Interview with Crik-IT subscriber Jim Merkel from Jøtul North America

Tell me a little about your business, Jim. 

I’ve been at Jøtul for 24 years. I started as a Field sales rep for 5-6 years and then I was offered a sales manager position. Basically, I sell warmth; wood stoves, gas stoves and fireplace inserts. We sell strictly through specialty retail.. some direct, some two-step dealers.  

What is the business problem you were trying to solve that led you to Crik-IT?

Crik-IT is the answer to my prayers.  What led us there was trying to find a vehicle to get to dealers, to give answers to questions from dealers in real time. Especially because we’re on the east coast and some dealers are out in California and Canada, we’re dealing with time zones. We needed something where dealers could check inventory, check accounts and get product availability at any time.

Sometimes we refer to Crik-IT as a virtual account manager. There are times when you can’t talk to a customer even when information is still needed. The customer is going to want to know now if a product is available and they want to know quickly. Crik-IT allowed us to do all that.

How has using Crik-IT helped your business?

Crik-IT has evolved over the years. Now dealers can do direct order entry through Crik-IT. Especially when inventory is tight, Crik-IT will make sure to allocate the product to that order.

Crik-IT saves time for our tech support staff who process warranty claims, for our account managers, and for our sales reps.

What’s your favorite feature on Crik-IT?

Crik-IT is a great sales management tool. My favorite feature is direct order entry, allowing dealers to submit warranty claims and allows dealers to track process of warranty.

Do you use Crik-IT?  What do you use it for? Does it help you sell?

You will not get me to do this job without Crik-IT. Reports that used to take me a good hour and a half to gather data… it’s down to seconds. It’s an incredible tool.

Do your employees use Crik-IT?  What do they use it for? Does it help them sell? 

All my sales reps use Crik-IT. They have it on their iPads and smart phones. Before they make a sales call, they can check any outstanding info, open invoices, credit status. They go into dealers with up-to-date knowledge with what’s happening at each dealership. Early every morning, Crik-IT automatically shoots them an email with previous day’s sales, who has ordered and who has ordered what.

What can Crik-IT do to be more valuable to you?

It could wash my car! It’s so powerful already. When we do come up with something an enhancement or feedback, “Can we tweak this? “Can Crik-IT do this?”… Crik-IT is right there. I don’t think I have ever heard them tell me no. I needed a report generated for a special program we were running (Direct Order entry) and I called and asked if Crik-IT could do that. They were able to put the report together and at the end of the year run the same report… They are very responsive and that saved us a ton of time.

What do you love about Crik-IT?

How much time do you have? Daily reports that I do, I can now go in and see how a territory is performing with a 3 year sales comparison… I can drill it down to dealer level. That would take oodles of time before Crik-IT. I can look at a dealer three years back and track changes, growth and otherwise. 

It also has contact management features. How many new dealers? I can go into Crik-IT and run a contact note report on my sales reps and see how many new dealers they’ve set up. I can create those contact note types in Crik-IT. That way I don’t have to keep hounding my reps because the information is there. I can see if the updates are in the system.

Crik-IT is very intuitive. It’s a great tool. And Crik-IT is not industry specific. Any sales organization or manufacturer that deals with customers… Crik-IT works for them.

You would have to pry Crik-IT out of my cold dead hands!

Crik-IT Website

Crik-IT for QuickBooks Website

Editor’s Note: Crik-IT is integrated with Jøtul’s ERP system, which is Epicor.  Crik-IT also integrates with many other back-end packages, such as Sage, MAS90, AccountEdge, QuickBooks desktop, QuickBooks Online, custom ERP systems, and more.

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