ROI in Progress

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Unifirst is already seeing returns on its CRM investment, and is only in phase two of its implementation. The workwear and uniforms supplier, in Wilmington, MA, began its CRM pilot more than a year ago. The goal was to provide its 500 sales reps and managers a solution that would work in the field to perform reporting, account updating, and lead generation. The company, which had $579 million in revenue for 2002, selected SalesLogix and Vaultus Mobile Sales for SalesLogix running on Hewlett-Packard's iPAQ handheld devices. Unifirst rolled out phase one at six locations with 21 sales reps using the mobile solution and seven sales managers using SalesLogix on their laptops. The company is currently in phase two (the solution has been rolled out to two regions with 100 reps and 20 managers), and Unifirst's SFA business project manager, Jerry Messenger, says that it has already seen benefits. Although he doesn't have specific numbers yet, he says the results include dramatically increased sales rep productivity and job satisfaction, marked efficiencies at both the field and sales management levels, and significantly reduced costs. Previously Unifirst used an inefficient, aging mainframe-based data collection system that required all 400 sales reps and 100 managers in 130 locations to fill out paper-based lead forms by the end of the month that were sent to a central repository in San Antonio, TX. The prospects were entered into a database and reports were generated. However, reps often missed the deadlines or forms were lost or omitted and, depending on the location, 50 percent to 60 percent of calls were past due. According to Messenger, since using the new system that has been cut to 10 percent. "That is huge," he says. "And it's because the reps have all the information and history going out the door. Most reps were hesitant at first but now they all say, 'Don't ever take this away from me.' Now they are making warm calls not cold calls." Other ROI includes a dramatic drop in mail costs. Messenger estimates that Unifirst will save $120,000 per year just on postal costs. He also says that the employees who had been doing data entry for the sales reps have been reallocated to qualifying prospects. He doesn't have any exact figures yet about how the change has translated into sales, but Messenger expects the impact on the bottom line will be dramatic. The final phase, due to be completed by the end of this year, will bring the total to more than 500 users. --Lisa Picarille
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