At the H.T. Berry Company in Canton, Massachusetts, solving the rebate puzzle begins with participation in a nationwide network of independent distributors. Involvement in the network is how H.T. Berry competes for national accounts and negotiates for rebates, says Chris Nolan, the president of H.T. Berry.

“As an independent, it takes a little bit of the onus off of us, to have an organization that meets with our key suppliers and our large suppliers and negotiates for rebates,” Nolan says.

Rebates at H.T. Berry are handled by the purchasing and supplier relations department, but the company’s ERP software allows leadership throughout the organization to diligently track rebates. The rebate software allows members of the company’s management to have regular discussions about strategies involving purchasing and promotions as it relates to rebates, Nolan says.

“It’s big for our profitability, there is no question about it,” Nolan says. “It’s a big part of how you go to market. Rebates are important, but you want to balance the pricing, the rebate, the overall strategy and the focus of the company. It’s a big part of what we do and is very important to us.”

Because of the critical nature of rebates and the vigorous reporting the company relies on, H.T. Berry analyzes and invests in its distribution software on an annual basis. The result typically is a tweaking of a report or a drilling down for more data in a report, all in the name of uncovering where the company is missing profit, says Nolan.

“As a distributor today in this competitive environment…you would really be missing the boat if you didn’t invest in reporting software,” Nolan says. “It’s an investment for the future and it’s just as important as building a warehouse addition, quite frankly.”

Nolan says the software used to track rebates, and in general, to run the company has evolved over the last 15 years, calling the changes “mind boggling.” The need for software to calculate and track manufacturer rebates has heightened during the last three to five years because growth incentive rebates are the new norm in the sanitary supply distribution industry.

“At the end of the day we look at how selling new products is going to flow to the back end of our profitability,” says Nolan. “If we really hit the number on growth, we are going to get paid ‘X.’ The computer can show you that growth now.”

Brendan O’Brien is a freelance writer based in Greenfield, Wisconsin. He is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.

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Rebate Tracking Software Saves Time