Quality Pet Products, Inc. is a wholesale distributor of pet foods to veterinary clinics and retail pet stores for a six state region. Priding themselves on their efficient warehouse processes, overnight delivery, and high-quality service, Quality Pet Products had a fourfold business challenge: cut operations time and expense, develop processes and procedures to become AIB certified (American Institute of Baking), streamline multiple warehouse/inventory software packages, and create a Web-based order entry system.

They wanted to do all this in a way that allowed them to stay on the Intuit® QuickBooks® accounting solution.

Following the implementation of Fishbowl®, Quality Pet Products was able to achieve its goals and immediately saved the equivalent of 16 man-hours per day.

Business Challenges & Needs

Tim Balsimo, president/CEO, is a 20-year veteran in the pet business. Originally he owned a successful chain of retail pet stores. After developing a strong relationship with his wholesalers, Balsimo decided it was time for a change. He sold off his pet store chain and started Quality Pet Products about 10 years ago.

Based in Woodbury, Minnesota, his 15-employee company services more than 400 retail pet stores and veterinarian clinics. If customers place their orders before 10:00 am, Quality Pet Products promises delivery within 24 hours to its customers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska.

“We purchase everything from our manufacturer partners in truckloads,” said Balsimo. “We have customers from Rapid City to Green Bay. In order to provide next day service to such a vast area we use a network of LTL carriers that we match up to the customer to provide the level of service we’re known for.”

Quality Pet Products stocks about 500 SKUs in its warehouse and has about 400 picking locations.

Based on his experience as a pet store retailer, Balsimo knew what kind of quality service his distribution business needed to provide. From the beginning he did a lot of things right allowing him to provide the fast quality service he wanted to give his customers.

However, there were several challenges he faced to continue improving his service quality. One of the most important was to find ways to continue improving his warehouse operations to reduce time and cost.

Specifically he needed software that would streamline his warehouse processes and keep track of bin or picking locations, create bills of lading, calculate weight, and handle date codes, serial numbers and other inventory management items. He was able to find software that would provide these services, but not as a cohesive single package. He felt there had to be something that could provide all he needed in a single package with less time and cost.

“Intuit couldn’t provide us with the ability to take care of these items,” said Balsimo. “With the third-party software we were able to deal with weight on every order and sort it by our picking application and bill of lading, but what was missing was something to handle serial numbers and lot numbers.”

“Intuit couldn’t provide us with the ability to take care of these items…what was missing was something to handle serial numbers and lot numbers”Tim Balsimo
– Founder, Quality Pet Products

He also needed to make his warehouse AIB certified. A top manufacturing partner required him to have the certification. Certification means his warehouse can handle food products for humans and animals. “[AIB certification] is a safety standard,” said Balsimo. “To achieve the certification, we must have a process to track every single item that is edible in and out of the warehouse by lot number or bar code. We have to match the quality requirements of our manufacturer. By itself, QuickBooks couldn’t do it.”

Quality Pet Products had the additional challenge of setting up a Web site that could take its wholesale customer orders and drop them directly into his inventory management system. The ability to place orders online would help him greatly reduce the time and expense of multiple entry systems.

The Solution

With a smooth operating distribution business in place, Balsimo was ready to continue nding ways to improve efficiency and put in place the items he needed to meet his challenges.

“We started looking around for a software solution that took care of everything we were doing as opposed to having multiple software packages,” said Balsimo. “I was looking around on Intuit’s Web site to see what would work. Our first preference was to have it work with QuickBooks, but then expand from there to see what would work in order to make sure we were getting the best piece of warehouse management software we could find.”

Balsimo found Fishbowl and went through a long process to see how well it would work in his operations. After about a month of playing with and understanding it, Quality Pet Products made the decision to move forward with a full implementation of Fishbowl Manufacturing.

“It integrated with QuickBooks so well we were able to move our information quickly to Fishbowl. It took only a week or two to fine tune everything by filling in the blanks that were empty,” he said. “We also were actually able to write within Fishbowl a custom ordering report that takes in account our previous sales history, hand quantities, and also ‘what’s on order’ to develop our own ordering process based on our lead teams.”

“[Fishbowl] integrated with QuickBooks so well we were able to move our information quickly”– Tim Balsimo
– Founder, Quality Pet Products

Additionally, Fishbowl provided its EZ Connector to connect Quality Pet Products Web site to Fishbowl. It exchanges orders placed online and brings them into Fishbowl; eliminating double entry.

“The order is entered in as a sales order,” said Balsimo. “Once that is complete it goes to the picking module, which prints a pick ticket. The pick ticket goes out to our warehouse where our order pickers build a pallet. That information is brought back into our office and the order is invoiced. The bill of lading is printed and the information is put on the skids where they are scheduled for pickup—all within Fishbowl.”

The Results

Following the installation and training, Quality Pet Products found that Fishbowl solved its main challenges.

“Fishbowl basically allows us to continue using QuickBooks as our accounting software,” said Balsimo. “The time it saves on a daily operations basis is equivalent to two office people per day—or 16 hours per day. We didn’t miss a beat. It saves time, allows us to do more with less staff, integrates into one piece of software, and prevents us from having to set up more workstations or servers.”

“The time [Fishbowl] saves us on a daily operations basis is equivalent to two office people per day — or 16 hours per day…It saves time, allows us to do more with less staff, integrates into one piece of software, and prevents us from having to set up more workstations or servers.”– Tim Balsimo
Founder, Quality Pet Products

With each order Balsimo now has the ability to attach a date code or lot/serial number to track it. The software makes Quality Pet Products more efficient throughout its operation. Furthermore, the software made it possible for the company to become AIB compliant and allowed them to receive the AIB certificate. AIB ensures they have the right processes in place for quality and safety.

“Fishbowl enabled us to get our [AIB] certificate because it tracks and date codes our products coming into our warehouse,” said Balsimo. “It also tracks where our products go so that at any point in time we can run a report using Fishbowl’s reporting module for a specific item and for a specific date code. We’ll know when it came in and where it went. If there were ever a need to conduct a recall then we can say, ‘we want this product, with this code, back right now,’ and go retrieve it.”

Fishbowl’s EZ Connector allowed Quality Pet Products to provide an online order entry system for its customers. This eliminated the time necessary for double entry by placing orders directly into their Fishbowl management system.

“On every sales order it calculates weight. The picking module produces a pick ticket sorted anyway we want it. We no longer use any other third party software,” said Balsimo. “One of the reports they have written into the software looks like a bill of lading—it puts in the information relative to a particular sales order on that bill of lading. It solves our problem.”

Quality Pet Products uses Fishbowl for everything relating to inventory control in and out of the warehouse including its customer relationship management in terms of customer notes and information.