An article written for Glass News, April 2017.
As one of the last remaining privately owned hardware distributors, Carl F Groupco has the ability to adapt, pre-empt demands and respond quickly to changing requirements. In this article for Glass News, John Crittenden explains how autonomy gives the organisation the ability to be open with its staff and flex its offer to react quickly to market demand.
“A major advantage of private ownership is that the company doesn’t have layers of group management to negotiate before implementing new procedures or processes, this ensures high levels of responsiveness throughout the business.
“We can be totally open with our staff which offers significant value… our workforce understands fully the direction of the organisation and importance of service excellence, including next day delivery targets.
“As part of this transparency we introduced Business Conferences where we talk honestly, including reporting our On Time In Full service statistics and sales figures. We look at where we are, what we are doing and what we are going to do. Questions are encouraged, which are collated and responded to. Nothing is hidden which builds trust and understanding. All staff attend, and at each conference one department presents its contribution to customer service: this helps everyone understand that they have a key part to play in meeting our business objectives. Members of our accounts team – traditionally a department that works behind closed doors – presented at the last meeting.
“Staff members at every level are encouraged to be proactive in making proposals for new systems. We don’t just pay lip service with suggestion boxes, when our workers identify areas that could be improved they simply talk to us and initiatives are given due consideration… some of our most effective advancements have come from our workforce.
“Taking the example of customer quotations, an improvement to how these are generated originated from our employees that work with the system. Linking quotes to our central CRM operating system resulted in instant access across the team to view quotes and data regarding profit margins. This empowerment is all important in releasing discretionary effort; it means our workforce doesn’t stick to the letter of job descriptions.
“Our buddy back up concept was also inspired by front line workers. Members of the internal sales team recognised the benefits of working in tandem with Regional Sales Managers. As everyone has access to the same information, the customer is assured there is always someone available to help.
“We all roll our sleeves up, coming together to take joint responsibility. A good example is stock take weekend where everyone, including the management team and company Directors, pulls together to complete the essential audit.
“Refreshingly, warehouse staff are also highly engaged in our customer focus. I believe this is because they are recognised as an essential part of the team and included in all communications. There are many examples of our warehouse staff’s contribution to the bigger business picture. As part of our bespoke packaging for a number of major profile companies there have been a number of occasions where we have presented new challenges. Rather than balk at additional work, they have come up with a brief of how to pack and label to speed up the process and improve the packaging quality. If they have a quiet day, stock is pre-packed in readiness for shipping – this lack of ‘jobs worth’ mentality is invaluable to the successful running of the organisation.
“The benefits of organisational autonomy mean we can move quickly to pre-empt market trends. Carl F direct was our first venture more than one step aside from hardware distribution, this evolved from selling a few tools to a dedicated service. Being constrained by a parent group probably wouldn’t have allowed this initiative.
“SmartSecure is an excellent example of rapidly establishing a position at the forefront of new technology. There is undeniable growth in smart home technology and we recognised the importance of grabbing this window of opportunity – after extensive research we moved quickly to invest fully in the concept and our solutions. With our freedom of operation, we have been able to fully commit to the new brand investing in the appointment of a highly qualified Business Development Manager, a showroom and significant marketing collateral including a dedicated website and video.
“As we aren’t overly reliant on own brand hardware we are able to assist customers in developing their own product lines. We can also create bespoke hardware ‘kits’, mixing and matching brands which means customers buy from one supplier source. To us it just means a willingness to tailor our service, a little extra time and additional wrapping, but the value to our customers is huge.”
Carl F Groupco Limited: Tel: 01733 393330
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