Tracking Trends and Improving Performance

Information solution helps Pepsi distributor manage growing portfolio

Salient Corp., Horseheads, N.Y., shared a success story from The Gillette Group, La Crosse, Wis., and its implementation of the company’s Margin Minder Series business intelligence solution. Ten years ago, Gillette Group, a Pepsi-Cola distributor serving western Wisconsin, southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, used lengthy paper reports for weekly and monthly statements. As part of an overall information system upgrade, the company sought a reporting system to reduce the amount of paper used.
Upon recommendations from other area Pepsi manufacturers and bottlers, the company opted for Salient Corp.’s Margin Minder Series. The software enabled the sales department to analyze specific markets and products, including sales, revenues, cost of goods sold and margin contribution. From those four categories, updated versions of the software have given the company access to 380 fields of information. In addition, Margin Minder works with Microsoft Office applications and information can be saved into Excel spreadsheet documents.
Sales, product insights
With Margin Minder installed, Gillette Group gained a better understanding of its top customers and products.
“For example we would notice, ‘Wow, look how many Pepsi 20-ounce cases this customer sells,’ and were able to capitalize on this information,” said Cal Erickson, director of marketing, in a statement provided by Salient Corp.
The sales data allowed Gillette Group to easily see trends as well as eliminate poorly performing products and increase marketing on successful ones.
“Margin Minder was the right tool for us at the right time,” Erickson said. “As consumer trends were changing, smart companies began to offer waters, new flavored drinks, etc. We were able to take advantage of these trends using Margin Minder to track and manage a vast array of new products.”
Not only has the company’s information system changed in 10 years, so has its beverage business. The company, which has facilities in Decorah, Iowa, as well as Rochester and Makato, Minn., has gone from 128 to 500 SKUs, with new drinks adding to its existing soft drink portfolio. New to the mix are brands such as Dole, Lipton, Starbucks, Gatorade, bottled waters and flavored waters. Margin Minder helped the company manage the new SKUs.
“If we hadn’t had Margin Minder, we would have needed a larger IT staff to write specialty reporting, and certainly wouldn’t have been able to get information instantaneously,” said Patti Gillette-Ostrom, IT director.
Due to the upgraded Enterprise version, the company can now track the velocity of SKUs, such as 50 new additions Gillette Group recently added. New products include Aquafina Flavor Splash, SoBe No Fear and Mountain Dew’s Amp Energy Drink, all of which were tracked for sales velocity.
Upgrade adds capabilities
Most recently, the company started to use the upgraded Enterprise version of Margin Minder software. The upgrade allows access to data for all employees, which now includes the operations and accounting departments. This not only is consistent, but also allows a view into activities in other departments.
Margin Minder’s projection capability also helped its finance department. At any time of the month, the department can have a strong projection of the company’s revenues. This can factor into customer development agreements and rebates with the overall profitability of a customer.
“In mid-month, I can now find out how non-carb drinks are doing and can see our profitability in 24 hours,” explained Curt Root, controller. “Now that I’m getting this same information two to three months in a row, I can spot trends and get an idea of how we’re doing sooner than waiting for accounting to close books.”
One new aspect provided in the upgrade is product delivery information. Margin Minder also tracks the company’s vending business with access to information on security, theft, commission and marketing. Accounts also can be tracked by selling responsibility, which is helpful in growing local accounts.
Overall, Margin Minder has allowed The Gillette Group, the 10th largest Pepsi-Cola distributor in the United States, to make good business decisions.
“Margin Minder lets us know how and where we’re generating revenues,” Erickson said. “There is a lot of intuition that goes on in customer relations, but Margin Minder quantifies it for us. And we get surprised from time to time with what Margin Minder reveals. It reinforces the rightness of our decisions.”
For more information on Margin Minder’s Enterprise Edition and more business solutions, contact Salient Corp., 203 Colonial Drive, Horseheads, N.Y. 14845; 607/739-4511;