Spruce brings ease of use and big time savings
After 10 long and increasingly aggravating years, Fred Peters had just about had enough. He was sick and tired of having to run his business in spite of his software, instead of being able to view it as a key resource to help keep the business strong and profitable. It was time—it was long past time—to do something about it.
Peters’ company, Morris Build-All Centre in Morris, Manitoba, had a lot going for it: a prosperous, growing market based primarily on farming and manufacturing, a solid reputation for service and reliability pretty much from the day it opened in April of 1983, and a stable, diversified business model that included construction and general contracting services in addition to lumber and hardware sales.
But Peters, an LBM veteran who had bought the store in 1999, knew there was no way he could tap the full potential his business offered if he was continually fighting the technology that was supposed to help him run it.
"Our old system was a constant source of frustration," he recalls. "The equipment we were sold was antiquated when we got it, the software itself was not remotely user-friendly and technical support was practically non-existent. And, of course, we were nickel-and-dimed for everything."
Peters had more than enough motivation to make a change but it wasn’t one he would make lightly. Over a six-month period, Peters looked at eight different systems to make sure he brought in the right one for his business. His final choice: Spruce from ECi Software Solutions.
Spruce is easy to train on, set up and use
"None of the other systems I looked at had the features and functionality that Spruce offered," explains Peters. "Spruce was designed specifically for LBM dealers by people who really know our industry and what we need," he says. "I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone at Spruce who had less than 15 years’ industry experience and that really set them apart from the other software providers we looked at!"
Because he had so little confidence in the data from his old system, Peters made the decision to basically start from scratch when he converted to Spruce.
"We put no information from our old system into Spruce other than the general ledger closing entries," he recalls. "My wife and I put everything else into the system manually, including inventory. I got my server on November 16 and we went live December 1!"
Daunting as that sounds, Peters says Spruce made it easy. "Once you got the hang of it, putting inventory in was unbelievably easy," he says. "All you had to do was set formats and go ‘next, next, next,’ and that’s what we did for a couple of days," he explains with a wry smile.
Setting up the general ledger was not much more complicated. "Once we figured out how it worked, it probably took little more than an hour to get our entire G/L completely formatted. Compared to what we were used to with our previous system, the conversion to Spruce went incredibly smoothly."
Cost savings with Spruce realized from day one
Any last-minute reservations Peters may have had about the conversion to Spruce disappeared after he ran the first month-end reports. "We were 2,000 miles away, in Phoenix, but that made no difference," he recalls. "All we had to do was log on remotely, make one mouse click and that was the entire process—Spruce really is that simple!" And, he points out, the fact that it’s a Windows® based system makes it easy for his team to learn and a lot less expensive to operate.
The benefits Spruce brought to the business went far beyond ease of use, however. When Peters brought Spruce in, it started generating savings and efficiency from day one, he says.
For example: The switch to Spruce saved Peters and his team about $300 a month in postage alone, since it gave them the ability to email monthly statements. And where before, Morris Build-All Centre would go through as much as six cartons of paper a month, today he estimates they’re buying not much more than eight cartons total a year!
The change brought similarly good news on the accounting and pricing fronts. "Running our accounts payable was a two-day process with our old system; with Spruce, it’s closer to two hours."
And as for pricing? "With Spruce, nothing sells for less than what we want and if that does happen, I automatically get an email notification and we can take care of any pricing issues right away," he explains.
Spruce helps Morris Build-All offer great customer service
Spruce has had a similar impact on customer service. In addition to moving people through the checkout far faster than before, Spruce also offers some unique features that clearly set Morris Build-All apart from its competition.
"When we’re setting up delivery on an order, people are always amazed when we can bring up a photo of their street from our mapping system and ask them if they want the delivery in their driveway or their backyard," Peters explains. "And it not only impresses our customers, it also makes it a lot easier for our drivers."
It’s been just over a year since Morris Build-All Center converted to Spruce and Fred Peters’ only regret is that it didn’t happen sooner. "It’s really hard to express just how much Spruce has helped our business since we made the switch," he says. "I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years and it’s far superior to anything else I’ve seen in the way of LBM software."