Company: Pilot Travel Centers

Pilot Travel Centers Adds $1.8 Million to the Bottom Line Using Panorama for Automated Analysis and Reporting

Company Profile

For Pilot’s store managers, a large  percentage of every Friday was dedicated to reviewing volumes of paper reports.  It was time consuming and complicated to identify sales performance issues,  which resulted in many being overlooked. The desire to automate reporting led Pilot to choose Panorama Software to support the report presentation in its  portal. Phase I of Pilot’s implementation focused on deli operations, which  represents 15% of the company’s non-fuel revenue. With streamlined reports  available on its Web portal, Pilot ensured that managers could identify sales  and buying issues and take action more effectively. As a result, the company  realized improved profits by $1.8 million.

Pilot Travel Centers LLC is the largest  retail operator of travel centers in the U.S. Headquartered in Knoxville,  Tennessee, Pilot Travel Centers operates 270 retail interstate properties in 40  states. Pilot’s locations offer a wide range of services including auto and  truck fueling facilities, leading fast food chains and travel conveniences such  as showers, ATM, Internet, check cashing, money orders, laundry, Western Union  and pre-paid phone cards. The company employs 14,000 people, with annual  revenues of $7.2 billion (2004).

Business Challenge

With paper-based reporting, managers usually  spent two to three hours each week trying to uncover exceptions for their  stores including low margins, poor upsell statistics, overstocked inventory  levels or budget misses. Even with all of that time devoted to review, many  issues went undetected because of the sheer volume of paper, which affected  inventory planning. In addition, many managers began to create their own  reports resulting in inconsistency in the field.

As an intensely numbers-oriented company,  Pilot had a deep desire to get to pure exception-based reporting and analysis.  With that capability, issues could be uncovered quickly and action could be  taken at the individual store level to alter performance results.

“We had hundreds of valid issues and  exceptions that went unnoticed because people couldn’t get to them,” said  David Clothier, Controller, Pilot Travel Centers. “The most frustrating  part was that the information was there, but managers couldn’t access it to  make it actionable for the stores. Our goal was to implement an infrastructure  that would allow us to automate exception reporting delivery and  analysis.”

Solution

After evaluating several Business Intelligence (BI) solutions,    Pilot chose Panorama for publishing and presenting data on its Web portal.    Clothier was impressed by Panorama’s ability to build on the capabilities of    Microsoft™ SQL Server Analysis Services. “Having a BI solution that    can leverage a Microsoft product is a very big deal to us. Panorama enabled us to extend our existing technology to deliver benefits to our business,” said Clothier.
“Panorama has become our gateway to efficiency by simplifying and streamlining the way we speak to the field.”David Clothier, Controller Pilot Travel Centers

Results

With Panorama, Pilot store managers could  interact with reports and find information they were looking for very quickly.  “Panorama has become our gateway to efficiency by simplifying and  streamlining the way we speak to the field,” noted Clothier. “First,  we’ve centralized all reporting from Knoxville, which is a significant  improvement. Second, the reports, grids and graphics are easy for the field to  digest and understand.”

“We will easily see, at minimum, a 2% improvement in margins.That alone is an additional $1.8 million to the bottom line. Those improvements are a direct result of our improved reporting and analysis – we can identify sales and buying issues quickly and easily and act immediately.”David Clothier,  Controller Pilot Travel Centers

Pilot initiated a phased implementation of  Panorama in its environment. Phase I, which has been fully implemented, focuses  on deli operations, which includes soda, coffee and hot dog sales.

With Panorama, Pilot can now analyze  reporting vs. budget, overall sales and detailed, year over year performance.

Business Benefits

As a result of Panorama’s robust analysis and  reporting, Pilot has improved its trending capabilities. By better  understanding selling patterns, Pilot can plan buying strategies at the  individual store level more effectively. According to Clothier, “Managers  can see whether they are hitting sales targets, meeting budgets and breaking  sales records, which are critical performance motivators. We can now take our  data and apply it directly to solving a business problem.”

Pilot added $1.8 million to the bottom line.  Pilot generates approximately $900 million in inside sales, with deli sales  accounting for $70 million of that revenue. Though only a modest percentage of  total inside sales, the margins on deli are typically quite high, which makes  it a significant impact area for Pilot. With Panorama, Pilot has been able to  use its reporting portal to improve deli sales and margins. “We will  easily see, at minimum, a 2% improvement in sales and a 1.5% improvement in  margin, adding an additional $1.8 million to the bottom line. Those results are  linked directly to our enhanced reporting and analysis – we can identify sales,  performance and buying issues quickly and easily to act immediately.”

While Clothier and his team are very happy  with the improvements Panorama has brought so far, they are even more excited  about the future. “Right now, we are operating at the transaction level,  which has delivered impressive benefits,” adds Clothier. “Once we  roll out our HR/payroll system and apply Panorama there, it is going to  revolutionize the company. We will be able to get very specific, right down  into cashier performance for each sale. By accessing that level of data,  we will be able to effect behavior change and  performance improvements by establishing very real and measurable  benchmarks.”

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