Business growth

Taken a hit? Set your clients up to recover – and grow bigger

Last month, I discussed how warehouse and distribution businesses can prepare for the ‘new normal’. A large part of this was about growing customer bases and expanding into new markets.

But if we look further ahead, the goal for many isn’t just getting back to ‘normal’ – it’s continued growth.

This major disruption has (and will) affect many businesses growth plans and trajectories. The momentum they had, or the strategies that had been put in place, now won’t be as effective. Or, they’ll take much longer to come to fruition.

Exploring new customer opportunities is an important step to getting your clients back to where they were at the beginning of the year. But growth will require more than just new business. The road to growth starts with internal changes, ensuring your client’s business processes and operations are set up to support an expanding business.

Businesses are facing big operational changes

This disruption is clearly not over (as our friends in Melbourne are discovering). And the impact on this industry could set to continue, or worsen, over the next 12-18 months.

It’s one thing to be able to roll with the punches for a couple of months or through one lockdown period. But this is no way to approach a long-term change to operating and selling.

I previously discussed that the way businesses sell has likely changed, and there will be a need to adapt. But on top of this, there will also be an internal change to how operations run, and how the customer promise is met. During the next little while, a lot of businesses will experience:

Less staff

Some businesses are facing returning to ‘normal’ or increased operations with fewer staff to carry out jobs. This means not all jobs can be done, and there will be a strong need to prioritise some tasks over others

Changes in stock needs

Fluctuating sales and customer numbers can create inventory management headaches. Continuous changes in ordering trends and customer numbers makes ensuring stock availability without overstocking a fine balancing act.

Interrupted trends

Growth and sales patterns have been thrown off, making it hard to identify trends and forecast business performance. As we’ve seen, things can change dramatically in as little as 24 hours, leaving everyone feeling uncertain. Even those who haven’t felt the crunch are unsure about what the next year or two means for them.

Growth takes more than increasing customers

Up until now, the main objective has been survival. But as we realise this isn’t going away, and the way business operates is likely changed for good, simply keeping a head above eliminates the capacity for bigger and better things.

Growth stems from not just managing what your clients have, but ensuring they have the capacity to take on more without it affecting their customer promise.

Assisting your clients to attract more customers and expand into more markets will definitely help with business growth. But to be successful in the long run, your clients need the right internal processes in place to support an increase in business.

Simply put, they have to be able to do more with less. And to successfully achieve this, they’ll need:

  • Operational efficiency – Automation helps frees up staff time so they can focus on more important tasks, and allows them to function at a higher capacity with a smaller workforce. This means that as their customer base and order demand grow, their team can still deliver.
  • Sales support – Access to market and customer insights not only helps with inventory management, it helps your client’s sales team follow up more leads, serve customers better and improve opportunities to up and cross-sell.
  • Data insights – Forecasting is always key to running a business, but becomes even more vital when things are changing rapidly. Your clients need an idea of what’s coming and where they sit to be able to effectively plan their way forward.

Internal processes will make the difference between surviving and thriving

In terms of how businesses operate more effectively and stay ahead of the competition, change has been coming for a long time. The recent circumstances have just sped the process up.

The next step is not only setting your clients up for surviving the disruption, but thriving in the new normal. The further they look over the horizon, the faster they go. Look beyond the next step – growth might not happen straight away, but it needs to be in their plan.

Look at your client’s processes, look at their systems and software and reassess their ability to help your clients in this new normal.

  • How has their business changed, and what capabilities do they now need to meet goals?
  • Can their existing systems support efficiency and productivity and deliver ROI?
  • Are they in a place to invest in improvements?

Their software and systems play a big role in supporting growth and, if they’re able, it could be time to change things up. If they’re committed to sustaining long-term growth, overhauling their processes with an ERP system could be the best answer.

An ERP would set your clients up now for future growth but also provides flexibility to work with whatever further changes and disruptions come their way. Giving them the power of not only automation, but real-time insights they need to:

  • Supply for the market
  • Prevent inventory shrinkage
  • Forecast revenue
  • Support their customers

If you’re considering implementing an ERP system into any of your client’s business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business?  If you’d like to discuss any of the steps I’ve mentioned further, or get some guidance around market expansion for your clients, reach out to me via our website or email me directly at drew@micronet.com.au.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss preparing your client’s business for growth or improving their business processes, you can reach out via email here.

Future of work warehouse & distribution

What’s next? Preparing clients for the ‘new normal’ and strengthening their customer base

For the last couple of months, many industries have been grappling with massive and sudden losses and changes. Yet many of the warehouse and distribution businesses I’ve spoken with have been able to adapt well.

While a lot have seen some sort of downturn, they have, for the most part, avoided any extreme shifts in sales or operations (with the exception of more Zoom calls and face masks).

However, there is a general feeling among many in the industry that the storm is yet to come – particularly for those who supply to and rely on the building industry. While the initial hit is subsiding, more change is coming. Things like the number of new building approvals and customer buying habits shifting online may mean that there will be a longer-term effect.

If the real difficulty is truly yet to come, it’s important to take some time to prepare for it, and put your client’s businesses in a position to not just survive but thrive, even if some customers or markets take a hit.

The approach to buying and selling has changed

Right now, all we can do is speculate on what the new normal will look like. But while it’s hard to know when it’ll arrive or how hard it will hit, there are some obvious factors that we know are likely to occur (or already have).

  • Fewer approvals: There is evidence to believe that building approvals are dropping, meaning the real effects of our current situation won’t be felt by the industry until 2021 or 2022. Fewer building approvals will have a trickle-down effect for businesses supporting and supplying the industry.
  • Change in sales approach: Obviously, the typical nature of an in-person sales approach that many business rely on for winning customers and sales will have changed over the last couple of months. These changes could be here for good. Translating these valuable approaches into a new format could be a struggle for many.
  • Change in what customers want: What consumers want from their suppliers has changed. The lowest price is no longer the driving factor for many purchasers. The convenience of being able to purchase online, with cashless and contactless delivery is fast becoming a big priority. Continuing to focus on price as a key selling point runs the risk of trapping businesses in a hard to win race to the bottom.

Regardless of how, if, when or how severely the industry is hit in the coming months or years, it’s safe to say it’s not viable to continue to do things the way they’ve always been done. Going ‘back to normal’ is not the old normal, but a considerably new and different one.

Gaining new customers means connecting in new ways

Ensuring your clients are able to adapt to market changes and fluctuating business performance should be a priority right now. Unfortunately, we can’t know what will happen in the future. But by paying attention to the signs and being proactive, you can adequately prepare your clients for what might come.

One of the best ways to prepare at the moment is to look at new customers and markets. To be competitive and win more business, your clients need to be considered in more opportunities.

However, how they go about gaining new business has likely changed because they can’t interact the same way they did before. So, your clients have to try to establish new markets in a different way than what they have in the past. In order to do that, they’ll need:

  1. Systems that support lean processes:

If your clients have had to lean down their processes in the last couple of months, it’s time to start to make that permanent. Simply, this means getting your clients people doing more effective things, more efficiently. Automation is key, allowing clients to remove mundane tasks and ensure their staff are more actively engaged in meaningful, productive activities.

  1. Proactive action:

With so many sudden and drastic rule changes, it’s been tempting for many businesses to sit back and wait to be told what to do – or for everything to just return to normal. A smarter way to spend your time is proactively investigating ways to improve. Surveying customers and staff on their changing needs is a smart idea, as is looking at what things in your client’s office or warehouse are going to need to change to match the changing environment.

  1. Support for your client’s customer promise:

Now more than ever, it’s important for business to know their customer promise and be able to articulate it. But on top of this, your clients will also need the systems that will support them deliver this promise. And so, I’ve seen people, for instance, who they’ll say, “If you get an order in by 4:00 PM on any given day, you’ll receive it the following day”. That’s part of their promises because they’ve got really effective or efficient warehouses, so they can get stuff out quick. And that enables them to form part of that.

Four steps your clients can take now to flourish in the next phase

We don’t know what the new (or next) normal is going to look like for the warehouse & distribution industry. It could come sooner, or later, or not at all. The fact is, your clients are better off being prepared. If it doesn’t happen, your clients will be in a better selling position with better systems – something that never hurts.

To get started, or to determine areas where your clients need to invest in improvement, there are four things I’d recommend doing now:

Declutter processes

Declutter and map out your client’s processes. Establish where they can cut unnecessary steps by seeing how long things take and how long they should take. Document each process so everyone knows how it should be done.

Measure your client’s wins

Look at their data, report on what they’re doing and use that to support their business in the eyes of their customers. New customers won’t know your value, so show them in a way they can understand – cold hard facts and data.

Articulate your client’s customer promise

It’s a really good time to think about your client’s customer promise and what that looks like. What do they do that the benefits the relationship that they have with the customer? What’s in it for them? It’s simple stuff, but many established distribution businesses don’t do on a regular basis

Prospect, prospect, prospect

Ensure your clients are always prospecting and looking for new markets to sell to, and have a clear understanding of how many new customers they’re getting per day per week, per month, per year. Acquisition statistics are particularly important right now, allowing you to know when your clients get a new customer, celebrate it, and really make the most of the relationship.

These small changes can set your clients up to be better prepared for what’s to come. It will also allow them to discover any roadblocks and holes in their processes, giving them time to address them, rather than be caught off guard when it’s too late.

If you’d like to discuss any of the steps I’ve mentioned further, or get some guidance around market expansion, reach out to me via our website or email me directly at drew@micronet.com.au.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss preparing for the future of work or improving business processes, you can reach out via email here.

The benefit of long-term thinking: How to make downtime valuable

How do you successfully plan for your clients in a time when no one knows what’s coming next, or what could change tomorrow? It’s a question many businesses are facing thanks to COVID-19.

In warehouse and distribution, some of us are in a more fortunate position than many other businesses. I am yet to hear (so far) of businesses in our industry that have been affected to the point of no return during this crisis.  We’re lucky that when the government is thinking about essential services, they’re considering supply chains too.

But if we’re realistic, no one will get out of this unscathed. It’s likely things will change for many businesses and at the very least you and your clients will face downtime or changes in workload. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

It’s important to resist the urge to think of reacting now, and rather use this time to your advantage and think long term. There are simple things you can support your clients in during this time to make the most of what they have, and support their business and those in it until we all regain some normalcy.

Looking over the horizon

We’ve never experienced anything quite like COVID-19 before, so there’s no strategy or best practice to fall back on. It’s situations like this which are dangerous and can lead to something that never ends well – short term thinking. Fight or flight has kicked in and it’s tempting to go the later. But it’s not a good idea.

We’ve seen it happen a few times – sales go south and the panic sets in. Businesses get rid of staff, cut costs wherever they can, shut up shop straight away. I get it, it’s in a bid to stay alive. Or so they think.

But by doing this, managers and directors may not be thinking through all the options. They’re not considering that they have a role as a business leader to do something that’s not just about them. They have staff, customers and stakeholders to think about, too.

When this is happening day by day, people can feel like they have to make day by day decisions. But this isn’t going to work in the long run. COVID-19 is going to affect everything we do, but it’s going to pass. And we need to be ready when it does.

Your client’s staff are valuable – use them wisely

Thankfully, the biggest hurdle many businesses have been facing has been somewhat mitigated by the government’s Job Keeper scheme. Your clients can now possibly afford to keep paying most employees – that’s great.

But, if the work has slowed, changed or is coming in inconsistently, how can your clients use these paid employees? This different period of business gives you an opportunity to improve your understanding of what’s happening in your client’s business and improve their processes moving forward.

If the work isn’t there but the employees are, it becomes about finding different, valuable things for their staff to be able to do. If staff capacity has changed, so has your client’s ability to try different things. Have a think about:

  • Who is on the books?
  • What’s their availability?
  • What’s their ability?
  • How can you get them thinking about the future instead of thinking about what’s happening right now?

There are plenty of things businesses can do to improve their processes in the long run.  I’m 100% sure every business out there would have tasks and projects that they’ve been meaning to do, but have not had the capacity to complete. Now is the time to do it.

Futureproofing and process optimisation are an excellent use of your client’s downtime. Need some tips on where to get started? We’ve created a checklist of ideas:

HARMONiQ Business Downtime Checklist

Download HARMONiQ Business Downtime Checklist

Change your client’s thinking, change the outcome

In times of uncertainty and panic, putting your guard up can certainly feel like the best way to protect your clients. But right now, a better way to protect their businesses is asking “what can we do to improve their circumstances and that of all the stakeholders in their business?”

In the short term, this approach will help you:

  • See what’s good in the business, and what might need to change
  • Keep staff busy
  • Keep the business running
  • Achieve clarity around your client’s needs and their capabilities

And in the long-term, it means keeping your client’s staff and their customers, and coming out of this in a better position to assist their business,

Of course, every business will need to deal with the effects differently. But it’s the thought process that counts. Long-term thinking will improve short-term decision making. Just as short-term thinking will create mayhem in long-term outcomes.

Keep people busy, keep business running, and put your clients in an improved situation to continue the best they can once things return to normal.

I’m sure you or your clients have a project they can go and execute. Or take one from the checklist. If you need help with where you should start or how to execute properly, efficiently and cost-effectively right now, reach out to me.

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to discuss how to best spend the downtime improving your client’s business processes, you can reach out via email here.

Controlling cost margins with an ERP system

Comparing costs: Poorly controlled margins vs. ERP systems

The state of the Australian economy is worrying for many. For retailers, warehousing and distribution businesses, it’s particularly concerning. A slow-moving economy and poor sales results across the industry mean that controlling internal business costs is more important than ever.

We don’t have much control over the economy. We also don’t have too much control over the cost of goods or customer purchasing habits. But your client’s costs are something you can assist in controlling – if they have the right tools.

Obviously, one of the best ways to better control business processes, including margins and costs, is by implementing an ERP. But they also come with a significant cost themselves.

So, is it really a case of spending money to save money? Or are your clients better to hold onto their money and hope to ride out the slow economy?

Your clients can’t control costs they can’t see

In my time working with warehouse and distribution businesses, I’ve always seen the same thing: When it comes to business costs and margins, you can only control them if you have full visibility of what they are, and why they’re occurring.

Are some staff selling below margin? Is someone giving away too much discount? Are your clients ordering too much stock? Can your clients see which customers, products or projects have the best margin business to go after and which they should consider phasing out (or even stopping altogether)?

Without visibility, costs can easily compound.

You might think these are able to be controlled independently. Some stricter rules for your client’s sales team here, a bit more recording and research there. But a lack of visibility comes at a greater cost to your clients than just the direct cost of supplies or sales.

Companies that can’t precisely understand, monitor and manage costs and margins can too easily go on to make the wrong financial decisions. These can include:

  • Choosing small, short-term costs rather than bigger, more impactful costs
  • Using manual, slow systems that are indirectly increasing costs
  • Not reporting on performance
  • Spending too much time on things that don’t add value to your client’s end-user

When your clients can’t optimise spending and minimise costs internally, the external factors – like the economy and their competition – will be felt far more.

Controlling cost margins with an ERP system

Is your client’s lack of visibility impacting their margins?

Is the cost of control worth it?

So, lack of control can quickly become expensive. But is it as costly as an ERP system?

Implementing an ERP certainly isn’t something your clients go into blindly, or on a whim. You’ll want to do your research, determine their needs and be knowledgeable about the choices out there and what they can offer your clients. There’s no denying, ERP’s require significant investment and commitment.

But what do your clients get for the investment?

The big thing is visibility. You and your clients will be able to see all the what’s, why’s and how’s of their costs. But also, the wider picture – not just what’s costing them, but how to reduce that in a way that won’t affect how their business operates.

In the same way that low margins and high costs aren’t the only problems caused by poor visibility, an ERP system gives your clients more than just the ability to lower supply costs and tighten margins.

  • Report on performance and make data-driven decisions towards improvement
  • Understand costs and optimise spending
  • Invest in the right places, and remove unprofitable processes
  • Market and sell better to your client’s customers and improve service offerings

Understanding and controlling your client’s costs and implementing tighter margins are easy enough to understand. But to make them happen, and to make a real impact on your client’s bottom line, you need to get relevant business controls in place and working for your clients in an automated fashion, via their business software.

ERP systems offer the biggest return on investment

Depending on the size of your client’s operation, the simple act of them not following up all quotes can cost a business thousands, if not millions, per year. And that’s just one of their business processes.

Combine that with slow manual processes, low-value procedures, unregulated margins… Suddenly the cost of not putting in an ERP system can outweigh implementation costs in just a couple of months.

ERP systems can go a long way to helping your clients control their costs, and will continue to bring ROI as they continue to use it.

I’ve covered some of the benefits here, but for a more detailed look at controlling costs through ERP, download the free Controlling Costs and Margins eBook.

I think we’ve all experienced the swings in the economy enough to know that trying to wait it out for a better tomorrow is a risky move, that could start out cheap but end up costing your clients.

If you’d like to see ERP in action, click here to organise a free demo of HARMONiQ software, the ERP system built specifically for warehousing and distribution businesses.

Business alignment using an ERP System

How to align your client’s sales team using an ERP

‘Alignment’ can be a bit of a buzzword for businesses. But what does it actually mean? And is it something your clients should be worried about it? At the very least, it’s something they should think about.

Misalignment can happen in multiple areas of business. But in my experience, working with warehouse and distribution companies, I see it most commonly with the Sales teams.

The lack of interaction between operations and sales can often promote a very ‘us and them’ situation. It can be easily forgotten that one team can’t actually do its job without the other.

Business growth is great, but as your clients expand you want to make sure their team stays together, not grows apart. After all, everyone is working toward the same goal.

A good ERP system can help your clients connect their teams, achieve better alignment, keep their sales team in the fold and even see them performing better. Which is good for business, good for team performance and good for customer experience – a win for everyone.

Your clients need more than a salesperson to make a sale

While Sales and Operations are obviously very different, they’re just as important as each other to the overall business. Without inventory and warehousing, your clients have nothing to sell. But without sales, your clients would have no business.

While we all know Sales teams are vital, they sometimes get lost behind the huge demand of inventory. It can be tempting to leave them to ‘run things by themselves’, but this approach can lead to some big problems:

  • Sales teams won’t have access to the right customer or inventory information needed to make sales
  • They have more tasks than hours in the day
  • They’re not on board with business goals or strategies
  • They aren’t utilising available data to make better selling decisions
  • They aren’t following up quotes

Sales can’t be made without input and information from the rest of the business.

Trying to do it any other way will lead to confusion, miscommunication, a bad customer experience, and eventually, poor sales results.

Are your client’s tools supporting their team?

Everything in your business fits together and impacts everything else. So, while the sales team might be physically separate from everyone else, they need to be on the same page.

It’s often not a problem with the sales team themselves; it’s the tools provided to them which dictate their ability to integrate with the rest of the business.

Ask your clients, why is sales performance as it is? Are they providing their sales team with the right tools? A good way to tell if this is a problem is to determine whether your client’s current system enables their teams to have:

Efficiency – Doing things manually takes time. Your clients only have so many hours in the day. If they’re relying on them doing each task individually, they’ll struggle to achieve maximum selling capacity.

Communication – When teams are split up between offices, stores or even states, it’s important that they have an easy way of communicating with each other. This doesn’t even need to be phone calls or emails – it can simply be the sharing of information that both can access, view and edit.

Information – Sales teams rely on accurate and up-to-date stock and customer information to do their job. What’s in stock? When and what do customers usually buy? Their ability to sell (and upsell) relies on having this information at their fingertips.

Align and empower with an ERP system

In business, data is king. And this is no different for Sales teams. They can’t make the magic happen without a bit of input from the rest of the business. They need to have access to business data because it’s relevant to what and how they sell.

The first step to aligning your client’s sales team to the business is recognising these needs and their involvement in the wider business. The second is providing the sales team with the tools to make it happen.

This is where an ERP comes in. The right ERP – integrated in the right way for your clients – can empower and support Sales teams to improve both sales and customer service.

The right ERP system can offer:

Automation

Automate replies, quote follow-ups, marketing emails and more, to provide maximum efficiency without time constraints.

Customisation

Have a system that is built around the specific needs of your client’s business and their teams to ensure that they’re only getting and paying for what they need, and that staff are fully supported and empowered in their roles.

Integration

Integrated systems and processes assist the team in understanding how their job fits into the overall business and gives them a wider view of what’s going on. Integrating CRM can also help Sales teams stay on top of – and improve – their customer service.

HARMONiQ is the first all-in-one solution that is designed to help Sales teams stay in the loop and improve their performance through access and alignment.

As a truly customisable and scalable software, HARMONiQ ensures that the software will continue to grow alongside your client’s business.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging great technology to achieve business growth and alignment for your clients, please call me on 02 9542 2000 or email me at drew@micronet.com.au.

How an ERP system can improve your client’s visibility – and their business

At any given time, a hundred different things are going on in your client’s business that are all vital to their success. Receiving payments, closing sales, ordering, counting, delivering stock… Just thinking about it is enough to give you a headache.

Having a handle on every part of their business can feel impossible. But it’s also necessary for helping them make the best business decision and ensuring success – which puts you in a tight spot.

I’ve worked with many businesses who struggle to make the best proactive decisions for their business, no matter how hard they work or how smart they are.  And a lot of the time, it’s been for the same reason – they have poor visibility.

Download HARMONiQ’s ERP Automation eBook here.

Are your clients running their business blind?

Poor visibility doesn’t mean your clients don’t know where their staff or stock are. It means they don’t have the data insights that can help them really see what’s going on in their business, and why.

Data – and the information it provides – are the key to staying ahead of the competition, making smart business decisions, and growing your client’s business. But many organisations aren’t utilising data as they should be.

This could be for many different reasons:

  • They’re relying on manual processes for some key tasks;
  • They’re using disparate systems that don’t work together;
  • Data is only examined to find an answer when something goes wrong; or
  • Running data reports is too hard and time-consuming.

Some or all of these might be true for your clients – either way, their systems aren’t set up in a way that supports them to make smarter business decisions.

Business data

Relying on manual processes could be holding your client’s business back

Data is the common thread across all business processes

Data visibility doesn’t just affect one part of your client’s business – it has the power to impact or improve across every single process and department.

That’s why your clients need something that will help all processes, not just some. An ERP system has the power to improve data visibility across the entire business, meaning they’ll be able to have eyes on everything.

I commonly see wholesale and distribution companies struggle with three key areas of business. Take a look at how data visibility and an integrated ERP can improve them :

Inventory

The lifeline of your client’s business, inventory can be one of the most complex processes your clients deal with. Having proper visibility over every aspect of inventory – products, suppliers, pricing, quantities, orders, warehousing – will help them achieve their main business objective: to sell.

Visible inventory data can not only help your clients sell more through insights into buyer behaviour but can also help them save. Understanding the what, when, and who of their inventory means better strategic buying and ordering decisions. More sales and less cost are good news for your clients and their bottom line.

Customers and Market

While inventory control is important, it means nothing if your clients don’t have anyone to sell it to. With the right data visibility, your clients can identify all kinds of risks and opportunities within their customer market that will help them stay competitive and deliver a high-level of service. This includes:

  • What’s selling well;
  • How often and what each customer orders;
  • Quote follow up; and
  • Competitive pricing.

The most powerful thing data can do is show your clients where the problems are. Are they losing sales? If so, why? Is it because of follow up, staff or competitive offerings? With an ERP system, they’ll be able to identify issues and apply the resources to fix them.

Processes

Many businesses already use data, but often I see it utilised only when someone’s seeking an answer to a problem. If they’re not proactive and looking at the bigger picture, they miss the opportunity to implement procedural change and stop problems reoccurring. Without complete visibility, they don’t know what they’re doing well and what could be done better.

With easy access to the right data, your clients will have more opportunities to make strategic decisions and better plan for the future through forecasting and performance insights.

ERP System

An ERP system provides data visibility across your client’s entire business

Put your client’s data to use with the help of an ERP system

Data already exists in your client’s business – it’s there, ready and willing to help them. It’s just waiting for your clients to implement the right tools.

When it comes to collecting, processing and accessing meaningful business data, nothing is more effective than an ERP system. ERP systems organise and interpret data so that it is:

  • Accessible – data can be accessed easily and shared across every team member if needed, in an easily interpretable and reportable mode;
  • Integrated – ERP integrates data across multiple systems, processes and departments, to give a wide and overviewed visibility of your client’s entire business;
  • Efficient – Have clear and easy access to your client’s data when and where they need it; and
  • Accurate Make sure your clients data is up to date and unchanged, and track any changes or edits that have been made.

HARMONiQ is a fully-customisable ERP system that is built to not only give your clients the personalised business data they need but grow and learn as their business does. So, your clients will never lose sight over their business – no matter how large or fast they grow.

If your clients are considering implementing an ERP system into their business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business? Or, click here to contact HARMONiQ for any general enquiries.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to help your clients improve their business visibility and data-driven decisions, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your client’s business.

Avoid disrupted growth with ERP systems

How an ERP system can help your clients avoid the heartache of disrupted growth

Growth is almost always a positive thing, especially when it comes to business.

If your client’s business is growing, they can generally expect that will mean more customers, bigger profits and wider recognition of their brand. Overall, they’ll be more successful, right?

I’ve also seen business growth completely overwhelm businesses and cause them to miss their own expectations – and those of their customers.

This disappointment is nearly always because their systems and processes can’t keep up with the growth. As your client’s business develops, so must the way they manage it – or their growth will suddenly come to a halt.

Download HARMONiQ’s ERP Automation eBook here.

As businesses grow, so does the complexity of the everyday

Growth comes with a lot of ‘mores’. But while many people focus on the positive ‘mores’ – more sales, more customers – it’s important to consider the other ‘mores’ as well.

More inventory, more demand, more suppliers, more orders, more staff, more salaries to pay, more investment – more risk.

As the complexity of business grows, the complexity of the processes and procedures needed to carry out your client’s day-to-day business will increase. As will the difficulty of managing them all successfully.

Their current system may have got them to a spot where further growth is possible, but will it continue to work as their business increases?

Think about your client’s current tasks, and how they will change with growth:

  • Inventory – more stock coming in and out, across multiple warehouses and stores;
  • Management – more staff carrying out more tasks, with more room for error;
  • Pricing – increased pressure to offer competitive pricing, and the ability for reps to match customer price;
  • Quoting – increased writing and following up of hundreds of quote requests; and
  • Ordering – increased pressure to stay on top of stock depletion, know exactly how much and when they need to order, and to notify the right supplier.

If your clients had 10, five, even three times the amount of work they have now, would they still be able to keep up?

Avoid disrupted growth with ERP systems

Could your client’s systems keep up with their businesses growth plans?

3 signs of a system optimised for growth

Pointing out the challenges of growth is not meant to scare you and your clients off, but it is meant to get everyone thinking. Before your clients commit to growing their business, they need to set themselves up to maintain that growth.

By making sure their systems are optimised now for future changes, your clients put themselves in a better position to sustain their growth. Your clients need to effectively manage the challenges of growth if they want to enjoy the benefits.

When your client’s system works with them and not against them, it doesn’t matter how big or small their business gets, they’ll have the power to run it well.

For this next stage of growth, your client’s system needs to be:

Efficient

Your clients can’t have more time in their day, so the way they manage the time they do have needs to improve. To make room for all those ‘mores’ we mentioned earlier, processes need to be streamlined and automated where they can, ensuring faster and more accurate work and lower labour costs.

Scalable

Growth is unpredictable, so your clients need to expect the unexpected. Having a system that can grow as your clients do (or shrink, if things take a downturn) will mean they never have to change or upgrade their system again. Scalability and flexibility are key so your clients can grow and change however they want and know that it won’t affect how their business operates.

Integrated

Your client’s want their business to spread far and wide – but they don’t want their data to as well. Having systems that talk to each other and centralise all business data ensures easy access and visibility from anywhere. This integration makes communication much simpler and empowers staff – whether in sales, warehousing or accounts – to improve the way they do their job.

An ERP system provides an all-in-one answer

Some businesses decide to try and achieve these capabilities with quick fixes or band-aid solutions, such as system add-ons and extra staff. But if your clients are committed to sustaining long-term growth, overhauling their processes with an ERP system is the best answer.

While traditionally only an option for big businesses, ERP systems are now predominately adopted by businesses with complex inventory and distribution processes that want to grow.

Implementing an ERP system is the most efficient way to achieve automation across your client’s businesses. ERP’s are fully integratable, and can streamline processes throughout their entire operation, including:

  • Warehousing and distribution;
  • CRM;
  • Inventory management;
  • Sales; and
  • Reporting.

If your clients are willing to invest in growth, investing in ERP should be at the top of their list.

HARMONiQ is ERP software specifically designed to provide all the benefits of ERP while remaining customisable enough to work for your client’s specific business and grow as they do.

If you’re considering implementing an ERP system into your client’s business, you can discover more about the process in our eBook ERP Automation: Is an ERP system the right move for my business? Or, click here to contact HARMONiQ for a no-obligation chat and software trial.

ERP System automation

Unlock the value in your client’s quotes and turn them into sales with automation

Running a successful and competitive business isn’t easy (or cheap), so it’s important for your clients to find value wherever they can.

There are many different ways managers try to add value and profit to their business: pricing better, buying better, cash control, speed to market… The list goes on.

In my experience though, the place that most value is locked up in is the place most likely to be overlooked: quotes.

Many inventory-based companies provide a significant number of detailed quotes. While a lot of effort goes into compiling the quotes, less emphasis is put on following them up, due to time or staffing constraints.

Your client’s follow-up process doesn’t need to be complex or time-consuming. Something as simple as using an ERP system to automate an email could immediately multiply their revenue opportunities.

Your client’s miss 100% of the sales they don’t follow up

Maybe read that heading again, and reflect.

It doesn’t take much to be able to see the potential value in your client’s quotes – just some simple math. Take the example of one engineering company I’ve worked with.

Their average quote size was around $3000, and they had three staff members, each processing approximately 30 quotes a day.

Now for the math:

3 salespeople x 30 quotes each x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year x $3000

If you don’t have a calculator handy, I can tell you that that’s just over $70 million worth of quotes a year.

However, their annual turnover was $10 million.

So, how does this happen?

It’s common to break quotes up based on their value:

  • Average (common, every-day quotes)
  • Good (decent sized, semi-regular quotes)
  • Great (the rare, high-value quotes)

Most businesses will put effort into following up the great, and sometimes the good, because they offer more individual value. But most of your client’s annual revenue will be made up of the average sales – so why do they not put in the same level of effort to chase these?

The major issue holding businesses back from pursuing these regular every-day quotes is time. Sales staff are only human – when they’re processing a high volume of quotes each day, they don’t have the time to follow them all up individually.

But like our earlier example shows, this could be causing a huge gap between the sales your clients could be making, and the sales they are currently making.

ERP System automation

Not following up all quotes could be holding your clients back from growth

Give time back to your clients

The habit of only following up high-value deals is a practice that stems from building processes that centre around current or expected revenue, rather than possible revenue.

But when you break it down and see the difference between quote value and sale value, it’s pretty easy to see that if your clients were simply following up more quotes – no matter their value – can easily equal more sales.

Let me cheat a bit and restate the heading I used earlier: Your clients miss 100% of the sales they don’t follow up

But how do you achieve this without your clients staff working longer hours?

The answer is automation.

Workflow automation allows your clients to automatically follow up every quote, without any extra burden on sales staff. By doing this they multiply their chances of customer re-engagement.

By automating a quote follow up email, they’ve automatically increased their chances of making a sale for no extra effort.

An investment in ERP system is an investment in value

This type of automation capability is possible through an ERP system. ERP captures a variety of important customer data for your clients that they can then use to improve their service by not just automating, but customising a follow-up response.

A customised email is proven to be more engaging than a generic one. When it comes to your client’s customers, no one size will fit all. By using an ERP system, they’ll be able to customise their follow-ups by:

  • Time
  • Customer
  • Product or service
  • Quote size
  • Next step

After a customer gets a quote, they sometimes decide they’re no longer interested or would prefer to go elsewhere. But often, it’s simply that they have become busy and forget. Or they need more information. Or just need a little bit of a push.

If your clients don’t follow up, you’ll never know what could’ve been and leave money on the table for their business. If they do follow up, they’re maximising the potential value in every single quote. Your client’s opportunity for increased revenue has multiplied considerably, and their investment in ERP has just paid for itself.

And on top of the increased profit opportunities, they’ll ensure:

  • Their customers get a better, more customised and relevant service;
  • Their costs remain low because everything is automated;
  • Their staff will have more time to focus on high value work.

Your clients can’t invest in more time, but they can invest in better systems. Discover if an ERP system is the right move for your clients by downloading our free ERP automation eBook here.

If you’d like to learn more about the value of ERP implementation, click here to contact HARMONiQ.

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to help your clients gain better control of their inventory management and quotation processes in their business, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your client’s businesses.

Leveraging inventory management software to increase visibility and reduce costs

Most businesses would say that increasing productivity and boosting profits are two things that are vitally important to them. However, most businesses also engage in inventory management techniques that are draining both time and money from their business.

Manual inventory control processes – which many businesses rely on – cost more than you might imagine. Manual processes result in increased stock holdings, the cost of labour to count it, lost productivity, compounding errors, and lost sales opportunities from customers left dissatisfied.

For inventory-heavy businesses like your clients, having visibility over stock is vital to keeping customers happy and identifying cost-saving opportunities. Manual processes are never going to achieve that – but automation can.

Download HARMONiQ’s Effective Stock Management eBook to discover how your clients can effectively manage stock and control their inventory.

Are your client’s processes creating hidden costs?

Billions of dollars of revenue are lost by inventory shrinkage every year in the warehousing, retail and distribution industries. In most cases, the losses I see are caused by errors and inefficiencies in inventory management.

Working with SME’s across Australia and New Zealand, here are some of the most common costly processes I see.

Inaccurate reporting

Exception reporting – or the difference between expected and actual performance of your client’s inventory – helps control costs and tighten margins. But completing this manually requires endless data entry, stock and data reconciliation. Not only time-consuming, this process has a high incidence of human error – and just one mistake can skew the results of an entire report.

Random ordering:

When your clients are relying on estimations, changing paperwork and guess work to complete stock orders, the chances of getting it right are slim. Your clients risk ordering not enough of what they need, too much of what they don’t – and not being able to deliver what their customers want.

Delayed stock control:

Stocktake has always been an important part of inventory management, but it’s often too little, too late. Manual stocktaking tells your clients little more than what they have and what they don’t – it gives no insight into why losses are occurring, or what they can do to minimise them.

Manual workflows

Workflows from stock replenishment to late delivery notifications to suppliers are still being completed manually – costing your client’s workforce priceless hours and productivity.

When your client’s rely on manual processes to carry out a big task like inventory management, there is the chance for mistakes at every step. These errors are all costing your client’s business money – and they only compound as time goes by.

Guesswork means your clients risk ordering not enough of what they need, and too much of what they don’t

The importance of stock visibility

The common theme in all the problems resulting from inventory management is visibility – specifically, a lack of it. Time intensive, paper-based management systems restrict the visibility of stock across your client’s business.

To successfully order, manage and sell stock, your clients need to know:

  • What stock they have on hand, and what needs to be ordered
  • Where this stock is located, and if it can be transferred between warehouses
  • When a delivery is coming or going
  • How much is being delivered, being bought or being moved

This visibility of what, when, where and how builds a bigger picture and can ultimately tell your clients what many manual processes can’t – the WHY.

 

Inventory management in warehouse

Stock visibility allows for better inventory reporting, planning and ordering

Automate your inventory management

Automation makes the ‘why’ of inventory management completely transparent. By replacing manual process and disparate systems with inventory management software, your clients can automate and integrate their systems – from POS, to ordering, to reporting – to give all staff 100% visibility of inventory data.

By leveraging automation with inventory management software, your clients can achieve:

  • Precision ordering
  • Appropriate up-selling and cross-selling
  • Accurate reporting
  • Timely variance investigations
  • Automated workflows

And that’s just to name a few – all of which are going to decrease unnecessary expenditure and boost productivity.

In fact, studies have shown that an integrated inventory system results in a 7.5% decrease in the frequency of out-of-stock inventory. That’s an immediate opportunity for increased sales.

Organisations driven by effective inventory control have the edge over their competitors because increased visibility allows them to eliminate inefficiencies and minimise excess – decreasing costs and improving customer satisfaction.

Download the HARMONiQ: Effective Stock Management eBook today to learn more about optimised inventory control.

If you would like to see the impact effective stock management can have on your client’s businesses, then click to request a demo of HARMONiQ and I’ll be in touch shortly.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the inventory management in your client’s businesses, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to their business.

Downfalls of manual stock inventory control

How inventory management software is solving the 3 big problems of manual stock control

Every aspect of your client’s business is important, but stock could be considered the backbone of their whole operation. After all, it’s what their customers come for – and what brings in the profit.

Unfortunately, I see many businesses that don’t treat their stock like the valuable asset it is. Of course, no-one does this on purpose – but the common practice of manual stock control can cause more damage than you and your client’s may realise.

In 2016 alone, it was estimated that a staggering $4.5 billion was lost due to inventory shrinkage in Australia’s retail, warehousing and distribution sector.

Download HARMONiQ’s Effective Stock Management eBook

The losses don’t stop with physical stock either. They extend to the opportunities your clients are failing to pursue due to being unable to harness their stock data.

Are your clients losing more than they think?

The reason it’s so hard for your clients to notice when their stock is being mistreated is that manual processes have long been the norm, and technological improvements are ignored. And it’s more common than you might imagine – it’s how many inventory and distribution-based businesses run.

But as more businesses realise there are better ways to manage their stock, the more you’ll find your clients falling behind the competition with their manual processes. Here are three reasons why.

1. Your clients lose more – and they don’t know why

Inventory shrinkage is a part of business – but how much is too much? It’s estimated that Australian wholesalers and retailers lose an average of 1.24% total turnover per year.

A lot of this loss is to do with mistakes that stem from manual stock control, including:

  • Damaged stock
  • Missing or wrongly stored items
  • Mislabelling
  • Miscounting
  • Ordering too much or too little

Manual handling isn’t the only problem. When all your client’s inventory information is recorded through paperwork, it could take weeks – or longer – to find where a problem originated. This makes their chance of identifying and rectifying their shortcomings very slim.

2. Staff are working harder, but achieving less

Nothing in your client’s business works in isolation. Every process and action rely on another to make the business work. However, manual inventory control can have a staccato effect on the overall process.

Errors in stock management can lead to an extensive knock on effect, making it hard for your client’s staff to achieve efficient workflows or see purpose and results of their actions.

This is caused by:

  • Poor visibility over inventory, availability and/or deliveries
  • Detailed and arduous tasks that increase the risk of human error
  • Unclear communication between departments, or between two staff in a supply chain

This often results in physical stocking errors, such as over and under purchasing and restocking. It also creates confusion across the business, with sales reps selling unavailable stock and customers receiving incorrect orders.

Downfalls of manual stock inventory control

3. Your clients are left guessing what their customers want

Stock isn’t just about what your clients have, but what they can offer. The disconnect manual control creates between departments of your client’s business mean they have limited visibility over their customers’ needs.

They’re likely to be holding onto dead stock and selling out of in-demand items with little to no warning, tying up capital in the process. Not to mention, incorrectly shaping customer expectations, and affecting their competitive place in the market at the same time.

These factors can all convince customers to go to another supplier – and stay there.

Work smarter, not harder with inventory management software

It can be hard to change what your clients are used to, but if they do what they’ve always done… well, you know the saying. By embracing modern technology, your clients will be able to move their business away from the ‘same old’ and into the future.

One such technology is inventory management software. The same way that manual processes restrict your clients, inventory management software can open doors to new opportunities and capabilities.

Whether it’s a sales team wanting insights into buying behaviour and popular lines, or a warehouse worker who needs to be able to find and deliver an item more efficiently, an inventory management system can help by delivering:

  • Accurate reporting and non-paper-based data for accurate and easy stocktake
  • Real time alerts of stock variances and easy identification of problem areas
  • Flagging discrepancies in performance
  • Insight into consumer behaviour and product demand

The capabilities of purpose-built software open doors not only in the management of physical stock, but the way that stock is communicated and viewed across the business.

automated inventory management

Don’t just apply – integrate, with HARMONiQ

A fully integrated inventory system like HARMONiQ recognises businesses individuality, while also working with the demands of the industry. Businesses that have implemented the technology have been able to eliminate or simplify labour intensive tasks and achieved tangible efficiency improvements:

  • 5% decrease in frequency of out-of-stock items
  • 95% of orders delivered complete and on time
  • 7 times more likely to find and access procurement data needed for decision making

HARMONiQ is an all-in-one platform with advanced inventory management functionality that can help your clients revolutionise their stock and inventory management.

With an integrated solution like HARMONiQ, your clients not only fast-track themselves to a competitive leader but embrace technology to better their business and protect their assets.

Download the HARMONiQ: Effective Stock Management eBook today as your clients next step guide on becoming an organisation driven by smarter warehousing—because their computer system should not be a barrier to implementing an effective stock management process.

 

Author bio:

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your client’s businesses, click here to organise a demo to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to their business.