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Hard news on software: Want to order via the Internet? How about checking inventory 24/7? These companies can show you how

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Hard news on software: Want to order via the Internet? How about checking inventory 24/7? These companies can show you how

In part one of our two-part article, we look at some of the major players and what they have to offer you.

"If you have a problem, rest assured there's been a tool invented to help you fix it," someone once told me.

Well, if you have a problem with running your business, you can bet computer software companies either have a product now that can help you fix it, or they're working on developing one.

Here's a rundown of some of the top computer companies in the tire and auto service industry, how to get in touch with them via the phone and their Web sites, and what you'll see when you're surfing. Company news and new products are also spotlighted.

ASA

Web site: www.asatire.com

What you'll find: Fully integrated point-of-sale application software and training for independent tire dealers and retreaders.

In the spotlight: Interfaces which "allow the user to view all sales and expense information, up to the minute, including providing financial statements on a daily basis. In addition, all of this information may be viewed by location or for the company as a whole entity," says the company.

Interfaces include: ASA/Goodyear XPLOR for Goodyear independent tire dealers; ASA/Open Road Interface, which ties together users of the ASA system and Open Road's retread management systems; ASA/VisionPro Interface, which integrates users of ASA and the Wrenchead VisionPro parts and labor estimating systems; ASA/Symbol Technologies Interface, which allows users to perform physical inventory counts utilizing Symbol Technologies hand-held devices; and the ASA/Mailmark Interface, which sends out reminder postcards for services.

Other new products/capabilities include:

1. Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), with which an ASA client can quickly access all of the information resident in their ASA database via a personal computer and extract it. "This information then may be used in performing analysis with any ODBC-compliant PC application (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Crystal Reports)," the company reports.

2. ASA eTireLink Application allows ASA customers to sell to their own customers via the Internet in a secure, 100% on-line fashion. This is available 24/7 and has up-to-the-minute information. Customers also are able to view any backorders and accounts receivable information (including invoices and payments) and reprint old invoices.

3. eTireLink is an "on-line, Internet-enabled order-entry system that allows your customers to easily conduct business with you over the Internet, helping to reduce your cost of doing business while increasing customer satisfaction, sales and profits," ASA says.

4. Vision Estimator by Wrenchead Pro Systems is a fast way to do estimating, parts lookup and ordering. Vision's parts catalog and integrated Mitchell Labor Guide update your electronic Profit Pro Catalog through the Internet instantly, so your estimates will have the most current information possible, the company notes.

Phone: (603) 889-8700

OpenWebs

Web site: www.openwebs.com

What you'll find: OpenWebs Intelligent Trading Network software -- a Microsoft-based software suite for retail point-of-sale; wholesale sales orders; warehouse management; pick, pack and shipping; accounts receivable/payable; payroll; general ledger; purchase order; and system administration.

In the spotlight: Peer-to-peer trading that allows you to check inventory through the Internet. With the push of a button, you can send a purchase request to the tire dealers, distributors and manufacturers you choose based on dealer preference, brand preference and proximity. The recipients then send you information on the tires they can offer to fit the order. You choose the tires you want, and your request is added to a work order -- automatically and electronically. A typical Intelligent Trading Network search takes seconds, says the company.

OpenWebs offers various types of training on certain aspects of the system depending on the type of dealer -- wholesaler/retailer/commercial/retreader -- and also what components of the system the dealers purchase.

"According to dealer needs and requirements, we offer customized implementation services that include user training, installation, project management, and data conversion from the dealer's legacy computer system," says John Fischer, vice president of sales.

Michelin North America is working with OpenWebs' Intelligent Trading Network to create a dealer-to-dealer and dealer-to-manufacturer Internet-based information exchange network.

Pete Selleck, COO for Michelin Americas Small Tires, feels the network will offer wholesale distributors, retail passenger/light truck and commercial truck tire dealers added convenience while improving the consumer buying experience. The network will especially benefit commercial dealers, according to Michelin. "Fleets today expect more from a tire dealer than just products; they want enhanced services, information and more efficient electronic transactions," says John Rice, COO for Michelin Americas Truck Tires. "This Intelligent Trading Network will be the backbone to deliver efficient transactions and provide the connectivity to link manufacturers, the dealers who provide the services and the fleets who need them."

(Modern Tire Dealer published an article on tire manufacturers' Web-based networks linking them to their dealers in the November 2000 issue.)

Phone: (800) 847-3887

QDS TireMaster

Web site: www.qds-solutions.com

What you'll find: QDS (Quality Design Systems) TireMaster is a point-of-sale, accounting and inventory management software for the retail tire and automotive industry, including real-time inventory control and reports; instant add-ons and quotes; customer control and history; historical invoice generation; monthly reports; accounts payable/receivable; and more. All programs are built on a Windows platform and can be customized for individual and multiple location stores.

In the spotlight: QDS is a non-captive subsidiary of Bandag Inc. The company recently purchased Open Road Technologies Inc., developer of the RoadWare retread shop management system used by more than 240 retread shops in the U.S. and Canada.

"Our purchase of Open Road Technologies not only provides QDS with a proven business management tool to offer commercial tire customers, but has tremendous synergy in terms of its future integration with our point-of-sale and accounting software modules," says Ed Engel, president of QDS.

Late last year, QDS teamed with CCITRIAD to create TireMaster 5.0, a broad-based tire and automotive business information system that combines QDS business software with CCITRIAD's electronic parts and labor catalogs. Future system enhancements will include the integration of CCITRIAD's EZConnect function, which allows dealers to electronically order from distributors.

Phone: (800) 657-6409

Andreoli & Associates Inc.

Web site: www.aasys.com

What you'll find: The company's HITS 2000 POS software for tire dealers, HITS Multi-Store and HITS FIRST STEP inventory control software. In the spotlight: Barcoded key chain tags and WebDIS Internet-based dealer-to-wholesaler connection software.

Barcodes key chain tags -- Similar to the tags given out by grocery store chains, these tags are placed on a customer's key chain, thereby offering constant visibility and encouraging repeat business (see photo with story). A bar code on the back is swiped by a computer wand and identifies the customer using it, interfacing with the computer's POS system to quickly retrieve vehicle service histories.

Non-computerized dealers also can use the key tags by using a cross reference customer information number on the back of the ID tag.

WebDIS (Dealer Information Systems) Internet-based dealer-to-wholesaler connection software -- Dealers can get electronically connected for inventory availability, pricing information and electronic ordering.

"WebDIS provides tire fitment and wholesaler information and pricing in a format that enables retail dealers to use the system as a very fast pricing tool for quoting their customers," says Mike Andreoli, company president.

Phone: (704) 895-2780

In part two of our two-part look at software providers in April, we showcase more companies, including AutoWare Technologies, Dowell Systems, Tire Point Software, Palmer Products, Tire Company Solution, Compu-Power Inc. and United Software and Design and more, plus look at the retail market a little more closely.

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