When Greg Ford opened his first TradeTools store in 1987, the focus was squarely on delivering specialist tools at the best prices in Australia. Fifteen years and seven stores later, TradeTools Direct is a success story by anyone’s measure.
The challenge of growth
With growth came the challenge of business process automation. As Iain Woods, TradeTools Direct IT director, explains: “All invoices, credits, in fact all paper work was manually written by sales staff. It was a very time consuming process and took approximately two staff at least two days a week to perform.”
Understandably, given the paper-based system, the location of stock was not tracked. So when a customer asked for products not stocked in a particular store, the sales person would contact other stores until the items were located.
Indeed, the call was made so often that a dedicated two-way radio system was installed to speed up the process. Once the products were located, they would be couriered to the requesting store as quickly as possible.
As Woods notes: “Inventory in its own right was not viewed as an across store task as there was no tool available to view store stocks.”
The customer service vision
The decision to implement a computerised system was driven by a vision of complete customer service, and TradeTools Direct selected PRONTO Software because of its fully integrated point-of-sale system and comprehensive accounting functions.
Included in TradeTools Direct’s decision matrix was local support, which was seen as a key differentiator by Roger Brailey, PRONTO Software’s state manager, Queensland.
“PRONTO has a complete support structure in Brisbane and that includes application code programmers who can update the source code if required. We provide a level of responsiveness that is unmatched,” Brailey says.
PRONTO’S integrated inventory and accounting functions means TradeTools Direct’s POS terminals directly support features such as trade accounts and standard pricing policies.
“With the point of sale, TradeTools Direct achieved better front-end control. Lots of builders run accounts, which were easily linked to the accounting system for invoices and statements,” says Stefan Keller, senior Pronto consultant.
From Woods’ point of view, PRONTO takes management of TradeTools Direct to a higher level.
“Pricing is now managed across all stores centrally giving consistency. Reordering is automated and we actually know which items are selling and can weed out dead stock,” he says.
Importantly, stock is visible in real-time across all stores at the touch of a button. Additionally, PRONTO’s implementation methodology highlighted significant amounts of uncounted stock.
“During the implementation,” explained Brailey, “TradeTools Direct found stuff they had forgotten about, outback, all over the place.”
Woods agrees: “PRONTO has forced us to look at our stock. Whilst going through this process we have made some $500,000 in stock adjustments which has reflected positively to our financial position.”
High value proposition
At the end of the day, TradeTools Direct measures the success of its PRONTO system not only by financial terms. In keeping with Ford’s original vision, every TradeTools Direct customer receives exceptional service from any staff member. That is the real return on investment – ensuring that each customer keeps coming back.