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Giving salespeople a hand (held).

Euclid Beverage builds expanded route accounting capabilities with Norand 4000 Series hand-helds and portable printers.

Euclid Beverage Ltd. is a five-million-case-per-year beer distributor located in St. Charles, IL. The company distributes Miller products to 900 on-premise and 500 off-premise customers.

Back in 1986, seeking to eliminate invoice errors and labor intensive data entry by entering data from sales routes directly into its mainframe computer. To answer this need, Euclid automated its routes with the Norand 101 hand-held computer system.

Driver reaction

Bill Poczekaj, Euclid's controller, remembers some resistance among route salesmen when the system was first installed. But he reports they later became some of the system's most fervent supporters.

He recalls a few rare occasions when spare hand-helds weren't available and route salesmen had to revert to manual route accounting. "They really had a hard time functioning. Now drivers threaten us if they don't have a computer to take on the route," he says with a smile.

"From their standpoint, the Norand system really speeds up the day. The drivers are feeding in information. But they don't have to do calculations or make decisions about discounting. The system keeps an accurate inventory, which helps at check-out.

"The Norand system has reduced check-in time from almost an hour down to just a few minutes," he adds. "With the manual system, they had to write every invoice, put numbers in columns, and add up the columns. I think our guys average 30 stops a day. It takes quite a bit of time to summarize 30 invoices." The company benefited in a number of ways, Poczekaj says: Invoice errors virtually disappeared, and customers received the correct discount, which improved their satisfaction.

"We no longer had to rely on a data entry system to get our sales information updated daily," states Poczekaj. "Our Norand system eliminated a lot of the problems we used to have trying to reconcile our inventory."

"More of a good thing"

Poczekaj says that the company's old 101 system served Euclid faithfully, but the company eventually outgrew the 101's capacity.

As a result, Euclid upgraded to the fourth-generation 4000 Series system in 1990. "The sophistication of discounting with 4000 Series surpasses what was available to us with the 101. And our new system allows us to print full-size, 8-1/2 by 11-inch invoices," reports Poczekaj.

The larger invoices permit detailed product descriptions and are easier to store in file folders than the narrow slip-sized invoices produced by the 101. Making the most of the data

Euclid's IBM RS6000 main-frame computer uses data from the 4000 Series hand-helds to produce a variety of reports. They include a cash versus sales report. "It's a reconciliation of what was sold versus what was collected to let us know whether we are operating profitably on a day-to-day basis," states Poczekaj.

"Illinois is a cash-on-deliver state. We collect on everything sold that day. The system keeps track of all check and cash receipts. At the end of the day, it prints out a reconciliation that we use to balance out the drivers' cash and checks."

How else is the data utilized? For forecasting sales, Poczekaj says, which is important because Euclid orders three months in advance.

"The data collected by the Norand system also flows into our general ledger for financial purposes," he adds. "And we use some of it for fleet analysis. We calculate fuel costs by route by matching odometer readings with fuel receipts." He also mentions that timed stop information allows checking how much time individual stops require on each route.

Discovering areas for improvement (before the brewery does)

Miller distributors participate in the Miller Masters program. It involves infield audit surveys conducted by brewery personnel with Norand hand-helds, using a software program developed by Miller.

"This particular survey provides a lot of competitive information for the brewery," Poczekaj says, noting that the software was recently made available to all Miller distributors.

Poczekaj reports that Euclid's salesmen will be able to perform the same applications as the brewery. "We can learn how we stack up and make any needed corrections before the brewery gets here for its audit," he says.

Poczekaj observes that what started as a way to ensure accuracy has become a tool for multi-tier discounting, forecasting and competitive analysis.

"Thanks to upgrades from Norand," he says, "route automation keeps getting better and better for Euclid Beverage."
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Title Annotation:Euclid Beverage Ltd.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Jan 31, 1994
Words:728
Previous Article:Revamped routing.
Next Article:Selecting a sales analysis system.
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