About Clinton Hardware
Clinton Hardware, in Clinton, Maryland, opened as an independent store just after the end of World War II. David Billman’s family bought the business in 1963 and has operated it ever since. Today, David is the sole proprietor of the store, which draws customers from all over southern Maryland and the greater Washington D.C. area. It has a strong reputation for caring, extremely knowledgeable customer service associates and was recently honored as one of the top 10 hardware stores in the state.
The store does about $1 million in annual sales and holds approximately 19,000 products. In addition to its typical hardware lines, Clinton Hardware is a home chef’s delight with a wide variety of grills, smokers, indoor and outdoor cookware, and a plethora of delicious rubs, sauces and marinades.
Do It Best Corporation was founded in 1945 in Fort Wayne, Indiana as Hardware Wholesalers, Inc. Today, the company is the second largest home improvement co-operative in the industry.
“I have higher customer counts and higher sales. I know its happening because it’s right there [on the dashboard] in front of me every morning.”
Clinton Hardware joined Do It Best in 2000. The business used the co-op’s point of sale system until 2007 and then moved to a third-party system when Do It Best discontinued its point of sale offering. David’s store operated on that system for close to 10 years, but he felt it had become too costly and unwieldy, and he wasn’t happy with the support he received.
With increasing competition from big-box stores and a desire to improve his store operations, David began looking for a new digital business platform to help him reduce operating costs and simplify his processes. He felt he was paying too much in monthly fees for a system and support that wasn’t doing the job. A Do It Best Regional Representative recommended he look to Paladin Data Corporation.
Paladin configured the exact software solution David needed to improve his operations and grow his business and deployed two EMV-enabled credit card processing terminals, a pair of receipt printers and a RF gun. Paladin is fully integrated with Do It Best and many other suppliers through EDI, which makes ordering, tracking sales and inventory management a breeze. A little over a year since the change, David loves the direction his business has taken.
“With my old system, you had to be a computer genius to do anything in it. With the system I have now, Paladin, I can do by myself.
I have full confidence in it keeping my store stocked but not over-stocked. I love it.”
David now has location codes for most of his store and they allow him to improve sales by eliminating inventory that doesn’t sell. Mapping the store also allows David to better track his key departments and easily reorganize when he adds new products. Clinton’s plumbing and paint departments are strong, but so too are lawn and garden and his outdoor grilling sections during the summer months.
Paladin’s special orders and account management features have also improved Clinton Hardware’s cash flow by automating the processes. What was once a haphazard system of recording special orders is now simplified, organized and foolproof.
“Our process before was a hand-written note. Maybe it gets ordered, maybe it doesn’t,” David says. “Now, we use the Paladin special order system. I have five special orders coming in this week. They’re paid for up front. The system prints out a receipt. It automatically puts in a (purchase order) where I just go in and hit confirm/buy. I know that special order item is ordered. It’s paid for. It’s clearly printed on the receipt the item has a 20% restocking fee.
“Before, we’d order something for somebody off our note and they would forget about it or say, ‘I just don’t need it anymore.’ With this system, with the order paid for up front, 99.9% of the time if they order it, they’re taking it. Paladin’s special-order system is a wonderful tool. We take extreme advantage of because we’re making people happy.”
Paladin also allows David to better serve his landscaping and building contractor clients. Their invoices and monthly statements are generated automatically. For some customers who allow it, those statements are transmitted digitally, which saves David the time and money it takes to generate a paper bill and mail it out.
Automating business processes eliminates most routine tasks, smooths operations and reduces errors, but ultimately it allows merchants to focus on their business and frees up time to spend with their customers.
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“I spend 95% of my day on the sales floor within earshot of the counter and this system allows me to do that. It allows me to learn my customers’ names, Everything with Do It Best is seamless. Everything Paladin does, it does it well. It is an accessible system in which the average Joe can get in there and implement the tools that are in it. It’s easy. It does everything.
We’re putting a conscious effort into this place and Paladin is getting us to where we want to be, and it’s helping us track the changes in our store. I love what this system is doing.”