Alarmtech Uses Order Writing Software as a Price Quote Generator

Sarah Leung
October 6, 2015

In business for 30 years, Alarmtech is an independent provider of electronic security systems for both commercial and residential clients. The company focuses on installations, service, and monitoring for security, video surveillance systems, IT video, and large integrated alarm systems, in addition to product sales. As a service-oriented business working directly with both consumers and other businesses, Alarmtech doesn’t necessarily seem like the most obvious candidate for a sales order management software platform like Handshake. But for Alarmtech Founder Bob Hoevenaars, it was all about finding a robust tool that would function in part as a price quote generator to remove cumbersome manual and paper processes, and he saw major parallels between the problems his business was experiencing on a daily basis and the problems that Handshake’s set out to solve.

Using Order Management Software as a Price Quote Generator

Handshake was designed to help wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors write sales orders digitally, display products in a digital catalog, store customer data, and eliminate the manual data entry processes associated with transferring orders from paper to electronic systems. For a long time, Alarmtech was dealing with many similar manual processes. Rather than meeting with customers to take orders, however, their reps and technicians would meet with potential customers to create price quotes for alarm system installations. In the past, sales reps would visit a job site, use a piece of paper to note down what a potential customer needed, and then tick off items and services manually on an Excel spreadsheet. They would then create a price quote document in Microsoft Word that they would email to the customer. For any wholesale distribution sales rep who’s written down an order on paper, entered it manually into a back office system, and then created an order confirmation to send to a retail buyer, Alarmtech’s old process probably sounds eerily familiar. Today, Alarmtech’s reps are using Handshake to show customers the different alarm systems the company offers and create detailed price quotes, including installation/labor costs.

The Search for an Off-the-Shelf Solution

For Hoevenaars, the biggest reason to begin searching for an alternative to the company’s Paper/Excel/Microsoft Word system was simple: quantity. It simply took up too much of each sales rep’s time to create price quotes, limiting the number of quotes each rep could create and slowing down overall sales and productivity. “I wanted to increase efficiency and lessen the amount of time sales reps were spending on creating quotes. I also wanted the quotes to look more professional and modern,” says Hoevenaars. It was a challenge, however, for Hoevenaars to find an off-the-shelf solution that did exactly what he was looking for. Custom software was out of the question. “The issue I have with custom software is that you end up paying a lot of money, but it doesn’t stay up-to-date. I wanted something that was going to be constantly improved,” he says. Eventually, at an industry convention, one of the sales reps with Honeywell Security Group recommended Handshake.

The Impact

Despite the fact that Alarmtech is largely a service-oriented business, the company saw many of the same positive impacts experienced by wholesale distribution companies in product sales. For instance, sales reps used to carry briefcases carrying a collection of physical product samples. Today, they can show their entire line of products and services on their iPads. ”We now have the ability to do a quote with the customer right there, and they can see exactly what we offer and how it works,” says Hoevenaars. They can also make changes to price quotes much faster, like wholesale distributors can make quick and easy changes to orders before they’re confirmed. In the past, if there were multiple revisions on a price quote, Alarmtech’s back office staff would have no idea which version (i.e. which Microsoft Word document) was the most recent one. According to Hoevenaars, “If anything should happen––if a sales rep was sick or on vacation––it was hard to get the most recent document they were working on and for the back office to know what was going on. Now, we have every revision as it’s being made.” Sales reps can also confirm orders in Handshake to let the back office staff know when a price quote has been finalized. The impact has also extended into the warehouse. “The Handshake quote has become our picklist for the job itself,” says Hoevenaars. “It goes to our service coordinator, who will pick the parts that we have or order the ones we need. That saves us a lot of back and forth communication.” While more and more wholesale distributors are adopting order management software, Alarmtech’s use case demonstrates that many service-oriented businesses are also experiencing the same inefficiencies associated with manual and paper processes––and finding solutions.