Staff Picks: TPI’s Top Ten Favourite Features

Part I: Thoughtful, Intelligent, and Completely Practical

One of TPI’s greatest strengths is its sheer wealth of useful, thoughtful, efficient features, all there to make your working life easier and enhance your user experience. We polled the TPI staff to find out what they loved the most about the system, and this is what we discovered:

1. Price (Scott Tetz, Owner):
When you are entering in the basic information of a part, the system will take into account your physical location (you will have already entered your address into the system) and then scan other, related parts already posted, and come up with two aggregate prices: National and Regional (pretty ingenious, isn’t it? Yes, we are smart ). These two prices remain private, and they are extremely useful in gauging what might be a competitive price.

2. Post Moderation (Scott Tetz, Owner):
TPI allows different users within your company to have different levels of access and Post Moderation can be activated to give Management the ability to approve, correct or disapprove part posts before they are made public. Post Moderation is like an extra level of Quality Control, enabling many people to use the system but ensuring that the company’s objectives are respected.

3. Max/Mins on Parts (Scott Tetz, Owner):
This great, hidden feature helps you with your reordering: you can activate it by clicking inside the little box that “Allows reordering of this part” when you are posting a part, and then entering your maximum and minimum quantities for that part. Once you save the part, the system will remember your choice and send you an alert when your minimum quantity is reached, allowing you to place an order and avoid the problem that non-stocked items can cause (you can’t sell what you don’t have, and you don’t want to be caught advertising an item and not have it in stock). On the other end, Maximum quantities ensure that budgets aren’t destroyed by inadvertently buying more items than you need or have planned for. Again, the system will alert you.

4. CRM/Connect Companies (Martin Mercer-Deadman, Sales):
TPI’s CRM (Customer Relations Management) is, quite frankly, an amazing, comprehensive feature. Companies who want a CRM normally have to invest in third-party software, paying each month per user, and that can start to add up, especially when you have several counter people plus management using the system. With TPI, you get a really well-designed CRM included in what you are already paying, giving you the great advantage of being able to consistently build and maintain your relationships with your customers. TPI’s CRM is so good that it could actually be sold on its own as a separate product, and you’re getting it as a part of the package. Nice.

5. Mobile Use (Martin Mercer-Deadman, Sales):
On a phone or a tablet, TPI is user-friendly. It’s like having an entire inventory system in your pocket! (TPI is cloud-based, so it can be accessed from anywhere)

6. Call Tracking Report (Mathew Twardowski, Developer):
Users can listen to and download inbound calls from their toll-free TPI number, thereby better allowing them to analyze customer service or deal with any issues that may arise as a result of calls.

7. Sales Receipts (Mathew Twardowski, Developer):
Instead of creating an invoice and then having to go back to add a payment to it if a customer is going to pay right then, users can create a sales receipt. With this feature, you can create the invoice and payment at the same time, thereby saving yourself time and steps.

8. Company Merge (Mathew Twardowski, Developer):
When you are creating an invoice for a customer, it can happen that you inadvertently enter the customer in twice in the system, thereby creating a duplicate profile. This becomes tricky because the customer’s information is then split between two different profiles, and you are never working with a complete, realistic picture. However, only customers can be merged with other customers, and vendors can only be merged with other vendors.

9. Truck Profit Report (Martin Mercer-Deadman, Sales):
The Truck Profit Report is a feature found under the Profit tab of the Seller’s Bar, along with a host of other Reports. What the truck report does is allow you to see how well different parts are selling from any particular complete truck that you have bought. This lets you gauge the value of your investment and whether or not you should continue to include this type of truck in your inventory.

10. Print Tags (Paula Wade, Content Writer):
This feature could also fit into Part II of our Top Ten Lists because it is fast and fun, but it does have a more comprehensive function: after you have entered a part into TPI, you can actually print an inventory tag for it that can be attached to the part (the part information within the system is now accessible through this tag). After the tag is printed, you just scan it and all of the part’s information will show up, just like in a grocery store!

CRM Essentials

If you don’t manage your customers, someone else will.
For the last 20 years, CRM’s (Customer Relations Management) have developed side-by-side with other software and have become an established part of doing business wherever customers are involved. They have evolved way beyond the simple Rolodex idea of customer information kept on a card and have become much more extensive and effective. Most CRM’s have various capabilities, allowing the business owner to accomplish different tasks within one program, with information kept neatly in one place. Following are several different ways a CRM works to organize your customer interactions:

  1. Basic customer information, such as address, contact numbers, employee names, etc. can be kept in one place. A good CRM will allow space for private notes where you can list items such as personal likes and dislikes, a spouse’s name, important personal dates (birthday, anniversary, etc.), etc.. There will also usually be a section for a history of communication between the customer and your company, so everyone can see what has been discussed and not fall off track or waste time duplicating information;
  2. A CRM might also include financial information, such as previous transactions, sales, etc. Having important information literally at your fingertips when speaking to a customer helps maintain an image of professionalism and reliability, and the customer will feel taken care of. Any method that allows you to bolster the feeling of genuine trust and respect on the part of a client should be embraced;
  3. One of the best parts of a CRM is that it can normally be accessible by whomever in your organization needs to interact with the customer (sales person, IT department, etc.). This means that a customer can have interactions with various representatives within your company, but each of these representatives will have access to the history and “picture” of the customer that comes from the information kept within their profile, making their work with them that much more effective and, hopefully, long-lasting.

The more effort you put into cultivating your relationship with your customer, the more focus you put on responding to their needs, both spoken and unspoken, the greater chance you have of maintaining them in your client base into the future. Know they have a grandchild due in 6 months? Note it in the CRM and you can mention it later in phone calls. Have they already stated that they don’t like aggressive sales pitches? Note that in the CRM, too, and develop a method of communication that is created just for them. Everything you do to create a relationship, maintain the relationship and deepen the relationship through intelligent contact will only help to keep them as clients, and appreciative ones at that. No company is ever the only guy on the block, and if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.

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