Success Story: Powers Do it Best

RockSolid Brings Big Cost Savings and Productivity Gains

Jeff Powers of Powers' Do it Best
Jeff Powers of Power's Do it Best

After 10 years of working with Activant, Jeff Powers had had enough. Running a hardware store was tough enough without having to deal with a seemingly endless stream of price increases and costly hardware and software upgrades. And he wondered if the system’s less-than-user-friendly interface made life at the store—Powers’ Do it Best Hardware & Lumber in Beaver Island, Michigan—a lot more complicated and demanding than it really needed to be.

Jeff and his team already had more than their fair share of complexity. Beaver Island is one of Michigan’s top vacation spots. Each year, it draws more than 50,000 visitors who come to enjoy the beaches and nature trails, golf, fishing and more.

But it’s an island and, for Jeff and anyone else who operates a business there, that means some special challenges. When Jeff places orders, they come in on the ferry. It’s a two-hour ride that not only adds additional freight costs, but also makes it next to impossible to generate the kind of inventory turns a mainland store enjoys.

Business on the island is wildly seasonal. The permanent population of Beaver Island barely gets above 500 but when vacation time comes around, it picks up with a vengeance. At the peak of the season, there may be as many as 5,000 on the island, and close to half of Jeff’s business comes between June and October.

Jeff first started coming to Beaver Island as a college student and he’s been a full-time resident for the past 14 years. In many ways, it’s an ideal place to call home. But if you’re running a business there, the margin for error is slim indeed.

We initially made the switch to RockSolid just to save money

That’s where Rock Solid comes in. Jeff made the switch from Activant to Rock Solid primarily out of cost concerns. If saving money was the goal, he’s succeeded brilliantly. Monthly support fees that reached as much as $900 a month with Activant are now down to just $200 with RockSolid.

But, says Jeff, the benefits have gone far beyond the savings on the monthly bill.

“Running the business is just a whole lot easier today,” he reports. “RockSolid is so much less cumbersome than Activant and I spend a lot less time on the computer managing price changes and file maintenance than I used to.”

As with any transition, says Jeff, the changeover has not been completely free of bumps and hurdles. But, he adds, the RockSolid team has put forth extra effort to solve the issues and make transitions to different ways of managing inventory issues.

Processing credit card purchases is also a lot easier with RockSolid. “The Activant system stored a lot of the credit card detail on site, whereas RockSolid uses a third-party software company that helps us meet PCI compliance requirements far more economically,” he explains.

Inventory management is also a lot easier, Jeff points out. About 40 percent of Powers’ sales come from the lumber side of the business and that means about 2,000 non-DIB SKUs have been added to the database. The store also has a gift department with another 2,000 SKUs to manage.

With Activant, incorporating additional items into the database was time consuming and labor intensive. Now, thanks to RockSolid, it’s a snap, Jeff says.

RockSolid has been very easy to learn for our employees

Employees at Powers are just as enthusiastic about the change. “Our people like the wireless features of the RockRemote unit and ordering and taking care of item maintenance on the shelf level are a lot easier for them,” Jeff says. “In addition, bringing new employees online and learning the point-of-sale system goes very quickly with RockSolid.”

Running a business with the peaks and valleys that come with life on Beaver Island is no easy task, particularly when you have to rely on a two-hour boat ride for deliveries. In addition, Powers also contends with the usual challenges involved in competing with all the major hardware big boxes and some strong independents on the mainland.

But with the help of RockSolid, Jeff and his team are more than up to the task. The switch has made the business stronger in several key areas and Jeff’s enthusiasm for his new system comes through loud and clear. “I knew RockSolid was going to save us money, but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by some of the other benefits it has generated. If I’d known back then what I know now, we’d have probably made the switch several years ago and been better for it!”