One of the top 25 distribution organizations in the US is a national wholesaler operating in several distinct locations across the US. They decided to move away from Excel to improve their forecasting, calculate what their rebates should be more accurately, and understand how close they are to tiers to understand the impact of their rebates and make better decisions. This is why they picked Enable.
The road to hell is paved with Excel spreadsheets
Their Treasurer is responsible for vendor relations, with rebates being a key component of those responsibilities. She has been with the organization for 25 years. During this time, she has noticed rebate programs becoming more and more complex, particularly in the last 10-15 years. Far beyond the historic documents which included a flat amount of purchases or tiered growth, she notes that today rebates are increasingly based on incentives for commitment, share of wallet, and regional-focused rewards to help gain market share. As their organization has grown, the volume of transactions has amplified. Excel just wasn’t up to the task of managing these. Speaking before going live with Enable, she told us about their frustrations with using their current tools: a combination of lots of Excel spreadsheets, and an antiquated AS400 system that is part of their ERP.
“Excel has not really allowed us an efficient and effective way to project what our rebates might be, to use in our budgets and forecasting methodologies. We don't have forecasting software available to us currently.”
– Treasurer of a national wholesaler
She explains why she says, “the road to hell is paved through Excel” using an example. A mistake in a formula recently gave the wrong allocations. The numbers were correct, but they weren’t correct by division, which is very important to them for budgeting and forecasting purposes. They only discovered the mistake once one of the people at their 400 locations checked his numbers. They were able to push the vendor who admitted their mistake, but it was the beginning of the end of their faith in the tool.
Why choose Enable?
After 25 years in the business, the Treasurer said they decided to use Enable to simplify their complex rebates and help them manage rebates efficiently because Enable was “the first vendor that I've spoken to over the last six years that we could explain all of our complex needs to, and their answers were yes.” She was also reassured by Enable’s experience across the wholesale industry.
But it wasn’t just Enable’s technology and experience that impressed her. It was our people.
“I would say every person that I've dealt with on the Enable team has been great. I love that we were given access to all levels of your organization, and they seemed committed and willing to give their time and listen. Not just sell, but listen to our needs and be a partner with us.”
Enable cares – and our customers can tell. That’s why we were so pleased to hear her say, “I think everyone that I've worked with so far is very positive. They seem to love the company that they work with. They believe in Enable, which is a key part of it, and are committed to helping us succeed. I just see everyone I've met as kind, hardworking, with a can-do attitude. It seems like they're committed to helping me succeed, and our organization succeed.”
Three corners of the partnership triangle
When we asked our customer what she was excited about doing with Enable she didn’t just mention the improved access to data they will get, saying, “It'll give us the ability to do analytics, understand, and project, forecast” she talked about the importance of partnership.
At Enable, one of our key goals is to enable partnership so it was great to hear her say that Enable, “felt like a great business partner, where we could work together and grow and support each other going forward.” But partnership only works if everyone involved in the rebate process is on board. This Treasurer says that she’s looking forward to “just really be a better partner to our vendors as well, and give them information that might be important to them.” The way she explains it, she sees it as a three-way triangle between their organization and their external vendors; their organization and Enable; and their organization and their internal customers.
Moving from 1990 to the future: proactively
With Enable, she anticipates having a much more automated process that will give them the ability to scale and grow, but without adding headcount. But, more importantly, Enable will help them move forward into the future.
“We're always thinking about the future and this will help us get into the future. Whereas right now, I think we're stuck in 1990 somewhere, and that's a hard place to be.”
The Treasurer of this organization explains that she’s not the only one who’s excited about moving to Enable, her team are too. This is what one of her team members said, “I would love to be able to be more proactive. Right now I'm just reactive and I'm regurgitating numbers, but I'm not helping the business needs overall. I'm not helping them understand things."
With Enable, they anticipate providing business support, rather than just giving historical information. It’s the difference between the past and the future, and it transforms the nature of the way they deal with financial information. She explains, “In the financial world when you create a financial statement, it tells you where it already happened. That's not helping you tell what you need to happen to go forward.”
Improving accuracy, data, and the power to negotiate
While she anticipates that their current rebates are probably 95% accurate, the inaccuracy concerns her. “Sometimes we're given rebates for companies with very similar names to us, but they aren't ours. So, I wonder how many times our rebates might be given to somebody with those same similar names, that we're not getting…”
Our customer knows that Enable won’t just improve their accuracy, it will also provide them with data that enables them to negotiate better deals.
I think data is key to the future, Enable will provide us data that we currently don't have.
Treasurer of a national wholesaler