PBM takes a closer look at the recent IT investment made by Taylor & Sons, selecting a system that has been designed to meet the needs of smaller merchant businesses.
Ian Taylor’s early career was the perfect education for setting up his own timber merchant business in 2012. Working for a timber importer and processor on the Isle of Dogs he was immersed in the logistics of how timber came in to the UK from Poland, Canada and South America, as well as the machining process. His next job with a timber merchant taught him another aspect of the industry as well as providing valuable product knowledge about sheet and insulation materials.
Before moving into his current premises, Ian ran Taylor & Sons from home and stored his timber in a range of rented farm buildings and at the local cricket club. “In the early days my sons used to help me load up deliveries for the next morning,” he remembered. “In the evenings we could be seen walking the lengths of timber across the pitch as we weren’t allowed to drive the lorry over the grass near the club!”
Taylor & Sons started by supplying timber and sheet materials to contacts Ian had made over the years and still focuses on supplying 100 or so small to medium sized builders, including specialist basement contractors working in and around London. “We’ve now been in our unit since 2016,” said Ian, “and I’m proud of how the business has grown organically since the early days. I employ a driver to help with deliveries now and I’m looking to take on another sales person shortly so I can concentrate on developing the business further.”
Ian recently started using K8, an ERP system provided by Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) but, before this, he had been managing his accounts and keying in his sales transactions manually using spreadsheets that he saved on USB sticks and moved between various desktop and laptop computers.
“I used to enter sales information on to a delivery note template and print off two copies. At the end of the month I had to key all the information in again to produce my invoices,” he explained. “Because I was so busy taking new orders, sourcing materials and helping to prepare deliveries, it was often the end of the following month before I sent invoices out to customers. I realised it was time to look for a proper system.”
Ian had heard industry contacts talk about K8 so he gave KCS a call. “The first person I spoke to was so helpful that I didn’t bother speaking to any other providers,” he said. “The KCS technician took around four days to install the system and we were able to start using it to process sales straight away.”
Ian now uses K8 for sales, purchasing, accounting and stock control. He said that since he’s entered all his stock on the system it’s been an eye opener to see the true value of what the business holds. He said: “I estimate the system has made the business 50% more efficient than it was before. Invoicing used to take me two or three weeks, now it’s done in less than a day. To me that time saved is priceless.”
Ian also plans to use the system to help him set and monitor sales targets when he takes on his new salesperson. He can log in to the browser-based system remotely allowing him to work from home when he needs to. Quotes and purchase orders are emailed directly from the system and the business intelligence K8 provides is delivering further cost savings. He explained: “The system showed me how many deliveries we were making to the same sites so I’ve been able to make savings by planning my deliveries more efficiently.
“Also I’ve got a much clearer picture of the stock we hold and, by checking it against sales history, rather than having stock hanging around for months, I’m starting to buy much more efficiently which is helping our cash flow.”
Ian uses a version of K8 that has been developed for small to medium sized businesses with less than 20 users. It can be set up very quickly, with minimal training required. The software is rented rather than purchased and so a substantial initial investment is replaced by affordable monthly or quarterly ‘per user’ costs.
Furthermore, businesses can host the software themselves using an on-premise server or can access it over the Internet using a highly secure hosted solution. The latter option means there’s no need to maintain IT infrastructure and the KCS team handles all system maintenance remotely.
Ian said the KCS team ‘has been brilliant’ responding to all calls and requests quickly. He added: “There’s lots more functionality in the system that I’m not using yet, but I’m looking forward to the support it can give me as the business develops in the future.”
For more information on K8 from Kerridge Commercial Systems, visit www.kerridgecs.com.