Vredo Dodewaard is a great example of a typical manufacturing company that achieved international success. Vredo is a manufacturer of self-propelled slurry trucks, slurry injectors and seeding equipment. The MestTracs are delivered throughout Europe, the slurry injector and seeding equipment is distributed globally. Vredo serves 36 countries from its headquarters in Dodewaard with more than 110 employees.
Recently, the Elfskot Product Configurator was implemented at Vredo. We spoke to Marco Bouter, responsible for the sales office at Vredo.
Vredo’s first overseeder was made in the summer of 1976. That summer was so extremely dry that grassland withered and work became almost impossible because of the dry and hard ground. Contractor Ben de Vree from Dodewaard designed the first seeder in the world to bring grass seeds in the soil instead of on the land: The world’s first overseeder was born. “This did not go unnoticed”, says Bouter. When other contractors showed their interest in such a machine, the names De Vree and Dodewaard became linked in the new company name Vredo. “Overseeders are still a core activity of the company, and no longer just for the agricultural sector. The green sector has become very important to us. “Those who regularly watch matches in Wimbledon or in the stadiums of Bayern Munich, Ajax and Real Madrid must have noticed the beautiful grass mats. All of them are due to Vredo overseeders.”
But it did not stop there: At the end of the 1980s, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture obligated the injection of manure. Vredo used the same techniques for a new phenomenon: slurry injectors. Bouter: “This reduces the loss of nitrogen by as much as 70%”. With the production of slurry injectors, manure technology became a new market for Vredo. The product range was completed when Vredo started in 1994 with the production of self-propelled manure trailers. This product was developed because the market was demanding higher capacity and lower soil pressure when manure was injected. These manure machines are quite spectacular: When driving through European lands you can’t miss the gigantic Vredo Trac VT7028. A machine with absurd dimensions, with a length of 11 meters, capacity of 32 cub and a motor of almost 700hp. And a machine that is configured in the sales process with the Elfskot Product Configurator.
The basis for Vredo’s success lies in the Vredo vision, which consists of 3 layers:
Vredo is market leader in overseeders and has the ambition to become market leader for manure technology as well. Vredo notices that there is a lot of demand for its products, but is forced to keep the brakes on the growth: “It is very tempting to use all the opportunities in the market, but we have to be careful that we do not grow out of our jacket. Our good name is due to the reliability of both our machines and our organization and dealer network. If we do not take the time to let these things grow, our reliability will suffer.”
In the coming years, healthy and stable growth is key. Vredo puts a lot of energy into optimizing internal processes and organizing its sales channel. “We make very complex machines. Hence it requires a lot of knowledge from sellers to create error-free orders. In addition -due to the growth of our dealer network- we are dealing with “new” people who have never worked with our machines before. We have always put a lot of time and energy into educating people, but as the complexity is increasing, we notice that we need something smarter.”
The solution was found in a configurator. A traditional, well-known, supplier was selected, and tested accordingly. “But that was actually a bit disappointing. It was a configurator that was harmoniously linked to our ERP but that had little added value for our sales process.” With check marks, an error-free production order could be created, but a sales representative was not guided in selling features at all. “Moreover, that configurator was not visually appealing, we were looking for a solution that worked with images and CAD drawings.”
At that time the Elfskot Product Configurator came into picture. The vision of Vredo and Elfskot matched seamlessly: “The Elfskot Product Configurator turned out to be the best solution, because the knowledge required to sell these complex products can be captured in guided selling techniques.” It used to happen that certain options were not sold because dealers and / or customers did not understand them properly. In the Elfskot Product Configurator options are accompanied by texts and illustrations. “Another big plus was the possibility to upload our existing drawings from Inventor in the 3D configurator without any tricky intermediate steps.”
Vredo’s requirements are all about optimizing both internal processes as well as their sales channel. The Elfskot Product Configurator is the link between sales and production and both sales and production benefit from this. “For us, the biggest win is in the clean-order intake.” Orders from the Elfskot Product Configurator are not only supplied error-free and complete, after which fewer revisions are required because the user / seller with all the product-range features are supported and guided by the configurator. All options are specified with clear illustrations, videos and / or extensive descriptive texts. Previously, it was no exception that after an order was placed, there were still changes. This because it became clear to a customer or dealer which options were served only after an order was accepted. By having this clear as early as possible in the sales process creates a clear and very efficient process.
Users are very enthusiastic. Where sellers previously were forced to go through everything on paper to create an error-free quotation, this process is now managed by the configurator. The time spend can thus be spent on more important matters: the customer! “All relevant options pass by in the configuration process. Our sellers now simply click through the list of choices: “Here you can do this, you can do that.” At first it was just too difficult in practice and you noticed that it was of secondary importance. Of course, the sales pitch will become much stronger if you can show the customer all options and features clearly. “Options are therefore ordered more often.”
Bouter: “What surprised us the most is that we are able to explain such complex machines so clearly.” Another surprise was found in setting up and maintaining the configurator. “We boarded at Elfskot in an early stage, the configurator was still under development. As a result, we had a major influence on the development agenda and were able to contribute practical experience to Elfskot; if both parties agreed that a certain function was not useful then this was immediately processed in the next release of the configurator.” According to Bouter, the result is a super user-friendly, interactive sales tool. The design and maintenance of the product configurator is provided by Vredo by product managers, who are able to manage flawlessly without extensive IT knowledge.
Vredo’s project group had already done a lot of preliminary work before the Elfskot Product Configurator was selected. By doing so, Vredo knew exactly what was required and especially what they did not look for in a configurator. This include images and descriptions of all products available in four languages in ERP. Because of this preparatory work, implementation was quick: “We knew our processes and product structures were already fully documented, which helped us enormously to create the structures in the configurator. When we ran the synchronization with Ridder iQ (our ERP) for the first time, we had all commercial texts and images in our configurator in one fell swoop!”