Professional Datasolutions Inc. (PDI) offers a wide array of services to assist customers in taking advantage of PDI/Enterprise, a complete network-centric software system that allows convenience, wholesale petroleum and foodservice operations to do business electronically. It was designed with input from more than 250 PDI customers.
When choosing any backoffice software provider, both Quinn Ricker, director of operations for Ricker’s Convenience Stores and Ben Jatlow, director of information technology for High’s Dairy Stores, advise retailers to do their due diligence by speaking to upwards of five retailers before making a purchasing decision.
This method gave both chains an earful on what was working—and not working—for their peers, and led both Ricker’s, which has 49 company-operated stores in Indiana, and High’s Dairy Stores, which has 70 locations in Baltimore and Maryland, to confidently choose PDI.
Technology in Hand
High’s Dairy Stores first met with PDI in 2006, when PDI/Enterprise was just coming to market and found it was far more sophisticated than other options it had considered. By the end of 2008 the chain had completely rolled out PDI/Enterprise and PDI Store Assistant, which operates on a handheld scanner used for inventory controls and integrates with PDI’s backoffice system, at all of its stores.
“You get a new clarity to your stores,” Jatlow said. “You can see these tiny little grains of data or you can wrap it all up and see the bottom line. There are just tons of levels where you can look into store data.”
The access to the data helps the chain tackle challenges more quickly. “There are no more questions or assumptions,” Jatlow said. “When you have a challenge at your store, just ask, ‘what information do I need to solve this problem?’ and you just pull it up on the computer and you have it.”
Ricker’s decided to add PDI’s products and services to ensure accuracy in its numbers. Before rolling out PDI in the March 2008, the company was trying to piece different modules together from various suppliers.
“I felt like we had too many systems from different companies that we were trying to force to work together that weren’t. Through PDI we have been able to be confident our numbers are coming out correct,” Ricker said.
Ricker described PDI as a “one-stop shop for everything you need to do in your business.” What’s more, the solution integrated well with Ruby-Sapphire Topaz, the POS system Ricker’s uses.
“It’s basically a plug and play from the POS integration side of it,” Ricker said.
PDI also helped Ricker’s reduce labor hours. Last year, Ricker’s acquired the Indianapolis market from BP, and while the ampm franchises have a proprietary system, the company put in PDI to compliment it.
“We had 27 people and 29 company operated sites before the acquisition. Now we have 49 company operated sites and 23 people on our corporate staff, so we were able to almost double the size of our company and, through the efficiencies PDI gave us, we were able to reduce headcount,” Ricker said. “We found through labor savings and through better controls on our inventory shrinkage we were able to pay for PDI in one year or less.”
PDI’s support does not stop with software integration. High’s Dairy also finds PDI’s technical services helpful. “Whereas most companies have an IT department of 6-12 people, we do it with only a handful and the rest we outsource through PDI’s hosting services,” Jatlow said.
PDI also provides a customer support team. “It’s a phenomenal company,” Ricker added. “They’re wonderful to work with. Their people are passionate about our industry and know our industry well, and they add a lot of value to our company.”