Based in Wigan, husband and wife team Malcolm & Angela Graham run Brick Store, a company that specialises in selling nothing but bricks. Trading since 1990, they have achieved steady growth over the years and now employ 12 staff and have 3 wagons out on the road full time delivering orders.
Brick Store's customers include builders' merchants, national house builders, local builders and the general public. They maintain very close contact with the various brick manufacturers and carry a large range of standard and specials in stock.
Brick Store specialises in brick matching and have up to 4 staff members on the road helping customers match old and new brick work. "It's specialist knowledge. We often have to advise customers that the bricks that their property was built from have been discontinued and that a particular brick is its nearest replacement."
Border initially came across Brick Store a number of years ago when they first looked at buying a software system. In the end they decided to buy from a competitor. However the software they bought didn't work out. Angela said, "Our old system didn't even add up invoices properly - of course we didn't find this out until it was live and had paid for it. Understandably we lost confidence in it almost straight away and went back to a manual paper based system."
By late 2005, Angela & Malcolm decided that they really did need a computer system to help run the business. They consulted their staff to find out if they had any experience of using a good system – two replied that the computer system they had used in their previous job was excellent. When they both mentioned that it was CounterAct by Border, Malcolm & Angela realized that was the system they had nearly bought last time. They arranged for a demo and eventually decided to go ahead. They went live on 1st April 2006.
Angela didn't expect the process to be easy but despite a few minor niggles CounterAct was installed fine. "The training was fabulous. We have had confidence in CounterAct since day one. In fact, enough confidence to quickly let go of our old manual system."
Although not planned, the installation of CounterAct led to an immediate reduction in staff costs. With their old manual system, Brick Store had one member of staff dedicated to handwriting manual invoices and updating the ledgers. Once the system was in place they quickly realised that CounterAct would do this job.
"Even though we would have been happy to find them other responsibilities within the company the staff member involved decided it was time for a change anyway and left." Brick Store has not needed to replace them.
The other immediate tangible benefit CounterAct has brought is the time that it has saved. It used to take Malcolm all day to work out the commission for the reps – now he does it straight from a sales analysis report on CounterAct in a fraction of the time.
"Looking at CounterAct and being able to see if we have had a good or bad day is a massive leap forward for us but I know there is a lot more we will be able to get from the system."
Brick Store has a level of expertise in a specialist area that very few other companies can match. Most of its business comes through word of mouth.
Malcolm sums up, "Bricks aren't the most exciting thing in the world but it's what we know and what we do well, so we won't change."