Stemco, short for "Specialized Truck Equipment Manufacturing Company," has a long-standing legacy of designing and producing specialized products tailored for the commercial vehicle sector. Since 1951, they have focused on developing products that cater to heavy-duty applications, including but not limited to trucks, trailers, heavy haul, agriculture, refuse, bus and coach, fire and rescue, construction and utility vehicles.
Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst at Stemco, has over ten years of experience in handling rebates. She reveals to us how Stemco's collaborative approach to managing rebates has resulted in significant value and dividends for the company.
Life Before Enable: A Mess of Dozens of Excel Files
In the past, Stemco managed all rebates using spreadsheets that contained complex formulas. Making any changes to these spreadsheets was risky, as even a minor mistake could lead to major problems. Blind rebates, which were transactions between distributors and their customers that Stemco couldn't see until the distributor provided Excel files with the details, only added to the frustration and time-consuming nature of the process. This also resulted in a severe lack of visibility, making planning difficult.
Colleen Kennedy, Marketing Analyst of Stemco explains her frustrations, “It was all done via email and spreadsheets. Therefore, trying to gather all that information and be able to create any reports from it was extremely time-consuming. You had emails, hundreds, by the time you were done. Let’s say a customer had two programs and they submitted every month, that's still 24 Excel files for that customer alone. Imagine there are 30 customers… That's a lot of Excel files!”
Complex Deals Made the Situation Even More Thorny
Add in a significant level of complexity and the situation intensified further, making margin calculations even more difficult. Stemco’s agreements are not simple rebates, such as a straight 2% on everything they sell. Some rebates have a set price per part for a set time, then the time period and pricing changes.
Colleen says, “These dollars aren’t the most significant, but it creates a lot of labor involved in managing and maintaining and keeping everything aligned. Also, some of the discounts are steeper so we have to spend more time doing the analysis on them, because we operate on a different margin on those ones.”
The Quest for a Collaborative Portal
Ideally, Stemco was looking for a portal where their distributors could log in and upload data they could report on, rather than relying on them to send their data via email. This was a key requirement to streamlining their rebate management process. Enable was the only solution that had a portal to meet their needs.
Colleen explains, “I was researching rebate management solutions, software options, anything that could help us get the information we needed fast enough about our rebate programs, to improve our decision-making. I tried Google but I was getting limited results. I decided to try searching on YouTube for rebate management & that’s when I found Enable.”
Informed Decisions and Real-time Reporting
The data presented considerable variability, posing a challenge for Stemco to derive meaningful insights and produce impactful reports. Although they recognized the worth of the data, it was not readily conducive to generating prompt and insightful analysis.
According to Colleen, "Our ability to make well-informed decisions expeditiously was paramount. Unfortunately, our current Excel process did not facilitate that. However, with the collaborator portal, we can consolidate all the data and produce real-time reports."
The Enable Difference: Strategic Deal Analysis
Once Stemco started receiving data efficiently, they could turn their attention to being more strategic and analyzing their deals. This resulted in improved consistency and extra validation.
Colleen says, “The transition has been immensely beneficial for me because I can now focus on strategic decision-making rather than managing paperwork. The added benefit of data validation has been fantastic, ensuring consistency in program execution. Previously, when reviewing the program annually, there was a risk of making errors in the inclusion or exclusion of certain parts. However, with the new system, our data remains consistent from year to year, which is a significant advantage.”
Accurately Identifying Rebate Money's Owed with Estimated Earnings Feature
Stemco's programs operate similarly to special pricing agreements, where distributors must upload their transactions to qualify for rebates. Many of their trading partners submit their transactions on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis. Thanks to the estimated earnings feature on Enable, Stemco can now gain visibility into these transactions.
Trading partners can log in to Enable and view their submissions, along with the corresponding rebate amounts. This transparency allows them to see which programs they have submitted and when they can expect payment. They can even use this information for accounting purposes. Colleen emphasizes the importance of transparency in collaborative business relationships, stating, "We want our partners to be aware of what they will be paid because when both parties benefit, it's a truly collaborative approach."
Previously, Stemco had to rely on historical information shared through a few email chains and Excel files. However, with Enable, they can easily upload this data and use it to validate against the program. The system can perform calculations quickly and efficiently, saving Colleen a few weeks' worth of work compared to manually creating a usable database. With Enable, she can access earning reports, transactions, and view all submitted data.
Discovering $35k In Overpayments
The collaborative tool provided by Enable also aided Stemco in discovering numerous duplicate items that were submitted over the past year. With the system's help, Colleen was able to locate over $35k in overpayments that were previously buried within more than 5,000 lines of information!
"We did not start using Enable to its full potential until May or June for most of our customers. However, I wanted to have a full year's worth of data, so I uploaded January, February, and March from Excel files to create a complete annual record. When I loaded the January files, the collaborator tool flagged a number of duplicate lines. With files that contain 5,000 lines, it's challenging to spot such errors. I then went back to review the 2020 data, and in total, we identified $35k in overpayments to a single customer."
Stemco experienced improved consistency in program execution, thanks to Enable's data validation features, reducing the risk of errors in rebate calculations.
The collaborative tool in Enable helped Stemco discover overpayments of $35k buried within thousands of lines of information, demonstrating a significant cost-saving outcome.
The transparency provided by Enable's portal improved business relationships with trading partners, fostering a collaborative approach by keeping both parties aware of expected payments and benefits.