Lot tracking over the years has saved us the most time out of all of the features. Before Acctivate, we would have to go back and reconstruct what we did, so being able to go through and just click – that’s easy. As a food company, if you ever have a problem or if a customer ever calls up and says, ‘Hey, I bought this can of crab meat and here’s the code on the bottom,’ we can find from that code which container it came in on.”
Ruth Entwistle, Customs Broker
Did anyone order fresh, flavorful crab with a side of superior customer service?
The whole company is focused on being customer service oriented – the customer comes first, day or night. If we’re not there, we try to solve problems and part of having software that works for us is being able to give answers quickly.
If somebody calls with a problem, we fix it; so we like having the information right there to be able to answer and answer them intelligently. We do our best to do right by customers and really to just create a good work environment for anybody that’s with us,” said Ruth Entwistle, Customs Broker for Heron Point Seafood.
In addition to providing great customer relations and work environment, Heron Point Seafood is also committed to supporting sustainability in the ecosystem in which they harvest their crab by being a part of the NFI Crab Council, which “sponsors comprehensive sustainability projects throughout Southeast Asia.”
The company was created when Tom Weir and Tom Dykstra, with over 45 collective years of seafood experience under their belt, decided to create their own seafood import and distribution company based on quality, honesty, and service to both customers and providers.
Entwistle said of the company’s success…
“Tireless work ethic, being diligent about doing what’s right, and being an honest company has gotten us many strides ahead.”
But an ingredient to manage their business was missing…
Entwistle described business operations prior to Acctivate, when processes were being managed “very poorly through QuickBooks.”
She detailed the experience…
“We were trying to use QuickBooks to manage inventory but since we use lot numbering for our inventory, we had to keep an Excel spreadsheet for our entire inventory as well – so it was very complicated to try to handle.
The challenge was that it was a dual system – you’ve got numbers in both places and you could take inventory out in just one place. Just trying to manage inventory and know what is where; and having to manually send pick tickets, write them up in Word documents and send them to our warehouse. There was just a lot of room for error — human error — and there was just way too much of it and it took too much time.”
Entwistle continued describing the extremely time consuming and inefficient dual system…
“QuickBooks was very difficult for inventory, especially for us because we were trying to track lots but you could only see the totals for our products. So we spent a lot of time with that other Excel sheet to try to help manage inventory but then our warehouse had a totally different system and they had their own spreadsheet. The amount of time we spent trying to figure out exactly how much was in inventory was astronomical and a little bit ridiculous.
We had a lot of issues – I would spend three hours trying to figure out discrepancies between our inventory and our warehouse’s inventory. The workers would have to go out to the warehouse to count it and say, ‘No, this is what our spreadsheet says’ and we’re like, ‘Okay, then where did it go?’. Then, our sales guy would say, ‘I need to know how many there are because I can’t sell them if they’re not there.’ It was difficult, to say the least.”
What was the tipping point that caused them to search for a solution?
“Our Excel sheet wouldn’t fit on one page anymore. We were just getting too big and there was too much inventory to handle through our current methods. The warehouse would need more information from us all the time with our pick tickets and all that so we really decided it was time to look for something that met our company’s needs.”
The search for the right solution in a sea of choices
We looked at everything from changing software completely — going to a solution that was holistic that would do all the accounting and all of the inventory — to looking at a bunch of add-ons.
The main thing we were looking for was lot tracking and the ability to populate some of those documents like the pick tickets, POs, and all of that seamlessly without having to do anything in an outside document and have it all stored in one place – nothing in Excel, nothing in Word. So we really liked the seamlessness of Acctivate and it seemed to work really well with QuickBooks – the numbers came over well and lot tracking was huge.”
In addition, Heron Point Seafood was also looking for a system that was user-friendly yet data-rich.
“One of the things that we looked at and asked people about was, ‘How many times am I going to have to click to be able to do this task? Is it going to take me two clicks or is it going to take me ten clicks to get a purchase order in the system?’ or ‘Can I copy and duplicate a PO?’. A lot of the solutions don’t let you duplicate the PO so we were going to have to do those manually.
We were looking for streamlined software so it’d be easy to do our tasks that wasn’t going to add time but was going to actually help us easily find information – things like going into the products and tracking the lots and from there, being able to see the things that happened in that specific lot.”
Entwistle on the final decision process…
With Acctivate, it was easy to find things, it was easy to sync with QuickBooks – you didn’t have to go through a whole lot of screens to get to where you wanted to go. We realized that Acctivate was the most complete solution that we could find that easily interfaced with QuickBooks.”
Gaining visibility, accessibility with Acctivate
One of my favorite features in Acctivate is the access to information – being able to search transactions, being able to find older information pretty easily by the issue number or the PO. There’s a lot of ways to find information,” said Entwistle.
In addition to being able to access information easily and quickly, Acctivate provides Heron Point Seafood…
Heron Point Seafood has many users accessing Acctivate concurrently – providing each employee with real-time data and synchronicity.
We’ve got sales people who put in orders, our accounting department needs information especially from the purchasing side from the vendor but they also look at sales, and our office manager finalizes all the orders and sends the tickets to the warehouse. Our warehouse guy goes into Acctivate and puts in when we take samples and any other inventory changes. So everybody pretty much understands and uses a part of Acctivate.”
Entwistle described the importance of having a centralized solution that provides current information…
As a small company that manages a lot of dollars, it’s really important for everyone, especially sales people, to know exactly what’s in inventory. ‘Did the warehouse guy just take six samples and now there’s six less cans to sell?’ – that information is really important to know in order to be able to quote customers.
We run a tight ship on inventory – we want to know exactly how much is in there at any time, otherwise our sales people can’t really properly quote customers. Our accounting guy is in Acctivate all the time looking at sales and purchases so we have to keep everything up to date so he can run the monthly numbers all the time – so it’s extremely important for everyone to have real-time information.”
Sales Order Management
The best feature of Acctivate’s order management is being able to set up orders before the product is available and being able to put them in ahead of time. As a business that has long lead time, we can’t order something and have it arrive tomorrow – we’ll order something and it’ll come in a month. Being able to set those orders up for a customer that wants something in a month, it’s definitely a benefit for us because we can put in orders ahead of time.
If we know a container’s going to come in two weeks and the product x-y-z is going to X-Y-Z customer, we put the order in Acctivate and the inventory is saved – it’s already on order so we can see that and we can track how much has been sold and how much is available in real-time. Whereas before, you could put the order in beforehand but it just was a mess and now we can have several sales people looking at inventory and they can be confident in their quotes to customers and in putting their own orders in.”
Lot Number Tracking
Lot tracking over the years has saved us the most time out of all of the features. Before Acctivate, we would have to go back and reconstruct what we did, so being able to go through and just click – that’s easy. As a food company, if you ever have a problem or if a customer ever calls up and says, ‘Hey, I bought this can of crab meat and here’s the code on the bottom,’ we can find from that code which container it came in on.
With the lot number, we can track that lot if there were any other problems with that lot container – if there was anything else we needed to look into, we keep track of anytime a customer calls us with a problem.
It helps us to see what happens to each lot, it helps us with problems and with good things but specifically for a food company, you need to be able to have access to what happened to specific lots at all times and Acctivate gives us very good information quickly. Every can has a code so we know where every can came from if a customer just gives us the code.”
The lot tracking and the lot information, product information – which product did we get from where and when, credits and who did we sell it to and for how much – it’s just all right there in the product fields and the reports. Because Acctivate works with Crystal Reports®, we either can make a report ourselves or have somebody help us with the reporting and get what we need.
Michelle Barr of Firefly Business Group does a lot of reporting for us – she’s great. I have a minimal ability with Crystal Reports® so I can change things and update things, but if we want a new report or to revamp a report then Michelle’s the one to ask.”
Entwistle described the custom reports Heron Point Seafood is able to have with Crystal Reports…
We’ve used Acctivate to create a couple of different reports for our company. We have one report that shows us everything that’s on order or already purchased. Since it takes a month for our product to get here because mostly we purchase from Asia, it’s very important for us to know what purchase orders are already on the water, which ones are lined up to ship, and when they are shipping. We have a condensed report that shows us all that information that we can pull from Acctivate – which it’s very, very important for us to know what’s coming and when. We didn’t have anything like that in QuickBooks.”
Return Merchandise Authorization
Heron Point Seafood manages any product returns with credit memos in Acctivate.
It’s great because the credit memo is tied right to the lot tracking – we can see we got twelve of a product back from a certain customer on a specific date and if there’s ever a question, you can go back and look. Acctivate pulls up information for you automatically – it’s very simple to do, it’s easy, it’s trackable.
Before in QuickBooks, we would just put a credit memo in and if you didn’t put something in the memo line, you’d never know what it was for and there’s no easy way to go back and say ‘Here’s a report on lot number 1234’ that shows exactly what happened to that lot and how many credits were against it – you would have to spend hours going through all kinds of information trying to figure that out.”