Acctivate seemed to suit our particular situation the best. We are a custom decorator and it’s a very unique kind of business. It seemed that a lot of the other solutions we looked at were way too rigid and Acctivate is flexible enough to allow us to do things the way we need to have them done.”
Deb Propst, Accounting Manager, LDA Creations
It started as a favor for a friend.
Cheryl Lyon was asked to decorate blown glass Christmas ornaments.
“This friend kept telling people and it grew from a custom-designed blown glass ornament,” explained Deb Propst, accounting manager of LDA Creations.
Blown glass ornaments are just one of the many items LDA Creations decorates.
“We’re considered a custom decorator so we will put your design on any product including porcelain, ceramic, wood, glass,” Propst said.
Some of LDA Creations’ previous works include custom china, awards, and commemorative pieces for various organizations including Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, and the Salvation Army®.
Propst continued explaining LDA Creations’ unique business model.
“A lot of what we do is done by quantity and complexity of design and we have artists on staff that take that and render the art so that it fits the product that they want. We would take the artwork and manipulate it so we can apply it to a product.”
When asked about what LDA Creations attributes their successful business model to, the answer was customer service.
“That really is a big part of what we try to do – to try to have good customer satisfaction. That’s how we get a lot of our referrals – word of mouth.”
Moving forward to find a solution
Before finding Acctivate, LDA Creations had been using one program for billing, ordering, and customer information, which was then transferred into another separate program.
“It just became totally unmanageable. It was totally inefficient and didn’t provide what we needed to know on a daily basis.”
Propst on the tipping point for finding a solution…
“We needed to move forward. We were having a hard time keeping up with inventory. Inventory was our main concern, as well as getting something that would work with QuickBooks because I had some familiarity with QuickBooks.”
LDA Creations began looking for an inventory management solution that would be able to accommodate their specific needs.
“We couldn’t find anything that combined everything that we needed,” Propst explained.
Acctivate seemed to be heads above everything that we looked at as far as how it could apply to us.”
After a long search and researching many different solutions, LDA Creations finally found the solution they were looking for – Acctivate.
Acctivate integrated with QuickBooks and accurately managed inventory, just as LDA Creations needed.
I really like the integration between QuickBooks and Acctivate. Acctivate just helped us get better organized all the way around from locating inventory to quantities to balances on hand – it was just great.”
Acctivate also had the robust functions and flexibility LDA Creations was seeking.
Acctivate seemed to suit our particular situation the best. We are a custom decorator and it’s a very unique kind of business. It seemed that a lot of the other solutions we looked at were way too rigid and Acctivate is flexible enough to allow us to do things the way we need to have them done.
Our finished product could end up in many different results. We have plates, we have enclosure cards, we have gift boxes – and any of those things can constantly change. Acctivate enabled us to be able to create things the way we needed them to be. The kitting module in Acctivate is just absolutely fantastic – it works great for us and we love it.”
One software, many capabilities
LDA Creations uses kitting to combine products on demand into one product when a customer orders.
We use kitting and it’s very invaluable. Everything that goes out of here is specific to each customers’ needs or wants and Acctivate accommodates that. We don’t send anything out the same.”
Acctivate also makes kitting simple by displaying exactly what components are needed.
Kitting saves us a tremendous amount of time and effort because anybody who’s logged into Acctivate can know immediately, ‘This is the kit we’re going to be sending out. This box goes with this insert, etc.’ – and it’s correct from the get-go.”
Propst compared kitting before and after Acctivate…
There are human mistakes that can happen but Acctivate has really done a lot to help that. Before we had Acctivate, there were constant questions about which components went with a specific product that we were sending to a particular customer because we had no way to track those components and no way to ensure that the right plate was used for the right customer.
Now, we can immediately look in Acctivate and recognize, ‘Before it can go to the customer, this plate needs this, this, and this after it’s been decorated.’”
Acctivate helps maintain inventory levels and lets us instantly see what we need to have on order. Before we had Acctivate, purchase orders were basically handwritten. Just tracking the paperwork and trying to figure out what was on order and what our current inventory levels were was a nightmare.”
LDA Creations uses Acctivate’s standard reports to help them determine what they need to reorder.
We use both the backlog reports and sales reports in Acctivate to figure out what we need to reorder at any given point. The inventory backlog report has a lot of different information on it and helps us plan purchases.”
We use Acctivate’s multiple warehouse feature to help manage the locations of our inventory. We have three storage areas and with Acctivate, we know where inventory is.”
It’s also really nice to be able to look at levels of inventory and see what we have on hand, what is scheduled, and what is ordered.
There are often times somebody may order 500 pieces and we’ll know whether we can fill that order right away or if we need to make a partial order to get some more of the product in. We have instant information at our fingertips to fill customer orders with Acctivate.”
Acctivate is really helpful because as soon as the order’s entered, we know if we need to order a part to fill an order. There are just a lot of ways we can use Acctivate,” said Propst.
She explained how Acctivate helps with keeping on top of order deadlines and large orders…
Managing orders with Acctivate is absolutely great. We use the shipping dates to help us keep track of when things need to go out for events, as well as to keep track of orders that are on backorder.
Sometimes when we a get a large order, we aren’t able to ship everything at the same time so we always know what’s left to go out with Acctivate.”
Acctivate’s sales order management simplifies both pre-sale and post-sales activities and back-office operations.
The benefits of Acctivate for our workflow are really, really great. For example, anybody can see when an order has been inputted. Our production department can look in Acctivate for orders that have been entered for the day and see what the components are. Then, they can get an idea of what they need to do to get the shipment or order completed on time – that’s crucial for us and many of our customers, who often have events and deadlines we’re required to meet. We can put a note on orders about the deadline.”
LDA Creations utilizes reports to make their production process more efficient…
We use the sales order reports constantly – it helps us keep on our time table.”
Propst described how LDA Creations uses reports to help with managing open orders…
We use Acctivate’s open order reports during production meetings, which we do first thing Monday morning every week. Everybody who’s involved in any aspect of production gets together and reviews every order that is still open to see what needs to be done and who needs to do what part.
It takes about a half an hour for us to get things organized for the week. With the information from the reports in Acctivate, everybody knows what they need to get done and can have goals in mind for the week, so it’s really helped us quite a bit.”
Shipping Workstation Integration
Acctivate’s Shipping Workstation Interface integration has been absolutely great for us. When it’s used with UPS WorldShip, it immediately gets all of our shipping information entered into the order. When the person who does the invoicing goes, ‘There’s nothing left to do other than create the invoice’, that saves a lot of time down the road. Even at the point of shipping, we can use the import key and directly pull in everything that is needed without retyping anything or looking it up on the UPS WorldShip software.”
We use reports all the time, both custom and standard. The greatest value we receive from the reports in Acctivate is the ability to plan, which gives us greater efficiency in production and everywhere else – it’s just a flow that keeps everything rolling smoothly.
We look at orders received by customers to check where they are at various times or to see ‘Have we gotten the same amount or greater orders of this time last year versus this year?’”
Propst described how reports are helpful for when information is needed on the fly…
We use the sales order form and the picking list constantly, but actually a lot of reports are impromptu. When somebody needs to know some information to figure something out, I can do that fairly quickly with a report in Acctivate. Often, we may not need that report again for another year or so, so it’s kind of a request-type situation.”
Customer Relationship Management
“We have customers who call in and several of us here answer the phone. I don’t normally have a lot of direct customer contact but if somebody were to call in to place an order and the other customer service people are busy, I will do what I can to help them,” Propst said.
She explained the benefits of being able to find customer information quickly with Acctivate…
It’s really nice I can pull that account up and have all the information I need right there in Acctivate. If a customer says, ‘I want to order a mug’, I can go under Products and find out immediately what mug they previously ordered because they might not remember. It’s just so much easier for me, who doesn’t have a lot of customer contact, to help customers when the need arises.
You can also confirm all the information right there – ‘Are you still located at… Does the invoice go to… Is this still your phone number?’ You can verify all the information with Acctivate – and it’s right there in front of you. That’s just the greatest thing.”
LDA Creations also uses standard and custom reports to help with customer relationship management.
Personally, I do a lot of sales reports and custom reports for Acctivate. Because we have several different types of customers, we’ve created reports to break that down so we can track those customers and see who hasn’t ordered or who we might need to follow up with,” said Propst.
She explained the value of custom reports for marketing…
Custom reports have been a great tool. We extract the customer information from Acctivate and create mailing lists. We mail out catalogs to a certain group of customers two to three times a year. For another group of customers, we’ll do email blasts and we’re able to target various customers by their purchases.”
Acctivate = invaluable
I think the longevity of Acctivate is great – we’re going to be able to use it far into the future. With Acctivate, it’s pretty easy for us to be able to keep up with the different things that we do, even those that we may be developing.
I consider Acctivate invaluable because compared to what we had, there’s just so much available in Acctivate not everybody had access to before. Somebody in production might have a question about an order open in front of them and they can call somebody who can also pull up the same order – and you’re both looking at the same information. It’s just a wonderful all-around thing.”