Why PLM Is the
Missing Ingredient For Food and Beverage Innovation

The good news for food and beverage manufacturers is that demand for new products is booming. In fact, according to research from Statista, retailers sold almost $83 billion in one month alone. Sales have held steady at more than $50 billion a month since 2017, and the annual average is only climbing.

The bad news is that in order to keep up with that massive
sales volume, manufacturers have to constantly innovate
and develop new flavors, new packaging, and even entirely
new categories. Every iteration increases complexity, not just in terms of ingredients, but in terms of shipping logistics, marketing, product display, and even supply chain visibility.

This is an exciting time for the industry, but it can also be exhausting trying to keep up with the demand for fresh ideas while still remaining profitable. Fortunately, companies like Revalize have been cooking up their own innovations to help.

PLM: The Base Ingredient For
Better Product Innovation

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a software platform that helps manufacturers manage every aspect of a product, all the way from ideation, to initial design, to market analysis, to eventual retirement. Manufacturers use PLM to organize their product data, streamline development, and speed up workflows. Already incredibly popular with the industrial sector, Revalize offers one of the only solutions specifically designed for the needs of the F&B industry.

Here’s how it can help with product innovation.

Better Data Management For Better Decisions

Revalize serves as a complete end-to-end database for all information and assets relating to a customer’s product catalog. Users can eliminate data silos by storing ingredient lists, formulas, packaging designs, images, marketing materials, sales collateral, test results, compliance certifications, and other information all in a single location, accessible for everyone at the company. When every decision maker involved in a new product’s development has access to information, they have everything they need to make the best decision in their part of the
process.

End-to-End
Project Management

Revalize doesn’t just keep data in one location, it can also create more cohesion between
workflows for a seamless, end-to-end experience. Traditionally, F&B manufacturers might store market research and product data on a cloud drive or file server, leverage an ERP for ingredient sourcing, and use a CRM for sales and customer support management.

This can create an incredibly disjointed workflow that leads to confusion, bottlenecks, and lost opportunity, while increasing time to market and development costs. Revalize can handle all of these product-centric workflows on one platform.

Better Communication Between Departments

Workflow cohesion and visibility helps manufacturers achieve better collaboration between team members, and even whole departments. Information sharing is easy and automatic, facilitating the development of inter-departmental teams that bring their own areas of insight and expertise to innovation and new product development.

For example, marketing managers can tap research and development to better communicate the value of a product. Or the reverse could happen, where sales passes along market insight and product ideas back to design based on what they’ve seen in the marketplace.

Easier Simulations and Product Testing

Without PLM, workers might keep vital information like ingredient lists and formulas locked away in word documents, spreadsheets, or even scrawled on paper. Since Revalize keeps all information in one place, it’s easy to import data into recipe simulations for ultra-fast product testing. Users can also automatically store test results so no time is wasted repeatedly running the same simulations. This allows manufacturers to perfect their recipes in a fraction of the time it would take with manual protocols so innovations can get to market faster.

Revalize offers some of the most cutting-edge PLM capabilities with a solution specifically designed to meet the demands of F&B manufacturers. Want to experience what our platform can do for your business?
Get in touch with one of our experts for a free demo.

Spark Innovation in Your Food And Beverage Business

Consumer values, interests, and — most importantly — taste buds, are rapidly changing. Companies competing in the food and beverage industry need incredible product differentiation just to get noticed in the crowded field. But inspiration and luck alone won’t be enough to succeed.

The key to achieving product differentiation is to embrace change and drive innovation. But this isn’t all intuitive — it requires collecting and managing a massive amount of data. The real question is, how do you handle the product lifecycle systematically?

Advancements in AI and automation technology are changing every industry, and the transformation has even come down to the food and beverage sector. A dedicated product lifecycle management (PLM) platform is the missing ingredient.

The Biggest Opportunities (And Challenges) For Innovation in the Food And Beverage Industry

From advancements in science to simple consumer trends, 2022 is full of change in the marketplace. Here are some of the biggest impacts on F&B manufacturers:

New Food
Safety Regulations

In-house research and development, scientific breakthroughs, food quality, safety, and regulatory compliance have always been critical factors to consider when developing a product. But food regulations are changing in ways that are shifting the market. Case in point, more than 50 countries have recently implemented a tax on sugar, adding an unusual layer of complexity for manufacturers to calculate ROI of their products. The growing consumer demand for clean labels also puts more pressure on companies to maintain supply chain visibility.

Climate Change And Eco-Conscious Diets

Society has been embracing a wellness movement that considers food to be one of the most important factors in overall health. With climate change, that outlook is now extending to include caring for the planet, too. A growing number of consumers are adopting plant-based, and sometimes entirely vegan, diets to mitigate carbon emissions. Right alongside this movement is increased demand for sustainably or ethically sourced food and ingredients. Now, F&B manufacturers are expected to improve traceability, even as they struggle to predict future trends and perfect new plant-based recipes.

Competition From
Startups And Retailers

Finding shelf space in the fast moving consumer goods sector is increasingly daunting as retailers are focused more on microtrends in food products. This makes it easy for disruptive startups to gain a foothold in retail — but also hard to maintain when the trends change. Now, every player in the industry has to keep innovating new products or reformulating them, a process that requires significantly more cost, time, management, and labor.

Creating a Recipe For Success With PLM Technology

Innovation is the only way to thrive, or even survive, in the current F&B marketplace. However, innovation — from product development to proof of concept — is incredibly time  consuming, with a longer idea-to-market pipeline than some trends might even last.

Having complete control over and insight into the product lifecycle is essential for innovation. But these days, that encompasses every aspect of a product, including raw material sourcing, recipe development, optimization, targeting, labeling, and packaging material. Excel spreadsheets aren’t up to the challenge of keeping all that data organized.

PLM helps manufacturers apply a consistent set of process solutions to support collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product information and data across their organization, from the concept stage through to finished product on the market. Food and beverage manufacturers who have the right system and processes can easily respond to quickly changing market demands, which in turn puts them ahead of the competition.

Schedule a demo with a Revalize representative to learn more about how to integrate our PLM technology into your process.

SpecPage
supports

World foods producer
Santa Maria with product
development and information.
CUSTOMER
COUNTRIES

SE,UK

PRODUCTS

SpecPDM, GDSN Guide, Supplier’s Guide

Employees

>2,000

The SpecPDM application platform from SpecPage offers Santa Maria a single database for raw materials, formulas, packaging, labeling and specifications, and a tool to standardize internal approval processes. At any point in time, the latest information about all products is available allowing Santa Maria to react to market demands in a faster and more flexible manner by leveraging existing resources.

Santa Maria is part of the World Foods & Flavoring Division of Paulig Group and has a strong focus on ethnic foods and flavoring. The Santa Maria brand has been a long-standing market leader in the Nordic region (Sweden, Norway and Denmark) and is active in more than 34 markets across Europe. In 2014, the World Foods & Flavoring Division had a turnover of €308 million and approx. 850 employees.

The strategy for the future is crystal clear:

Santa Maria wants to become the leading flavoring and food concept provider in Northern Europe. A fantastic development that stems from a company constantly providing the best in spices and exciting seasonings from around the world. Santa Maria never stops traveling, collecting ideas and inspiration, and cultivating its knowledge of spices.

A journey of success

It all started in Gothenburg in 1911 when Frans Leon Berg opened up a small tea and spice shop. He ran the shop until his death, when the families Nordlund and Falk took over and renamed it to ‘Nordfalks’. In 1946, Armin Mattsson and his colleague, Hugo Lundgren, purchased a share in the company and laid the foundation for what Santa Maria is today. Nordfalks grew, and over time, became the largest spice company in Sweden.

In 1968, Matsson’s son, Lars Olof Mattsson, took over and led the company to achieve a turnover of €854,000 through its sale of spices. When he resigned as CEO 36 years later, Santa Maria generated more than €214 million per year. There were many high points during that period, the introduction of Santa Maria Tex Mex during the ’90s being the most important of all. When Santa Maria introduced this concept, the market for Mexican food in Sweden was rather small. At the time, Swedes ate roughly €7.5 million worth of Tex Mex food per year – a value which today is at €132 million in Sweden alone and €296 million in the Nordic region.

To manage information related to recipe and product development as well as quality control, Santa Maria was using a mix of software tools, an internally-built system as well as Microsoft Office applications. Product data was also handled in different languages to support the local requirements for all target markets, which made it difficult to update and share information internally and externally. For a major producer like Santa Maria, maintaining product data in different departments can result in time-consuming manual processes and limited traceability.

Therefore, Santa Maria recognized the need to make better use of know-how and resources to manage product development, and was looking to identify a single solution that can be implemented across all World Foods & Flavouring Division sites. The decision was made in favor of SpecPage, a global provider of product development and information solutions for the F&B industry and leader in this field.

A central data system
for all production plants

The SpecPDM application platform from SpecPage offers Santa Maria a single database for raw materials, formulas, packaging, labeling and specifications, and a tool to standardize internal approval processes. At any point of time, the latest information about all products is available allowing Santa Maria to react to market demands in a faster and more flexible manner by leveraging existing resources.  Thanks to SpecPDM, we now have a central system for all product data, says Anette Zetterquist, Taste Development Specialist at Santa Maria.  The workflows throughout our division have also been simplified and improved.

As a result, we are developing our products more efficiently and have eliminated laborious paperwork. The SpecPDM software not only assists Santa Maria in managing data for recipes and specifications, calculation and reporting modules have also been implemented.  SpecPDM enables us to simulate recipe variations with different ingredients and nutritional values, providing realistic price calculations at the same time , Zetterquist adds.

Santa Maria – World foods well seasoned

Thanks to SpecPDM, we now have a central system for all product data. The workflows throughout our division have also been simplified and improved. As a result, we are developing our products more efficiently and have eliminated laborious paperwork.

Anette Zetterquist, Taste Development Specialist, Santa Maria

Bridging product lifecycle Management and Enterprise resource planning

Microsoft Dynamics AX is an extremely powerful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application to master core business processes such as purchasing, production and sales. However, to manage company- wide processes and ensure data traceability, other applications need to be set up to handle all the specific business functions that ERP is not able to.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) or Product Data Management (PDM) and ERP systems are complementary tools that can communicate with each other. SpecPDM provides an overview of all projects and portfolios, and allows for optimal synchronization with ERP solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, to maintain data efficiently and safely across a business. While SpecPage’s SpecPDM solution is designed to manage a product from concept, develepment to production, ERP systems support financial planning, warehousing, distribution and reporting. Companies that choose not to bridge their ERP and PLM solutions may not be able to get the full value out of their technology investments.

Santa Maria’s Microsoft Dynamics AX has been integrated with SpecPDM via a standardized middleware interface to exchange master data, prices and recipes bidirectionally. SpecPDM’s information protocol makes any data accessible through the interface making the integration very flexible and easy to maintain. SpecPDM is also linked with Santa Maria’s web platforms to ensure product information is kept up to date. Modifications and extensions, as well as further connections to other applications, can be arranged regardless of release updates of the SpecPDM or Microsoft Dynamics solutions.

It is important that we can utilize our expertise and resources across the World Foods & Flavouring Division. This is why identifying a product specification and development software that is compatible with our existing ERP system was a key factor», explains Zetterquist. The latest product information is now consolidated and readily available in appropriate departments to increase productivity.

System integration and data consolidation share common goals: they aim to eliminate multiple data entry and unnecessary errors, simplify internal processes and improve cross-functional transparency and traceability. Bringing together robust PLM and ERP solutions improves corporate productivity and gives manufacturers such as Santa Maria a competitive advantage in the long term.

Communicating with Distributors and Retailers through GDSN

Before Santa Maria’s seasoning and food products are ready to be introduced into the market, legally compliant product labels, specifications and ingredients lists need to created. SpecPDM, as a centralised master data repository, can be integrated with the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), a network of over 30 certified data pools, to which more than 35,000 companies are connected. This enables Santa Maria to publish and exchange consistent product information – including specifications giving details about nutritional values and allergens – with suppliers, distributors and retailers. With SpecPage’s GDSN Guide, we have a valuable tool at hand that facilitates direct communication with our customers and trade partners. Standardized formats and processes save time and avoid errors when publishing legal product information, and our database is simultaneously refreshed when our suppliers update their specifications, comments Zetterquist.

Directly from the SpecPDM software, product data is prepared, verified and published via SpecPage’s online catalog, the GDSN Guide. Once specifications are loaded into a data pool, they are automatically made available to trade partners rather than sent to them individually – this reduces distribution costs and guarantees consistent data quality. Santa Maria currently publishes product data across six European countries through nine interoperable GDSN data pools; the company can determine which information is sent to each customer. Specifications are standardized according to relevant regulations, however, SpecPage assists Santa Maria in adapting product information to meet specific requirements of target countries or trade partners.

Specifications are created once per Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), unless the product has various formulations or names in different markets.

GDSN is increasingly becoming an industry standard. More robust information and increased data attributes improve the visibility and searchability of products for distributors and retailers as they search the web and their back-end ordering systems.

Collecting legal information from suppliers

Santa Maria is also using SpecPage’s Supplier’s Guide to obtain legally binding product specifications from suppliers, including information about traded goods, raw materials and packaging. Their suppliers capture data online and can attach required certifications according to Santa Maria’s requirements, which can then be shared with the manufacturer at the touch of a button. Although our suppliers need to take time to fill out our specification questionnaires, it will take them less time in the future to update the required information, says Zetterquist. With the help of Supplier’s Guide, Santa Maria receives legally binding product specifications as suppliers provide an electronic signature. Audit requirements are also met thanks to a built-in document management system with integrated data history.

Suppliers record product specifications only once and can even create individual specifications for one product to meet the specific needs of different manufacturing companies.

There is no doubt that an implementation project and data consolidation can bring their own challenges, however, when product development and information solutions are well integrated they provide a quick return on investment. When overall efficiency and data quality are improved, food producers can drive innovation and profitability ensuring long-term success.

As with any technological project, much work went into migrating data from our four previous systems from three different countries, as well as data cleaning. We’re glad to have all information in one place now, allowing us to focus on delivering high-quality flavors and seasoning to our customers, concludes Zetterquist.

Santa Maria – World foods well seasoned

With SpecPage’s GDSN Guide, we have a valuable tool at hand that facilitates direct communication with our customers and trade partners

Anette Zetterquist, Taste Development Specialist, Santa Maria

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READY TO DRIVE BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION?

SpecPDM
assists

World foods producer
Santa Maria with product
development and information.
CUSTOMER
COUNTRIES

SE

PRODUCTS

SpecPDM

Employees

>300

Almondy is a Gothenburg-based company that has been baking and selling frozen cakes to the retail trade, restaurants and catering services for more than 30 years. Its almond bases are inspired by an original Swedish recipe which dates back to the 1890s. With a range of 10 delicious recipes, the bestseller Daim cake, pleases aplenty epicures that want to treat themselves after a spending spree at IKEA.

The Swedish baker has also joined forces with Philadelphia, Cadbury and Toblerone to create unique cakes. Today, just over 75,000 almond tarts are baked every day and sold in some 50 countries.

Innovation is one of Almondy’s main strategies for growth and the bakery invests a great deal of resources in developing new recipes, all of which embrace the same unique concept of delicious, simple and gluten-free. To keep up with its growing operations, Almondy identified the need to introduce an integrated software to maintain and manage data. The decision was made for SpecPage, a global solution provider which specializes in the food and beverage industry. Its SpecPDM application suite offers a central storage and specification system allowing Almondy to access and manage raw materials and recipes including ingredient lists, leveraging these to react to market demands and launch innovative desserts efficiently.

The tool also enables standardized internal processes and cost control, supporting Almondy’s growth and quality strategy.

We wanted to have better and safer control of our raw materials and recipes, comments Sara Nordqvist, Product Development Manager at Almondy. SpecPDM helps us achieve this. Recipe calculations and simulations are automated for the most part, avoiding tedious manual tasks and the risk of errors.

A single solution for
product development

SpecPDM provides a single database for all product information which Almondy can utilize to develop different versions and variants of recipes. Once the compositions of raw materials are recorded in the system, the company can create recipes for half-finished and finished products. Data no longer needs to be recorded several times and gathered from archives, keeping development costs low and ensuring information is always up to date and traceable. Finally, SpecPDM automatically generates the information needed for product labeling, reports and declarations. Of the alternatives we looked at, SpecPDM seemed to fit our need the best, Nordqvist points out.

Almondy – Delicious, simple and gluten-free

We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to find information about our cakes and their ingredients. The automated declaration process that SpecPDM offers reassures us that we can reach this objective and that we comply with current and future rules.

Sara Nordqvist, Product Development Manager, Almondy

Transparent product
information and regulatory compliance

The software not only allows Almondy to fully exploit its R&D potential, but also to easily and safely manage product information. SpecPDM automatically calculates allergen information and nutritional values, and produces ingredient lists and declarations according to regulatory and trade requirements. This is particularly relevant since the EU Food Information Regulation Nr. 1169/2011 came into force in December 2014. The new law requires a minimum font size and clear visual indication of ingredients that could cause allergies or intolerances on the product label.

Reflecting allergen information on the new product labels posed no problem to Almondy, as its cakes do not contain flour and are baked in a dedicated gluten-free site at its factory in Torslanda to prevent cross-contamination.

With SpecPDM, Almondy has a powerful tool available to implement additional regulatory requirements – such as information about food origins and nutritional values – in a simple manner and ensure that its products address the increasing demands of trade partners and consumers. Labels for both new and old recipes have been updated to highlight product specifications. With SpecPDM, this was a simple adjustment, says Nordqvist.

We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to find information about our cakes and their ingredients. The automated declaration process that SpecPDM offers reassures us that we can reach this objective and that we comply with current and future rules, she adds.

Multilingual functionality

The majority of Almondy’s products are sold outside Sweden; product specifications and labels therefore need to be adapted and translated to meet the requirements of the respective target country. SpecPDM helps the bakery lift the burden of customizing specification sheets and ingredient lists, as product data is maintained by default in 27 languages in the system. To support further global roll-out, any language could be added at the touch of a button. This arms Almondy with the necessary data management solution to further expand globally, maintaining its position as one of the fastest-growing frozen dessert brands.

Almondy – Delicious, simple and gluten-free

We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to find information about our cakes and their ingredients. The automated declaration process that SpecPDM offers reassures us that we can reach this objective and that we comply with current and future rules.

Sara Nordqvist, Product Development Manager, Almondy

Automating your Engineering Change Management Process

Implementing an engineering change management (ECM) process is a best practice for any company. Done well, your ECM can optimize design and development, boost productivity, and accelerate your ability to bring game-changing products to market. In other words, the quality of your ECM can directly influence your revenue and your reputation.

But there’s more to an ECM than just setting and forgetting it. Without the right implementation and guidance, an ECM process can lead to bottlenecks, flawed decision-making, higher costs, and increased errors.

Your team might run into duplicate change requests or some requests might fall through the cracks. Supporting documents can go missing when you want to check the background of a certain design change. Or maybe they’re just stored away across a dozen hard drives, CRM and ERP systems, servers, and file shares. Any of these scenarios can make it tough for you to determine what information is up-to-date and what isn’t.

Regaining Control of Your ECM Process

What kind of visibility do you have into your ECM process? How many changes are underway? What deadlines does your team have to meet? What costs are involved? It’s probably hard to say if you can’t view all engineering change requests (ECRs) in one place. Combine this lack of transparency with a slow, manual approval process and it can take ages to make a needed update.

The longer it takes to complete an engineering change order (ECO), from initial concept to launch, the longer your team is diverted from working on new, value-adding projects. While minor ECOs might take a week or less to process, more complex ECOs might take a few weeks. Major ECOs, such as a product line redesign, often take five months or more.

It’s no mystery that many organizations want to sharpen and accelerate their ECM process — it can open the doors to stronger revenue and a competitive edge.

Unleashing Smarter ECM

The basis of a great ECM is a standardized and transparent plan for all engineering changes. Centralized document storage gives your team access to the right information (like CAD and analysis files) so they can make decisions with accurate, complete data.

Approval should be quick and easy while documenting who owns an ECR and who is accountable for completing it. Key metrics should be tracked for continuous improvement. Put these elements together and you’ll reduce errors, improve collaboration, increase productivity, and get ECRs right the first time.

Figure 1. Best practice ECM process with PRO.CEED

PRO.FILE and PRO.CEED are two PLM/PDM tools that can help your team follow ECM best practices and ensure everyone stays on the same page. Here’s how:

Working Toward a Common Goal: Productivity

PRO.FILE and PRO.CEED enable smarter ECM practices through the entire product lifecycle. The results are quicker approvals, faster time to market, higher product quality, cost savings, and a more efficient team. With these solutions, your teams can get started on profitable projects instead of re-doing tasks that weren’t done right the first time.

In today’s complex engineering environment, where leaders must manage multiple teams and multiple projects at once, no other tools help engineering changes go quite as smoothly — or drive more impressive outcomes.

Revalize solutions are designed from the ground up to boost productivity and efficiency. Contact a representative and schedule a demo for you and your team.

Building the Digital Thread

Products never stop changing. Features may pivot during conception and design. Software may evolve in response to customer feedback.

Yet, while this agility is key to product quality, it also produces a high volume of data and documents generated by different systems, such as MCAD, ECAD, ERP, and CRM systems.

Eventually, this data gets trapped in silos, limiting collaboration and productivity. Manually transferring data between systems leads to poor version control and confusion. This can be especially destructive for organizations who need to meet rigorous quality and compliance standards — which demand accurate part numbers, instructional drawings, service reports and other critical information.

The solution is a digital thread woven throughout the product lifecycle that establishes informational relationships across the company.

What do we mean by a digital thread? It’s essentially a product lifecycle database. For each new stage of product development, one source of information is created — a single thread of data each department can use as the source of truth for a product.

Digital threads offer a continuous link that connects concept to design to engineering to validation to production and beyond. With all types of documents digitized and available, different teams that may not work closely together still base their actions on the same information.

This creates a digital product data backbone that links product and dependency knowledge across departments. Whether teams are planning a market launch, managing contracts or mitigating risk, the digital thread ensures they understand the context behind their actions. This is a vital step toward creating smarter strategies and making better, data-driven decisions.

Transcending
Limited Visibility

Some businesses still rely on dedicated department solutions to store their data, which is often the cause of data silos. To get around those silos, forward-thinking manufacturers are using next-gen platforms that offer a central data repository and a separate application design for each department. On top of data collection and organization, these platforms offer full configurability so users can make changes themselves.

The result is a seamless flow of data that ushers smoother product and document lifecycle management. Without a centralized platform, the complexity of modern product development makes it difficult for each department to stay on the same page. By aligning teams like development, design, manufacturing, and customer service, an organization using next-gen platforms can respond nimbly to complaints, reduce waste, and develop more innovative solutions.

Making a Case for Unity

Let’s say customers tell your support representatives that certain product parts are continually malfunctioning. Inventory and asset managers also notice customers frequently order those parts more than expected. Eventually the complaints find their way to the manufacturing manager and they initiate the engineering change management process to update the malfunctioning component.

By the time the product designers and engineering staff learn about the situation, more customers experience the same problem, and what began as a small issue has turned into a major issue. Without a central repository for complaints or comments surrounding a product, each department, from support to production, has to communicate with each other department to find a solution.

With a digital thread, the time it takes to solve a problem like this shrinks. Now, there’s a unified source of all information and a standard process for managing change. The product design team can access customer service records to put those complaints into context. What’s more, they can access all the data they need to take action without having to manually request it from support.

With a digital thread, the time it takes to solve a problem like this shrinks. Now, there’s a unified source of all information and a standard process for managing change. The product design team can access customer service records to put those complaints into context. What’s more, they can access all the data they need to take action without having to manually request it from support.

PRO.FILE and the Future of Manufacturing

To realize these benefits, leading manufacturers are adopting an approach that relies on a single solution like PRO.FILE. With this unified, configurable platform, and our PRO.CEED best practice application packages, organizations can make end-to-end product data management seamless and accessible across all systems.

Users can configure PRO.FILE to meet the needs of each individual organization, leading to faster implementation. Ready-made application packages make process flows simple and efficient. Cloud-based deployment ensures digital product engineering and digital product management can travel with your team, no matter where you are.

Manufacturing first-class products can be challenging — but there’s no reason to leave your teams mired in manual mistakes and siloed data. By weaving a digital thread through the lifecycle of each product, you can help your team work to the best of their ability every day.
Contact a Revalize representative today to learn more about how a connected business is a better business.

Case Study
Johnson Food Service

Johnson Food Service is a full-service mechanical and distribution company that caters to the needs of the commercial food service industry Based In Peoria. IL. with 24 employees. the company has been serving the central Illinois food service community for 30 years 

THE Challenge

Like many food service equipment distributors, the sales team at Johnson found themselves spending much of their sales time sifting through paper catalogs.

“We had probably a 20-foot wall of catalogs,” said John Gleason, certified food service professional and sales rep at Johnson. “When it was time to quote a product for a customer, I had to spend so much time paging my way through the catalogs just to find out who is the rep for that company, how to get a quote from them, and then getting that quote over to the customer. It was a very
slow process.”


Gleason also points out that the team did not have an efficient way to compare manufacturers or models of equipment for their customers.


“It would take an 8-foot table to compare everyone’s specs on a door or cooler,” said Gleason. “And, that’s assuming the catalogs we were using had the most up-to-date information.”


The sales team knew that getting accurate quotes in the hands of customers quickly would help close sales faster – and free up their time to do more selling

THE SOLUTION

The team at Johnson implemented AutoQuotes, the FES industry’s most widely used and trusted software for configuring, pricing, and quoting food service equipment. With a full suite of configure-price-quote, design and data analytics applications, and a real-time database of more than 1M products, AutoQuotes helps dealers and distributors of food service quickly and accurately create and deliver quotes to customers – enabling reps to sell more, faster.

THE OUTCOME

The sales team at Johnson has now been using AutoQuotes for 15 years, and they say it has transformed the way they manage their entire sales process.

“Does the invention of the lightbulb ring a bell?” said Gleason. “Using AutoQuotes changed our entire way of doing business.”

Gleason credits AutoQuotes with several major improvements in their sales processes and outcomes:

Simplified sales processes. With the industry-leading food service product catalog at his fingertips, Gleason says he is able to search for equipment and compare models for his customers in an instant – and with total confidence that he is accessing the most up-to-date product specs, every time

“AutoQuotes simplified my minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour way of doing business,” said Gleason. The ability to quickly create professional quote documents with AutoQuotes – and easily share those with customers – has also taken a significant task off Gleason’s shoulders.


“Rather than making up the quote document as I go along,or trying to come up with a template to present equipment or projects to customers, AutoQuotes puts the information into a professional quote document that I can easily share with the customer,” Gleason says. “This makes my job easier and faster.”

Helped close deals faster. As a service company, Johnson has a built-in customer base that often needs to produce quotes quickly, even on-the-spot, to support sales. For instance, if a Johnson technician is on-site at a service call and determines the repair would be costly, the technician can call the Johnson sales rep and get a quote for a new product almost instantly to help the customer consider their options – and support that sale.

“Before AutoQuotes,” Gleason says, “we would have to tell the customer we would get back to them on the price of a new piece of equipment – and then go back to the office to search our catalogs for the information. AutoQuotes makes these sales especially fast and efficient, and has absolutely helped us sell more equipment this way.”

“AutoQuotes simplified my minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour way of doing business”

– John Gleason

Johnson sales rep

Supported company growth. With less time spent researching and quoting products, the sales team at Johnson can spend more timefocused on what counts – making sales.

“We have grown so much over the years,” Gleason says. “We used to be one sales rep and a few technicians. Now we have a team of 24. AutoQuotes has definitely given our sales team the ability to focus on reaching out to more customers – and
growing the business

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