BBS Plumbing & Heating Supplies Ltd was founded in 1933 as a general building and agricultural merchant. In the mid fifties, the firm moved into sanitary ware and central heating where it has specialised ever since. It has an existing site in Bristol and is due to expand to a second site at Bath later this year.
Now with 20 employees, the firm has established itself as a major supplier of commercial sanitary ware and heating equipment, supplying large M&E contractors as well as a broad base of customers across the plumbing and heating industry including local councils, universities and the NHS.
BBS has a strong ethos of excellent customer service and prides itself in being a company that people enjoy working for and customers and suppliers enjoy dealing with.
To deliver this quality of care, BBS has always invested in the latest technology, and for over 20 years it has been utilising Border Merchant’s unique CounterAct Software.
John O’Brien, MD of BBS explains why CounterAct Software has become essential to the business:
“For us there is simply no other supplier and software that even comes close to the innovative and technically advanced CounterAct Software from Border Merchant. We have been using the core system for many years but Border’s continual developments and enhancements mean we always have the latest technology at the click of a button. We have had several new employees join us, who have worked with other software and they are always amazed at the simplicity, ease of use and speed that CounterAct provides.”
John describes his rapport with Border, “key to the success of the relationship has been Border’s ability to develop new solutions and solve problems as our business has grown”.
Outstanding POP access to product information – For BBS one of the key features of CounterAct is the ability to find products and related information quickly and efficiently. “We may have customers waiting to be served and the only way we can do this professionally, is to have the information at the click of a button”, explains John. The software allows BBS to very easily find items, giving information and helping staff to cross sell. The sophisticated search systems offers two ways to find products, by names or by short codes, giving immediate prices, availability and sizes of the items.
Extensive Reporting Facilities – New ‘Dashboard’ technology gives up-to-date ‘real time’ reporting with the familiar look and feel of an Outlook system.
BBS utilises Dashboard reporting technology for monitoring sales patterns, product lifecycles and sales figures either year on year, or for monthly or daily comparisons. “The new reports give us the confidence and reassurance we need that the information we have is 100% accurate, at any given point; quite simply there are no surprises. This will prove vital when we launch our second site later this year as we will be able to immediately see how the new branch is performing.”
Quoting – CounterAct streamlines’ the quotation process allowing staff to produce quick quotes for orders ranging from £500-250,000. John added, “It is vital that the system is easy to use. The quotes are very professional and customer friendly and can be split into desired fields with options to allow VAT to be shown or not.”
Quote Reporting – the new Dashboard reporting provides John and his team with detailed information on live quotes. John explains “It is simply far more cost effective to chase live business. The quotation reports act as a ‘reminder’ of when quotes need to be followed up. This information gives us vial knowledge and allows us to contact a client to see if we need to action, adjust figures or talk through any issues or changes. And because we are armed with actual profit and cost data, we can make informed business and customer specific decisions immediately to secure any potential business”.
Customer Relations Management (CRM) – BBS is fully utilising the relatively new CRM package available from CounterAct. According to BBS CRM enables the targeting of customers in a ‘way that was previously unthinkable’. They have been using it to aim offers and promotions around specific customer types, therefore avoiding irrelevant, costly correspondence being sent to the wrong client type.
Nominal Ledger and Credit Control – everything from bank accounting, stock details and credit checks are now available in an instant. This has given BBS improved control on a daily basis of all accounting matters and the ability to identify spending patterns and habits. For example, BBS can now check customer credit limits, and identify who is over or near to the limit and adjust or contact each account if required.
Stock Control – CounterAct provides the ability to run constant stock checks throughout a 12 month period, avoiding the need for a time consuming manual yearly stock take. “On-going running stock controls at BBS are set to different levels and time periods depending on the value of the stock,” said John. “This gives us a much more accurate and easy to access stock control process and avoids the need for unpopular and arduous manual checks”.
A seamless back to back ordering system – At BBS each order may contain multiple items for example, a bath suite can have 12 different components. CounterAct gives the ability to enter the order as a single request taking one payment for the multiple items. The system then advises what is in stock and what needs to be ordered, showing relevant manufacturer details which enable instant emails/orders to be issued if required. Orders can be reviewed at any time to check the progress against delivery date, highlighting any outstanding components and prompting further correspondence if needed. This has been a huge benefit to BBS who can now be assured that all relevant orders have been issued to their suppliers.
John concludes, “CounterAct enables us to deliver outstanding customer care whilst providing a hugely valuable backbone of information and reports, all of which assists the everyday efficient running of the business”.
“The close relationship we have with Border Merchants is crucial to this success. Opening the second store later this year could be fraught with difficulties, but we are confident that Border has considered everything for us and that its market leading CounterAct software will give us the ability to open as smoothly as possible.”