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Vigilant: An application for appliances

Warrington Appliance Centre found inventory control, Point of Sale, customer and financial management and control, all in Vigilant Solutions

by Andy Shaw

In Warrington, England accounting software from Vigilant Solutions is enabling a family-owned home appliance business to grow with the rapidly changing times. Not much more than a decade ago, Warrington was a grimy industrial town heavily dependent on its manufacturing and beer-brewing industries. Almost overnight, the breweries have all gone and the faint soapy airs from a Lever products plant on the edge of town are the only reminder of Warrington’s “old economy” past. Designated a “New Town” by the British government, Warrington has repositioned its economy to take better advantage of its ideal business location. Sitting between the industry-rich cities of Liverpool and Manchester and just off one of Britain’s major motorways, Warrington has become a communications hub. Huge warehousing facilities, business parks, and increasing numbers of attendant service businesses now give Warrington’s growing population of 150,000 people new non-polluting prosperity. And more money to buy appliances.

“We kind of fell into the business,” explains Robert Greenwood who owns and runs the Warrington Appliance Centre Ltd. store on the town’s main street along with sons Paul and Simon. “We were in the furniture and antique business (and still are) and the owner of the appliance store next door simply quit one day and left town. So without knowing much about the business we took it over.”

The one thing the Greenwoods did know they learned from the beer business. Although the breweries had left town, their pubs had not. “I was impressed by the fact that the pubs were using computers to keep track of their inventory,” says father Greenwood, “and we wanted
something that would do the same for us.”The Greenwoods also recognized that they couldn’t expand to two stores (and now three) without a more careful watch over their cash.

we asked our accountant to find a computer package that would give us both inventory and point-of-sale control,” says Greenwood.

And even though it wasn’t very well known yet in Britain, she found Vigilant and said it would be the very best for us.

Now Vigilant’s Point-of-Sale — Accounting & Inventory Control package means the Greenwoods have real-time updating after each sale both at the Appliance Centre in Warrington and also now in the nearby town of Norwich at their new appliance outlet run by Robert Greenwood’s sister. The Vigilant package allows all users to keep receivables, inventory and general ledger current.

That’s the kind of control that has the Greenwoods thinking they can manage further expansion. If they do add more stores, they will be taking a look at Vigilant’s Multi-Site Polling software that adds on to the basic package as a plug-in module. It enables the transfer of financial data between a head office and its branches. With Multi-site Polling headquarters can effectively manage the inventory, the productivity of sales staff, and the general efficiency of far-flung sites.

But even with expansion on the horizon, the Greenwoods will not forget the core competitive edge of their business and how Vigilant helps keep it sharp. Such evidence of new buying patterns means Vigilant is also helping the Greenwoods keep closer to
new customers. “We find that younger people are far more inclined these days to buy new and scrap the old rather than try to repair it,” says Simon.

Indeed, anyone of the Greenwoods could sit down at one of the Appliance Centre’s three networked workstations and tap into Vigilant for a wealth of information about the buying and payment habits of all its customers. It even helps them manage their well-connected but scarce human resources.

can tell from the point-of-sale data when our peak periods are during the day,” says Robert Greenwood.

Greenwood readily admits the family is only using a small portion of the functionality of Vigilant’s basic package.

But we are very keen to learn more because we know that even in the limited way we use it now, it is an excellent product.

Andy Shaw is a freelance writer, broadcaster and international journalist with articles in many business and technical publications.

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