AC Leigh is one of the UK's leading Architectural Ironmongers with over 50 staff and an annual turnover of £7 million. It supplies specialist ironmongery and security products to projects throughout the UK from branches across East Anglia. AC Leigh continually invests in staff, training and equipment to ensure it provides expert knowledge and exceptional levels of service.
Border Merchant Systems’ CounterAct software has provided AC Leigh with a fully integrated and bespoke solution for over 15 years. John Hill, Managing Director of AC Leigh explains that for him “the system is one of the best available on the market today.” His previous software was an ‘accounts based’ package and was restrictive and unable to integrate information across the business.
One of the biggest features of CounterAct for AC Leigh, is the ability to produce ‘Door Scheduling’. This unique feature enables AC Leigh to produce Schedules of the products required. It shows the doors needed and any specific closure, security or access requirements.
This exclusive software development to CounterAct was a bespoke extension produced by Border Systems. John explains, “We can produce a tailored document which we can present back to clients or the architect. This information can be linked with Word documents and printed out as an individual order, or by project. All of the information is linked directly back to the CounterAct software.”
However, ‘Door Scheduling’ is just one development that has been produced. “Border will work on new developments that are advantageous to the wider industry”, added John. This is a great benefit to him and for other merchants, “as we often pay less for development work which Border can offer it to a wider client base. It is about a partnership that benefits everyone, and helps Border to provide an outstanding service and packages.”
This mutually beneficial approach is essential to AC Leigh. “Border make new opportunities available which other software providers simply could, or would not, give us. And with over 2 million quotes per year going through AC Leigh, this flexibility is essential to a business like ours,” said John.
Another recent feature are the new ‘CounterAct Dashboards’. Dashboards are a unique way of displaying business data in a graphical or data form. At AC Leigh they have paid for their own bespoke dashboards so they can monitor business and efficiencies. John explained that one of the critical things for him was to record and measure the success of the business and the failure rates. “Information can be monitored such as the number of quotes produced and those converted; this can be drilled down by branch or by department”, added John. Dashboards also allow AC Leigh to see what is in the pipeline as orders may take over 12 months from scheduling to actually come to fruition. “This helps the business set budgets and targets”.
Another new addition of ‘Sales Analysis Enquiry’. John explains why this is so important to the business. “In the past getting the particular information we wanted out of the system was very time-consuming as we used to have to run reports and then export them to csv files. Now it is much easier to view sales and analyse the figures. We can quickly see graphically how products are performing and drill down into product types or departments and branches. This has proved invaluable to AC Leigh for comparing and spotting product trends, for example, we can look at the value of sales, the number of transactions or any other factor we want to view, at any level required.”
John uses Sales Analysis Enquiry to create data by defining his own KPI’s and business criteria. He can set the parameters for interrogating the information and turn this easily into an email or Word document. AC Leigh uses data to look at average sales and GP per month or year and the performance of any given criteria. “Previously this kind of information at the drill down level was impossible to access or define. We can now make sound business decisions based on real facts and figures,” said John.
John firmly believes this type of information has aided the business considerably over the last 1-2 years with annual turnover tripling to over £7 million. “However, we have not had to increase the number of admin staff. This kind of increase would have been impossible without use of the CounterAct software and the full integration it provides”, added John.
AC Leigh has recently increased business via its web trading site. Having its own independent platform was not an issue as John points out that Border was able to integrate AC Leigh’s online information into Counteract relatively quickly. Last year the business achieved over £800,000 of sales from the web. “The ability to integrate this information into the CounterAct software has streamlined the admin process. The web page will also show immediately if a product is in stock. John is confident that without the expertise of Border this would not have been possible"
So what of the future at AC Leigh? - John is passionate about further web integration and “this will be AC Leigh’s priority for us as a business as online sales becoming increasingly important”, he added. “We would like to see customers able to access their own accounts by logging onto our website and we will be working with Border in the future to achieve this goal.”
In January 2016, AC Leigh launched a ‘click and collect’ online system. This is where a customer can order a product and see immediately, if it is in stock and track the delivery. All the information is automated via the stock integration into CounterAct so that customers can be assured they are looking at the most accurate details.
“Border is a very approachable supplier. We have always found them helpful and pleasant in the 15+ years we have dealing with them, but more importantly they approach everything in a completely professional manner”, concluded John.