When Tileworks owner and director Paul Castle describes his Accredo business software system as "extremely flexible", he knows what he is talking about. Implemented when the company was first established over 15 years ago, the Accredo system has kept on top of the changing needs of his business - continually delivering improved efficiencies and market-leading customer service.
During this time the ceramic tile importing and installation company has grown from a staff of two to 11, and become a multi-million turnover business. Castle was tasked with the job of selecting and implementing the financial system when the company was first established.
“After six months of trying to manage our inventory on an Excel spreadsheet, I was extremely motivated to find a computerised system that could handle our importing and distribution business model.” Having worked previously for a company with an accounting system that “didn’t deliver half of the results it should have for the cost”, Castle says he went looking for a solution that could handle more than just basic compliance accounting. He wanted a financial system that could also seamlessly conduct invoicing, inventory, and job costing activities.
“The drive was to eliminate the manual updating. Happily, I found Profax, as Accredo was called back then. I was immediately impressed with what it could do. Although it offered more functionality than we needed, I had no hesitation in selecting it, as I wanted capacity to grow.”
It was a decision that has paid handsome dividends. The Accredo system has become an integral management tool to the business and, thanks to its ability to be customised, has allowed Tileworks to conquer some key technical business challenges, including product quality control and inventory utilisation.
Matching colours is one of the biggest headaches tile importers and distributors face. Castle explains the firing process of ceramic tiles produces tonal differences, similar to the way the same carpet colour can vary from batch to batch.
“When we received a customer order for say 150 square metres of a tile, we had no way of telling whether we could supply it all in the same shade. It could quite possibly be in four or fi ve different shades,” says Castle.
“Quality control is a huge issue, and you cannot supply tiles in different shades for a floor or wall surface in the same room. There is a similar problem with tile size calibration. Dimensional variation in tile must remain within strict European Standards requirements resulting in tiles being sorted by the manufacturers into different ‘calibers’. Supplying tiles of varying calibration creates issues when the tiles are installed.”
“Accredo has helped our business enormously; reducing errors and improving the accuracy of order information we give customers.”
Paul Castle, Director, Tileworks
To get round this Castle sat down with his Accredo QSP, Pam Burnside, and customised Accredo to create a better stock tracking system – one that could identify a unique stock location for each batch and caliber of tiles. Now when talking to a customer, Castle’s team can query the system to discover how many different shades/calibers and quantities of a particular tile exist. Scripted into the receipting process of each batch, the tile serial numbers also indicate where each batch of tiles is located in the warehouse.
Says Castle: “This has helped our business enormously, improving the accuracy of information we give customers right at the outset of the order.” Castle says the close integration between the job costing, invoicing and stock control functionality within Accredo has wrought significant effi ciencies within the business.
“We have stretched Accredo to provide a better degree of accuracy when measuring the amount of tiles we have in stock. Typically, when a customer asks for 10 square metres, most suppliers will supply 9.9 square metres or 10.1 square metres. The measurement of what they supply is inaccurate and over time this creates a cumulative problem – the amount you are selling doesn’t equal the same units of stock you have in the warehouse.” To conquer this, Castle and Burnside adjusted Accredo to cater for a finer four decimal place measurement. “We no longer have to do stock takes, because we are always in balance.” Better yet, the system has been customised to execute difficult calculations that were causing a problem in the warehouse.
“Previously, each time an order was picked our store men had to convert the square metre calculation into a figure that took account of the dimension of the particular tile and the number of boxes and pieces needed to fulfill the order. Doing that calculation was an error-prone business.”
Now, Accredo does the math for Tileworks, delivering a picking slip to the warehouse with the number of pieces of tile needed to complete the order. This has eliminated errors in order measurement and turns into another benefit when it comes to order completion. A carrier name and consignment note number is entered on the packing slip that is sent with the goods, but Accredo also ensures an electronic version is emailed directly to the customer. “This has eliminated all the calls we used to get asking about delivery times. Now the customer has an acknowledgement that the order has been processed, and has all the necessary contact details to phone the carrier directly to find out its estimated time of arrival.”
Castle says the Accredo support model has served his business extremely well. “Pam and I have developed a good working knowledge around how to extract the best from the product. She understands our business intimately and is extremely proactive in helping us solve problems.”
Castle says he often maps out processes and asks Burnside whether Accredo can accommodate them. Burnside says that nine times out of ten, if the process is logical, she can build it in Accredo. “I don’t think I have ever been faced with the situation where Accredo can’t do what has been asked.”
Accredo has provided numerous other innovations, “all of which are crucial to us improving our stock utilisation and customer service”, says Castle. “We like to keep lifting the bar and Accredo has always been able to conquer the technical challenges that this involves.”