Contractors across the state of Kansas look to M6 Concrete Accessories (M6) for quality products and services delivered professionally and on time. For more than forty years, the Wichita-based company has grown and expanded its services and now offers concrete supplies, rebar fabrication, equipment sales and rentals, and specialty construction products from two locations.
The company was successful in spite of the inefficiencies of its business software. A highly customized SBT accounting installation had not been updated in five years, and a recent change in ownership left M6 with no clear license to the software. And their standalone Point of Rental system offered no integration with SBT. “The workload involved in trying to get cohesive information was unreal,” recalls Elizabeth Deck, M6’s Controller, “All accounting information had to be double entered into both systems. Our rental business manager spent three hours out of each day just duplicating the previous day’s business.”
“All accounting information had to be double entered into both systems.”
Deck began searching for an integrated accounting and rental management package. She sent out twelve requests for proposal, and then Deck and staff viewed demonstrations by four of the six who responded. However, three failed Deck’s standards for integration, “They were like someone tied a shoe string on to it — just stuck together, and completely unauditable!”
“It was the very best software implementation I have ever been a part of.”
The single solution left standing was Automated Rental Management. ARM Software features a comprehensive accounting and rental management solution powered by the CPA-recommended Sage 100 (formerly MAS90/200) ERP for core accounting functions on the back end with several rental-specific modules managing reservations, equipment maintenance, and delivery scheduling. “We knew we had found what we were looking for,” says Deck.
They came on-site to implement ARM, and three days later M6 went live. “It was the very best software implementation I have ever been a part of,” explains Deck, “Even with the extremely short time frame we allowed, we had only minor issues, and none of them prevented our use of the system.”
Solid Customer Service Tools
Now when a customer calls to rent a piece of equipment, one of the eight members of the sales staff can quickly set up a contract in ARM, and check availability of the requested item with a single keystroke. Once a piece of equipment is reserved, ARM automatically tags the item as committed for the contract period. A handy calendar view offers a graphical representation of the current commitments for each item. ARM automatically prompts the staff to offer accessory items and supplies associated with the equipment. Deck feels the customer service they are able to offer with ARM is outstanding, due in large part to the quick access to information ARM provides. A rental utilization report provides valuable insight into the profitability of each piece of equipment with facts such as the number of days rented, the revenue generated and the cost of repairs.
M6 Concrete Accessories maintains a large showroom for both rentals and sales of equipment. Using the cash management features of ARM, M6 has set up multiple cash drawers and can receive payments and deposits on contracts and invoices from the showroom floor. Informative reports and the natural flow of data from ARM into the accounts receivable module simplify reconciliation at the end of each day. The recurring billing feature of ARM helps ensure the accuracy of long-term rental contracts. In their previous system, such contracts were tracked outside of the software. Deck had to remember when to bill a client, how much to bill for, and then manually key the invoices into the accounting software. “It feels like we have eliminated half our workload since there is no duplication,” Deck explains, “We know in an instant what equipment is in, where it is, who should be billed, who has been billed, who has paid, and who hasn’t paid.”
“It feels like we have eliminated half our workload since there is no duplication.”
In addition to rentals, M6 sells concrete equipment and supplies. The Sage 100 sales order module suits this aspect of the business perfectly. The same customer may both rent and buy equipment and since ARM is completely integrated with Sage 100 there is a single location where all of the customer’s account activity can be viewed. “The detail we get from ARM is awesome!” Deck notes, “The accessibility and availability of the data is so much better than we ever had before.”
Firm Financial Information
FRx Financial Reporter has won Deck’s admiration. With the old system, Deck estimates that 30% of her workload was extracting data from SBT and keying it into Excel, “There was no audit trail — I could not even produce financial statements.” Utilizing the generous collection of standard Sage 100 reports, and several customized FRx reports, Deck is able to produce exactly the financial statements she and the owners need to make better management decisions.” M6 uses the Job Cost module to estimate and then capture the costs associated with their custom rebar fabrication projects. By comparing actual versus estimated costs, they can effectively monitor the profitability of this service.
Training and Support
Deck appreciates the knowledgeable, responsive support staff at ARM. In addition to the training provided during the implementation, key employees attended a two-day extensive training course offered by the ARM team at their San Antonio office.
The combination of an award-winning accounting system and a comprehensive rental management system truly represent a complete business management solution for M6 Concrete Accessories. Deck determined that by eliminating the redundant data entry required by their old system, ARM and Sage 100 have saved M6 the labor of one full time person — a resource now being put to much better use. You could say they have helped pave the way for the next thirty years of success.