- Adding mobility: With RingCentral’s cloud phone and fax capabilities on their laptops and cell phones, employees are now seamlessly working remotely for the first time.
- Gaining insights: Using RingCentral’s reporting, Northern Tool’s store managers are learning call-traffic trends and adjusting operations to maintain excellent service.
- Going global: As the company continues its international expansion, Northern Tool knows it has a global cloud phone partner that can support its operations anywhere.
Providing high-quality tools to millions of hardworking professionals
For more than 40 years, everyone from do-it-yourselfers planning home-improvement projects, to construction crews responsible for large-scale builds, have turned to Northern Tool + Equipment for the tools to get the job done.
From the company’s humble start selling log-splitting equipment out of its founder’s garage, Northern Tool has become a multibillion-dollar retailer, with 126 stores in more than 20 states.
Over the decades, the company has learned so much from its millions of customers that in addition to the 100,000 products it retails, Northern Tool also designs and manufacturers its own products under such premium brands as Bannon, Roughneck, NorthStar, and Powerhorse.
Not all cloud communications platforms are created equal
As Northern Tool entered a growth phase a few years back—adding retail stores at a rapid rate—the senior management team decided to modernize the company’s telephony system. Adding new locations, and keeping a growing number of employees connected across multiple states, was becoming difficult with decentralized, legacy phone infrastructure.
But Senior Telecommunications Analyst Rodney Dybedahl explains that Northern Tool quickly outgrew the telephony capabilities of its original vendor. “The first cloud phone provider we signed up with didn’t offer the level of support we needed, especially in terms of helping us roll out telephony at our new stores,” Rodney says. “Also, we soon found that we needed more functionality than their system offered.”
A smooth integration proves RingCentral is the right tool for the job
Rodney knew Northern Tool had found the right solution when he began working with RingCentral’s implementation team.
“Our RingCentral implementation was terrific. The company sent a team out to work with us, listened to our needs, trained us on the platform, and even helped us customize our telephony environments exactly how we wanted for our retail stores.”
In fact, Rodney adds, when it came to discussing Northern Tool’s unique needs, RingCentral project managers didn’t just listen. They took action. “What impressed me most about our RingCentral implementation is that the team took some of our feature requests and actually built that functionality. At least a few of RingCentral’s recent feature additions are partly due to our input. That’s not a vendor. That’s a partner.”
Improving operations across the company
As Rodney explains, RingCentral has helped Northern Tool improve workflows for both the company’s hundreds of administrative employees as well as the staff running its 126 retail locations around the country.
In terms of Northern Tool’s retail operations, RingCentral has helped store managers easily customize the ideal phone experience for customers and employees at each location.
“We’ve been able to build just the right telephony environment for our stores—automated greetings, extensions, physical phones—and repeat the process with very little effort anytime we open a new location. I just go into the RingCentral admin portal, order local lines and phones, and then basically do a copy-and-paste to create the telephony environment for the new store. It’s so easy, and it saves me an enormous amount of time.”
The company’s management team also leverages RingCentral’s reporting and analytics, Rodney explains, to gain visibility into store operations. “The RingCentral data is great for several reasons. Our regional sales managers can pull reports to find patterns across their stores, such as when call traffic tends to be up or down. Our sales teams also use these reports to capture customer details, so we can send them relevant promotional information later.”
The mobility enabled by RingCentral’s anywhere, any-device capabilities has also proven valuable for Northern Tool’s office-based employees—in sales, marketing, finance, customer service, etc.
“We have about 750 employees who were working in our Minnesota headquarters before COVID. Because we had the RingCentral apps on our PCs and cell phones when the lockdowns started, we were able to transition everyone to working from home without slowing our operations at all.”
In fact, Rodney notes, the RingCentral app enables mobility capability for an essential everyday workflow that Northern Tool simply couldn’t offer its employees with either its legacy phone environment or its previous cloud phone solution. “Thanks to RingCentral’s built-in digital fax tool, employees can receive and process faxed orders just as quickly if they’re at home—something we’ve never been able to do before.”
Enabling global growth
As Rodney also notes, Northern Tool has global ambitions. Having a cloud telephony partner that serves business customers all over the world gives the company peace of mind knowing that when they’re ready to open a new market, RingCentral will be there with the infrastructure and knowledge to support them from a telephony standpoint.
“We’re building a presence in India, and that’s just the beginning of our planned international expansion. Because we have RingCentral, the telecommunications component of this expansion won’t be the complication that it usually is with other providers. It’s great to know that we have a global communications partner that operates all over the world and can support us as we add locations anywhere.”
Originally published Jun 01, 2022