THE ROI IS PROBABLY A HUNDREDFOLD
“The return on investment is, gosh for me, it’s almost incalculable because I can’t think of anything else that we spend so little on and get so much. It’s the way we do business now.”
In 2009, we interviewed Andy Fletcher with John Bunning Transfer Co. of Rock Springs, Wyoming, and he raved about their Axon Software experience. We recently visited Andy again for an update. In this interview, Andy estimated their annual return on their Axon Software investment to be “a hundredfold”! We just had to get him to explain this incredible return in his own words.
I’m Andy Fletcher and I work with John Bunning Transfer Co. I’m a supervisor here, IT specialist, jack of all trades.
Tell us about the company.
We are a family-owned trucking company that supports the mining, oil, and gas industries. We haul oil tubulars, heavy haul, and rig equipment. We do molten sulfur and dry-bulk commodities for the mining industry around here as well.
When did you start using Axon Software and what was the reason?
We started using Axon in 2008. My background is in database management. We were using a DOS-based system at the time and there were also a lot of things being handwritten. We had an immediate need for an upgrade.
I started looking around for systems that could help us do everything – from dispatching, to bill paying, to all of those other kinds of things. Most of them could give us a dispatch system and tie it into whatever payroll software we were using.
Axon was the only one that we looked at that did it all in one program that could conform to meet our needs, so we brought them on board in 2008 and haven’t looked back. They’ve been wonderful to work with.
How has Axon Software changed the way you manage your business?
They’ve made it real-time, which is what I was looking for. The way that we were doing things before we had triplicate carbonless forms; we had old technology software systems; so, following a paper trail throughout the building was a nightmare. You never knew where something had stopped, or a project had gotten half-completed and was sitting on somebody’s desk. There was no way for us to know when things were completed or not completed.
Now we can have people working on the same project at the same time. We follow it all the way through. We know where it is in the process and it basically makes it so that we plug all the holes, and now we have a steady pipeline of work going through the business.
Has Axon Software helped you with invoicing?
That has probably been the biggest thing for us. When we were running the previous system, our average time from when we billed to when we actually received a check was right around 60 days. Now we’ve got it down now to under two weeks.
We scan all of the documentation and, the day after the job is completed, we send it off to the customer. It matches up with their AFE or their PO number, and they turn around and pay us.
We no longer have invoices that fall by the wayside. We’re getting paid on 98-99% of our invoices now, where we were probably only getting paid on 90% before. That 8 or 9% is a huge amount of revenue for the company.
The other nice thing is that we’re able to collect on the invoices that don’t get paid. We generate a lot of revenue that we didn’t before because we would write off bad invoices and now, we’re able to go out and collect on them. Before we would have just walked away from them. So, it’s been great. That’s been a huge bonus.
You previously mentioned shifting one of your staff to collecting receivables and she collected a ton of money…
Right. Yes, over a million dollars. This year again we had probably 400,000 dollars worth of invoices that, if we weren’t using Axon and the scanning of the documents and all those kinds of things, we would have never gotten paid on them. We went out; we collected on them; and we got paid in full. We didn’t even need to use a collection agency.
I was able to justify the return on the Axon investment just based on savings that would be achieved through some of those other things, but this was really the hidden gem for me. I didn’t even take into account the collections. I figured, ‘We are going to get our money back in a year or two,’ but it turned out to be, ‘We got our money back immediately and then actually made money on the deal.’
Have electronic fuel downloads saved you time?
Probably between 20 and 30 hours a week. Before we would have to print it all out and match up the receipts that the drivers would bring in. We’d have to put in the unit numbers, and the mileage, and all of that kind of stuff. It was taking hours for our accounts payable person to get through it all.
Now it just seamlessly updates. It’s done in 10 or 15 minutes where it would usually take an entire morning to get it done. We download the file from the vendor. It uploads directly into Axon. We do a quick check, and it’s done.
How has Axon Software helped you with your driver settlements?
It’s made them basically seamless. We pay some of our drivers hourly, some of them by the mile, some of them by the load. Each one of our departments is a little unique. Axon has allowed us to basically pay however we decide we want to. At the end of the month we hit a button and it tallies it all up for us. We do a quick verification and we can cut a check.
Our owner operators, our drivers – everybody’s happy because they’re not getting paid for a job that they did six months ago. They’re getting paid for a job they did last week. And it helps them keep their records straight as well, so it’s been a great part of the program.
Document imaging must be a huge time saver for you as well?
Absolutely. We could probably fill a small warehouse with all of the supporting documents that we had to have, and again we’re talking about carbonless documents that once you get to that third page you can barely read them. Now we scan in the supporting documentation and everybody has access to it, so we no longer have people wandering around filing through boxes. It’s been a huge timesaver.
Has Axon Software helped you maintain or improve your customer relations?
There’s not a conversation I have with a customer anymore that doesn’t involve electronic funds transfer (EDI), scanning documents, real-time inventory, all of those kinds of things. Axon allows us to provide them with that information. I don’t know how other people are doing business now, but if they’re not using Axon then they’re missing the boat, because it allows us to give the customer exactly what they’re looking for.
Has Axon Software helped grow your fleet or made your office run more efficiently?
We had 112 trucks when we started, and we’ve got 138 trucks now. In the four years that we’ve used Axon, we’ve increased our fleet by 20% and we’ve reduced our staff by 25% – just through natural attrition. Very rarely do we fire employees. We had an older staff that was getting ready to retire – they were kind of hanging on because they still had work to do – and now they’ve been able to retire. We haven’t had to replace them. We’ve actually been able to reduce our staff by four or five people and haven’t missed a beat.
We’re getting a lot more done with a lot less resources and of course there are savings that a lot of people don’t look at. There are cost savings in payroll but also health insurance and all of the other things that go into it. It’s just another way that Axon has added to the bottom line.
How’s the staff morale? Has that changed since you’ve had Axon Software?
When we put Axon in, we had five employees who had never done anything other than data entry in our old software system. When I told them that we were going to move to this program that was going to allow them to do all of these other things, there was nothing but push back. They weren’t going to do it. They had their routines and their ways, and they were entrenched. This was ‘just going to make everything worse.’
In two months, we had everybody on board. And now people wouldn’t know what to do if we didn’t have Axon. It has been night and day, and the staff absolutely love it. They know where they need to go to get the information. They know it’s at their fingertips. They know they can do their job effectively and efficiently, and morale has jumped because of it.
Can you estimate your annual return on investment with Axon Software?
That’s a good question. It’s tenfold at least, if not more, it’s probably a hundredfold actually, because of the invoices that we’re able to collect on, the savings in payroll, some of the other things that we’ve been able to do like inventory. The return on investment is, gosh for me, it’s almost incalculable because I can’t think of anything else that we spend so little on and get so much. It’s the way we do business now.
The other thing that I will say is it’s enabled us to get new business as well, because we can talk with major oil companies like Encana and Questar and we can tell them that our billing, our heavy haul dispatching, our accounts payable, and accounts receivable are cutting edge and nobody else is doing what we’re doing. So, it fits right in with what they’re trying to achieve on their end and makes us an attractive business partner.
There are so many things when you really start looking at what the program helps us to do. Health insurance, 401K administration, the time that we spend paying an accountant – we’ve decreased that time because we can provide them with all of these numbers in a quick, easy-to-read form. If I start adding all of that stuff up, the return that we get per year is a hundredfold the money that we pay for Axon. I start adding all that up – add the invoices that we’ve been able to collect on – it’s easily in the millions.