The R.E. Michel Company, LLC was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1935 as a supplier to the home heating oil burner industry. Still family owned and operated, it has grown to be one of the nation’s leading wholesale distributors of HVACR equipment, parts and supplies. Today, the company operates over 270 locations nationwide.
We recently spoke to Beau Michel, Director of Purchasing & Distribution, whose been with the company for the last 25 years, to understand why they we’re looking for a rebate management solution.
How were you managing rebates previously?
Beau explains, “Back in 2016 we developed an in-house rebate management program on our IBM iSeries and it made a big difference. Before each purchasing agent or buyer would keep track of their purchases on a spreadsheet and hopefully contact the vendor and make sure the money came in. Nobody really knew how much they were supposed to get, so whatever they got they thought was right. That’s how a lot of companies operate. Rebates are second tier. So, when we created the program, it had an immediate impact and improvement. I think our first year we found an additional $2 million in rebates that were due that had been missed, so it had a significant impact.”
What problems have you seen with managing rebates?
Beau explains, “Firstly, getting everybody to have the same level of involvement in managing their lines and their rebates. Some people are very good at that and can keep accurate records and other people are not. So that was the biggest problem, there was no consistent level of attention to the rebate programs. The second problem was finding information. On a lot of systems and in our legacy system you had to be a data miner, you had to know how to write queries. So, knowing where to go and what to get and how to interpret that was difficult.”
Beau further explains, “Also, a lot of our suppliers have intricate rebates where a certain group of items or a certain subset of items get one rebate level and others get others. You might have your total purchases determine what tier you’re on, but then individual product groups are rebated at different rates based on those tiers. It wasn’t something that a lot of people could do in a spreadsheet. They didn’t have the Excel skills to make the formulas work for them, so it ended up being a little rudimentary.”
Why were you looking for a solution?
Beau says, “We’re in the process of changing our ERP system, and the ERP that we chose, Epicor’s Prophet 21, did not have a vendor rebate tracking program embedded in it. I looked at connecting our existing system, that was always a plan B, but I thought there’s got to be something out there. One day I got a marketing email from Enable and normally I delete, delete, delete on those types of emails, but saw that it was rebate management and thought I think I need to look at this. When I opened it up and started looking at the program, I was amazed at how similar our two programs were in both design and function. So that led me to investigate further.”
Enable is intuitive to use
Beau says, “Enable is really easy to use and does everything we need it to. It was intuitive, and being intuitive means that I don’t have to be the one doing it every day. I can turn it over to the individual purchasing team members and say here’s a nice tool to help manage your rebates.”