Searching for Facts vs. Fiction - Magnifying GlassThe problem with most cabinet dealers is that owners and managers rarely realize the minutiae that their employees have to go through on a daily basis.  They look at costs, sales volume and other things their employees don’t see.  You know, business stuff.

Take your typical accounting systems, for example.  GreatPlains, MAS90, Falcon, Eagle, Netsuite, Timberline and the dozens of other accounting solutions (some home grown) that dealers have implemented.  When you want a system that does “more”, in swoop the accounting system sales reps in the excitement of a large sale with a potential customer.

And in come the promises, hopes and dreams of a problem-free world filled with candy canes and bubble gum that are just oh-so-delicious.

The Lie

Accounting vendors tell kitchen and bath business that the accounting system will handle everything.  After all, they have a module for that.  For everything that sits in the grey area, they have an answer.

Cabinets – no problem!  Countertops – no problem!  Labor – no problem!  Anything else you ask – no problem!  Wow this thing sounds dreamy!

It’s so bad right now that I’m thinking I may have to reposition my stance on what is eating into kitchen and bath business’s margins (quoting mistakes, extra trips to the job site, ordering errors, etc.).  In 2011, we’re realizing that new accounting system implementations are draining companies of much needed cash by the trailer loads.

The Reality

The reality is, of course, that accounting systems are not synonymous with a kitchen and bath industry specific software and therefore they fail to solve the industries largest challenges.  It’s as if everyone never really shared notes.  I guess it’s because in the super-secret world of the NASA cabinet dealer/remodeler, sharing notes might actually put you at risk with a potential competitor.

Personally, I think the risk of sharing notes weighed against the money you could save by avoiding the craziness of new accounting systems should have cabinet dealers nationwide attending conferences.  With the money that has already been wasted, we could hold the conference on Richard Branson’s island (after the wedding, of course) and still make out like bandits.

The world of the grey is the world your employees live in.  It’s filled with paperwork and work-arounds that drive your team crazy.  They despise you for it and even the simplest of tasks are so time consuming that they rarely come into work excited.

Here’s a great quote from a cabinet dealer we visited earlier this year: “My boss just sits obliviously at the top telling us to sell more”. When we asked the owner how things were running, the answer was “Smooth as silk”.  When we chatted with the staff, they thought their new accounting system had set them back at least 2 years.

In the world of the grey, a ton of details are hidden.  Details that don’t bite until the middle of the accounting system implementation (after the money has been invested and there’s no turning back).  And the accounting system vendors aren’t being sneaky — they don’t know either.  They think the kitchen and bath industry is like the many other industries they’ve played in before.

The Blind Leading the Blind

The business owner is usually blind to the reality of the day-to-day grind of their employees. They want a solution to fix everything, but they lack the details of their current process to ask the right questions of how things will translate down to their employees using the accounting system on a daily basis.  The accounting system vendor is also blind.  They think everything sounds normal and straight forward.  They fail to ask the questions that matter because they don’t know enough about our industry to know what to ask.

Click here for part 2 of this series…