Gotham Sales Company

imagesGotham Sales is in the business of eliminating stress. It’s a company that specializes in warranties for all the appliances you buy for your home: refrigerators, dishwashers, television sets, personal computers, and even DVD players and portable stereos. Gotham sells these extended warranties to your local retailer. In addition, Gotham is a manufacturer’s representative for many well-known brands of consumer appliances, including Fedders and AESP Connectivity Products.

The Problem

Several years ago, most of the big appliance manufacturers switched their distribution strategies, to cut out the “middleman.” They started going through direct channels to retailers, eliminating the need for distributors and representatives who had been marketing their products for decades. Firms like Gotham found themselves out in the cold, with large payrolls and expensive mainframes that no longer made sense. Fortunately, Gotham had plenty of warranty work to keep a leaner, meaner business going strong. But the change in corporate direction required a rethinking of the company’s staffing and information systems. Due to layoffs of IS personnel, it suddenly became necessary for non-computer professionals to handle information management. Gotham Sales had been using MAS 90 on their UNIX system and they were very happy with it. But they were worried about how the software would function if they moved to networked PCs.  Could they transfer files without a system failure or loss of data?  Would MAS 90 be hard to learn on Windows?  Would it be as reliable as their old system?

The Answer

Gotham’s external accountant recommended key partners at Clients First Business Solutions with lots of happy customers on Windows Networks.  Danny Schwartzstein, Gotham’s president, talked with many of these customers, and felt reassured that Windows was a stable platform. He also heard plenty of good things about MAS 90 on Windows. Best of all, he saw how practically anyone in the company could do bookkeeping tasks on MAS 90. “I’m a salesman, not an accountant or a system administrator,” says Schwartzstein. “I wanted a very simple but powerful accounting package to run my business for me. If I think I’m earning Y dollars per year, I want the package to come up with the same figures. MAS 90 does all that for me.”

“When my accountants come in at the end of the quarter, there’s very little that they have to do, because our internal tracking is so accurate.”   Gotham now uses MAS90 to do practically everything, including tracking purchases, inventory and collections. It prints invoices, shipping releases, purchase orders and envelopes. One extra bonus is that the new system outputs to plain paper, a much more effective solution than the old dot-matrix printer with preprinted forms.  The use of MAS90’s unique ‘multi-part’ forms feature allows differentiated output coming from a single form via laser printer.

Clients First Business Solutions also created a custom module in Filemaker Pro that adds enhanced capabilities to their standard MAS 90 package. When Gotham ships directly to a customer instead of the retailer, the system module tracks end-user detail, such as name, address and telephone number. This information is printed out on the shipping release, saving a lot of time over previous manual methods.  It also allows rapid retrieval of warranty information based on partial searches and serial numbers.

Customer information is also made available to the retailer, who receives a copy of the billing data behind their summary invoice. Data is also accessible online. If retailers want to know about a specific customer shipment, they can call or e-mail Gotham, and receive a speedy electronic response with up-to-date documentation.
Because all of the modules within MAS 90 work in a similar fashion, it’s easy for employees throughout the company to input and process information. This is essential in a small firm like Gotham Sales, where duties are often shared, and people must perform tasks outside their normal area of expertise. “If we’re trained on a module and don’t have to use it for a while, we’ve got to be able to get up and running again fast,” explains Schwartzstein. “Let’s say that my bookkeeper is responsible for posting receivables, and she gets sick for a week. Somebody else will have to cover for her, and often that someone is me. It’s essential that we can transfer knowledge from one module to another with no downtime, and keep the system working smoothly.” Schwartzstein reports that the Windows NT version of MAS 90 is even easier to get around in than the now retired UNIX version, and it has more sophisticated reporting capabilities. He says he’s found it incredibly reliable, as well. Stability has proved to be a non-issue. In six months, the new MAS 90 system has never crashed. Data was transferred electronically, without a hitch.

The new system worked so well, in fact, that Gotham ran its old and new systems in parallel for only two weeks. The first month-end numbers came out identical.
“It’s amazing when you look at what you get for your dollar now in the computer world,” Schwartzstein comments. “I spent about one-third as much on my new Windows system running MAS 90 as I did 20 years ago for an IBM mainframe, if you include all the programming time I had to buy before. And I’ve got a much more powerful system, that’s easier to work with, faster, and much more versatile. Now I’m confident I can grow the business to 5 times our present volume, add product lines, even expand to new locations, all with our existing MAS 90 capabilities.”

This client success story is a testament to the flexibility and quality of MAS90 and MAS200 as well as the out of the box thinking of Clients First business consultants to provide a comprehensive solution to a clients needs.