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France Gendron had a dream. The Controller of Groupe Deschênes wanted to automate and centralize a timeconsuming,manual and decentralized invoicing process. With yearly volumes of nearly a million envelopes, she needed to get monthly statements and invoices out to customersquicker while improving effi ciencies and reducing costs.
One of Canada’s 50 Best-Managed Companies, Groupe Deschênes is a major distributor of products for the underground water services, plumbing, fire protection, HVAC and electrical sectors. With more than 1,300 employees and annual sales exceeding $500 million, the Montreal-based business has 98 cross-country outlets to serve its industrial, commercial and residential customers.
“I wasn’t even sure complete automation was possible,” remembers France, “but it was my dream.” With each of the company’s eight profit centres processing the mail individually, France knew there were inefficiencies. Six operated completely manually, with staff printing, folding, inserting and stamping envelopes by hand. One centre used an old folder and the eighth had a small folder inserter that could only handle three sheets. And with some statements running 50 pages, it was expensive, labour-intensive and time-consuming work. France estimates it cost the equivalent of two full-time employees to get the mail out each year.
“Neopost’s solution gave us complete confidence that every customer would get the correct documents in their envelopes every time,” says France. Equally important to the company’s controller were the costsavings. “We used to spend $15,000 per quarter on postage,” she remembers. “Now it’s down to $10,000. That’s an immense 33% savings.”
Automation is another huge benefi t. Computers at the eight profit centres now begin sending their data to head office on Friday afternoons and PrintMachine starts printing statements and invoices Mondays at 7 a.m. so when the operator arrives at 8:30, she can start running the DS-200. “I trust the job will be printing when I get to work on Monday morning,” says Lucie Boissonneault.
One of the most significant but completely unexpected benefits of the Neopost solution was its impact on Groupe Deschênes’s employees. “I enjoy my job even more now,” says Lucie. “Doing the mail is fun, fast and high-tech. PrintMachine and the DS-200 do much of the work for me so I can spend more time on other interesting jobs.” “All of our employees who used to process the mail are doing more value-added work now,” says France. “They are happier and so are we. Motivation and productivity are higher than ever.” And those million statements and invoices are all processed by Lucie now. What used to take the equivalent of two full-time employees a year is now done in just one day a week. Moreover, it’s done on one printer instead of eight, another cost-saving France points out. “Plus it’s easy to use,” adds Lucie, “both the software and the hardware.”
France also appreciates PrintMachine’s forecasting powers. The dashboard look shows her day-to-day purchasing trends – which customers are buying what – and helps with reordering and stocking in-demand products, as well as selling overstocked inventory.
She refl ects on how far Groupe Deschênes has come since she first saw the Neopost demo. “So often, it comes down to service. We had some pretty high expectations after seeing Sylvain’s phone fi x and we are still getting the high level of service we expected. It’s not just the pre-sale; it’s the ongoing post-sale service that keeps us happy.” France and Lucie were thrilled when Neopost was able to add another layer to its hardware and software solution with custom furniture and cabinetry.
“We wanted to create a soundproof mailroom within the main office area,” remembers France. “We didn’t want to isolate Lucie and have her working in the basement. She’s a vital part of our team.” “My mailroom is beautiful,” says Lucie. “It’s high-tech and quiet and everything I need is within reach.” “Our dream was complete automation,” smiles France, “and thanks to Neopost, our dream is now our reality.”