Take Our Kids to Work Day

Windward Software welcomes Jericho Bouvier from his Grade 9 class at Glenrosa Middle School from the Central Okanagan School District 23. He is spending the day with his father, Rick Bouvier in the sales team at Windward Software. A great way to experience a day in the life of an adult.

We thinks this is a great program for our kids and appreciate the opportunity to have this bright eyed teenager experience our Windward world. For more information visit the Take our Kids to Work website.


Greening your business

It’s no secret that the success of a business lays in that area between the cost of business and the amount of sales. That ‘margin’ has always been subject to free market variables that cap what you can charge for a product or service. Business owners are used to looking at the costs of business to determine where they can make savings. Sometimes it will cost money to save money, like a bulk purchase or software upgrade. Other times the savings are more direct and accessible like changing phone provider or other services.

I recently attended a workshop where the people at Green Step provided a compelling case for costs savings based on energy consumption. Green Step helps businesses learn about the energy use patterns and how they can save on them. I encourage you to read their ‘Clients’ page and especially how they helped Sysco in Kelowna BC engage their workforce to save money; i.e. become more profitable. http://green-step.ca/

In British Columbia the provincial government has a program called LiveSmart BC. Part of this program is directed at Small Business. You may wish to check your Province or State to see if you have a similar program or read the BC link to see if there are things you can do on your own. http://www.livesmartbc.ca/green_business/index.html

BC’s electrical provider, BC Hydro, has some great tips for businesses on their website. Most notably they have comprehensive sections on: Lighting, Heating & Cooling, Office Equipment & Supplies, Refrigeration, Waste & Recycling, Food & Health and creating a Conservation Culture. See http://www.bchydro.com/guides_tips/green_your_business.html

Green Step is a remarkably well named company of consultants. Many companies look all over for cost savings, maybe you already took the HR step, or the software step. I liked the people representing Green Step because they were business minded and confident greening businesses was as step in the right direction. Their many examples present a compelling case too.


Our Specialty is your Business!

The word ‘INTEGRATED’ means to bring together as a whole – the implication is a functional whole, not just parts. Like the lawn mower pictured here, you could have all the separate parts gathered together in one large box. Yes everything is there, integrated into a box, but it doesn’t work. A perfect analogy for a computer box! Often, when we talk to business owners, we hear they have an accounting program, and they have some inventory control, and they buy a service for this or that like customer contact and promotions; they have a bunch or parts in a box.

‘INTEGRATED’ hardly describes how powerful a tool System Five is and how perfectly suited it is to Outdoor Power Sports, Equipment and RV dealers’ needs. There is POWER in all the information Windward Systems puts at your fingers. For instance, Partsmart™ integration offers parts look up diagrams for major brands, our EDN interface which allows you to send orders to your supplier via the internet. There’s also serial number / unit tracking Inventory control, seasonal order levels and Floor plan tracking just to name a few great features that help you run your business. Even the usual information you’d expect to find in a POS system is incredibly easy to tap into. Everything is trackable and reportable; labor, warranty and a variety of different repair histories. We’ve worked with our customers to provide the best solutions for: quote & estimate tracking, special orders and a truly integrated shop management system. Do you want real time reports on slow and fast moving parts sales? No problem. How about automatic purchase order creation based on sales history? How about customer tracking and purchase history so you can customize promotions? It’s all there in System Five because we work with people like you, business owners who want to do more than sit in the back office trying to figure things out. At Windward Software, we help you run your business, not just report on it.

Our ‘flagship’ building behind the box; providing business solutions in 35 countries.


BBB Seminar “Your Chance to Shine”

Earlier this week twenty-two people from local businesses attended an excellent BBB seminar hosted by Windward Software at our Penticton BC training location. We are very proud of our A+ rating and happy to assist the BBB communicate its message. The seminar, “Your Chance to Shine” is well worth attending and we highly recommend you talk to the BBB about presentations in your area.

Lynda Pasacreta, President & CEO and Kevin Rothwell, an Accredited Business Consultant, took attendees through important points in dealing with difficult customers. Essentially the seminar was how to diffuse angry people. Angry customers want their problem solved, they want to be listened to and acknowledged. The seminar addressed twelve principles to diffusing anger – and how to prevent making matters worse with looks and language.There were great tips how to regain control of a situation where a person is willing to take the chance to communicate displeasure with a product or service.

There are plenty of examples of people who don’t communicate their displeasure with your products and services directly with you. Instead, or perhaps because they didn’t feel satisfied trying to resolve the problem directly, they post on Facebook, Twitter or some other social media network, their displeasure.To let your business know that it is occurring and aid in deal with the issue quickly. A great tip is to set a Google Alert that will report news occurrences by your business name. Check it out at http://www.google.com/alerts AND check out your Better Business Bureau too!


Quads 4 Us – POSitive performance 4U

Farmers use them because they are small, fuel efficient ‘work horses’ with which they can move a bale or a sack, check a property line or crops in the field. Accessories abound for the owners of large urban lots. There are mower & plow attachments, trailers for firewood or whatever needs carrying. You can race on them, use them to explore the world of forestry roads, you can use them for hunting or use them because you aren’t as mobile as you used to be. There’s a quad out there for every reason and it’s not all strictly off road either; some new models are meant for paved roads only.

Models vary in fuel efficiency, power, handling, speed, accessories, colour, warranty, ease of use, ease of repair. A lot has been done in recent years to make quads safe and dependable but riders still have to do their part by learning how to operate their machinery. It’s always a wise idea to take an ATV safety course and, if you are using your ATV for hunting, consider brushing up on current thought regarding courtesy, ethics, laws and environmental awareness.See these two links for some great information about how to be safe on your ATV. http://www.atvcourse.com/blog/2011/06/using-atvs-to-hunt/ and http://www.ehow.com/video_2357428_quad-atv-4_wheeler-safety-tips.html

Much like quads, POS software varies by vendor. Unlike quads you can get efficiency, power, speed and easy handling all in one package. System Five is a performance powerhouse when it comes to helping you run your business. It’s fast and it’s scalable so, as you grow, the system can grow too. We’ve been helping and listening to Outdoor Power & Sports equipment business owners for years. We know what goes on in the stores, the repair shop and the back office. Allow us to demonstrate, we know you’ll be impressed.


The RV lifestyle

There seems to be only two ways to deal with winterizing your RV; either head south and forget winterizing or get some good advice and/or service from your local RV expert about how your RV can survive the winter. As with everything, there are dozens of websites where you can find a list of things to do to protect your RV’s plumbing, electrical, shell and stop pesky rodents.

The popularity of RV’ing is simple to understand and the many ways to enjoy RV’ing are incredible. From tent trailer to diesel pusher, from renting to owning, in the rough or as luxurious as you can afford, RV’ing can be a one-time adventure or a way of life.

In many ways an RV dealer is a lifestyle consultant so make sure you take the time to get to know them and their services. Many states and provinces have RV dealers associations. In Canada the national body, the RVDA represents the provincial associations, like the RVDA of BC. See www.rvda.ca and www.rvda.bc.ca Industry associations can help RV vendors and customers meet. The great thing about dealer associations is they offer some piece of mind to potential clients – they offer a level of trust. RV Dealers who belong to their industry organization are saying they follow a certain code of ethics for sales and service.

On the subject of service, in the Okanagan Valley of BC we are fortunate to have one of the best Recreational Vehicle Technician Apprenticeship Programs anywhere! Graduates of this program get jobs throughout Canada because they know there stuff. In keeping with RV’ing as a lifestyle, Okanagan College also hosts an annual RV Owners lifestyle Seminar. Check it out at http://www.okanagan.bc.ca/departments/trades/departments/rvtech/rvlife.html While on that page, click on the button that shows what RV techs learn in their extensive 28 week program; including comprehensive winterization training.

Windward Software System Five is especially designed for merchants in the RV and Outdoor Power and Sports Equipment business. Call us, we’ll show you how quickly and easily System Five can help you run your business.


10 years later

In 2002 Retailing Today identified “The 12 hot issues facing mass retailing” See http://bit.ly/p0R4Q1

The above link will take you to a more in-depth explanation of the dozen of issues but here they are in a few words or less plus, in parentheses, an off the cuff gut feel of 10 years later.

  1. The demand for new and trendy products (no change).
  2. Financial reform (change for worse).
  3. Diversity (Huh?)
  4. The cost of Store operations (some change).
  5. Relationships (big change with social media)
  6. Supply-chain management (inconsistent change across sectors).
  7. Consumer connection (varying change depending on age group).
  8. Development of proprietary brands (ongoing change).
  9. Legislation increasing cost of business (no change).
  10. Trade shows (big change, attendance is down).
  11. Cost of Energy (continues to rise).
  12. The E-commerce dot-com bust (big change).

The most notable positive change over 10 years has been developments in E-commerce. Access to the internet is like access to seemingly endless products and services. There are fewer reasons to drive to big box areas for small mail-able products. Plus services like graphic arts, web development and even business coaching can take place on line. It seems like a million years ago that the dot-com bubble burst.

The most notable negative change is the dot.name bust. I am referring to the number of people and companies that ‘financed’ their way into oblivion. Enough has been written elsewhere about that.

What else is important? There is something to be learned from the dozen above. Apple continues to exemplify what ‘trendy products’ means; certainly in looks and proprietary products. There ‘i’ products illustrate the mobility of todays consumer and the need to provide products and services addressing and enhancing that mobility.

Just a note about the word ‘Diversity.’ It was quite the buzz word 10 years ago (sort of like ‘dude’ and ‘staycation’ now) and no one really knew what it meant except it was a good thing to say you respect big D diversity.

What we want to change and what does change is sometimes quite different. Gas and other energy prices won’t fall. Just when internet access and texting prices were falling, data plans are piling up. It’s a sure bet that taxes aren’t going away and goodness knows what the future holds for personal and national finances.

On a positive note, it’s fall, the retail season! If back to school spending was any indication, many markets can look forward to a great end of the year.


Retail Therapy

Retail Therapy
[ree-teyl ther-uh-pee}

  1. shopping as an outlet for frustration and to relieve stress
  2. rebounding from sales depression

While retailers may wish more people spend their way out of depression, it’s not a healthy sales model to forecast sales, buying and profits.

What can you do? Here are four world view suggestions.

  • Turn info into insight – if you are collecting customer information, buying and inventory info, trying looking at all that data to spot trends and adjust your business accordingly. Don’t just collect info, do something with it!
  • Be flexible in your business processes – hard lines lead to hard times. We’re not suggesting ‘anything goes’ but if you have a procedure or process that your staff or customers wants you to review, do that!
  • Get social, connect yourself to customers via the media they prefer – we’re not only suggesting the usual bandwagon full twitter, Facebook, etc . For example, a lingerie company, who is a Windward Software customer, recently partnered with a golf course and local woman’s shelter to run a very successful charity event. Not only did the money raised help the women at the shelter, the lingerie company connected with many potentially new customers. See http://blog.wws5.com/2011/07/5th-annual-linked-together-2011/
  • Get better and more efficient – prices can only go up so you have to reduce costs. There is no best way to reduce costs, but there are better ways! Get advice, see our previous blog about working with a CGA. http://blog.wws5.com/2011/08/the-benefits-of-having-a-cga/

Howdy partner

If your retail rent keeps going up and threatens to put you under, try offering to revenue share with the owner. Some shopping mall owners have found this works really well because there is more incentive for the mall owner to help. Official partnering, and consortium’s programs, are well known in the auto parts, furniture and food businesses; it’s something to look into if you aren’t doing that right now.

You can start your own unofficial partnering program, and increase exposures to your business, by approaching complimentary businesses and working out a deal to mutually honour each others ‘club card’ holders.

Yoga studios could offer a discount at a sports apparel retailer who will offer a discount on yoga classes. A cooking school, could jointly partner with specialty foods and a kitchen appliance store to offer discounts on appliances, food and cooking lessons.

You can rebound from sales depression with a little retail therapy following a few suggestions above and by forging partnerships.