Adopt a bar code system

Phil Kniskern, co-owner and president of KMC Marine in Lighthouse Point, Fla., says he can’t understand how marine dealers ever managed without a bar code system.

From the time he and brothers Tom and Rob founded the company 19 years ago, they have relied on technology to keep track of inventory, parts by SKU number, accounts receivable, accounts payable and other business metrics. “We founded the company right out of college, and we knew that if we didn’t keep up with technology, we’d get run over with it,” Kniskern says.

KMC’s first system, from Freeman Software, could track up to 10,000 items arranged in nine departments with 999 SKUs each, and generate a unique bar code for each item. As the company grew, the system adapted to fit KMC Marine’s changing needs.

Recently, KMC upgraded to Total Control Software that’s “designed by people in the marine industry who understand the industry and what’s needed,” Kniskern says. Although no system is perfect, Kniskern says it fits well with what KMC is trying to do. Every inventory item has a bar code, which helps KMC carry a minimal inventory. Purchase orders can be produced quickly to replenish stock, and a bar code scanner eliminates human error during data entry.

The most attractive part of the system, however, is the improved, real-time communications that occur between customers and employees. KMC Marine is in two buildings 10 blocks apart, with new and used boat sales in one facility and parts, service, customer service and office functions in the other.

Like most marine dealers, the company receives most of its boats that require service early in the week, and customers want them back by the next weekend. As parts needed for a repair are identified, they are scanned into the electronic work order, which can be accessed by any employee.

“The system streamlines communications,” Kniskern says. “Anybody, on any computer screen, can call up the work order and give an update to the customer.”

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