RBI is realizing their own potential through the power of Zoho, with the help of ZBrains.
Rack Builders Inc. (RBI) came to ZBrains in need of help with Sales/Implementation and Manufacturing. Their sales team had to do a better job following up with customers and tracking down leads, while their Manufacturing team lacked a solid tracking system of where things were in the process. Zoho CRM was therefore key, coupled with a custom quoting module through Zoho Creator. According to Gust Gianos, a Structural Engineer with RBI, “We’re in the middle of getting everything working, but we’ll be branching out into Finance and adding to the Creator side with a custom order processing system as well.”
Before discovering Zoho and ZBrains, RBI was in dire need of help with their Sales team and Manufacturing team. Picky clients needed details changed on a dime. This caused many headaches for RBI, who had to comb through numerous disconnected pages and applications to make the requested changes. It made it very challenging to respond to the customer quickly, to the company’s detriment.
RBI began 10 years ago, spinning off from a company called Konstant after Konstant changed their business model. The company is headquartered in Quincy, Illinois and maintains two offices for Engineering and Sales in Atlanta, GA, and Chicago, IL, respectively.
Gust Gianos works on a daily basis with existing customers to meet their demands. He designs the storage rack structure, puts the pieces together via a quoting module, and sends the request to the customer. Additionally, he processes orders, effectively taking everything RBI will provide to the customer, modifying it, and providing drawings to those customers so they know exactly what to expect.
The company has grown gradually since its inception in 2009. “When we began there only a handful of people in the operation, with one or two working for sales and engineering. Our manufacturing facility employed 30-40 people at the time. Now we operate with about 15 people in engineering and sales, and 200 total employees,” explains Gust.
At the center of RBI’s problems was a reluctance to bring technology into the fold, an issue that pervades the manufacturing industry as a whole. Industrial racking is known for being pretty rigid and traditional. According to Gust, “Change, especially jumping into a new system that covers everything, is difficult to do. It’s an ongoing challenge we deal with.”
Improving communication and handling tracking info better were two main focal points. These issues were worsened by the two very different operational styles of RBI’s two main offices. “The two work styles lead to a lot of problems because one is trying to advocate for the customer, and the other is gearing towards the manufacturing side and the protection of the business. [This results in] a lot of warring between the offices,” said Gust.
As previously noted, RBI frequently works with clients who change gears at a moment’s notice. Often their product is installed in a new facility, which results in numerous tweaks and adjustments. Gust expounded, “We will receive an order with ABCD. When it’s time to ship and install they say ‘We can’t put in A because we are doing something else in section A. You need to send us completely different things.’ That rapid switch in Excel and sheets of paper is hard to execute. That’s where we are hoping to get a lot of positive impact from Zoho.”
Finding a Solution
RBI spent a total of 9 months broadly searching for a complete solution to their problems. The RBI team briefly looked into Sage and Microsoft, but both of these larger companies had the same issue, according to Gust: “They were pretty much what you’d expect: you had to work your business into their model rather than the other way around.” Finally, they considered one other competitor in the material handling industry, but that company was too early in their software development process to show RBI a proper demo, which turned them away.
ZBrains and RBI had a handful of meetings to determine a solid solution specifically on the Zoho platform. ZBrains CEO James Converse even visited RBI for a Business Process Analysis to interview everyone involved. Those specific Zoho consulting meetings helped RBI discern how to get the most value for their prospective Zoho implementation. What sold RBI was ZBrains’s process, which illustrated a plan of attack, complete with ten planned improvements.
Gust spoke positively about the visit, “To have someone come from an external point of view and say ‘Well, why are you doing it this way?’ shook a lot of people, in a positive sense. [It’s easy to] get stuck in a rut…to accept what is given to you, and it works. I remember sitting down with James, having him in the room talking to other people. Everyone was questioning: ‘Why are we doing it that way, we could be doing it a completely different way if we had taken the time to ask if anyone knows how to do it better.’”
Implementation & Results
Within 2 months RBI was utilizing Zoho CRM, while going live on Creator took a bit longer (8-9 months). According to Gust, Zoho provides the most value in Sales. “We’re currently testing a work order module. An order is released to the factory and someone builds an individual work order for a part with multiple sub-components. This will open a tremendous number of doors for us. We will see a lot of benefits, and avoid the minor errors associated with copying and pasting.”
RBI also uses Zoho Books for accounting, coming from QuickBooks. They began using Marketing, dabbled in Zoho Motivator, and use Cliq for internal communication.
Gust spoke about the unique knowledge base of ZBrains, “Although ZBrains is listening to what we say we need, there’s also the expertise we’re getting from them of ‘Yeah you’re asking for this, but really what you need is something a step back.’”
Speaking on the Record
“I would recommend Zoho, because they have pretty much every single app you can imagine. Sometimes [it feels like] too many. Having ZBrains there to suggest using one app over another has been pretty helpful in directing energy into the right source,” stated Gust.
He holds ZBrains in high regard, “I highly recommend ZBrains, especially coming from a FileMaker system. The developer we used was unresponsive, to say the least. If our system went down we were stranded for several hours. It often greatly impacted our ability to function. Working with ZBrains hasn’t felt like working with some external company looking for a paycheck. They want to improve how we do business.” He continued, “The luxury of working with ZBrains is: if we try to find an answer with Zoho and we don’t get the response we want, we can go to ZBrains. They either know the answer or know where to find it.”