• Location: Derby, Vermont
• Industry: Lumber
• Number of Stores: 4
• Web site: www.poulinlumber.com
• Founded: 1936
"DDMS makes our dispatch and delivery processes more efficient by getting the right information to the right people when they need it. We're cutting costs while improving customer service. It's well worth the investment."
Scott Flynn, General Manager | Poulin Lumber, Inc.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary in business, Poulin Lumber is a regional leader in the building and remodeling supplies industry. With four locations throughout Vermont, Poulin sets the standard in its area for efficient on-time deliveries. Eighty percent of Poulin's sales are through deliveries to builders.
Transforming Chaotic Dispatch Operations by Automating Manual Processes
The motto on the side of Poulin Lumber's delivery trucks reads: "We Deliver What Others Promise." Poulin has worked hard to earn its status as the most dependable building supplies seller and delivery business in Vermont. To preserve this reputation, Poulin leverages Epicor® Dispatch and Delivery Management System (DDMS). For Poulin, it's more than just a promise. Thanks to Epicor, Poulin delivers.
For many years, Poulin used manual, paper-based dispatch and delivery processes. But, as its volume of delivery sales grew, it became clear that this outdated approach could no longer support the quality of customer service the company strove to uphold.
"Our dispatch area had become a paperwork and logistics nightmare," says Scott Flynn, General Manager at Poulin Lumber.
"We had piles of handwritten notes, clipboards for each day of the week, disorganized instructions on a dry-erase board, cluttered file drawers stuffed full of maps, and various people printing orders to be delivered. It was becoming impossible to keep it all organized and efficient."
Poulin also struggled with information visibility. Dispatchers at each of the company's three delivery yards could not see into each other's systems, so they had no effective way to collaborate on overlapping territories. And, because counter personnel lacked an efficient way to access information about delivery processes, they could not readily answer customer inquiries about order status.
"Epicor Dispatch and Delivery Management System has changed all of that," Scott continues. "It has totally transformed our operations. All those cumbersome manual processes have been automated, making everyone more productive and shaving hours off our order fulfillment and delivery activities. Our dispatchers in our three delivery locations now have complete visibility into each other's systems so they can work together as a team. And, if a customer calls to ask about an order, anyone at our company can access DDMS to provide a concise answer."
An Easy Transition to a Major Change
Scott and other leaders at Poulin determined that Epicor DDMS could easily pay for itself by making dispatch and delivery processes more efficient. Epicor helped deploy the new system, and after a brief changeover period, the dispatchers were up and running on it.
"For such a major change in business processes, it was a remarkably quick and easy transition," Scott says. "It has been one of the easiest learning curves for any software implementation I've seen. Our dispatchers like the user-friendly interface and the way the system keeps them organized so they're always working on what's important at any given moment."
Every order in the system has a status automatically assigned to it. The status of an order in Poulin's DDMS system is either: New Order, Pulling, Built, Loaded, Dispatched, or Delivered. "It was easy to customize the steps in DDMS to suit our business workflow," Scott explains.
When a customer calls with an order, a salesperson adds the items to Poulin's Epicor Falcon™ system, along with the ship-to address. The salesperson then assigns a delivery date and load type, such as sheetrock or lumber.
The information appears on the dispatcher's screen as a new order. The dispatcher simply uses his mouse to drop orders onto icons of trucks to assign those orders to loads. Yard personnel scan printed orders and pull the stock, which changes the status to built. DDMS determines the sequence of the various stops on a delivery run, based on the most efficient route. So once a truck is loaded and dispatched, anyone on the system can see where an order is going.
"It's a very slick system," Scott says. "It makes us more efficient by getting the right information to the right people when they need it. We're cutting costs while improving customer service. DDMS is well worth the investment."
Effective Navigation Gets Drivers There On Time
The critical final step in the order fulfillment process is delivery. Poulin is using efficient navigation tools that integrate with DDMS to help drivers reach their destinations on time. The company's previous course-plotting methods needed an upgrade. Paper maps covered with messy handwritten notes were difficult to read and were often misfiled after each use.
"We were experiencing a huge loss of productivity," Scott says. "Drivers were waiting around for maps and directions when they should have left the facility a half hour earlier. During delivery runs, they were getting lost or pulling over to study confusing directions."
Now Poulin uses Garmin® navigation devices that interface seamlessly with the Map-It functionality of DDMS. When the dispatcher is ready to send a driver out on a run, he plugs a Garmin device into the DDMS system. A simple mouse click downloads all the necessary mapping and navigation directions for that run to the Garmin device, which the driver takes with him. "Modernizing our navigation methods with DDMS has cut 45 minutes to an hour off of each five-to-six hour delivery run," Scott explains. "That translates into substantial cost savings for us."
With an integrated GPS service, anyone at Poulin can access the exact location of any of the trucks in the fleet. If a customer calls to ask where their order is, staff members can confidently provide a precise answer such as, "Your order is on a flatbed truck that is now twelve blocks from your location, moving 40 miles per hour. You're his next stop. It should be there within the next few minutes.
Using Technology to Stay Competitive
"At Poulin, we think it's important to use leading-edge technology to help us gain a competitive edge and provide the best possible customer service," Scott summarizes. "Epicor Dispatch and Delivery Management System is by far one of the best enhancements we have made to our company in a long time."
Epicor Software Corporation is a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and services industries. With 40 years of experience, Epicor has more than 20,000 customers in over 150 countries. Epicor solutions enable companies to drive increased efficiency and improve profitability. With a history of innovation, industry expertise, and passion for excellence, Epicor inspires customers to build lasting competitive advantage. Epicor provides the single point of accountability that local, regional, and global businesses demand. For more information, visit www.epicor.com.