Success Story: Herald Office Solutions

“Our DDMS Premier Account Management Rep Is Like a Member of Our Staff”

James Foxworth, Director of Operations, Herald Office Systems 
James Foxworth, Director of Operations, Herald Office Solutions

Herald Office Solutions is a prime example of how businesses evolve and expand to remain competitive. It all began in 1894 with a local newspaper, The Dillon Herald, followed by a printing company, Herald Multi-Forms. In 1958, Herald Office Supply was opened, serving local merchants. Later the company expanded to sell and service office equipment and to sell office furniture. Today, the printing division also includes custom rubber stamps, t-shirts and laser-inscribed plaques.

Herald employs more than 140 people over eight locations in the Carolinas that include seven storefronts and one distribution center. The company includes three sales divisions—Office Supply, Furniture and Equipment.

A Diverse Business Needs a Robust Software System

Management of such a diverse assortment of products, services and locations requires a robust business system. And so Herald chose DDMS over 10 years ago.

“We actually used to own our own software company,” says Foxworth. “But because of the technological changes that were rapidly taking place in the office supply industry, we had to take a hard look at the software we were currently running. We searched in the software industry to find the package that would help us move forward, which we knew our own software would not be able to let us do at a competitive level. During that time period, we took on five things at once, including building a distribution center and joining a different buying group. With little time to train and convert from our old software to DDMS, we relied heavily on the staff at DDMS to assist us in making this work with a minimal amount of interruption. They came through for us.

“DDMS has been able to meet our needs in maintaining our current position and allowed us the flexibility to explore new business ventures and customer bases,” continues Foxworth. “We finished converting our customer base from Dealer Station to ECinteractive and we are continually adding more customers to online ordering. This has reduced our per order input cost and given our customers more options for placing orders. ECinteractive is yet another tool we are offering our clients that gives them additional ways to place sales orders. We can also gather their company's information without requiring much of our staff's time. But conversely, we still are able to maintain a very person-to-person approach to sales, unlike that of the big box suppliers in the industry.

“While historically we are best known for the Office Supply Division, with the present economic environment it has been difficult to grow this sales division. But we feel it will regain its strength in the near future and DDMS offers us the software platform necessary to handle changes in order volume. The DDMS software offers options that allow us to address the needs of a diverse customer base with a variety of requirements. The PSN (Private Supply Network) has made the transmission of purchase orders much easier than the other methods we have had to use in the past, thus giving our Purchasing Department more time to perform their duties at a higher level of efficiency. This pays off for both us and the customer by keeping costs down and inventory numbers at the appropriate levels.

“Also, using such software as Acsellerate helps us evaluate customers’ needs and put forth the various programs we can offer them. This is only possible by using data that is captured in the DDMS software.

“Our Furniture Division has grown rapidly and DDMS lets us process those orders quickly with minimal staff members dedicated to the necessary processes. Our old software didn't address furniture as a separate division. So there were no provisions existing to ensure that our customers got the correct product installed for them in a timely manner. Project Management is used by much of our staff to get an overview of where we stand. We can see orders placed all the way through orders ready to be installed or billed and still be specific enough to address each component of the order. This makes DDMS a usable tool for both analysis and the scheduling of installations.

“Lastly, our Equipment Sales and Service Division has been able to take advantage of DDMS reporting to help us track the office equipment in the field and the machines and parts in inventory. Being the oldest Savin Copier dealer in the nation, we pride ourselves on analyzing a customer’s machine needs and then providing the appropriate solution, followed by the ability to maintain a service level higher than that of our competition. The ability to monitor our technicians in the field using the DDMS technician monitor relates to a more professional service call with a better response time which helps us to control costs.”

“Premier Account Management lets us move forward quickly”

“After starting with DDMS, we used the consultants for the most part,” says Foxworth. “But when the most recent consultant retired, we realized we still needed help to move forward. So we said, ‘Let’s see what’s available in Premier Account Management and see if it can help us.’ After talking to other DDMS clients that use Premier Account Management, we decided to sign up and now Mike Ferren is our account representative.

“Mike has a good solid background in computer and peripheral hardware, and Mike also knows a lot more than just the DDMS software. He also has really good working knowledge of the Microsoft operating systems and the third party software packages that we use. He can talk the IT lingo with our IT department and they both understand each other.

“You know, I’ll tell you, I envisioned it a little differently. I thought when I called Premier Account Management, what I was going to hear was, ‘You need to read this; that will tell you how to do that.’ Or, ‘I’ll show you once and then you do it.’ But Mike will do as much as we ask him to do. I didn’t really expect him to be that much a part of what we’re trying to do. At first I thought of him as an outside consultant. Now I think of him as a part of my staff.

"Mike has helped us over some rough patches in the last few months and we all are looking forward to his two-day visit, still yet to come. We know he has evaluated some of what we do and during his visit he will help us develop a plan to become more efficient and profitable using the DDMS software. Also, we are looking at a number of projects like setting up virtual printers, printing and scanning bar codes, etc., that we will rely on Mike's assistance to make work."

When asked about the top three reasons he'd recommend Premier Account Management to a colleague, Foxworth replies: "I would say the first one would be the fact that Mike has the knowledge. He provides us with the correct answer to our problem. Second, is the promptness of the involvement in the situation. If you don't get them straight away with a telephone call or e-mail, you will get a call back as soon as possible from either Mike or another member of the Premier Account Management team. Third, they help us better understand the software; propose options with the benefits versus disadvantages, so we can decide the direction we what to go and then assist us from there."

Asked his final thoughts on Premier Account Management, Foxworth replies, “Is it worth it? Yes, it is for us. Mike and the team helped us when we had problems and needed their expert assistance. I feel more secure that what we are doing is correct with Mike Ferren and the Premier Account Management team all standing behind us. It lets us move forward more quickly than if we were doing this on our own."