To automate an RTO store or not to automate that is the question. Well up to 2 years ago if you asked me this question, I would have answered that there is not any RTO that is on a manual system. To my wildest surprise I was wrong. It amazed me to find that there are quite few RTO stores that still use the Customer manual card and Inventory cards to keep track of their operation. Their automation is limited to an electric calculator. Yet there are others who uses RTO software along side logging manually every transaction that they do.
When I interviewed several of those store owners I found that the most common facts are as follows:
• We don’t want computers to replace our people, we are a people operation.
• We are afraid to lose touch with our clients; our customer’s depend on our person to person relationship.
• We are waiting for the right time.
• We are waiting for the super computer to be invented, every day there is new and better technology and we are waiting for it to level off.
• We are waiting for the industry to have a one software standard.
• The technology is too confusing for me.
• I am not sure that it is worth the investment.
• If I can do it manually, why do I need automation?
• Well, I talked to other companies that are using different types of RTO software and none of them are happy.
So to respond to some of those questions we must distinguish the facts of automation from the myth.
Automation, will replace my employees, and we will lose personal relationship with our customer in the process.
Automation will not replace your employees, as a matter of fact in some larger organizations the creation of a new job as well as department may be necessary to take full advantage of your automation process.
New Departments may be required such as MIS (Management of Information System). IT (Information Technology).
New personal such as IT/MIS manager Database Administrator, Computer operator, Database entry may also be necessary, the list goes on as fare as your dollars can.
Automation will not let you lose the personal touch with your customer. As a matter of fact it will help you get closer relationships with your customer by helping you better understand his/hers needs and wants, by helping you to deliver faster solutions to your customers.
Just imagine the wealth of information that you will have available at your finger tips. By a push of a button, you will be able to find, organize, and send birthday wishes, or do all you’re promotional mailing.
We are waiting for the right time.
There is no better time than the present, the faster you will implement the new technology the faster you would reap the benefits.
There is a super computer that will solve every problem.
Every computer is a super computer in the hand of the knowledgeable user.
Every day there is new and better technology and we are waiting for it to level off.
The technology will never level off, every minute there is new invention, every day there is a new version release to software. It is an never ending business.
The technology is too confusing for me.
In most RTO environment the 1st step is to implement the automation process in its simplest form. Use it get to know it and grow up with it as you discover the joy and the benefit of it. Just like any other business, start small and grow big. If you need help, seek advise from other or hire a private consultant, to help you make the initial decision.
I am not sure that it is worth the investment.
The fact is computers do the same thing a man does, but faster and more accurate and organized. With a little investment you will be able to get a better grip on your streaming data, from customer information to inventory control to shrinkage control. The list goes on.
Well I talked to other companies that are using different types of RTO software and none of them are happy.
If all customers of a software vendor are totally satisfied with what they have, then watch out, there is something wrong. We tend to ask for more and more as our needs arise and the software vendor is out there to respond to that. Also, the ever growing federal, state, and counties law changes. The more we educate ourselves in the industry, the more we will demand of the software vendor. It is a love hate relationship. You may be confused or unable to understand how to fully utilize your software. If this is the case, it is time to seek help and training.
In conclusion it is defiantly worth every penny that you spend in your operation automation. Just look around you, you will quickly discover, that in order to grow you will have to automate.
In my next article I will talk about hard-ware selection and implementation.
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