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On Line Ben E. Keith reports computerized route accounting has boosted business.

Sales are up and distribution costs are down at the largest independent beer distributor in the U.S., thanks in part to its new computerized route accounting system. According to Rich Tobin, route engineer for Ben E. Keith Beers' Fort Worth division, the distributorship is reaping benefits from a new route-accounting software package from Dallas-based General Programming, Inc. "With this new system, we think the the competition is having a hard time keeping up with us."

For Tom Watson, Ben E. Keith's director of MIS, a dramatic improvement in distribution efficiency has helped the sales effort. Watson gives a lot of credit to General Programming's route accounting software system.

"The system has improved check-in time dramatically. It used to take a driver an hour and a half at the end of the day. Now it takes ten or fifteen minutes," Watson said. "You can sell a lot of beer in an extra hour and a quarter.

"GP's system has helped us to improve in several ways," Watson continued, "It's made us better at knowing what each customer needs. It allows us to be in the market a little longer. It reduces overtime. It eliminates the need for data entry. We think GP's Depot Manager is the most flexible product on the market today."

Asked what sold him on General Programming, Watson said, "We decided on General Programming, Watson competition because of their knowledge of our industry. We believed the competition wasn't as flexible."

General Programming began five years ago with a staff of two and first-year sales of $400,000. "We've managed to about double in size and sales every year since then," says owner and president Hal Branson.

"In soft drinks," he says, "we've just signed Pepsi General, Coca Cola New England and Coca Cola West. And we've established a strong presence in dairy with clients like Blue Belle, Carnation, and, most recently, Dean Foods."

Branson attributes his company's success to providing an "open architecture solution" for his client's computerized route accounting applications.

"Our program is the only software in the industry that allows you to be hardware independent. We offer open architecture on both sides - the handheld and the host - which protects system investment," Branson says.

For Tobin, with seven years of computerized route engineering experience, there are two key factors in favor of General Programming's system. "It's faster and it's easier," he says. "Beyond that, it helps us develop balanced loads and insure that time windows are met. We minimize mileage and fully utilize bulk delivery because the program lets us print bulk orders after each T-Com.

"Before," he says, "our drivers started at 6:00 a.m. and finished as late as 10:00 p.m. Now, they start at 6:30 and they're off by 4:30 or 5:00."

Asked about General Programming's overall performance, Watson said, "They're a team player. They do what they say they're going to do, when they say they're going to do it. That's important to us."

PHOTO : Ben E. Keith route engineer, Rich Tobin, and Ron Thomas, delivery service supervisor, review daily load information.

Phillip Forsyth is director of U.S. research for Market Entry, a Dallas-based consulting firm that works with General Programming.
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Title Annotation:Ben E. Keith Co.'s computerized route accounting
Author:Forsyth, Philip
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Jan 20, 1992
Previous Article:Why pre-sell fails.
Next Article:Pre-sales system from National Datacomputer.

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