Michael Allen is the President of Allen Management, located in Hampton, VA. Allen Management is a $14MM company that manages nineteen hotels in Virginia and West Virginia. The company was founded in 1977 by Lewis Allen, Michael’s father. The hotels are branded under the names Econolodge, Quality Inn, Days Inn and Rodeway Inn. Allen Management has a total of 1,300 rooms to manage.
Allen Management had been on a manual system for years that was used for purchasing, receiving and tracking. Though it had evolved through the 15 years of its use, it was inefficient. It didn’t allow him to track the company’s relationships with its vendors in areas like transportation costs, product costs, back orders, etc. Also, even though centralized purchasing was in place, most of the hotels were in remote locations, causing constant paperwork delays.
Michael realized he needed a more efficient system. When Michael began looking at software to integrate with his accounting software, FOCUS, an industry specific, customized accounting package, he was surprised that not may purchasing software packages are tailored to smaller companies. In his search, he also found web applications, but they were lacking in the back office functionality he needed.
What Michael wanted was a tool to track purchases and the flexibility to customize and integrate the software throughout all nineteen locations, each of which was a separate profit center.
Michael found Bellwether through the web. He called and asked for a list of hotels that used Bellwether Purchasing Software. He called that list, and decided that Bellwether Purchasing Management Software was what was needed at Allen Management.
The software has been beneficial in helping Allen Management control its costs. Prior to the integration of Bellwether Purchasing Software, Michael had no way to really track his vendor costs over a period of time. Once he did have that ability, he saw what he suspected – that vendor prices for products “inch up” over time. If there is no way to track purchases, companies keep paying more and more without even realizing it.
Michael has fully utilized the catalog function in Bellwether Purchasing Software. His ultimate goal is to have two to three vendors in each product category. The catalog currently contains 300 items, and while it has taken some time to put this all together, the benefits have been well worth it.
All basic centralized functions are built into the system, and he has “married” Bellwether Purchasing Software with FOCUS via the Accounting Interface Bridge. Information can now be imported to the general ledger. Within the accounting application, Michael can see what he has bought and how much he has spent.
Michael commented, “With this system, people can catch problems. For instance, if I question an order, I can find the answer immediately –not wait two or three days for the answer. It’s all right there in front of me.”
The next project, Michael says, is to integrate Receiving. “Now we get a copy of the PO and send it to the proper person. She/he will use that copy as a receiving ticket and will enter it into the Bellwether Purchasing Software. My goal is to have the general managers move away from the manual process and be able to access the information from their desks.”
Michael says that watching vendors used to be impossible; now, it is easy. Bellwether Purchasing Software can easily manage all the data flow, and this frees up time to look for competitive vendors.
Budget Motels, Inc. (BMI), founded in 1973 by William C. Latham, currently owns and operates eight Days Inns, one Comfort Inn and manages the Villa by the Sea, a hotel condominium. With 1,320 guestrooms operating in five states and over 300 employees, BMI provides clean, comfortable and affordable accommodations to the traveling public in key geographical areas.
Specific to BMI philosophy is its commitment to enhance each of its properties. Over the last ten years, management has committed resources of over $10 million to improve the appearance if its hotels in order to enhance its operations.
BMI has maintained a strong presence in the industry by holding fast to its strategy of providing clean and comfortable rooms staffed by personable staff at the best price value. BMI’s corporate office is located in Manassas, VA.
Director of Purchasing for BMI, Betty Trainor, has been with the company for twenty-five years. Starting in an accounting capacity, Betty moved forward to positions in personnel, purchasing and, lastly, to Director of Purchasing. Her duties encompass ordering supplies, equipment and services for nine properties operating by BMI.
Betty’s department generates between 40-70 purchase orders per month, depending on the season. Betty orders all purchase order items in their existing catalogs and bids out any items that may be one-time purchases or that are not in the catalog. She works with 25-30 suppliers, and each property sets its on budget. Betty’s department is the final step in the approval process. Usage overages or unusual items ordered must clear corporate approval; otherwise, each property has the responsibility for approving its own requisitions prior to sending them to the corporate office.
BMI has been a Bellwether customer for over a decade. “Bellwether Purchasing Software was still on the premise system, when we came on board,” Betty stated.
“Prior to implementing Bellwether Purchasing Software,” Betty said, “everything was manual. We had to create purchase orders on a computer. When we decided to automate the process, Purchasing Partners, a BMI vendor that was using Bellwether Purchasing Software, recommended Bellwether to us. We decided to try it, and we really liked what the system could do to improve our workflow. We immediately realized at least a 25% reduction in processing time when we implemented Bellwether Purchasing Software.”
Betty commented, “The Materials File has worked especially well for us. We use the file for our purchasing catalog. The catalog contains very detailed, categorized descriptions of all the supplies we order. We code each item with a specific code, so order error is minimized. This system worked so well for us over the years, we stayed with Bellwether even when our accounting software company introduced its own purchasing system. We knew what worked, and we stayed with it.
While the functionality of Bellwether Purchasing Software has been very positive for our organization, there is another reason we stayed and continue to stay with Belllwether. Bellwether’s Customer Service department is exceptional. Wonderful support like this is hard to give up. I have worked with all members of the department over the years, and they are prompt, knowledgeable and interested. If I have a problem, the technical staff is there to walk through the system with me, determining whether we have a server problem or a software problem, and it is always solved quickly. Throughout the years, many full-time and part-time employees have occupied this office, and, without exception, each has been able to successfully work with the technical staff to solve any problems that might arise.
In the past, hard times fell on industries like ours. Many companies went out of business. We stayed in business because we were careful about who supplied services to us. We stayed with trusted vendors who showed continuing interest and concern about providing high levels of service, and Bellwether Software was one of them.
When Bellwether Purchasing Software was implemented, I had sole responsibility for making it work. I took my time, learned the system and have been very satisfied with the results, in particular, the avenues it offers to be able to control the spending of departments and the high level of customer service.”
Detroit Newspapers was established in 1991 in Detroit, Michigan as the business agent for The Detroit News, a Gannet-owned company with worldwide operations, and the Detroit Free Press, owned by Knight Ridder, the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States. Detroit Newspapers conducts the business operations (advertising, circulation, finance, human resources and production) of the two newspapers. The newspapers publish separate editions Monday through Friday and combine editions on Saturday and Sunday. The two newspapers have a combined circulation of approximately one million subscriptions.
Richard Karstensen has been the Purchasing Administrator for Detroit Newspapers for the last twelve years. The Purchasing department, which is headed up by Purchasing Director, Nicholas Fonseca, consists of 15 employees. The Department has responsibility for the shipping and receiving docks, the stock room, which supplies both newspapers, internal/external mail delivery, postal inserting room, job press printing and internal business forms, such as fliers and business cards. The Purchasing department buys everything from copy paper to replacement cars. They also process the paperwork for repairs.
Large purchases are the responsibility of specialized buyers: an MRO Specialist, a Computer and Computer Peripherals Specialist and a Promotional Materials Specialist for printing that is done outside of the company. Procurement cards are used for small ticket, frequently purchased items, and small office items are directly ordered through Office Depot. In total, Detroit Newspapers has about 1,000 vendors, with 200 of them active.
Any item in excess of $2,000 is let out for bid, and they generally solicit at least three bids on any particular item. In a year’s time, approximately 5K purchase orders are produced. Each department has its own budget, so Richard’s department is not directly involved in the total budget, but his department spend may reach $5MM/month, especially if events such as new construction take place.
Richard stated, “Prior to Bellwether Purchasing Software, we had an old system called PO Writer Plus. When the company changed hands, we did not choose to move up to the more expensive version and felt, at that point, it was time to move on. We picked out 4-5 companies, which included Bellwether Purchasing Software. All of the companies we were evaluating set us up on trials to review, but Bellwether Purchasing Software had the look and feel of the system we felt the most comfortable with. Also, from the standpoint of form, function and pricing, the software met our needs. We became a Bellwether customer.”
The implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software involved the Purchasing, Requisitions, Receiving, and Inventory modules. Richard said, “We went live within eight weeks. We began preparing for it in July by cleaning up and cleaning out files. In August training began for all Requisitioners and Approvers. In early September, we sent all our files to Bellwether for conversion, and the last two weeks of September were spent testing the system. We had a couple of issues with start-up, but Bellwether’s technical staff was very supportive and timely in solving the issues. That meant a lot to us because a company just doesn’t buy software; it needs ongoing, knowledgeable, timely support for any problems that might arise for the lifetime of the product.
We have been pleased with Bellwether Purchasing Software and are in the process of upgrading our current version to the latest version. Also, as we grow, we will have more
Bellwether Purchasing Software users. Currently, we have about 200 employees that use the Bellwether system, so the latest version of Bellwether will allow us to process large amounts of data in a more efficient and timely manner. For the future, we may look at integrating Bellwether with our accounting software, which Lawson provides.”
“We are pleased with all the Bellwether Purchasing Software modules, especially the Requisitions module. Prior to Bellwether, we had only an internal requisition form, which was walked or emailed around for approval. After the internal form was approved, we had to re-key the information into a purchase order. It was important to have in place an automated requisitions system that could create a purchase order without re-keying. Everything else had been automated in the old system except Requisitions, so this is where we noticed the biggest impact in time savings.
We were also very pleased with the Inventory module. The system easily allowed us to convert all our data without experiencing any downtime in our inventory system.
Bellwether Purchasing Software has met our expectations and has helped us streamline our processes and gain better efficiencies. The technical support has been great. How a company reacts to its customers’ problems really makes a difference,” Richard concluded.
Louis Nicolosi is the Purchasing Manager for St. Ann’s Community, a health care facility for the elderly who require a medical program in an institutional setting. St. Ann’s provides 24-hour skilled nursing services, physician supervision, physical rehabilitation services and other health-related and social services. Some of these include adult day care, Hospice care, transitional care and outpatient rehabilitation services. They are located in Rochester, NY.
Prior to the implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software, St. Ann’s was on a manual system. There was no materials management package, so all of the documentation and approvals was manual. This was a time-consuming process. Even though the purchasing process became centralized under the manual system, it was inefficient and expensive.
St. Ann’s compared software providers and chose Bellwether Purchasing Software because it fit the needs of their organization and because Bellwether was willing to accommodate what the facility required. They implemented the Purchasing, Requisitions, Receiving and Inventory modules. Once implemented, they conducted in-house training for Bellwether. Louis stated, “The challenge for us was going from a manual to an automated system. In the Health Care industry, innovations are about 5-10 years behind other industries. People are reluctant to change. They are comfortable doing what they have always done, so getting perceptions changed was a challenge. We had to educate them about the Bellwether Purchasing Software system and convince them that this change was going to make the organization more efficient and increase everyone’s productivity. In a month’s time we produce 250+ requisitions, over 500 line items and about 200 PO’s. We spend between $7-$10 MM per year on goods and services.
To ensure the successful implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software, the IT department and I conducted a trial run of Bellwether and set up a lot of parameters prior to launch. With the appropriate people working together, we achieved a successful launch, and everyone understood what the Bellwether Purchasing Software system would do for us. Bellwether delivered the package it promised. We received a lot of support from Bellwether during this period. Our experience with the Technical Staff continues to be good. The company keeps me informed, and anytime we have questions, we get answers in a reasonable time frame.”
St. Ann’s belongs to a large group purchasing organization that, generally, negotiates and provides contracts to them and other member facilities. Bellwether Purchasing Software measures the type of volumes that go through the facility, such as the types of requisitions and amounts of inventory. Prior to Bellwether, all of this was an “unknown.” “Now,” Louis says, “when finance people want to know how much we have spent, I can tell them and provide the hard data. I even have the capability to look at a particular vendor and see what amount of money we have spent with them.”
“Our inventory supplies, such as office and computer supplies, are now in a locked environment. Employees must request supplies, and every item has a price on it, as well as a part number. All office supplies are on an electronic catalog. Using the Bellwether Inventory module gave us the ability to lower inventory levels. Before Bellwether Purchasing Software, we had to physically look on the shelves. Typically, supplies were over ordered because we had no usage history on any particular item. We had ‘mini stores’ in everyone’s closets all over the organization! Now, usage patterns are clear, and reorder points are built in. I can adjust the reorder quantities and points as need dictates. I can even take an item to zero before I replenish it. We have reduced inventory by at least 25%,” Louis said.
Bellwether Purchasing Software has been an integral part of the budget process. Louis stated, “In the past, any financial questions that came to our department, i.e., ‘What are we spending with this vendor?’ were answered through the manual process. We had to find and pull the files and get the calculator out. It was very labor intensive. Now those answers are right in front of us, and users can access Bellwether and see exactly what they have spent. Each department is responsible for its own budget, so ready access to Bellwether Purchasing Software gives managers a much better handle on their spend, and they can authorize purchases before they take place. With pre-set spend parameters; end users have the tools they need to watch what their employees are buying. Maverick spending is now well controlled. Parameters dictate levels of approval, and, if the approver does not feel the item is needed, the order is rejected. Since centralization and automation, employees cannot simply buy what they want. Now, they are more informed. We have tools. We have better contract compliance, and we know what we spend. Bellwether Purchasing Software is a small investment, considering the ROI. A small financial investment up front pays for itself many times over in the long run.”
Eastern Idaho Technical College (EITC) is a state-funded, public two-year technical college that provides high quality education programs that meet the diverse needs of the citizens of its nine county service area and the State of Idaho. The college champions technical programs, customized industry training and retraining, development and basic skill instruction, workforce and community education, economic development, distance education and student services. EITC has 850 full-time students and a large segment of part-time students. It also provides workforce training for over six thousand individuals per year.
How Purchasing Works at EITC
Sandi Dingman is the Purchasing Agent for EITC. She has been a Bellwether customer since 1993. As the sole purchasing agent in her department, her responsibilities include overseeing all purchases, contracts and leases – school wide. She is also responsible for ordering goods and services for 110 full-time employees and 30 part-time employees. Because the school offers such a diverse curriculum, “goods and services” cover everything from facility maintenance and support to instructional supplies and equipment. Sandi’s spend budget per year is about $3MM, and several hundred vendors are used to meet all the school’s supply demands. Business Purchasing Cards were recently implemented on campus for small dollar purchases, and EITC produces approximately one thousand purchase orders per year for high dollar major purchases.
Prior to becoming a Bellwether customer, EITC was on a manual, paper system. “That’s right,” Sandi commented. “It was the typewriter and I generating a whole lot of paper!” In time, an in-house system was developed by a faculty staff member, and, while very cumbersome to use, was in place for 11/2 years.
EITC meets Bellwether
Sandi said, “Because the system was so difficult to use, ‘faculty buy-in’ did not happen. They simply would not use the system, so we knew we had to find something that was easier. We reviewed several packages, including some that had to be custom built. About the same time we were evaluating different packages, Bellwether contacted us, and, because of that, we decided to look at Bellwether Purchasing Software. We requested trial, and we let a select group of faculty test it. Their conclusion was that not only was it very easy to use, it also exceeded our expectations in getting the job done.
Lawrence Welk, the bandleader who was loved by millions for his “Champagne music,” was one of the biggest stars of his time. He was also an astute business- man who made wise investments in the hospitality industry, resorts which have become world-renowned.
Welk Resort San Diego is designed with the emphasis on luxury, convenience and style. It is the largest Vacation Ownership project in Southern California located on a sprawling 640 acres. Welk’s Desert Oasis is located in the sun drenched Coachella Valley in Southern California – just minutes away from Palm Springs. Immersed in the serene beauty of the Ozarks, Welk Resort Branson offers award- winning entertainment in a spectacular location and last in the Baja is Welk Resort Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Complementing the Welk Resort holdings is the Welk Music Group, a leading independent music company with offices in California, North Carolina and Tennessee, encompassing three labels – Vanguard Records, Sugar Hill Records and Ranwood Records.
Jackie Newbeck is the Director of Purchasing for Welk Resorts. She began her career there seven years ago in the same position she currently holds. She is responsible for all timeshare facilities’ purchasing needs, including office needs, interior furniture, fixture, equipment and services. Her department consists of five employees who, directly or indirectly, manage the purchasing process for existing and new time-share facilities.
A big part of Jackie’s job is developing standard operating procedures for how and what all properties will order.
Jackie says, “Items like bedding, shampoo or soap, for example, must follow established protocol. Users may grumble when mandates are put in place, but, without them, quality control would suffer and our image throughout all of the facilities would also suffer. Maintaining a consistent, quality image through developing standard operating protocol ensures that the “look and feel” of Welk Resorts is maintained throughout all of the resorts.”
“Currently,” Jackie said, “we have thirty users, but that number will grow as new properties come on line. In the last two years we have spent $6MM in service, supplies and equipment and that will also increase.
We generate over 200 purchase orders per week, so we needed a powerful system. We were referred to Bellwether. We evaluated four companies, and we chose Bellwether’s Purchasing Software. We started to use the Purchasing, Receiving, Requisitions, and Inventory modules. Then we added the Bar-coding module in the future.
When we first implemented Bellwether, there was resistance to change; however, within sixty days of the mandate, everyone was using Bellwether Purchasing Software because we no longer accepted email or paper requisitions. Processes and workflow are much improved now that everyone is on board.”
Jackie said, “We really like the Technical Assistance Department. They are knowledgeable and respond quickly. Everyone likes Bellwether Purchasing Software because it is so easy to use. This is a powerful program, even more powerful than I realized when we purchased it. We are completely satisfied with Bellwether and would highly recommend the product to others.”
Tammy Vogel is the Purchasing Officer for the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, located in Phoenix, AZ. Tammy has been with the Department for four years, and she has spent a total of twenty-one years in a purchasing capacity.
The Arizona Department of Veterans Services is a not-for-profit state agency, and it employs about 300 people. In addition to the main Department in Phoenix, there are also small satellite offices throughout the state. Tammy’s department, which consists of three employees, does all the buying for the main Department and the satellite locations.
Tammy says, “The Department has many different divisions because it offers many kinds of services. For instance, we have a 200 bed skilled nursing facilityfor veterans and their spouses. We also have educational, benefits counseling, Adult Day Health care, Fiduciary services, Gift shop, etc. There is even a State veterans’ cemetery. We order everything from funeral supplies to office supplies. It keeps the purchasing department very busy.”
The Arizona Department of Veterans Services has been a Bellwether customer since Tammy came on board four years ago. Tammy’s past experience with purchasing software systems had been a good one, so she wanted to implement a purchasing software system at the veterans’ facility. Tammy chose Bellwether after evaluating several purchasing software packages. She stated, “We initially found Bellwether searching the web. We tried the free trial and agreed that Bellwether Purchasing Software best met our needs. We bought the Purchasing, Receiving, Requisitions, Quotations, Inventory, and Bar Code modules.”
Department Reporting Requirements
The report and tracking features have been very useful to the Department. Tammy says that because they are a state agency, they are required to track and provide reports on all business transactions with small companies. “Bellwether has really helped in this area,” Tammy said.
“Another big area that Bellwether has helped us with is warehousing. Before we implemented Bellwether Purchasing Software, our warehouse was overrun with supplies. The purchasing of supplies was done when the product ran out, and then it was reordered in large quantities. It was not unusual to order a six-month supply of product. This overburdened our warehouse because we order so many things. With Bellwether Inventory Module, we can reorder at different reorder points, which means we can order according to usage. Life is a lot simpler with Bellwether Purchasing Software. It’s a good product; we made the right choice.”
Terry LaRock is the VP Group Manager for Purchasing, Travel and Assets for Silicon Valley Bank, located in Santa Clara, CA. Silicon Valley Bank provides corporate banking and venture capital services. In the last nine years, Terry has worked for two different companies, and he implemented Bellwether Purchasing Software at both of them.
After Terry came to work for Silicon Valley Bank, he began installing the Purchasing, Requisitioning, Quotations, Inventory and Receiving modules. Since the entire purchasing process was still on a paper system, he had his work cut out for him. Terry says, “ The need was clearly there, and my previous experience with Bellwether had been a good one. None of our Purchasing Department’s employees had ever used an automated system, and some had their doubts that the system would deliver what it promised. Because of Bellwether’s ease of implementation and ease of use, however, they were soon won over. Now, they are all strong users.”
The bank began building its vendor files in December 2002. They are now completely paperless and even have their suppliers set up so they can e-mail PO and RFQ documents directly to them in PDF format.
Implementing Paperless Requisitions
Terry stated, “We researched our environment and found that 95% of the orders came from administration departments and IT groups. That showed us where to start implementing the Requisitions module. Electronic requisitions now flow through Purchasing, and the requisition approval process is handled automatically by the Bellwether approval process. If we find missing information on a requisition or if a requisition has been rejected, we can look back through the Bellwether system and know where to go – no more paper shuffling to see where the requisitions. We really use the Requisition Status Inquiry, the Order History and Requisition History reports.”
Terry says the Purchasing Department benefits from all the modules they have purchased. The Quotation module was recently a big help. “Not too long ago,” stated Terry, “our bank was going through a ‘re-brand- ing’ process. We needed to get quotes from a lot of vendors for supplying stationery and envelopes to our thirty-two locations across the United States. The Quotations module was great for receiving quotes from suppliers. One of our buyers observed Bellwether in action and said, ‘Wow, it really works!’”
If you are ready to implement Bellwether Purchasing Software within your organization, Terry says to start with a small test group to ensure your objectives and commitments are met. “But,” he adds, “even people who have had bad experiences with different software will get on board. Bellwether Purchasing Software will put their fears away in no time because it really does work!”
Saint Francis University, located in Loretto, PA, is a private, Catholic co-educational liberal arts University. The Franciscans Friars of the Third Order Regular sponsor it. The University offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts tradition, graduate, doctoral and professional programs of study. Saint Francis can trace the seeds of its beginning to six Franciscan friars from Ireland who funded a boys’ academy in the mountain hamlet of Loretto, PA in 1847. Saint Francis is the oldest Franciscan institution of higher learning in the United States.
Today, the University includes nine residence halls, a student union, classroom and administration buildings, athletic center, dining hall, library and chapel – all located on their 600-acre campus. It has an enrollment of 2,084 students, most of whom are full-time students.
The Purchasing Department
William (Bill) Agosta is the Purchasing Director for the University. He has been with Saint Francis for over 20 years, originally joining the organization as a Purchasing Agent. Within eighteen months of his employment, Bill became the University’s first Director of Purchasing.
Bill’s responsibilities include overseeing centralized purchasing functions and, as he puts it, “Helping stretch managers’ budgets…” He also oversees a staff of seven and has responsibility for the Purchasing Department, Printing Center, Mail Services, Campus Courier and Central Warehouse/Receiving.
Saint Francis centralized its purchasing function in 1990 to put consistency, order and accountability in the purchasing process. Change did not come easily, but via the VP of Finance’s mandate, all requisitions henceforth had to flow through purchasing if the item’s value was greater than $250; purchases less than $250 could be handled with a Procurement Card (P Card). Bill says, “It was a difficult but necessary transition which took employees a long time to accept. With approximately 60 people in different departments ordering everything from pencils to cadavers, we had to get control of the process.
Saint Francis and Bellwether Software Partner
After centralization, automation was next. We evaluated several software packages and found Bellwether Purchasing Software to have the functionality we needed at the price we could afford. Bellwether really helped with our warehousing system, and we liked the cleaner, more appropriate method of conducting our business. For instance, it used to take one week to process and order; now, we complete the order in the same day or the next day.
Since implementing Bellwether Purchasing Software, we have been able to streamline our business. We are able to handle all products and services, except for a very few, in house, representing an annual spend of $10 Millon. The Purchasing Department draws from a vendor list of around 2,500 active vendors, and we produce approximately 2,000 purchase orders per year.
The Department is more efficient with Bellwether Purchasing Software. We use the Requisitions, Purchasing, Receiving, Request for Quotations, Inventory and the A/P Interface modules, and we are currently in the process of upgrading to the latest Bellwether version.
Technical assistance from Bellwether is rarely required, but when it is, it is handled in a knowledgeable and timely manner.
Bellwether Purchasing Software is much more valuable than its cost. It is user friendly and is an excellent fit for schools, colleges and universities.”
Vicky Hopf, Quick Chek Food Stores
Quick Chek Food Stores is a privately owned chain of New Jersey based convenience stores. Its founder, Carlton C. Durling, opened the first two stores in 1966 for the purpose of creating outlets to sell more milk from the family dairy farm, which had been in existence since the 1800’s. In its humble beginnings, the corporate office was located in back of one of the convenience stores. Now, thirty-nine years later, Quick Chek’s support center is in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and they have 102 company-owned stores located throughout the state. Three stores also sell gas and that product offering will expand to other stores in the future. Twelve of the stores have pharmacies, though corporate plans do not include expanding this service.
Currently, Quick Chek’s “big ticket” items include the sale of coffee and other food service items. They are open seven days a week in all New Jersey locations and twenty-four hours a day in areas where local governments permit. Quick Chek employs 1,800 people whose mission is, “Total Customer Dedication: How I Make Quick Chek a Great Place to Work and a Great Place to Shop.”
Vicky Hopf, Manager of Corporate Finance and Treasury, has been with Quick Chek since 1988. She began her career as an Accounts Payable Associate, processing invoices in the Accounts Payable department. She has been in her present position for three years. Her responsibilities include budgeting and forecasting, treasury work, managing cash and banking relationships and financial analyses.
Vicky explained that items for store resale are the responsibility of each store, but big ticket items like refrigeration cases, slicers, coffee grinders and other equipment are the responsibility of the support center, and this is where Bellwether Purchasing Software is utilized. Quick Chek uses the Purchasing, Receiving, Requisitions, Quotations, Inventory, A/P Interface modules. Within the Quick Chek Store Engineering Department, two people have responsibility for all materials purchasing.
Until two years ago, none of the purchasing cycle was automated. Then, stores would call in their requests, and the Store Engineering Department would place the orders with the appropriate vendors who met their specs. Quick Chek has roughly 50 different materials vendors and produces approximately 100 purchases per month – more if they are rolling out a new piece of equipment to all stores or constructing new stores. Vicky said, “It was a very informal process, and we had problems getting vendors paid on time. When invoices came in, we had to ‘walk the paper around the building’ to get the proper sign-offs before we could pay the bills. This process was very time consuming, and often the paper got lost along the way. Sometimes it was several months before the bills got paid.
There was also no way to track how much was being spent against the budget. We needed a better system, one that would monitor and control the whole process. That’s how I became involved. I was tasked with finding a software package that would meet the functionality requirements we needed.”
Vicky went on to say, “Since we were already a Lawson Financial Software client, we looked at the Lawson Purchase Order System first. We didn’t look at it for very long, however, because their purchasing software package was very price prohibitive.
After looking at the Lawson package, we reviewed three more systems, and Bellwether’s Purchasing Software met not only the functionality and price requirements we needed, but also it also interfaced with our Lawson financial system.
The implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software went smoothly. Within a month, we had a test environment in place and, shortly thereafter, had the system up and running.”
Vicky stated, “It’s hard to quantify in dollars and percentages how much money, time and efficiency we gained with the implementation of Bellwether Purchasing Software, but it was significant in all areas. Especially beneficial for us was the ability to make timely payments of invoices.
The interface with Lawson eliminates double entry and creates an audit trail. As invoices are entered into Bellwether, a three-way match of PO, Receipt and Invoice is automated online. Then, approved invoices are sent to Lawson’s Accounts Payable System for payment.
Another benefit we have realized is that now the dollar amount ordered against the budget dictates the authority level of approvers, and through Bellwether Purchasing Software, within the dollar and budget guidelines we have set, determines the automatic approval routing. This has eliminated the bottlenecks we once experienced.
Quick Chek is pleased with Bellwether Purchasing Software, and we recommend it as an affordable alternative to Lawson’s Purchase Order System.”