Marine Store

Vigilant provides optimum advantage for marine store management

Business invoicing, inventory control and accounting software allows Dean Marine to analyze trends and make solid strategic decisions

by Andy Shaw

It was just one of 3,000 marine accessories and gifts tracked in the store’s Vigilant program. But punching that particular sale into Vigilant was particularly memorable that summer day. “It was a part from a relatively hard-to-find line we carry that was bought by the skipper of a 36-foot sailboat that had sailed here from Denmark,” recalls Dean McCaughey, owner of Dean Marine, located in Cobourg, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Since 1989, boaters from all corners of the Great Lakes and beyond have tied up at Cobourg’s neat municipal harbor and dropped into Dean Marine. Every new shackle, life jacket, brass lamp, or nautical book they’ve bought has been faithfully recorded, acted on, and stored by Vigilant. “We tried to keep things simple and Vigilant allowed us to do that. We organized our inventory into just nine basic categories of items we stock regularly plus one more category for special orders,” explains Liz McCaughey, Dean’s partner both in life and business.

As a result, when Liz, Dean or any of the other four employees enter a sale, Vigilant updates the store’s complete financial picture. At the moment of each sale, Vigilant adjusts the general ledger, inventory levels, accounts receivable and any other account the sale affects. “Also, at the end of the day, we can print out all our sales for that day and see exactly where we stand,” Dean reveals. “Vigilant is also very helpful to us at the end of the year,” adds Liz.

We can see what has been selling well and what hasn’t. You may think you know that intuitively. But when you see the figures in black and white, the numbers can surprise you.

At one time, Liz and Dean had considered dropping all their lines of nautical gifts and concentrating on what appeared to be the more profitable boat hardware. But with Vigilant they could produce a report that showed the margin of profitability on all items. And, as the McCaugheys saw it, it would not be beneficial to do so. The gifts were indeed a profitable aspect of their business and they remained in the store.

Being able to track so accurately what each product and department is making, has given the
McCaughey’s confidence to experiment with other lines. “In a business like this the great bulk of our sales come in the warm months, July and August especially,” recounts Dean. “So this year we decided to add a line of equestrian accessories for people in the area who ride year round. And so far it’s doing quite well.”

Whether by horse or by boat, Dean Marine customers are a clientele on the move. They make most of their purchases with a traveler’s favorite pieces of plastic; credit and debit cards. As a sale is entered, Vigilant’s Point of Sale window asks the sales clerk to indicate the method of payment. When the store doors are closed, a simple keystroke prints out the totals for what’s been sold by cash, check and each of the major credit cards. “It saves us a lot of time because we can reconcile all our sales at the end of the day,” Dean divulges. Saving time is important to both of the McCaughey’s. The two manage to be not just business owners but also public school teachers.

“Vigilant does a lot of useful, even simple, things for us,” Liz admits.

For instance, we keep track of all our suppliers on Vigilant. So when it comes time to re-order them, we can instantly call up the address, the phone and fax numbers, and all the other contact information we have for them.

According to Dean, Vigilant is also easy for staff to learn. So it can be put to work from the first day a business opens. “Considering everything it does for us, and considering it is not very expensive to buy, I would recommend Vigilant to anyone starting out in business,” he concludes. This from an experienced Vigilant user, that for nearly a decade has utilized Vigilant in keeping Dean Marine on an even keel.

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

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