WEATHER GUARD, a WernerCo brand, is an industry leader in truck and van storage equipment, including truck boxes, drawer units, shelving, cabinets, and racks for trucks, vans and utility vehicles. WEATHER GUARD organizes trucks and vans for greater productivity and provides tools and valuables superior protection against break-ins and weather.
The 2D Configurator Couldn’t Keep Pace
When end users come to WEATHER GUARD’s site searching for van products — such as cargo van shelving, mounting kits or van roof racks — seeing is believing. In order to determine the right fit and customized combination of products, WEATHER GUARD had been using a 2D configurator. The solution’s performance had peaked and wasn’t keeping pace with users’ requirements. This led to the need to add new vehicles and van products to a system that was difficult to update.
“We have a unique product line in that it requires exact specifications when doing custom fits for commercial van interiors and we wanted to give end-users and distributors a powerful 3D visual tool,” said Stacy Gardella, Vice President of Brand Marketing with WernerCo. “There was a huge void in the market and we wanted to fill the gap.”
Top Three Configurator Requirements
The number one priority for WEATHER GUARD was that the configurator had to be 3D in order to provide an extremely realistic view of an installed van product package. Secondly, long-term sustainability was a must, with the solution developed in a way that integrated with other business systems. Specifically, the company wanted to be able to leverage data within its Product Information Management (PIM) system, allowing seamless additions of new SKUs or vehicles.
“It was critical that the van configurator could be maintained and updated by anyone within the company,” said Pete Robinson, Manager of Engineering Systems with WernerCo. “We were after longevity and ease of use while bringing an intuitive and engaging experience to end users.”
“Much More Than a CAD Automation System”
WEATHER GUARD was introduced to DriveWorks Pro at SOLIDWORKS World. The company then reached out to Fisher Unitech, who quickly facilitated a demo. The DriveWorks demo of the custom trailer configurator gave Werner insight into what was possible with its end-users’ vans.
“What I knew of DriveWorks was that it was a CAD automation system,” said Robinson. “But, once we started exploring the product, it became very obvious that it could do much more —reaching into our existing business systems to reuse data that could change how we connect with end-users and distributors to drive more sales.”
WEATHER GUARD got internal buy-in to move ahead with a pilot and Fisher Unitech developed a Proof of Concept to demonstrate the ability to meet WEATHER GUARD’s specific requirements, such as being able to give users visibility into previous configurations. WEATHER GUARD decided to move ahead with deployment.
All Hands on Deck for Scoping “Boot Camp”
The next step was to get Fisher Unitech and key stakeholders from WEATHER GUARD, including engineering, product development, IT and marketing, in the room for a project “boot camp.” This group walked through product training and brainstorming solution wishlist items that could be broken out into several deployment phases.
Fisher Unitech and WEATHER GUARD also visited one of the company’s largest distributors, touring the facility to see van installations. During this visit, it became clear that while it was critical to provide a 3D customization experience, the system needed to serve as a lead generation tool — dramatically reducing lead and engineering time to boost sales.
“The most important part of the week was the focus on scoping the project, and gaining consensus about what we were going to deliver,” said Robinson. “Fisher Unitech helped facilitate that discussion and did an excellent job of setting expectations and helping to develop a very detailed scope document with priorities for phase one.
Fisher Unitech “Taught Us How to Fish”
WEATHER GUARD credits the Fisher Unitech team as being the biggest asset for this deployment and a key part of the overall success. “Many technology providers and consultants we’ve worked with propose a solution but hold onto information to keep us coming back for service and support,” said Robinson. “Fisher Unitech stood apart for the company’s willingness to teach us how to fish, giving us the tools, support, and knowledge to manage the system on our own.”
Success Metrics to Measure ROI
With WEATHER GUARD’s past van configurator, a user-submitted configuration would take up to three days to be assigned to a distributor. However, distributor feedback revealed that not acting on leads within the first four to eight hours can mean lost business. WEATHER GUARD wanted to be able to send referrals to distributors immediately, creating a viable lead pool to close more deals.
As a result of the DriveWorks deployment, configuration requests are now immediately sent to a distributor for follow up, and the company has gained visibility into the complete lead lifecycle. The opportunity is captured in Salesforce, allowing WEATHER GUARD to track status all the way through to close, accurately capturing sales dollars.
“The speed of DriveWorks is critical because it enables distributors to get a lead within minutes and allows us to see when the prospect was contracted, quoted and closed,” said Robinson. “Plus, we’ve dramatically reduced our engineering time, saving at least one full day of labor per configurator request received.”
DriveWorks Drives Annual Sales
WEATHER GUARD has taken an engineering tool and evolved it into a lead generation and sales tool that allows stakeholders to know exactly how much revenue is coming through the configurator to measure ROI.
The company is relying on DriveWorks to increase completed configurations, boost distributor referrals and drive sales—anticipating a five percent increase in annual sales as a result.
“Our configurator lets us directly interact with end-users, create referrals for distributors and help them visually sell WEATHER GUARD’s van products more effectively,” said Gardella. “DriveWorks is not just an engineering automation tool, but a sales-driving and revenue generation system for our company.”
About the Author
Christa Prokos is a marketing manager at Fisher Unitech. She researches and writes about the latest business trends and technologies impacting manufacturers, including 3D printing, SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD design and product data management tools, product lifecycle management, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. Christa has worked as a high tech marketing and communications professional since 2000. You can follow her on Twitter: @ChristaProkos.