Transforming Heritage Building With Cloud Services and Coaching
Changing business processes once they are already established can be difficult. Just because there is an app for that doesn’t mean it will work. Jeffery Atizado, Co-founder of SMB Consultants famously calls this the ‘Frankenapps’ effect when an app isn’t properly implemented into a business or worse the wrong app is selected in the first place for the business needs. Transforming Heritage Building with cloud software and coaching is an incredible success story for SMB Consultants, Cin7 and Heritage Building. Not because it was an app that got implemented, but rather because of the value of the business relationships and business expertise that enabled the right fit for the business structure and great business results for Heritage Building as a result.
Heritage Building, much like the products it sells has a long and eclectic history with many twists and turns. When Bill Rendell, a former accountant, bought the business, it was a recycled timber supplier. It was doing well in this niche, but Bill could see its potential beyond recycled timber.
Bill had the vision to start selling other building materials. Materials like doors, windows, light fittings and even bathroomware — “You name it,” says Bill. In his own words
“We set ourselves up to be the one-stop-shop for the heritage building industry, and started selling equivalent-new reproductions as well.”
This transformation happened pretty quickly after Bill bought the business. Like many business owners, Bill focused on the products being sold, not necessarily the systems being put in place.
At first Bill used MYOB and spreadsheets to manage the complex inventory requirements of a second-hand goods business, where nearly every item sold was in some way unique. Whilst this may seem good in theory, the reality is, you don’t know what you don’t know. It was a headache keeping these systems going.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well. “With MYOB, there was no accountability for stock. It was just like a big box that you chucked all the information in — but I didn’t think there was anything better around at the time.”
After struggling with MYOB for almost nine years, Bill turned to what was then a new business in the very new industry of cloud inventory software implementation and coaching — SMB Consultants.
SMB Consultants founder Jeff Atizado and his team helped set Heritage Building up with his first inventory management solution: Lightspeed. At the time, it was best-of-breed software, and the new fully-digital way of operating was revelatory for Bill’s business. But times change. One of the best things Heritage Building did was to keep in contact with SMB Consultants and regularly review their business and also keep aware of technology changes.
The second-hand market was becoming less and less viable, and growth was stymied by the need to keep on top of manual tasks and fixing errors. “We were doing nothing but fixing stuff-ups,” Bill says. This became a resource drain on the business. Instead of doing tasks to grow the business they were focused on admin tasks the inventory system could no longer handle.
The problem, Bill says, was that Lightspeed hadn’t moved fast enough to keep up with the rest of the rapidly-changing world of online business. It has served its purpose and it was time to find another solution that would better suit their needs.
“It’s very difficult to get Lightspeed to work with Shopify,” says Bill. “We couldn’t get the shipping set up the way we wanted it. It just wasn’t possible with that program.
He turned to his trusted advisors, SMB Consultants to help turn things around and find another inventory solution in the market. “I started speaking with Jeff about using Cin7. The more I heard about it, the more I was impressed with what it could do.”
SMB Consultants Future Proofing Heritage Building
“It was interesting for us, because even though Bill had been a customer for eight years, the second time around is an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate their requirements and build a solution that incorporates what is important to them today.” says Jeff Atizado.
Together, Bill and the SMB Consultants team found that a new software solution could help him exit the secondhand goods market, while growing his business in entirely new directions.
In 8 years, it wasn’t only Heritage Building that had evolved. In the eight years since they had worked together, SMB Consultants on the back of working with hundreds of different businesses in manufacturing, wholesale and retail had developed their own signature 5 step process to not just match apps to clients but to fully understand the nuances of each business they work worth and give wholistic recommendations for business processes and efficiencies.
“That process at the beginning of the project, to understand how we were working, was critical,” Bill says. “Back when we first started with SMB Consultants and Lightspeed, that process didn’t exist! Doing the scoping showed me an entirely different SMB Consultants, and following the process all the way through to implement Cin7 has proved it out. They understood what we needed, and made sure it happened.”
After the initial consultation, SMB Consultants used Cin7 to create a working proof-of-concept, to be able to introduce Heritage Buildings to new workflows and opportunities. This enabled Heritage Building to see the potential capabilities offered by the Cin7 inventory software.
Once the proof-of-concept was finalised, SMB Consultants became project managers to then worked with Bill and his Heritage Building team to implement the full project.
The Benefits Of A Strong Business Foundation
Today, Bill has transformed his business from one that physically stored and moved a lot of second-hand goods to a modern, just-in-time purchasing model that no longer requires carrying significant amounts of stock. This shift, Jeff from SMB Consultants says, simply wouldn’t have been possible without Cin7.
Under the previous system, it took an average of two to three weeks for Heritage Building to get goods delivered to their customers. Now with Cin7 implemented they can get goods into customer hands in less than a week.
As an expert Cin7 consult, SMB Consultants knew the capacity of Cin7 to support a dropshipping model which has enabled Heritage Building to reduce its total stock holding by a factor of more than four, with the flow on effect being a significant reduction in administration requirements.
“Some big wins from Cin7 have been being able to give Bill a convenient tool that allows him to track which items need to be ordered, and allows him to track online sales, to order quickly, and get them shipped in time,” Jeff says. “On one side, the purchasing, on the other, fulfillment.”
“Our stock holding at present is about 200,000. Our stock holding was 1.5 million with half the turnover we’re doing now, and we’re doing it better. We’ve basically reinvented ourselves from the ground up, and we’re now a very viable online shop as well,” Bill says.
They also see the potential of Cin7 integrations to further increase their business efficiencies. They are currently working on new business workflows inside Cin7 with SMB Consultants and anticipate these will further reduce shipping times.
“One of the things we’re doing now is looking to integrate with his dropship fulfillment provider, so we can streamline how quickly we can get orders from them, which will again cut down the amount of time it takes to get the product into a customer’s hands,” Jeff says.
A Winning Formula
Heritage Building, expert partner SMB Consultants, and Cin7 are a winning formula. Anytime he’s needed help, SMB Consultants has been there for support. Bill has his own specialist implementation partner at SMB Consultants, Jess, who’s helped all through the scoping and setup, and can now lend a hand whenever Bill needs it. “I’ve still got Jessica there, when I need her, whether it’s a big or a little thing. You can’t hire for that — well, I don’t think you can,” Bill says.
Likewise, Jeff says that their work with Heritage Buildings is a great showcase of how beneficial it can be for businesses to have a long-time software and coaching partner - for both parties.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Bill,” Jeff says. “It’s great being able to look back and see the changes that we’ve made. I think Bill is being a bit humble, knowing how much change he’s actually made, but when you look at how much inventory and overhead he’s reduced, while increasing sales — that’s a winning recipe. It’s been great to be able to grow together.”
Heritage Buildings had great results the first time they worked with SMB Consultants, but the second time around, with the transformation powered by an integrated Cin7, things are better by an order of magnitude.
“The difference between two years ago and now — it’s almost unrecognizable,” Bill says. “I can work anywhere I need to be. For me, that’s a lot of help.”
The new efficiencies offered by an inventory solution that connects seamlessly with other business-critical apps have paid enormous dividends for the business. After 17 years in business, growth has been unlocked.
“In the past two years, we’ve doubled our business,” Bill says. “We’ve gone from an average of about 250,000 per month to about half a million per month. And about half of that growth is our online shop. We’ve been increasing turnover every month for the last two years, and we’re now the number three distributor in our category in Australia.”
None of it would have been possible without an expert Cin7 implementation specialist — and the help they’ve received from SMB Consultants.
“Without Cin7, it would have been impossible to do what we’ve achieved,” Bill says. “It’s that simple. We are who we are today because of Cin7 and SMB Consultants. Our website is going exceptionally well, and I don’t think it would have been possible before Cin7. It’s worked very well for us.”