5 Ways Enable Customers Overcame Rebate Challenges

Shawn LaVana
Marketing
Updated:
January 12, 2024

Catalyze, the ultimate rebate management conference, brought together rebate managers from around the world. Some of these managers were invited to speak in a customer panel about overcoming the rebate challenges they’ve faced.

Among the panellists were Kris Burgoon, CMO at Vallen USA; Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst at Stemco; Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management at Werner Electric; and Mitchell Koureas, CFO at Barbeques Galore.  

In this blog post, we will delve into their valuable insights and recommendations on how they effectively tackled their rebate management challenges using Enable's rebate management software.

Handling Different Types, Complexity and Volumes of Rebates

Many businesses juggle different types of rebates and programs that range in complexity. Stemco, a manufacturer located in Texas, offers a range of diverse rebate approaches, including standard growth volume rebates, loyalty rebates and point-of-sale rebates, which are essentially incentives provided at the time of purchase. They also have rebate programs for their business-to-business partners and for end customers who they don't directly sell products to. Each of these programs has its own set of terms, conditions, intricacies, relationships and associated data, resulting in significant complexity and variation.

On the topic of handling these unique and varied programs, Colleen Kennedy said, “Each distributor and manufacturer we work with is unique, so we strive to establish individual relationships with them and cater to their specific needs. Our goal is to create mutually beneficial relationships and develop tailored programs that align with the objectives and growth opportunities of both parties involved. While there is a basic framework in place, we analyze each program's objectives and determine how it can best serve the interests of both sides.”

Key to success for Stemco is partnering closely with their customers and establishing relationships. This way, Stemco can fulfill each partner company’s unique needs. Read more about how you can drive behaviors by creating relationships based on shared values and goals.

Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst, Stemco

At Vallen, they collaborate with approximately 14,000 suppliers, although not all of them offer rebates. Surprisingly, when Chris joined the company four years ago, rebates were not given much emphasis. The management of supplier rebates was disorganized and lacked a proper structure.  

However, following Vallen's recent acquisition by a private equity firm, the focus shifted to EBITDA contribution, which is crucial for companies under private equity ownership. Rebates, from transactional to growth-oriented, play a significant role in this regard. Vallen also manages multiple special pricing agreements (SPAs) and oversees the allocation of Market Development Funds (MDF) or co-op dollars, which they refer to as rebates. All these initiatives contribute to Vallen’s bottom line.

“To streamline our rebate management process, we recently joined the Affiliated Distributors buying group. This step marked our initial foray into organizing our rebate management activities, and it also introduced us to Enable, who could provide us with tools to efficiently handle and enhance our rebate operations. As a result, we have experienced significant growth in our rebate attainment over the past year. It's important to note that each rebate we manage is unique, and we have distinct arrangements with our various suppliers. Having a tool like Enable is incredibly beneficial as it helps us accurately manage all our rebates.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Manual Spreadsheets

As we all know, spreadsheets can be immensely powerful as repositories for extensive information. However, without a rebate management system in place, dealing with these complex and intricate spreadsheets can be challenging. Manual management of formulas and calculations make them prone to errors.  

On spreadsheets, Mitchell Koureas said, “Whenever I shared [our] spreadsheets, I would caution people not to break them, as I lacked the time to fix any issues. Sometimes, I would even send separate copies because I hesitated to share my original. As a result, questions would arise: Are they viewing the most up-to-date version? Have there been any modifications or updates? These uncertainties often led to discrepancies and discrepancies.”

Koureas stressed the importance of having a rebate management platform that is controlled, enabling the company to have a single source of truth. With Enable, all data is up to date and consolidated in one centralized location. There are no longer scattered files in different folders, and everyone can easily access the information. Even when someone is absent from the office, the data remains accessible rather than being stored on someone's desktop.

Ben Nitz had a similar perspective. He said, “We have moved away from relying on spreadsheets. The lack of a single source of truth for rebates always posed a challenge for us. In my role, which involves working closely with vendors and strategically negotiating new programs, spending time on spreadsheet tasks meant less time available for being proactive and fostering stronger relationships and partnerships with our vendors. We have recognized the need to prioritize activities that contribute directly to expanding those relationships and partnerships, rather than being consumed by spreadsheet maintenance.”

Both Koureas and Nitz emphasized how having data in numerous, disparate spreadsheets ultimately opens up companies to risk and it is better to operate out of a single source of truth. Vallen’s Kris Burgoon agreed, saying, “As you can imagine, consolidating all the information on a single spreadsheet has proven to be an extremely challenging task. In my experience, the accountants were usually responsible for creating the spreadsheets to manage the rebates. Each of them has their own style and approach to spreadsheet management. Being a marketing person myself, I often found myself confused and unable to interpret the data effectively. Additionally, the constant turnover of accountants added to the complexity. However, the accountants insisted on using their own version of the spreadsheet. We are currently still relying on spreadsheets since we recently launched a new tool just a few months ago. But our ultimate goal is to move away from this reliance on spreadsheets.”

Approaching Negotiations

BBQ Galore operates as a vertically integrated retailer that procures products directly from factories in Southeast Asia and ships them to Australia for sale. However, the organization has historically lacked maturity in negotiating terms with suppliers. They relied on PDF documents and spreadsheets to manage these arrangements, even though significant sums of money were involved. These spreadsheets were manually updated by individuals who had to make subjective decisions, including whether to engage in challenging conversations with suppliers. The outcomes of these conversations could vary based on the personal biases of the individuals involved.

“Implementing a data-driven platform like Enable has brought about a transformative change for us. It eliminates the subjective human element and associated biases from these negotiations. The platform treats transactions as purely transactional, leveraging the available data and invoices to inform decision-making. Transitioning from Excel spreadsheets to a platform like Enable has been immensely impactful, raising the level of maturity in our supplier relationships and enhancing how we approach market negotiations.”

Mitchell Koureas. Chief Financial Officer, Barbeques Galore

“In the past, we would receive the program details from the suppliers and then input the data into the spreadsheet to manage it accordingly. Over time, we have become more knowledgeable, realizing that suppliers are eager to grow, especially in the post-COVID era. This presented a significant opportunity for distributors to negotiate various types of deals. In the past year to year and a half, we have achieved great success in negotiating growth rebates. These rebates have truly been a game changer for us.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Like Vallen, Werner Electric is also a member of AD. AD handles the negotiation of rebate programs on Werner Electric's behalf. The programs AD negotiates focus on specific products and serve as a foundation for growth and expansion. Werner Electric is still in the process of maturing their rebate programs, which comes with challenges in negotiation and encouraging their team to view rebates as a valuable tool for both parties involved.

“Our goal is to grow our business in partnership with suppliers, while also reducing costs through rebates. This creates a win-win situation, where both sides benefit. Suppliers are interested in volume and units, while we aim to make a profit. As the business grows, both parties should share in the rewards. Rebates serve as an excellent tool for achieving this. However, our main challenge lies in ensuring that negotiators within our organization recognize the leverage provided by rebates. Thankfully, Enable's software has highlighted this issue, prompting us to transition from spreadsheets, traditionally associated with finance, to a platform that allows everyone in our organization to clearly see the tangible benefits available to them as negotiators.”

Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management, Werner Electric

Collaboration

Thanks to Enable, Barbeques Galore are currently experiencing greater benefits from rebates compared to previous periods. This is because they have elevated the level of maturity in their conversations with trading partners, utilizing data rather than relying solely on individual efforts to secure favorable arrangements.  

“Consequently, the quality of our discussions has improved, leading to stronger relationships. As our business expands with these suppliers, our revenue from rebates has increased. Furthermore, we have implemented vendor consolidation. This allows us to allocate more resources to those vendors who support us as partners, recognizing the value of our relationship with the end consumer. This approach allows us to leverage the partnership in a more authentic manner.”

Mitchell Koureas. Chief Financial Officer, Barbeques Galore

Werner Electric places significant emphasis on collaboration, both internally and with suppliers. This includes communication among different teams such as finance, procurement, buyers, and suppliers themselves. The Enable platform has played a crucial role in breaking down the barriers between these teams. For instance, rebates, which used to be solely a finance concern despite being a negotiated outcome from category managers or the merchandise team, are now managed through the Enable platform which is accessible to all.  

“At Werner Electric, we place a strong emphasis on fostering a collaborative win-win situation. We recognize the importance of comprehending the potential opportunities that exist for both parties involved, enabling us to establish mutually beneficial agreements. As a vertically integrated company, our approach to engaging with suppliers has undergone a transformation. It is no longer viewed as an unnecessary evil, but rather as a growth opportunity that we actively embrace. This shift in perspective has brought about positive changes in how we approach and navigate supplier conversations.”

"Enable is a powerful, collaborative platform, enabling us to have productive discussions with our suppliers. The platform's data-driven approach has simplified these interactions, eliminated unnecessary complexity and streamlined our processes. As a result, we've increased our revenue and explored additional income opportunities by scaling up our operations.”

Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management, Werner Electric

“Undoubtedly, Vallen are undergoing a significant transformation. Out of the 14,000 suppliers we work with, only 300 currently have established rebate programs. This situation has presented various challenges, such as determining ownership of negotiations and reporting responsibilities. With different departments, including accounting, finance, procurement, and product, all working independently, our efforts were scattered. However, thanks to the implementation of collaboration tools, we are now united and working towards a common goal. This newfound alignment has allowed the company to witness the benefits of rebates as intended. It is making a substantial contribution to our EBITDA, which is highly advantageous.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Data and Visibility

"At Werner Electric, we faced a situation where rebate visibility was limited. Our primary goal was to furnish our finance teams with precise annual earnings projections and to empower our sales team with the visibility required to identify discretionary opportunities and allocate resources strategically to maximize rebate incentives for our company. Ultimately, the critical solution to these challenges was the implementation of Enable, which provides comprehensive visibility."

Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management, Werner Electric

Stemco has made significant progress in gathering data, particularly year-over-year comparisons, which allows them to gain valuable insights into their rebate programs. This data analysis allows them to evaluate whether their programs are operating as expected and to strategize accordingly. They are dedicated to thoroughly reviewing these programs to ensure that the anticipated benefits are being realized, both for the company and for their customers.  

“This collaborative approach is driven by a strategic mindset, understanding that not every program will apply universally. We recognize the need to fine-tune and tailor our initiatives to maximize their effectiveness. In line with this strategic perspective, we are also mindful of the importance of limiting our vendors. Given our finite supply and demand, it is crucial for us to carefully assess our suppliers and cultivate strong partnerships with them. This mutual collaboration and evaluation process apply in both directions, benefiting both parties involved.”

Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst, Stemco

“We still lack the ability to manage decisions at a category level. This is unfortunate, and it's something we hope to address within the next year. Our goal is to negotiate better rebate agreements with suppliers and encourage our sales team to actively sell. Currently, there is no governance in place for data entry. With over 250 sites, each with its own buyer, the same product can be loaded in multiple ways. This lack of standardization and governance presents a significant challenge. Therefore, organizing and structuring this data with Enable presents a tremendous opportunity for us.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Read more success stories and insights from our customers https://enable.com/customers

Category:

5 Ways Enable Customers Overcame Rebate Challenges

Shawn LaVana
Marketing
Updated:
January 12, 2024

Catalyze, the ultimate rebate management conference, brought together rebate managers from around the world. Some of these managers were invited to speak in a customer panel about overcoming the rebate challenges they’ve faced.

Among the panellists were Kris Burgoon, CMO at Vallen USA; Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst at Stemco; Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management at Werner Electric; and Mitchell Koureas, CFO at Barbeques Galore.  

In this blog post, we will delve into their valuable insights and recommendations on how they effectively tackled their rebate management challenges using Enable's rebate management software.

Handling Different Types, Complexity and Volumes of Rebates

Many businesses juggle different types of rebates and programs that range in complexity. Stemco, a manufacturer located in Texas, offers a range of diverse rebate approaches, including standard growth volume rebates, loyalty rebates and point-of-sale rebates, which are essentially incentives provided at the time of purchase. They also have rebate programs for their business-to-business partners and for end customers who they don't directly sell products to. Each of these programs has its own set of terms, conditions, intricacies, relationships and associated data, resulting in significant complexity and variation.

On the topic of handling these unique and varied programs, Colleen Kennedy said, “Each distributor and manufacturer we work with is unique, so we strive to establish individual relationships with them and cater to their specific needs. Our goal is to create mutually beneficial relationships and develop tailored programs that align with the objectives and growth opportunities of both parties involved. While there is a basic framework in place, we analyze each program's objectives and determine how it can best serve the interests of both sides.”

Key to success for Stemco is partnering closely with their customers and establishing relationships. This way, Stemco can fulfill each partner company’s unique needs. Read more about how you can drive behaviors by creating relationships based on shared values and goals.

Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst, Stemco

At Vallen, they collaborate with approximately 14,000 suppliers, although not all of them offer rebates. Surprisingly, when Chris joined the company four years ago, rebates were not given much emphasis. The management of supplier rebates was disorganized and lacked a proper structure.  

However, following Vallen's recent acquisition by a private equity firm, the focus shifted to EBITDA contribution, which is crucial for companies under private equity ownership. Rebates, from transactional to growth-oriented, play a significant role in this regard. Vallen also manages multiple special pricing agreements (SPAs) and oversees the allocation of Market Development Funds (MDF) or co-op dollars, which they refer to as rebates. All these initiatives contribute to Vallen’s bottom line.

“To streamline our rebate management process, we recently joined the Affiliated Distributors buying group. This step marked our initial foray into organizing our rebate management activities, and it also introduced us to Enable, who could provide us with tools to efficiently handle and enhance our rebate operations. As a result, we have experienced significant growth in our rebate attainment over the past year. It's important to note that each rebate we manage is unique, and we have distinct arrangements with our various suppliers. Having a tool like Enable is incredibly beneficial as it helps us accurately manage all our rebates.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Manual Spreadsheets

As we all know, spreadsheets can be immensely powerful as repositories for extensive information. However, without a rebate management system in place, dealing with these complex and intricate spreadsheets can be challenging. Manual management of formulas and calculations make them prone to errors.  

On spreadsheets, Mitchell Koureas said, “Whenever I shared [our] spreadsheets, I would caution people not to break them, as I lacked the time to fix any issues. Sometimes, I would even send separate copies because I hesitated to share my original. As a result, questions would arise: Are they viewing the most up-to-date version? Have there been any modifications or updates? These uncertainties often led to discrepancies and discrepancies.”

Koureas stressed the importance of having a rebate management platform that is controlled, enabling the company to have a single source of truth. With Enable, all data is up to date and consolidated in one centralized location. There are no longer scattered files in different folders, and everyone can easily access the information. Even when someone is absent from the office, the data remains accessible rather than being stored on someone's desktop.

Ben Nitz had a similar perspective. He said, “We have moved away from relying on spreadsheets. The lack of a single source of truth for rebates always posed a challenge for us. In my role, which involves working closely with vendors and strategically negotiating new programs, spending time on spreadsheet tasks meant less time available for being proactive and fostering stronger relationships and partnerships with our vendors. We have recognized the need to prioritize activities that contribute directly to expanding those relationships and partnerships, rather than being consumed by spreadsheet maintenance.”

Both Koureas and Nitz emphasized how having data in numerous, disparate spreadsheets ultimately opens up companies to risk and it is better to operate out of a single source of truth. Vallen’s Kris Burgoon agreed, saying, “As you can imagine, consolidating all the information on a single spreadsheet has proven to be an extremely challenging task. In my experience, the accountants were usually responsible for creating the spreadsheets to manage the rebates. Each of them has their own style and approach to spreadsheet management. Being a marketing person myself, I often found myself confused and unable to interpret the data effectively. Additionally, the constant turnover of accountants added to the complexity. However, the accountants insisted on using their own version of the spreadsheet. We are currently still relying on spreadsheets since we recently launched a new tool just a few months ago. But our ultimate goal is to move away from this reliance on spreadsheets.”

Approaching Negotiations

BBQ Galore operates as a vertically integrated retailer that procures products directly from factories in Southeast Asia and ships them to Australia for sale. However, the organization has historically lacked maturity in negotiating terms with suppliers. They relied on PDF documents and spreadsheets to manage these arrangements, even though significant sums of money were involved. These spreadsheets were manually updated by individuals who had to make subjective decisions, including whether to engage in challenging conversations with suppliers. The outcomes of these conversations could vary based on the personal biases of the individuals involved.

“Implementing a data-driven platform like Enable has brought about a transformative change for us. It eliminates the subjective human element and associated biases from these negotiations. The platform treats transactions as purely transactional, leveraging the available data and invoices to inform decision-making. Transitioning from Excel spreadsheets to a platform like Enable has been immensely impactful, raising the level of maturity in our supplier relationships and enhancing how we approach market negotiations.”

Mitchell Koureas. Chief Financial Officer, Barbeques Galore

“In the past, we would receive the program details from the suppliers and then input the data into the spreadsheet to manage it accordingly. Over time, we have become more knowledgeable, realizing that suppliers are eager to grow, especially in the post-COVID era. This presented a significant opportunity for distributors to negotiate various types of deals. In the past year to year and a half, we have achieved great success in negotiating growth rebates. These rebates have truly been a game changer for us.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Like Vallen, Werner Electric is also a member of AD. AD handles the negotiation of rebate programs on Werner Electric's behalf. The programs AD negotiates focus on specific products and serve as a foundation for growth and expansion. Werner Electric is still in the process of maturing their rebate programs, which comes with challenges in negotiation and encouraging their team to view rebates as a valuable tool for both parties involved.

“Our goal is to grow our business in partnership with suppliers, while also reducing costs through rebates. This creates a win-win situation, where both sides benefit. Suppliers are interested in volume and units, while we aim to make a profit. As the business grows, both parties should share in the rewards. Rebates serve as an excellent tool for achieving this. However, our main challenge lies in ensuring that negotiators within our organization recognize the leverage provided by rebates. Thankfully, Enable's software has highlighted this issue, prompting us to transition from spreadsheets, traditionally associated with finance, to a platform that allows everyone in our organization to clearly see the tangible benefits available to them as negotiators.”

Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management, Werner Electric

Collaboration

Thanks to Enable, Barbeques Galore are currently experiencing greater benefits from rebates compared to previous periods. This is because they have elevated the level of maturity in their conversations with trading partners, utilizing data rather than relying solely on individual efforts to secure favorable arrangements.  

“Consequently, the quality of our discussions has improved, leading to stronger relationships. As our business expands with these suppliers, our revenue from rebates has increased. Furthermore, we have implemented vendor consolidation. This allows us to allocate more resources to those vendors who support us as partners, recognizing the value of our relationship with the end consumer. This approach allows us to leverage the partnership in a more authentic manner.”

Mitchell Koureas. Chief Financial Officer, Barbeques Galore

Werner Electric places significant emphasis on collaboration, both internally and with suppliers. This includes communication among different teams such as finance, procurement, buyers, and suppliers themselves. The Enable platform has played a crucial role in breaking down the barriers between these teams. For instance, rebates, which used to be solely a finance concern despite being a negotiated outcome from category managers or the merchandise team, are now managed through the Enable platform which is accessible to all.  

“At Werner Electric, we place a strong emphasis on fostering a collaborative win-win situation. We recognize the importance of comprehending the potential opportunities that exist for both parties involved, enabling us to establish mutually beneficial agreements. As a vertically integrated company, our approach to engaging with suppliers has undergone a transformation. It is no longer viewed as an unnecessary evil, but rather as a growth opportunity that we actively embrace. This shift in perspective has brought about positive changes in how we approach and navigate supplier conversations.”

"Enable is a powerful, collaborative platform, enabling us to have productive discussions with our suppliers. The platform's data-driven approach has simplified these interactions, eliminated unnecessary complexity and streamlined our processes. As a result, we've increased our revenue and explored additional income opportunities by scaling up our operations.”

Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management, Werner Electric

“Undoubtedly, Vallen are undergoing a significant transformation. Out of the 14,000 suppliers we work with, only 300 currently have established rebate programs. This situation has presented various challenges, such as determining ownership of negotiations and reporting responsibilities. With different departments, including accounting, finance, procurement, and product, all working independently, our efforts were scattered. However, thanks to the implementation of collaboration tools, we are now united and working towards a common goal. This newfound alignment has allowed the company to witness the benefits of rebates as intended. It is making a substantial contribution to our EBITDA, which is highly advantageous.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Data and Visibility

"At Werner Electric, we faced a situation where rebate visibility was limited. Our primary goal was to furnish our finance teams with precise annual earnings projections and to empower our sales team with the visibility required to identify discretionary opportunities and allocate resources strategically to maximize rebate incentives for our company. Ultimately, the critical solution to these challenges was the implementation of Enable, which provides comprehensive visibility."

Ben Nitz, Director of Strategic Vendor Management, Werner Electric

Stemco has made significant progress in gathering data, particularly year-over-year comparisons, which allows them to gain valuable insights into their rebate programs. This data analysis allows them to evaluate whether their programs are operating as expected and to strategize accordingly. They are dedicated to thoroughly reviewing these programs to ensure that the anticipated benefits are being realized, both for the company and for their customers.  

“This collaborative approach is driven by a strategic mindset, understanding that not every program will apply universally. We recognize the need to fine-tune and tailor our initiatives to maximize their effectiveness. In line with this strategic perspective, we are also mindful of the importance of limiting our vendors. Given our finite supply and demand, it is crucial for us to carefully assess our suppliers and cultivate strong partnerships with them. This mutual collaboration and evaluation process apply in both directions, benefiting both parties involved.”

Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst, Stemco

“We still lack the ability to manage decisions at a category level. This is unfortunate, and it's something we hope to address within the next year. Our goal is to negotiate better rebate agreements with suppliers and encourage our sales team to actively sell. Currently, there is no governance in place for data entry. With over 250 sites, each with its own buyer, the same product can be loaded in multiple ways. This lack of standardization and governance presents a significant challenge. Therefore, organizing and structuring this data with Enable presents a tremendous opportunity for us.”

Kris Burgoon, CMO, Vallen

Read more success stories and insights from our customers https://enable.com/customers

Category:
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