A relaxed and comfortable Hague Haswell reports that within six months of implementing SapphireOne for Timbecon, he was already benefitting financially.
Timbecon positions itself as Australia’s leading supplier of tools and machinery for the burgeoning cabinetmaking and joinery trade. Explained Hague, “Our business is all about finding woodworking products not usually sold in Australia and making them available here. Our two main markets are enthusiast woodworkers and small furniture makers, so our thrust is to offer a curated range of woodworking tools and machinery. It’s a very specialised market.”
Hague’s parents began Timbecon, sold it in 2007 and then Hague bought it back in 2014, after gaining business experience in other areas. In the last five years, he’s taken Timbecon from being marginally profitable to turning over $8 million annually, but it is only since installing SapphireOne that he’s felt comfortable about his processes and systems being capable of managing this growth.
“Most of our customers are 45 – 65 year old males and I think it’s been like that forever! As people get older, they start looking at woodworking as a great pastime and our biggest competitor isn’t other woodworking companies, but golf! People seem to do one or the other – or perhaps both.”
When Hague bought the company in 2014, he had only a handful of employees and a fairly simple business structure. Timbecon has since grown to over 20 employees at the end of 2019 and while much of his turnover is online, he also has two retail outlets, in Perth and Melbourne.
“I was pretty much starting from zero, using the Lightspeed POS system and manually transferring information into a general ledger. We effectively had three separate databases – Perth, Melbourne and the accounting file, but they didn’t talk to each other.
“This became a major issue as the business grew – and the problems began at a really basic level. For instance, we’d be waiting for things to load on our old computer system because the software couldn’t keep up with the volume of work it needed to do. We could see that we needed a system that was more efficient, that could share information across the business and be able to handle an increasing volume of work.
“When we started researching solutions, we didn’t have a specific wishlist. It was more a matter of looking at different systems and seeing what they had to offer. Another challenge for us is that we are Mac based. Most accounting systems run on Windows, but one of my frustrations with Windows is that it’s not always so robust and it takes take quite a bit of upkeep, whereas I’ve found that Macs don’t need so much maintenance. So our focus was on systems that we could run on a Mac.”
As Hague fine-tuned his search, he took a look at how Bordo had installed SapphireOne, which in some ways had a similar business structure in a different market segment. “This showed us that the most important thing we needed to fix was our warehousing and dispatch. We could see that this was the number one driving factor because, at that stage, our dispatch system was so inefficient.
“In our old dispatch process, every step had to be manually updated. We couldn’t just tick a box and see the data transferred to the next step. In fact, every step in our dispatch process had to be manually updated. In comparison, SapphireOne automates all these processes, so rather than waiting for our computer to load a new page and re-enter some of the information, SapphireOne automatically creates invoices, dispatch and consignment notices, with all the detailed information you require.
“In fact, about one third of our direct labour cost in dispatch has been saved, just because we don’t have so much manual data entry anymore.
“Similarly, on the accounting side of things, we’d do all the work in Lightspeed and then re-enter information into the general ledger. The systems weren’t integrated and so we had a person spending all her time re-entering information. If you’re doing 30 sales a day, perhaps that’s not such a problem, but now we’re doing 250 transactions a day, you can’t have people sitting down doing data entry just for that! “So, this is the main benefit of using SapphireOne for us. It’s an integrated system, not only between our POS management and the general ledger, but it also integrates directly with our website.”
SapphireOne has a range of APIs to provide a highly integrated solution. For instance, it integrates Tyro so SapphireOne can process credit cards within the application and without having to go out to a separate device. It also links directly with Australia Post and StarTrack for online orders and dispatch, plus it connects with the ATO for STP and BAS. And as Hague explained, it also links in directly with his website’s CMS.
“The website integration has really made my life much easier, especially for the Frequent Shopper program we have.
“Prior to implementing SapphireOne POS, we had a system which was manually administered, meaning we’d have to extract the data from our POS system, drop it into Excel, run the calculations and then upload the information to the website. There were so many steps and calculations we’d have to do every month that there was always the chance of an error. Plus we had to input voucher codes for each customer manually!
“Now that the whole system is administered automatically through SapphireOne and because it’s synchronised, there’s no double entry and our customers are getting a much better experience. “Previously, the end of the month used to be a weight around my shoulders because of all the administration and reporting, but now with SapphireOne, we have a great system and it just works!” So, how have staff members taken to SapphireOne? Hague says the dispatch side of the company loves it because it has provided them with the greatest efficiencies, but the guys in the shop are perhaps not quite as happy. But there’s a good reason for that!
Explained Hague, with the old POS system in the shops, because it collected so little information, it was also very quick and easy to use. It didn’t take staff any time at all to ring up a sale. With SapphireOne, much more information is being collected for every sale, which is good for dispatch as well as reporting, so the shop staff are spending a little more time entering in the necessary information for each sale. “Of course, we need all this information for mail orders, but our mail order staff are relatively new and have only ever used SapphireOne. In comparison, some of the staff in the shops aren’t as computer literate and it has taken them a little longer to get used to, but by them doing a little more work up front, it’s allowing us to really streamline all of our systems down stream. Personally, they may not see the direct benefit, but from a business viewpoint, the SapphireOne system is so much more robust and everything we need is built into the one platform.” One of the strengths of SapphireOne is its ability to produce custom reports for any aspect of the business. Prior to purchasing Timbecon, Hague had worked in the automotive industry with other software that enabled custom reporting, so he already had certain expectations of SapphireOne.
“However, I didn’t realise just how easy SapphireOne was to use. Normally you almost need to understand coding before you can produce a custom report, but you can teach yourself in SapphireOne in just a couple of hours and in a very short period of time you can generate exactly the reports you need. Looking back now on the limited reporting we had, and comparing it to what we have now, SapphireOne has delivered significant improvements.”
And if there are any questions, Hague said he has no hesitation touching base with SapphireOne’s helpful staff. “I really appreciated how they didn’t just implement the software, but took the time to understand the business first. Every business is a little bit different and they were very good about how they adapted SapphireOne to our situation.
“And the programmers also grasp our business problems, turning them into software solutions. I was amazed when talking to them that they not only understood my issues, but could create a solution within SapphireOne. The support really has been amazing.”