Premier Canopies: Custom Software Tailored To Your Workflow

With clients like AAA and Monster Energy Drink, Premier Canopies has established itself as a top manufacturer and trusted partner in the large format print industry. With full in-house printing capabilities and wholesale product sourcing services, their business operations are complex.

For years, Premier Canopies tried implementing several different commercial SaaS enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. Unfortunately, each ERP forced Premier Canopies to alter its core business process to fit their pre-existing solution and one after another fell short.

Premier Canopies’ Vice President Craig Tucker shared, “We’d been through the wringer with software developers and SaaS solutions that overpromised and underdelivered. We hit our limit with engineers who can’t communicate well and salespeople who don’t know anything about code.”

When Premier Canopies finally decided to build their own custom ERP tailored for their unique workflows and processes, they engaged Zeek to make it happen.

A Solution Tailored To Fit

The first order of business was learning the ins and outs of Premier Canopies’ business model, internal processes, and production workflows. Zeek went onsite to study how jobs move through the production process, how the warehouse is managed, and how specific project management tasks are completed.

With a foundational understanding of Premier Canopies’ operations, Zeek first redesigned and rebuilt the main sales website to better serve customers, empower salespeople and customer service staff, and automate repetitive processes. Attention then turned to the design and enginerring of a SaaS ERP solution to run the entire backend of the business and increase efficiency.

WordPress, WooCommerce, And Laravel

Many WordPress companies will claim that all of this can be done with WordPress and WooCommerce. But WooCommerce is built to manage orders and customers, not business operations and back-office workflows — and that’s where Laravel comes into play.

Zeek drew on its extensive experience building tailored software solutions with WordPress and Laravel to engineer an ERP that uses WordPress and WooCommerce for content, order, and customer data management, and Laravel to power the operations workflows.

Steve came to our offices and spent a full day and more with us, running through our processes, shadowing staff, watching how we work, taking notes, and asking questions. He didn’t just learn our business, he identified opportunities to increase efficiency through automation and to reduce manual labor.

Craig Tucker
Vice President, Premier Canopies

How it Works

When an order is placed on the Premier Canopies website, Laravel pulls the WooCommerce order data into the ERP and each line item is converted into a “job”.

For example, an order for one canopy and five vertical banner stands equates to one order with two jobs that each follow different production workflows.

The ERP displays all active jobs visually in a kanban board on screens at each production station. This allows team members to see the current status of every job at any time, and digitally manage details in one unified system.

As jobs move through the production line, the job status is updated, and Laravel once again integrates with WooCommerce, updating the customer’s account with real-time, accurate information about their order.

For example, when a project is marked as shipped, the tracking information is automatically added to the customer’s account and emailed to the customer.

Now, whether it’s a customer visiting the website to place an order or check their order status, a team member updating products in WooCommerce, or staff working on jobs in the ERP, all data across the company is up-to-date and accurate.

The best part is that Premier Canopies didn’t have to change the way they do business or adjust their preferred workflows.

Product Detail Management

Due to the complex nature of the Premier Canopies product line, available product options vary greatly from product to product. This resulted in extensive WooCommerce customizations that simplify how their team interacts with, manages, and adds products to the site. Zeek engineered a custom measurement calculator for products like vinyl banners, where pricing is based on the dimensions of the product, and custom product options to account for:

  • Variable products with several different customization choices like canopy color, single or double- sided printing, and canopy frame material.
  • Composite products that contain several items, each with its own customization choices, like frame type, case style, or type of weights.

Vendor P.O. Management

As a wholesale printer, Premier Canopies sources products from around the globe and partners with third- party vendors to deliver unique products. To manage vendor relationships and the outsourcing of certain customer jobs, Zeek built a complete P.O. management process into their custom ERP.

P.O. options are displayed within the ERP’s master kanban board. When a team member drags a new job into the P.O. tool and selects the appropriate vendor, the ERP automatically issues a P.O. to the vendor, tracks the job, and stores job completion details like who is responsible for shipping it to the customer.

Measurable Impact That Drives Growth

When Zeek first met Premier Canopies, the company had a poor quality website and critical data was scattered across several disparate systems and spreadsheets. Nothing was working well or working together to support their greater business objectives; it was challenging to keep data updated, consistent, and accurate; and sales and customer service representatives were constantly scrambling to find the information customers needed.

The entire business was also tied to their physical location, which meant that unless team members were on site, they were disconnected from operations. This was particularly challenging for sales representatives who, when traveling to conferences and tradeshows, still needed to be able to communicate with customers and provide details about their orders.

With an all-new marketing website and custom ERP solution tailored to their exact needs, Premier Canopies is now a fully digital operation:

  • The website is a valuable sales tool that works around the clock, providing customers with everything they need to make buying decisions, answering questions, and sharing accurate real-time data about orders.
  • The ERP, which seamlessly integrates with the website, provides a single source of truth for everything that is happening across the business and aligns with their preferred processes and workflows.

Everything from creating estimates and setting pricing to project management to communicating with customers and making sales is streamlined.

Sales and customer service representatives are now connected to every detail of the business and can quickly access information customers need, like the status of a project or shipping details, from anywhere in the world. This has been a lifesaver for continuity of operations during the pandemic, when most of their staff were forced to work from home — something they wouldn’t have been able to do before.

Partnerships That Matter

Zeek is not a typical vendor. We’re a partner invested in your big vision and long-term success. Rather than limit our thinking to your immediate needs, our team considers the big picture to help you plan and account for long-term growth and sustained success.

Whether we’re adding new features, enhancing and iterating on existing functionality, or building something completely new, many of our clients stay with us for years and Premier Canopies is no different. In fact, we recently visited their offices again to get a granular understanding of new process details as we fine-tune workflows within their custom ERP.

We’re also excited to roll out new features that include a QuickBooks integration for real-time inventory, PO, and cost tracking, and an estimating tool that empowers sales representatives to create estimates within WooCommerce that, when approved by a customer, automatically turn into orders and get funneled into the ERP.

If, like Premer Canopies, you’ve been burned by Sass products forcing you to change how you work, or you’re tired of frustrating software experiences that don’t fit your unique needs, it’s time for a new approach — a custom solution tailored to your unique operations and workflows — and Zeek Interactive can make it happen.