An Extraordinary Client Success Story: Blue Water Importers
Blue Water Importers started over 20 years ago when owner, Jack Dempsey, began purchasing vehicles in Canada for sale in the US. As time went on, Blue Water took over the transport of the vehicles, the work of conforming them to DOT requirements, and titling. Today, Blue Water specializes in the conformity and transport of vehicles for other dealers. With a team of just under twenty people, they process approximately 1,000 vehicles a month and counting. As demand has spread, Blue Water, currently located in Burton, MI, is pursuing plans to open additional locations in several other States in the Midwest and Northeast regions.
“We chose Spud because they are local and personal.” – Jarod Dempsey
Why did Blue Water contact Spud?
Blue Water Importers came to Spud needing a system that provided vehicle tracking, document generation, barcode creation and scanning, email automation, document archival, reporting, invoicing, shipping management, and business process communication.
“Spud has never said no to our ideas. They have always worked with us to make the ideas work.” -Jarod Dempsey
What was the process?
Spud were able to identify each type of entity that Blue Water interacts with, as well as their government requirements and job functions, and then detail each business process with the manager of those activities. Not only does this include identifying how daily operations are performed, but also pinpointing the desired result of each activity, employee opinion on the process, pain-points, and bottlenecks involved. All of the processes and decision points were recognized in a “vehicle life cycle” flowchart. This was modified to streamline the existing process, force adherence to preferred business processes, and incorporate the value-added business activities that Blue Water wanted to incorporate into their business process. After creating the road map of what Blue Water wanted, we began work on a web application that supported all of those activities.
“I don’t know that we could have had that much personal attention with another company.” -Jarod Dempsey
How did Spud help them?
The new system used security to allow both clients and employees’ access to their respective site functions. In order to give employees more time in the field, Spud built the system to automatically assign bonds to vehicles and alert the importation manager if any special attention was needed to the bond or shipment of the vehicle, generate and send documentation emails to the custom brokers, and send manifests to the drivers. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), a local application was created to scan specific email accounts as well as network folders. This application pulls any new documents, scans them with OCR, and presents them to the appropriate team for verification. The team at Spud Software also created a way to build invoices automatically as vehicles undergo various activities. This process gave employees the capability to select a group of vehicles that are complete, send the invoice data to Quick Books through an API, and do so in such a way that invoices are automatically generated for each customer containing all vehicles and associated itemized charges. Another API was implemented to automatically print FedEx labels for title shipment.
Another concern Blue Water had was keeping their employees on the move, so Spud built a mobile app that gave them the ability to work in the field. Personnel now have the ability to photograph vehicles, enter additional vehicle data, and print barcode labels from a mobile printer. Furthermore, the mobile app has the ability to take photos for DOT Conformity and automatically uploads them to the web server and stores them with the appropriate VIN. These photos are later printed along with all other DOT Conformity documentation that has been collected or generated for each vehicle.
“We have been using the new system for 10 months and have noticed a more efficient system.” – Jarod Dempsey
Here at Spud, we stick to the philosophy that our client’s success is our success. We have enjoyed working with Blue Water Importers and look forward to their continued success.
Client Spotlight: Spartan Properties
Custom software has many advantages, including saving time and money. We were able to help a local client, Spartan Properties, with a web-based custom inventory control system in a single repository that could potentially save them several man-hours per month.
In the mobile home industry, Spartan Properties purchases, refurbishes and sells mobile homes. Selling over 349 homes in 2017 and shipping to 17 states, including Canada, the company also has storage facilities in most states. Due to the high volume, Spartan was in need of refining its processes, so that’s where Spud came in.
Why did Spartan contact Spud?
As a well-established and growing company, Spartan Properties required a system to maintain their Inventory. Spartan came to Spud with an existing process for managing their mobile home inventory that was entirely Excel based. All details were added into an Excel spreadsheet that was shared across the network. The sheet was slow, difficult to use and did not contain all of the information that administrators needed, which often forced office staff to search through paper records for details.
The system also did not provide an accurate indication of what state each home was located in and what might need to be done on a specific home.
“We are in the mobile home industry and with that we purchase mobile homes, we refurbish those home, and sell them. We are involved in transporting the mobile homes.” – Kim Richardson
What was the issue?
Spartan's existing system was impacting the growth of the business. The overhead time and costs of trying to work with the Excel based system was keeping the administrative staff extremely busy. This prevented Spartan from pursuing growth opportunities to expand the business into new areas and increase how many homes they can process simultaneously.
“We find that Spud is most helpful when we have any issues and to allow us to efficiently run our business and to keep track of our large inventory.” – Kim Richardson
What was the process?
Spud Software produced a web based administrative solution for Spartan that allowed them to maintain all of their home details in a single repository. The system captured all of the details about each aspect of the home, allowing administrative staff to avoid searching through paper records for common questions. The system also features an event-driven system that accurately represents how homes are processed and can handle things happening out of the normal expected order. The system is available off site and on mobile devices allowing users to access information without reaching out to administrative staff.
“We have been using Spud for over 10 years for website design and management and application development.” -Sarah Blachura
How did Spud help them?
This solution has increased the total workload the existing staff is able to handle. This will allow Spartan Properties to increase the number of homes they process and expand the areas they operate in. Additionally, the solution has increased their data integrity and level of knowledge transfer. With all information in a single repository, they are no longer constrained to looking through paper records for details about homes.
“Our applications that we have now allow us to keep track very efficiently, with all of those different aspects.” – Kim Richardson
Here at Spud, we stick to the philosophy that our client’s success is our success. We have enjoyed working with Spartan Properties for the past ten years and look forward to their continued success.
Summer is an important time to keep your cool.
The warmth of summer is a great time to head outdoors and enjoy some fun in the sun, but it also challenges us to find ways to keep cool. And while you're focusing on keeping yourself cool, it's important to remember your electronic devices as well. Overheated devices can be an inconvenience, but they can also cause serious damage to your ability to work and communicate. So we've compiled a list of ways to keep yourself, and your devices, cool this summer.
"I'm cool all the year round. Dealing with the heat however is a problem. I tend to avoid the sun." - Matthew C.
Keep Your Devices Out of the Sun
The number one culprit in overheated devices is the sun. Whether you leave your phone or tablet in your car or you work near a window, direct sunlight on your device can cause it to overheat quickly. If your device is stored in high heat long enough, it can actual fail and lose all it's data..
If your device has overheated in the sun, move it to a cool place as soon as possible and allow it to cool slowly. Never put it in a fridge or freezer, and never hold it in front of the AC vent in your car. An extreme change in temperature can cause condensation to build up within your device, and the moisture is worse than the heat. So allow it to cool naturally and be patient, giving it time to cool down before you try to power the device up again as batteries also generate heat.
"When we went to FL we had some little neck fans we could hang that blew air on us." - Lynne U.
Make Sure Your Fans Are Working Properly
The inside of your laptop or desktop's case can heat up quickly, especially when the ambient temperatures are higher. Your machine's fans are designed to expel the hot air and keep your computer cool. But fans can fail for a variety of reasons, so be sure to check them regularly. Without a properly functioning fan, your computer can overheat and damage your system.
"Cool showers and avoiding cat cuddles. (Seriously! why do they want to cuddle when it is 95?)" - Gretchen Y.
Do a Clean Sweep
It's not unusual for dust, pet hair and other debris to collect inside your machine. Especially if you're using a desktop computer, it's important to check for build up that might clog your air intake or your vents. Make dusting your machine a regular part of your computer maintenance plan, but be especially mindful in the summer months when heat is such a concern.
"Hang the hammock in the backyard under a shady tree." - Todd K.
Hibernate or Turn Off Your Devices
When you're not using your devices, it's best to turn them off to avoid overheating. This gives your device a chance to cool down when it's not in use. And never place a laptop that is running in an enclosed case or carrier, especially during the summer. Also, avoid leaving your device on the charger when it's fully charged. Chargers naturally heat up the battery.
"On super hot days, we go downstairs, watch a movie and hang out in the playroom." - Cathy B.
Be Aware of Where You Put Your Device
Sometimes, the matter of heat is all about your positioning. While the term "laptop" makes it seem like your lap is the best place to use your computer, if your positioning is blocking the vents, it can cause your machine to heat up. Also, while convenient, we don't recommend placing your cell phone in your pocket during the summer. Sunlight and body heat can combine to overheat your device, and if you sweat, it can introduce hazardous moisture into the mix. Always allow your devices to breathe as much as possible during the warmer months. A good rule of thumb is to keep an average of 2-3" of breathing space around your electronics at all times, and never stack them on top of each other.
"I always have water in the fridge to drink, cool showers, keep the house blinds down, and when all else fails, crank the AC." - Carmel D.
Always Have a Backup
No device is foolproof and no plan is either. That's why it's important to back up your data. We all do things like forgetting our phones in our cars or leaving those family vacation pictures on the camera's memory card, and without a backup, a device failure means losing important data. So the best way to keep your cool is to make sure your data is safe in the case of a device failure.
Whether you're sitting at your desk or hitting the beach, keeping cool is an important part of summer, especially for your devices. So use these tips to help you avoid overheating this summer. And thanks to everyone who participated in our summer series. We hope you had as much fun as we did!