If you haven't heard, Windows 7 is going away. Not today, but in 2020. If you are running Windows 7, you'll definitely want to review the list below for some areas to be thinking about when moving to Windows 10.
- Start thinking today about migrating to Windows 10. It's never too soon.
- Make a checklist of all the applications that need to be on the new Windows 10 PC. i.e. anti-virus, backup, email, etc.
- Determine whether or not the applications can be moved to the new PC or if new versions will need to be purchased.
- Make sure that any printers, scanners, etc. are compatible with Windows 10.
- Don’t make any assumptions about applications or hardware working with the new Windows 10 PC.
- Ensure that there is a verified backup before starting the process.
- If you're not using an online (i.e. off-site) backup, consider starting now. They are easy to use, run in the background and are inexpensive.
- While making the investment in a new PC, consider adding a second monitor. This makes it possible to move easily between two unrelated or related applications. For example, you could have Billing running on one monitor and Word Processing or email on the other monitor.
- Take some time to familiarize yourself with the new features.
- Lastly, allow plenty of time to move your data, getting everything set up, and learning the features of your new PC.
Do you have an item whose price and/or supply fluctuates? Of course you do, because we all do. Every business has seasons. Supply goes up and down as does demand for a certain product. I was talking to my mechanic recently and he said that he can count on the fact that at the start of the school year and while the fair is in town, business will be slow. Why those times? He doesn't know, but it happens like clock work every year. These are predictable occurrences, but what about the unpredictable occurrences like the US getting hit by multiple major hurricanes? That's why it's good to have systems in place for both the expected and unexpected. Not just a disaster recovery plan, but a plan for the case when, while demand stays the same, supply is dramatically reduced.
Does you current accounting system or the team behind it help to handle these issues?
The economy in many areas of the country is doing pretty good these days. A lot of distributors tell us sales and profits are up year over year. When I hear that, it reminds me of something someone told me years ago, “It's easy to make money when the economy is doing well. It's much more difficult to make money when things are not doing so well.” While business is going well is the perfect time to be examining those critical areas of our businesses that are key to success. One key area is gross profits.
It's easy to look at an Income Statement and see what profits are, but determining why profits are up or down is another story. When profits are not where we want them to be, then we have to ask questions like:
- Do I have a pricing problem?
- Do I have a costing problem?
- Are my sales people discounting too much?
Where do you go to find this detailed information?
There's a new Login coming to the website! Since the launch of the last website we've had the Client Login, but only with the basic one password for everyone. The new setup will make it possible for everyone to have their own username and password. On top of that you'll be able to access a user portal with your information. Since this does happen unfortunately, if you forget your password, then you'll simply go to the login screen and click the button that reads Forgot? underneath the password field. This prompt will then send your password to the email on file (so don't forget which email that you use to login). It's not live just yet, but will be very soon. Look for an email in the near future for further instructions on how to sign up!
The “Internet of Things” is all the rage these days. Everybody wants to be connected to the internet for convenience and having a lock for your door that you can lock and unlock remotely seems like a good idea. However, there's something to consider before you rush to your computer and order that door lock that lets you open it using your smart phone. Think about this, computer manufacturers struggle constantly with malware and viruses that attack and compromise PCs. This continues to happen even though PCs have been around for a long time. If PC manufacturers struggle in making their products safe, do you really want to worry about someone using software to hack your front door lock? We're not telling you not to make the purchase, just to do your research and due diligence before rushing out to buy that new fancy software based door lock. After a little bit of digging into the reviews, that “old fashioned” door key may look more appealing to you.
Harddrive space is cheap. I don't know how many times I've heard this statement. It's true, but there's something that should be added. Just because it's cheap doesn't mean that it’s wise to hoard every file ever made. Occasionally we should all think about purging some of those old files. I’m not suggesting that you get rid of everything, just the ones that are completely unnecessary and, of course, hold onto the tax and accounting files. Regardless, when a drive gets overrun, it can make files difficult to find and in turn cause the seeker to waste valuable time. In an effort to be more efficient, keep the folders simple and the names strategic. Names with an appropriate title, i.e. date-department-content, can be searched for through the search bar instead of scrolling through endless files hoping that you'll see that one particular file. And, if files are named in this manner, then chances are that you won't even need all those extra folders. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel welcome to send those our way!
Is your WIFI a little slow? It happens. Sometimes because there's too many people on the network or maybe it's for some unexplainable reason. While we can't stop all the issues, there are things that can be done for some marginal speed gains or even possibly some major speed improvements.
A couple of those things are:
- Update your router. This could mean actually replacing the router itself or updating the firmware.
- Look for things that might be interfering with the signal. Believe it or not this includes not just that cordless phone but also the microwave... Put some distance between these devices.
- Of course, it may be as simple as your internet speed being too slow, which unfortunately means a call to your service provider.
While nothing is full proof, these options are a start and can help to improve the quality of the WIFI within your building.
We never stop talking about passwords and that’s because they are so important. There’s a couple of things that we would like to review about passwords and how they should be setup.
1. Don’t create a password that is too short or too simple
This should be obvious… password, 123546, your name, your birthday, etc. are not secure passwords. Hackers are going to run the simplest combinations and most obvious words first. The password should be meaningful to you, but, when you create this password, remember to add in things like special characters with your letters and numbers. For example: use the @ symbol instead of the letter A or an exclamation point ( ! ) instead of an L.
2. Never changing passwords or changing them too often
This is a double edged sword. Never changing your password isn’t good, but on the reverse, changing your password too often can also have negative side effects. For example, if you haven’t changed your password in two years, especially if it’s something like your Netflix account, then it’s definitely time. Why? Because, most people don’t type those passwords in, they’re just saved and when they’re saved they tend to be forgotten. On the flip side, changing passwords too often, statistically speaking, will cause most people to use a less secure password. This might be because people don’t want to be creative when the password is created or they’re just tired of changing the password and simply don’t care anymore. With that in mind, just remember that multiple years is too long but every month is probably too often…
Have questions or suggestions? Let us know by sending an email or simply responding to this email!
Whether it's through reading, watching videos, or any other method, we should always be learning. Doing so helps us to keep up to date, to find new ideas, solve problems, and invest in our futures. Something that I've seen repeated time after time, is that many of the most successful people throughout history were avid readers. These leaders didn't just read about one subject either, but instead read a wide assortment of topics. They were always trying to expand their knowledge. If expanding your knowledge is something you are interested in, we still have some seats available for our training class in September. The class is in Dallas, Tx (not a bad place to visit) and it's on September 19th and 20th. Outside of all the great information that you'll learn, there will also be time to talk with other distributors, to brainstorm new ideas and talk about creative solutions for problems that you're currently facing. To see all we have to offer in these sessions, click here: Training Class. If you're already hooked and would like to sign up, contact Andi either by phone or email.
Do you have a digital junk drawer? I sat listening to a webinar looking at a list of social media apps that just seemed absolutely absurd to me. The list literally took over multiple pages. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm on Instagram, I have a Facebook account, and post regularly to Twitter. But as so many of us know or are starting to realize, these platforms, while they can be extremely beneficial both in our personal life and professionally, can become a time vacuum. Does that mean that we should just eliminate the use of these platforms? No, of course not, because these tools can be used to help businesses be more effective, efficient, and simply better at connecting and helping the customers. But maybe, just maybe, we should be a little picky about which ones we use. Making sure to only use the platforms that genuinely help a company better serve the customer and bring in revenue (this can and should be tracked). With that in mind, is it time for you to de-clutter your digital life?
If you've ever had a customer ask you to show them who signed for a delivery, then you need DataWeld’s digital proof of delivery. Digital proof of delivery does several things, but the most important is that it makes it possible to prove delivery fast and easy. This can be done, in most cases, in a few seconds which helps in saving time and improving customer service.
The other major benefit is the elimination of paper. Orders and who signed for them are all digital, which eliminates the need for filing the paper and more importantly, trying to find the piece of paper when it's needed.
Don't have time for a phone call or email? We understand, so if you want some more information and have time for a quick 5 minute read, then click the link below to learn more!
When I picked up my coffee the other day something unusual happened. The person behind the counter handed me a coupon for a free drink and explained that the wait time had been longer than what they felt was acceptable. Maybe someone got upset and said something, maybe no one did, regardless, I didn’t express to them that I was upset and yet they still gave me the free coffee. Now that free coffee probably didn’t cost them much and could easily be considered a marketing expense, but they made an effort to take care of their customers even when no action was technically required. I’m not suggesting here that we start giving away things for free, but rather to think about how we can go above and beyond to take care of the customer. I’d be remiss if, after writing this, I didn’t ask how we are doing with our customer service. So, please let us know how we’re doing. All you have to do is respond to this email with your thoughts and suggestions.
Can you accurately answer this question: How many cylinders do you own?
How many cylinders do you own? This may not seem like the most important question at first, but not knowing this answer has the potential to greatly impact your rental income and relationships with your customers. For over 30 years, the team here at Dataweld has had the good fortune of working side by side with distributors in the gases and welding supply industry. In that time I have long since lost track of how many times I have asked this question, but one thing that I do know is that the answer is almost always the same.
Smaller distributors tend to say that they have around 1,000 to 2,000 cylinders, while larger distributors tend to say around 15,000 to 20,000 cylinders. Let's think about this from an assets standpoint. Cylinders have different prices, but for the sake of discussion, let's just use an average price per cylinder of $200. A variance of only 1,000 cylinders would represent an investment around $200,000. That's not exactly pocket change. What if you were looking at accounts receivable and, instead of finding an exact number, found a note that read "somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000"?
4 Suggestions for Solving the Asset Problem:
1. Put controls in place.
2. Keep accurate records of cylinders shipped to your vendors.
3.Keep track of empty and full cylinders on your dock.
4. Consider using bar codes or RFID tags to track serial numbers.
Think about the accuracy of you cylinder records from another perspective. Inaccurate cylinder records can have a negative impact on your customer relationships. Improper record-keeping often means incorrect billing. Incorrect billing often results in lost billings on gases, cylinder rental income, and time spent reconciling balances with customers.
Identify the Problem
Many of the distributors we've worked with over the years have said things like "I don't make that many mistakes..." or "It's not that big of a deal...", but let's apply a little math to this topic and see what the numbers say. Let's say that there are 100 invoices a day and that there are two types of cylinders on every invoice giving us a total of 200 cylinders. Assuming that there will be returns, for this example we will keep the returns equal to the amount of shipped cylinders, our total amount of cylinders is now 400. Now there are 400 transactions involving cylinders for every 100 invoices billed. Assuming 22 working days in the month and 12 months in the year, the result is more than 100,000 transactions.
If cylinders could talk...
How old is your oldest cylinder? Whip Seaman, president of Corp Brothers in Providence Rhode Island, reports that he has a cylinder dated 1911. "It's shoulders are covered with retest dates, every five years, from then to present. Can you imagine the places that cylinder has been? Fab shops, hospitals, ambulances, factories, served our country through two world wars, and to sea on a research vessel. How many times was it refilled? What customers kept it the longest time? What gases were pumped into it? Questions like that could go on forever!" Indeed those questions could go on forever. Again, the question stands, how old is your oldest cylinder? What is your best cylinder story? Let us know by clicking here: My Cylinder Story
Let's also assume that we are above average and are 99 percent accurate. In this example, if we only make one error in every 100 invoices, then 1000 errors will be made before the end of the year. There are more things to consider however.
Things to Consider:
1. Did the mistake involve one cylinder or ten?
2. Was the mistake in my favor or the customer's?
3. Did the customer loose the cylinder or were the returns improperly recorded?
Solve the Problem
Where do we begin? First, 1. Controls need to be implemented. Employees need to be balancing the trucks, every day, to the orders that were both taken and delivered. The place to start is by taking a physical inventory of each truck before it leaves and when it returns. The beginning inventory of cylinders, plus or minus the number of cylinders that were delivered to customers, should equal the ending inventory. If there are too many cylinders on the truck, then the driver most likely didn't record some of the returns. If there are too few cylinders on the truck, then the driver may have forgotten to record those extra cylinders that the customer didn't order but asked for at the time of delivery. Catching these mistakes now will keep things from getting out of hand later.
2. Keep accurate records of cylinders shipped to your vendors. Vendors make mistakes, but no one wants to loose assets or pay rent on cylinders that don't exist because a vendor's driver didn't record the correct number of shipments and returns.
3. Keep track of empty and full cylinders on your dock. Knowing how many cylinders are on the dock completes the picture of how many cylinders are available and where they are located.
The Formula: 1 + 2 + 3 = How many cylinders you have.
1. How many cylinders are at customer sites?
2. How many cylinders are on the dock?
3. How many cylinders are at the vendors?
The suggestion above will do wonders for the accuracy of cylinder records, but there is another important benefit. Not counting cylinders can say to employees that cylinders are not important. If employees see from management that these assets are highly valuable, then they will be much more likely to also value the assets.
Now would be the time to take a closer look at tracking cylinder assets by Serial Number using Bar Codes or RFID tags. Tracking by Serial Number can help to resolve those more complicated issues. For example, if a cylinder asset is returned from a different customer than it was shipped to and no tracking is in place, then there will now be two customers with incorrect cylinder balances.
The cylinders that were shipped to the first customer may have been returned, but credit was not given to the customer for the cylinder. Now the second customer has been given credit for cylinders they didn't rent. This sets up the company for loss of rental income and an unpleasant meeting about cylinder discrepancy.
GAWDA Cylinder Task Force
The US Department of Transportation says that a standard cylinder must be filled by its owner or by someone with the express permission of the owner. As we all know, the question of determining cylinder ownership has been a longstanding problem in this industry. To combat the issue, GAWDA's Government Affairs and Human Resources Consultant, Rick Schweitzer, has been working with a handful of GAWDA distributors as part of the Cylinder Task Force. The goal: to develop a policy template that will help resolve ownership issues. Please check the GAWDA website for more information.
Accuracy is the Key
When it comes to cylinders, accuracy is everything. There needs to be as much emphasis on accurate cylinder balances as there is on bank records. The purpose of accurate cylinder records is not just about answering a question or giving the overall number. The purpose is about improving customer relationships, about reducing those uncomfortable discrepancy meeting, and about improving billing revenue. Accuracy should be your state of mind.
Most businesses understand the need for balancing controls with Accounts Receivable and have implemented the appropriate controls. We have seen in many cases however, where the same controls do not exist for Accounts Payable. The reasons are varied, but the same controls still need to exist. When no controls exist invoices can be entered twice and vendors paid multiple times or paid the wrong amount. Each mistake takes time, and in turn money, to correct.
Here are a few suggestions for implementing Accounts Payable Controls:
1. Minimize the number of people involved. A company may be large and perhaps need a number of people to handle all of the invoices, but the process still needs to be focused. One person who really understands the task is going to do a better job than two people who kind of understand the task.
2. Separate the Accounts Payable invoice entry from the Purchasing function. This will be impacted by the size of your company, but It's still good from a control stand point to separate this process.
3. Run Totals. When the process is started, run a total on the number of invoices that will be entered and the total amount of those invoices. Balance these two numbers against the purchase journal after the invoices have been entered into the system.
4. Use the actual Invoice Number whenever possible. This will help to keep duplicate numbers out of the system. If there is no invoice number, for instance a credit card statement, then it's it a good idea to date stamp the invoice number. This may look like Visa20140714.
5. Check-Off the Invoices. Always mark invoices as Entered after they have been processed into the system. Whether a paper file is maintained or the invoices are scanned and stored digitally, this can help provide proof that the invoices have been entered.
6. Look for the Abnormalities. When the Purchase Journal is run, learn to look for the abnormal conditions. This means that if there is typically a $100 a month charge from a vendor and now there's an invoice for $10,000, there may have been a mistake made. This is one of the main reasons to run a total on the amount of the invoices. It's also another reason to restrict the number of people involved in this process. After a while, an experienced person will recognize the abnormal situations and be able to make changes as needed.
7. Check the Work. Always double check the work. It is easier to correct a mistake before everything is processed and it takes a lot less time.
Minimize the number of people involved, run a total on the number of invoices and the total amount of those invoices, always use the vendor invoice number when available, compare your total to the purchase journal and double check all the work.
There are a more than a few top 10 lists floating around these days. Finding one of those lists of 10 things to work on, steps to take, or simply funny anecdotes requires nothing more than a Google search. A customer of ours asked for some enhancements to the reporting functions within our software and what became of those enhancements was our very own Top 10 list of nine items. I know, why couldn’t it be ten and ten? What follows is that very list which we thought would be helpful to both our customers and non-customers. Even if you’re not using our software, knowing the following numbers about your company could be very beneficial to daily operations and management.
Here are the nine top ten reports that were developed:
- Dead Stock: This report shows the Top 10 items in inventory that are considered Dead Stock. Companies qualify items as dead stock with different metrics, but they we qualify an item(s) as Dead Stock is when less than ten dollars of a particular item was sold in the last year. If the item isn’t selling, maybe it should be removed from inventory to free up room for items that are selling faster. Better inventory management starts here.
- Gross Profit: This report was designed to paint a more positive picture by showing the Top 10 inventory items that generated the most Gross Profit last month. These items are not only profitable, but are selling regularly.
- Monthly Inventory Activity: This report displays inventory based on how much activity is generated on each item. Therefore it shows the Top 10 items that generated the most activity during the month.
- Sales Analysis: Knowing who the best customers are is very important. Each sales person can quickly see to which customers they need to be devoting the most attention. This report also gives management the ability to see if the sales team is staying in touch with their customers.
- Gross Profit Analysis: Sales are important, but how profitable are your customers? With this report anyone who has access can quickly see the Top 10 most profitable customers by sales person or location.
- Cylinder Balances: Part of our software is used to track cylinders in various different scenarios. Regardless of the asset, knowing which customer has which asset and how many they have is very important. The report we designed helps our customers to easily see the Top 10 customers who have the most cylinders (assets) on hand by sales person or location.
- Cylinder Activity: Another way of looking at cylinder (asset) customers is to see how many cylinders (assets) they are being shipped each month. This Top 10 report shows the Top 10 Cylinder (asset) customers based on how many cylinders (assets) were shipped to them or picked up. Customers with a sudden increase in activity would show up on this list.
- Invoices Over 60 Days Old: It’s important to sell and to make a profit, but money has to be collected. When time is limited and only a few collection calls can be made, make them to the customers who owe the most money. That is exactly what is on this report. It shows the Top 10 customers with the highest balances that are sixty days and older, the last time they paid, and how much they paid.
- Total Amount Owed: This report gives a slightly different picture of how much customers owe. With this report, you can see the Top 10 Customers that owe the most money regardless of how old an invoice is.
This Top 10 list will give a quick, efficient look at some key areas of your business. Regardless of the number, we chose 10, but you could choose 100, having an idea of what these numbers are will give your team clear defined areas to work on. Now go create some reports!