaccuracies presented to the client. AVCON soon turned to D-Tools to integrate their data and create repeatable processes, to enable more accurate proposals right from the start.  Frank Yarborough, President of AVCON said, “We chose to utilize D-Tools System Integrator (SI) because we wanted to make sure that what we presented to the client was correct, accurate, and worked with our internal business processes.”

Data drives the integrated processes inherent in D-Tools System Integrator. Proposals and drawings are linked together in a single, data driven project file, which enables AVCON to effectively track and communicate project specifics with its team members and clients. This data-driven shared electronic file contains the entire project specifics, including all product information (including dimensions, input/outputs, and pricing as well as up to 40 additional fields of product data), labor needed to complete the installation, and all customer-facing documents. AVCON can accurately track and report on all aspects of the project, and better account for incidental products such as toss link cables and faceplates – as well as the time and labor needed to install them.

At first, AVCON found it difficult to get an electronic file from a vendor for pricing, and was forced to utilize pricing books and publicly-available PDFs.  Now they inform all their vendors about the D-Tools process they operate and why it is so important to have them provide data from the beginning.  AVCON tries to generate interest in the manufacturers so that data is available, resulting in a reduction in returns and assurance that the customer has the most up to date information.  Yarborough said, “As more manufacturers work with D-Tools, we have the opportunity to ensure that we provide the most accurate data possible and can ensure that we minimize mistakes when dealing with the customer.”

D-Tools has also enabled AVCON to customize whatever they need to with minimal work, which has been a substantial time and cost saving benefit.  One of the drawbacks to D-Tools competitors is the lack of customization for reporting, as it was on a take it or leave it basis. However, the customization of D-Tools takes the place of 6-8 separate reports and transforms it into the form of one.

D-Tools has helped streamline AVCON’s business processes because a single sales person can generate a report that includes a letter, proposal, bill of materials, contract, and terms of payments. “We can create all proposals with a single click, which is why D-Tools has become a critical element in our daily business”, said Yarborough.

AVCON has tied D-Tools into their long-term service contracts as well.  It allows them to generate a service contract based upon timing, and can specify exactly what is covered and not covered. It can present how the system is laid out even in text form, which helps generate revenue from service contracts following the initial sale. AVCOM uses barcodes to serialize all products leaving their warehouse. They are captured as builds within SI, which assists in tracking serial numbers and facilitates their warranty and service contracts. “The D-Tools data model has become a very valuable asset to us”, said Yarborough.

Results:

AVCON is experiencing an increase of as much as 50% in generating proposals, and they are able to close more business in less time than previous methods.  They are putting out more, higher quality proposals into the market with the same headcount.  D-Tools has been helpful in ensuring that the correct amount of labor is allocated, and that components are appropriately priced on each proposal, so that AVCON can deliver proposals to clients almost always on time. “Our goal was to increase the company’s revenue by 50% without adding additional overhead to the company, to support the engineering process. So far we are on track to making that happen, and D-Tools is a major contributor to that effort.”

AVCON has also seen a reduction in time and costs as a result of utilizing D-Tools SI.  Because a sales person can create accurate proposals and sales orders from a single project file, D-tools has helped AVCON reduce the amount of time significantly.  Costs have been reduced by 25% in the area of engineering productivity with regards to data and management. “We would have to add at least two engineers to our staff in order to accomplish what we can accomplish with D-Tools and our existing staff. We do not hear the same amount of issues from the install teams prior to the addition of D-Tools”.

In addition, benefits cannot only be summed up into quantitative data because the ease of use of D-Tools has contributed to the reduction of stress in the whole organization. “When things are running well, it permeates throughout the organization, and reduces a lot of the unknown because we are constantly monitoring and improving our business processes, It gives our company a way to communicate”, said Yarborough.

“Like any workflow management system, there is some investment required to get the D-Tools system to where it needs to be. However, once the system is set up and the database is populated, the benefits are tremendous and measurable. The flexibility exists to customize the system to work the way we do, which makes System Integrator an indispensable tool for us.”