Lew Wolfe Pools has been servicing and maintaining pools in the Philadelphia area for approximately 20 years. Formerly a family-owned business, LWP was acquired by aACE partner All Solutions 360 in 2018. The company was doing well, but new owner Bryan Anderson immediately realized there was a problem: they used QuickBooks for accounting, and everything else was done the old-fashioned way – on paper. If he wanted his new venture to grow, Bryan knew he had to modernize his business operations.
As an aACE partner, Bryan already knew what the solution could do. But that doesn’t mean that he took the decision to implement it lightly. He and his team did their due diligence, examining both general business management solutions and industry-specific software. What they found was that only one solution could power their growing business while remaining adaptable enough to add support for workflows unique to their industry.
That solution was aACE.
Challenges & aACE Solutions
From Weeks-Long Invoicing to Push-Button Billing
When Bryan first took over the business, describing the monthly billing as a time-consuming task would have been a major understatement. During their off-season, the process of collecting and approving the previous month’s invoices could take up to seven days. In the busy summer season, that time more than doubled to 17 days – over half a month spent just catching up with the previous month’s billing. “We’d have hand-written tickets, and we’d have to go through each one, organize them alphabetically, and bill them manually,” Bryan explains. “It was really, really bad.”
The longer it took to bill customers, the longer it took to receive payment for services that Lew Wolfe Pools’ staff had performed. “It could be weeks before we got the previous month’s billing done,” he recalls. Bryan wanted to spend his time moving the business forward, but instead had to spend hours each month just keeping up with the paperwork.
aACE’s smart automation cut that time drastically. “Now when we do billing, it’s a push of a button,” Bryan says. “When we go to bill a client after work has been performed, the service record passes into aACE as a sales order, where it consolidates all of that information. And all of the pricing is set inside of aACE, including pricing for specific customers.” aACE references each line item, the quantities, and the customer’s pricing, then automatically generates an invoice that’s ready to be reviewed and delivered.
“We’re able to review the bills and get them out on a daily or weekly basis, depending on the specific policies in place for each account,” Bryan says. “In some cases, we’re getting payments the same day that a service was performed.” This enables them to stay on top of their cash flow and invest more time into growing the business.
Turning Stacks of Paper into a Goldmine of Digital Data
When the business was run largely on paper, Bryan had little visibility into what – or how – his company was doing. There was no centralized repository for data; each ticket, work order, and invoice was an island unto itself. This made it difficult to grow the company or even to plan for the next year. After all, how can you improve your operations when you don’t know where you’re starting from?
aACE changed all of that. “By implementing aACE, we were able to eliminate all that paper-based information we were using in the past and put it into a live database,” explains Bryan. Digitizing that data gave him insight into the business that he didn’t have before. This enabled Lew Wolfe Pools to streamline their operations, allowing the company to grow even as the overall number of employees has shrunk.
“We originally had 12 employees when we acquired the company,” Bryan says, “And we were doing five times less revenue than we are today.” Since implementing aACE, they’ve had one employee leave – but their new processes are so efficient that they didn’t need to backfill the role. “It was a huge savings,” says Bryan, and it had a major impact. “Every year we’ve been able to basically double the business.”
Adapting to a Changing Inventory Landscape
When Bryan first took over the business, there wasn’t much in the way of inventory. “Traditionally, the pool maintenance industry hasn’t had to hold much stock,” Bryan says. “When I first bought the business, we were holding $2,000 worth of inventory going into the season.” Paper record-keeping, while still not ideal, may have been fine for that small amount. Then the pandemic came.
“With the demands that COVID-19 has brought, now we’re actually holding $200,000 worth of inventory,” he explains. “That’s a dramatic increase. And if you don’t have inventory right now, you don’t have sales for the following year. So managing inventory and the supply chain is becoming more and more important.”
aACE’s inventory engine makes it easy for Bryan’s employees to see exactly what they have in stock. As sales orders come in, the staff can see at a glance what they have on-hand to fulfill them – without digging through a stock room or calling around to distributors. “Now we can see how many of an item we have to sell versus how many are on a purchase order, and things of that nature,” Bryan says. He adds that his competitors don’t have the visibility into those details that aACE provides, giving Lew Wolfe Pools a strong competitive advantage.
A 50% Reduction in Technician Labor Per Job
Lew Wolfe Pools offers four services for their customers: installations of new pools, renovations of existing pools, weekly maintenance services, and repairs. These tasks used to be two-person jobs, but aACE enabled them to cut the workload in half. “We can do the same number of pools in one day with one technician that we used to do with two technicians,” Bryan says. This represents a 100% increase in the number of jobs they can do each day.
How did aACE help them accomplish such a huge increase in efficiency? With smart automation and increased visibility.
Previously, each step in a workflow was divided into multiple tickets, with two technicians dividing up the tasks for each job and manually writing down notes after each task was complete, documenting what was done by whom and when. With a custom-built field service app that integrates into aACE, however, Bryan eliminated all that manual work – and accelerated past his competitors.
“Most businesses in this space never get above 100-150 clients ever, because it’s too hard [to manage],” Bryan explains. “They don’t have the software.” He adds that typically these companies were handed down from parent to child, with processes that remain static despite technology evolving around them. “We use iPads and iPhones in the field all day long,” Bryan says in contrast. “Every one of our guys has a computer. Even our water-testing equipment is computer-based. And so aACE has been a huge supporting factor. I can’t imagine doing this without it, honestly.”
Managing Multiple Businesses in a Single Software Solution
While his mom-and-pop competitors seem to be happy staying small, Bryan has a bigger vision for Lew Wolfe Pools: “One of my goals is to be the #1 service and installation company in the Philadelphia region. We’ve already grown our business by over 500% in 42 months, and our goal is to get to 2,000 customers.” To do that, Bryan has already acquired an additional pool company, Suburban Turn-Key Pool Services, with plans to add more. For now, he’s keeping both companies separate as he figures out what each does best and where improvements may be needed. Fortunately, aACE makes it easy to manage multiple companies separately within a single solution.
“Being able to look at, for example, Suburban’s clients vs. Lew Wolfe’s clients and things like that is huge,” says Bryan, adding that the feature will only get more important as they continue acquiring more businesses. “We’re going to want to be able to see all that data, and being able to go into one database to see it is by far the best option. I can’t tell you what a huge thing it is to have the ability to do that.”
A Platform for Integrating a Custom Industry-Specific Solution
Bryan and his team chose aACE because it was the only solution that offered the power they needed for their core transactions and the flexibility to integrate with tools designed for the particular needs of a pool service company. But when it came to finding those tools, Bryan had a problem: nothing he found on the market was capable of integrating with an ERP solution.
For any other business this could have spelled disaster, with duplicate data entry making costly errors more likely and wasted staff time a guarantee. But Bryan and the team at AS360 saw it as a golden opportunity. They developed a software package that addressed the pool industry’s unique workflows and integrated seamlessly with aACE.
“aACE is a great mid-market product,” Bryan says. “I believe it fits the needs of most companies out there. But aACE doesn’t have tools for managing, for example, bodies of water, which is fine because that’s not something aACE really needs. So we built that outside of aACE, and now we can sync data between aACE and our custom solution with the push of a button, which is awesome. It’s so much easier than trying to re-key data.”
So much easier, in fact, that AS360 plans to make their solution available to pool service companies across the country – paired with aACE for a complete, all-in-one business management system with additional features tailored to the needs of their target market. In addition to Lew Wolfe Pools, AS360 has already begun deploying their custom add-on to select clients, with extremely encouraging results. “We’ve had as many as 50 trucks a day running our software,” Bryan says. “I think that speaks dividends.”
In Their Own Words
Here’s what Bryan had to say about the results of his aACE implementation:
“There are so many companies out there that could benefit from aACE. It’s not just industry-specific, and that’s the beauty of it. Anybody that needs job costing – there’s a great job costing module in there. Anybody looking at Microsoft, anybody running multiple companies, any distribution companies… aACE could give these companies a chance to add value. Anybody who’s looking for more long-term support, it’s a great opportunity.
“aACE has got a great support team, one of the best out there. We’ve gone from less of a partner to more of a customer after reinventing ourselves, and any time we’ve needed something the team has always been there.
“And for us, aACE has more than paid for itself, over and over. Most people in my company hadn’t used it until we introduced it to them, but getting everyone up to speed was so much easier than with other products I’ve used in the past. I have so much control when it comes to who can access which areas of the system –some user groups have access to inventory, others can see sales orders only, and things of that nature. That’s going to be of huge value to us as we grow. And I’d really like to thank the aACE Software team for all the work they’ve put in, because aACE is a great product.”
Interested in learning more about what aACE can do for your SMB? Read our feature highlights to see how aACE can help you take your operations to the next level.
You probably know that having a tech disadvantage makes you look bad against your competitors, especially in the eyes of your customers. They know when things work – and when they don't!
But did you know that having a poor tech stack can put you at risk of losing employees? It’s true.
Think about it: If your technology is difficult for your employees to understand, or is outdated, why would anyone want to work for you? If you have bad tech, you won’t be able to attract top talent, and you’ll be in danger of losing the talent you already have. This is especially alarming during COVID-19, when you need good workers more than ever.
COVID-19’s Impact On The Importance Of Tech
COVID-19 has forced offices to close and turned many employees into remote workers. This transition has made IT extra complicated, but also more important than ever. It also became a bigger factor when it comes to employee satisfaction.
Adobe Workfront's State of Work 2021 report found that 32% of workers have left a job because their employer's technology "was a barrier to their ability to do good work," a 10% increase from pre-COVID. Meanwhile, 49% of U.S. workers said they are "likely to leave their current job if they're unhappy or frustrated with the technology they use at work."
More employees than ever are turning down jobs because their tech is out of date or hard to use, while many apply for jobs when they hear the company has a great tech stack for its employees.
So how do you improve your worker IT satisfaction to ensure you retain your top talent? Can you also promote employee growth/success and boost productivity (yep!)? Let’s take a look at a few strategies.
1. Make Sure Your Existing IT Tools Work & Meet Your Needs
Before you even think about rolling out new hardware and software, look deeply into the tech stack you already have. Ask your team if the current stack is meeting their needs through a survey.
Through their feedback, you can identify weaknesses that you’ll want to address with new tech or find areas that aren’t yet being addressed at all. Once you know your team’s frustrations and pain points, you’ll know what your new IT needs to fix.
But don’t just go about making wholesale changes without knowing what needs to be changed! Solving IT problems takes budget, to be certain, but you need to be smart about your tech stack upgrades.
2. Use New, Up-To-Date Technology
As the Adobe Workforce study mentioned above highlights, workers are actively seeking companies that use new technology. The needs of the modern workplace are forcing companies to rethink how they manage IT, including their budget.
You don’t want to make life harder for your employees due to outdated technology. Quite the opposite — your tech stack should be modern and agile to meet the demands of remote workers. Keep your tech stack fluid and you’ll boost productivity and retention.
3. Listen To Your Employees
To retain your top talent, you have to show them that they matter. The easiest way to do this is to regularly engage with them and listen to their feedback. Keep an open forum and take their answers to heart — your team members are the ones who make your machine run, after all.
When you give your team the tools they need, they’re much more likely to perform at a higher level. Modern business management software and IT tools help you manage and support your team no matter where they are, offering the flexibility and empowerment your employees crave and have come to expect.
When you offer your employees support instead of limiting their ability due to outdated technology, they take notice. That shouldn’t come as a shock!
But when you build a tech stack that helps your workers do their jobs to the best of their abilities, they’ll be much more likely to stick around. New technology doesn’t have to be complicated; it can actually make their lives easier and empower them to be better performers. That’s a win, win for your business.
Check out our feature highlights to learn more about how our powerful business management software can help improve your worker satisfaction and boost your retention.
"I love aACE! I instantly found it very intuitive and user-friendly, especially as compared to our previous software which felt limiting, cumbersome, and NOT user-friendly at all." -Joni Jarnagin, Redd Remedies
We’ve spoken before about how businesses (and small businesses, specifically) can benefit from ERP software.
An ERP can help your business get organized, simplify accounting, improve your customer experience, make better decisions, and scale faster — things any business would agree are, well, good for business!
But there's a catch: these benefits can only be enjoyed if your ERP software is properly implemented into your current stack. You’ll need a keen understanding of your organization’s business operations and workflow. Do it right and you’ll experience unprecedented growth by gaining enhanced data and insight into your operations. Do it wrong and you’ll just waste your time and money.
Here are a few things to keep in mind so you can avoid such a disaster.
ERP implementation might seem like a simple process. After all, some solutions promise that all you might have to do is download the application and voilà — you’re off and running with enhanced data.
Not so fast, my friend!
Proper implementation involves selecting, buying, and installing your ERP system. This includes training your team on how to utilize the new system as well as adapting to any workflow changes it may cause.
Of course, the hope is that your ERP software will make life easier and better for your entire team and workflow, but there’s a bit of a learning curve.
That’s because ERP software implementation is an ongoing process, not a “one and done” type deal. Your data must be nurtured, monitored, and studied for it to be a powerful tool.
That being said, here are a few things you can (and should) do to ensure success.
Do Your Homework
Don’t choose the first vendor you land on. Make sure to do your research in the competitive software vendor landscape to find the partner that best suits the unique needs of your business. No vendor is one-size-fits-all, though some may claim to be!
Train Your Team
From your project managers to key stakeholders and even your users, everyone that has touchpoints in your new ERP software must be trained on how to use the system. When everyone understands the data, you can harness its power.
Migrate Your Data Into The New Database
Map, correct, and verify all of your data. Running off an incomplete database would defeat the purpose of your ERP and could render the system useless. You may have to pull data from several different digital libraries, but putting it all in one central location will be well worth the effort.
Test It Out
You did the vetting and training, now it’s time to put your system and team to the test. Ensure the quality of your ERP software by making sure regular employees are able to run through real scenarios that could have a big impact on your business operations. Here you can identify potential problems and make changes before the system goes live.
Create Employee Buy-In
You can expect to run into some team members who may be less than pleased with change. But you can help them open up and buy into the idea of ERP software by incentivizing training and implementation. Let them voice concerns and frustrations and help make things as smooth as possible. Measure performance and reward results. This gets everyone on board and puts an honest effort forward.
Avoid These Pitfalls:
Of course, doing things right also means avoiding costly mistakes. Here are a few common pitfalls to avoid.
It’s tempting to look for the easy route, but the path of least resistance isn’t the best option here. Properly implementing ERP software takes time and money — there’s just no way around it. Here, focus on the potential gains in the long run over short-term returns. This is the path to sustained success.
Getting More Than You Need
All ERP software is not created equal, which is why we mentioned above how critical it is to choose the right vendor partner. Many may have features you don’t need or even purposely try to sell you those features to make more money off of you. These are partners to avoid. Take the time to find a vendor who has your best interests in mind — your success is their success, after all!
Not Fully Integrating Your Business Processes
Your system won’t succeed if you only go in halfway. It takes a full commitment to ERP software to achieve success. From your C-Suite to your end-users, everyone needs to buy into your ERP system. Develop a comprehensive understanding of the software from the top down and you’ll see the results.
See If aACE Is The ERP Software You Need
If you want to find a great ERP software partner, aACE is a great place to start. aACE offers not just ERP, but also accounting and CRM support for a full suite to optimize your workplace. Want to see what ERP software and aACE can do for your business? Get in touch with us today.
"aACE has created straight-forward interaction between departments and gives us a faster and more accurate picture of everything that goes on." - Theodore Fotopulous, Operations Manager, Raydoor Inc.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your business could manage all of its important data in one, centralized location?
You can! All you need is an Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP solution. Let’s walk you through what it is and how it can benefit your business.
What Is ERP?
ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, is software that helps your business manage its back-end processes. From finance to accounting, supply chains and inventory, and even tasks like scheduling, an ERP is a centralized program that can handle all of the essential functions that make your business run.
ERP software keeps all of your organization’s crucial data in one safe, organized, and accessible place. With an ERP in place, your organization only needs one program to keep track of all of the moving parts. Nothing will get lost in a spreadsheet. The ERP gives you a complete picture of your day-to-day operations.
What Can An ERP Do For Your Business?
In short, a lot! An ERP is a powerful business management software that can give you a 360º view of your business. An ERP can seamlessly integrate sales, operations, accounting, and more, to save your team valuable time.
ERP software can increase the speed and accuracy of your daily operations in one convenient solution. You’ll easily share information between departments without duplicate data entry, boost your efficiency, and impact your business where it matters — your bottom line.
Benefits Of An ERP Solution
Let’s break down a few of the benefits of an ERP:
1. A Single Database For Every System
Your accounting, your sales, and your operations, all in one place. Don’t waste time tracking down your departments for numbers. Keep it all there in one place where you all have access to accurate, up-to-date information. Your ERP solution can break up information logjams, help your team make better decisions faster, and let them get back to work on more high-value priorities like growing your business.
2. Simplified Accounting
Accounting tasks that traditionally take hours can be handled in an instant by ERP software. No longer does your accounting staff need to waste time consolidating financial information across your systems through numerous spreadsheets. Your ERP will store all of your financials in a single database, ensuring your accounting staff never needs to cross-post information or manually reconcile data again.
3. Improved Customer Experience
Managing your sales, inventory, and customer data separately can create problems across your company. It can also cause a poor customer experience. The last thing you want to do is develop a reputation for poor reliability and service.
An ERP gives all of your staff access to the same, real-time data, helping customer-facing reps answer questions about order and shipping status, payment status, service issues, and more, without having to put anyone on hold.
4. Make Better Decisions
When your organization has real-time data to work with, you’ll be able to make difficult decisions faster and easier. The up-to-date data also ensures you’re making the best possible decision, whereas a company without an ERP won’t have the same advantage. The ability to remain agile and respond to changes in your business environment is an incredibly powerful tool.
5. Scale Faster
An ERP system makes your business more flexible and functional, which can lead to scalability and growth. Armed with improved data clarity, your staff can shift their attention to manage the increasing volume of business while your ERP handles the dirty work of data. Your ERP helps you manage growth without ever feeling disorganized or overwhelmed.
When you have an ERP that seamlessly integrates with your business, sales, and accounting operations, all in a centralized location, you’re sure to see improvements to your business workflow. When manual data tasks are removed, your team can focus on customer relationships, scalability, and growth.
If you’re ready to see what ERP software can do for your business, check out our feature highlights.
"Having aACE in place will eliminate the necessity to run our business off of Excel spreadsheets, eliminate the majority of human error when making calculations, eliminate recreating-the-wheel every time we have a repetitive process come up in the course of our business, and, most importantly, it will allow my team to concentrate on building our business instead of just trying to keep up with it." –Jasmine Crandall, Midwest Custom Bottling
Technology has always moved at a rapid pace, but the pandemic has kicked things to another level for businesses of all types. To survive in today’s economy, businesses must be able to make things safe and convenient for their customers, which means adopting the latest technology to stay afloat.
While customer-facing technology is relatively easy to install, an internal shift in mindset is a bit more complicated. While technology is nothing new overall, COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated the adoption of technology across all industries.
One survey found that 77% of CEOs sped up their companies’ digital transformation plans. Another found that COVID-19 accelerated companies’ digital communications strategies by an average of six years.
The problem with the rapid acceleration of need is that digital transformation efforts are challenging and often unsuccessful. Many organizations take the DIY approach and boost their staff and budget rather than seeking help from reliable business management software.
For a transformation to achieve sustainable success, it needs to start at the top. Your CEO, CFO, CMO, etc. must be on the same page for strategy and willing to adapt to change. It takes forward-thinking and to move into the digital age.
Here are five tips to help your C-suite adapt to the digital era.
1. Keep The Big Picture In Mind
Change is hard for any organization in any situation. And a big issue with a technology overhaul or adoption is the common thinking that by the time your team gets used to the new technology, you’ll just have to change it again.
This is a bit of a nature of the beast situation, but it's also an attitude that will leave your business behind while others continue to march forward. As long as you plan for long-term success and work with the right technology partners, your business can keep up — or better yet, stay ahead.
There’s a revolution among top management roles underway as more needs emerge in the modern workplace. Sometimes, it becomes clear that the wrong leaders are in place to move an organization forward. Suitable successors are needed and a tremendous amount of turnover may be on the horizon.
We’re at a place where tech-savvy should be the priority over traditional roles. Duties can be fluid, and there will surely be some skepticism and resistance to the changes. But if you’re able to show the transformation in a bigger context — one that is natural and essential to serve your customers better moving forward — your board will see that it’s the only way.
You’ll be able to solve day-to-day problems while you better prepare your company for success for years to come. You’ll create a bold vision that brings your entire organization together — one that your C-suite leaders can embrace, buy into, and use to motivate.
2. Visualize - What Does The Change To Digital Look Like?
Previously, business communication was slow and multi-channeled. You had to connect a bunch of dots just to schedule a meeting. Now that you can communicate openly with your entire team on a central network, things are much more convenient.
You can use your communications network to move projects and ideas forward, faster. Time-laborious meetings are becoming a thing of the past. The information flows, and so does your team’s productivity.
Leadership that embraces these modern enhancements to your company’s efficiencies are the leaders you need. They are digitally fluent and advocate for the team-forward approach. They’re able to show, rather than tell, what change looks like because they have the digital fluency in addition to business fundamentals to present a vision, then bring it to fruition.
3. Create A Culture Of Change
Once a vision is in place, it’s time to create buy-in.
The best way to get your team on board with the transition to the digital era is to get them involved in the conversation. You need to create a culture that is open to change. When you engage with your team and gather their input, you’ll create an innovative culture of change that will reinforce technology-driven shifts.
A change to digital, after all, will touch every part of your business, from the board room to your IT department. To truly benefit from these innovations, your entire organization must feel like they are part of the journey rather than dropping it into their laps and saying “figure it out.”
Embracing new technologies is hard, but when they are part of the process, they’ll be more open to learning and you’ll build a team that will develop the necessary skills to thrive.
4. Implement & Execute The Plan
You’ve already dreamed a dream with your company vision, now it’s time to take that idea and turn it into action. You can expand your C-suite from a traditional structure to include officers that will help take your company where you want to go. You’ve identified new areas of need and figured out the skills and personality you require to fill them.
With your team in place, you discuss, scrutinize, and fine-tune every level of the plan to embrace digital, then execute. It might be uncomfortable at first, but together, you’ll find a way to move forward, make more informed decisions, and embrace the change.
When your C-suite is involved and informed, you’ll have a specific, cohesive approach and a shared commitment to revenue, growth, and profit.
5. Measure Progress & Results
But a plan is only a good one if you can measure the results!
Digital initiatives fail or stall when there is no proof of a measurable return. Pull reports from your business management software regularly to see how your digital platform is performing. Use that data to make changes and better decisions.
Show your C-suite these results to show them where to best invest your company’s resources and move your organization toward those goals you’ve outlined above. Use that data to push innovation and opportunity. Develop support across the organization.
It’s important to be open-minded when moving your C-suite to the digital era. A data-driven approach helps use real data to make informed decisions rather than relying on intuition.
If you utilize a powerful business management solution to oversee your accounting, customer relationships, and resource planning, you’ll save countless man-hours and truly make the most of your digital transition.
The affordable, enterprise-level tools provided by aACE might just be the solution your team needs. Check out our feature highlights to learn how aACE can help your business increase visibility and improve your bottom line.
"aACE software is easy to use, intuitive, logical, and easily customized. It is clear that the architecture of aACE has been very well thought out. We were able to automate some previously manual processes that is resulting in literally hundreds of saved labor hours each month." – Daniel Chapman , Founder & CEO, Redd Remedies