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A Word to the Wise and a Word to the Unwary: A Letter from the President of MATTimekeeping Systems


Dear Manufacturer:

Not long ago, one of our customers, a user of our DOS-based system for nearly a decade, asked us to prepare a proposal for an upgrade to our new Windows-based program. Their business had grown steadily over the past ten years, and some of the limitations of the DOS software had started to become an annoyance. We made our presentation, but we warned them. Look, we said, we don't know if our software is ideal for your company. You've grown. You're a lot larger than the companies we typically do business with. And we don't know our competition all that well; they're in a different area of the market. You'll have to do the research and make your own decision. You know our company, you know what we can do, and the new Windows-based software will eliminate the limitations you have run into. But we don't do everything our competitors do, or claim to do, so it's your job to make the comparisons and make your best decision.

Our customer decided to go with another supplier. The price of the new software was roughly ten times what we had quoted. But we were not surprised and we were not disappointed. Our customer had grown a lot over the decade we had done business together. We remained good friends, and they kept on using the DOS version of the MATTimekeeping System until they could get their new system fully up and running. They even renewed their service contract with us, "just in case."

After six months with the new system, we got a call from them. Was our quote for the upgrade still valid? Sure, we said, what's the problem? It seems the new system doesn't work very well, they said. The supplier keeps saying we're not using it right.

We have heard a lot of stories about systems that "don't work very well." It's always the customer's fault. Until now, these stories have been about friends of our customers. Our customers tell us, with a faint smile, what a big mistake their friends have made to pay so much to get so little. We tried to tell them, our customers say, but they wouldn't listen.

Let me ask you to listen. The MATTimekeeping System works. It is remarkably easy to use. It won't take you months to learn. In a world of complexity, we offer simplicity. It is perfectly true that we don't try to do everything. The reason is simple: We only do what we know, from long experience, really works. We stick to the things that we know can be done without making our customers sweat. Any maybe, just maybe, we do it better than anyone else in the business. Our business is shop floor management: job costing, expediting, scheduling, work-in-process, outside vendor tracking, estimating, quoting, and so on. We don't do inventory, purchasing, payroll or accounting. We don't tell you how to run your shop. We just make it easier -- a whole lot easier -- to manage.

Peter O'D. Offenhartz