The agricultural equipment industry is very competitive, and the need for a mobile solution to perform appraisals and capture equipment information in the field became obvious. Flowfinity's software gives us the competitive advantage we were looking for.
Hoober Inc. Optimizes Used Equipment Appraisals
Company Size: Medium Enterprise
Industry: Agriculture & Construction Equipment
Function: Sales enablement, field data collection, appraisals
Hoober Inc. is a seller of both new and used equipment for agricultural and construction industries. Since 1941, the company has been a family-owned business in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, and has now expanded to 9 locations throughout northeastern United States.
Hoober was running their used equipment appraisals and sales processes with paper forms, and was looking to adopt a more efficient approach. In 2009, they partnered with Flowfinity, a proven provider of enterprise mobile apps, to help achieve their goals.
Their objective was to:
- Eliminate duplicate data entry
- Ensure accurate and consistent equipment data is entering the business system
- Increase profit margin and used equipment sales
Their strategy was to:
- Go paperless with mobile forms that supported offline capabilities
- Be able to customize and modify mobile apps, without coding
- Integrate with existing internal systems for data consolidation
"The agricultural equipment industry is very competitive, and the need for a mobile solution to perform appraisals and capture equipment information in the field became obvious," said Scot Goodling, Director of IT, Hoober. "Flowfinity's software gives us the competitive advantage we were looking for."
"One of Flowfinity's greatest benefits is the ability to build complex mobile apps tailored to our business needs, without having to code."
Hoober manages a large inventory of used equipment, much of it coming from trade-ins. Selling the equipment involves on site appraisals, where the equipment gets evaluated for repairs before being put onto the market for resale. Since farming equipment is expensive, capturing accurate information is needed to determine its fair value.
When used equipment gets purchased, a sales team member would go out to review it for repairs. The paper process involved writing down details on a note pad, and re-keying the data again back in the office. The handwritten paper forms were hard to keep track of, and the additional data entry steps slowed down the sales process.
"There was a lot of duplication of data entry into our systems. The same information would be written multiple ways, causing unnecessary delays and making it tough for data to be consistent," said Goodling.
The delay of information from the field to the office about equipment inventory was also an issue. Hoober needed a way to communicate this vital information in a timely manner so sales can inform customers what's available for sale at any moment.
Hoober was looking for an enterprise mobility solution that would enhance efficiency and automate the field data collection process. Key requirements of the mobile solution were:
- Easy for non-technical staff to update and modify apps
- User-friendly interface for field teams collecting data
- High functionality with smartphone and iPads
- Two-way information flow to view equipment data in the field
- Flexible integration with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
- Offline capabilities for use in limited network coverage areas
It was critical the mobile solution was accessible offline, so staff could collect field data in locations with spotty internet coverage. "The farming equipment industry and its employees are often located in rural areas, and we wanted to do our jobs without worrying about internet connection," said Goodling.
It was also important for the mobile solution to be highly compatible, so it could easily integrate with existing database systems. Hoober recently transitioned to Microsoft Dynamics NAV and needed a solution that would integrate workflow from mobile apps into their back-end systems.
Hoober evaluated a number of comprehensive enterprise mobility solutions, and chose Flowfinity because it enabled them to configure powerful, user friendly apps that handle their whole business process in a very simple way.
"One of Flowfinity's greatest benefits is the ability to build complex mobile apps tailored to our business needs, without having to code," said Scott Dienner, Application Developer, Hoober Inc. "We're able to focus on our business processes without worrying about the application development side."
Field Data Collection and Distribution
Hoober has now streamlined their appraisal process by eliminating manual steps, allowing them to gather accurate data in the field. Flowfinity's built-in features like lookups, drop-down menus and reference data tables enable appraisals to be submitted efficiently. The resulting captured data is accurate, structured, and reliable.
"Flowfinity offers an easy-to-use tool for our sales force to capture important data about trade-in equipment in a very consistent way," said Brad Backenstose, Marketing Director, Hoober Inc. "We can conveniently distribute that information internally for our sales force, as well as externally for the marketing of the trade-in equipment."
"All the data is gathered electronically, so our sales team can access it to do appraisals more efficiently and make sales quicker. It is a very efficient process."
Used Equipment Inventory
The sales team can list newly purchased items in the Hoober catalogue, communicate to the rest of their team, and inform customers about newly available equipment before it's even shipped in. The faster response is especially crucial if customers are still shopping around.
Ensuring items are available to sales reps means higher inventory turnover, reducing carrying costs accruing from equipment idling in storage.
"We are now getting critical information in a timely manner. All the data is gathered electronically, so our sales team can access it to do appraisals more efficiently and make sales quicker," said Goodling. "It is a very efficient process."
Sales and Profitability
Hoober previously felt their profit margin was lower than they wanted, lower than it should be. Margins were affected when they were not able to properly book each piece of equipment. Flowfinity enables the sales team to appraise equipment to its precise value, so they can now sell at the proper margin.
"Since equipment is booked right, we're confident that we can sell above cost," said Goodling. "Especially with equipment valued around $300,000, it starts to really pay off and is reflected in stronger profit margins."
Flowfinity's software allows Hoober to easily add features and forms when needed through the app editor. App updates are published instantly across all mobile devices to every user.
"It has greatly simplified our application development needs, since we don’t need to code for changes in the appraisal process," said Dienner. "We're able to rely on the Flowfinity product to make those changes so we're always up-to-date across all platforms whether it's Android, iPhone, or web access devices."
"We're able to rely on the Flowfinity product to make changes so we're always up-to-date across all platforms whether it's Android, iPhone, or web access devices."
Hoober sees the potential to expand the use of Flowfinity in streamlining work orders. "Providing the service technicians with a tool to access equipment inspection information electronically will enable us to manage repairs and provide visibility to other departments," said Goodling. "This would be another opportunity to reduce costs and increase profit margins."