Loaf Catering – CRM, Sales Order Processing and Real Time Reporting

I’m Diane Hill. I’m the Director
of Business Development at NOW Group. Hi, I’m Francis Berry. I’m a Finance Officer for the NOW Group. One of our businesses
that have greatly benefited from Flowlens is our Loaf Catering business. Loaf Catering is obviously
a social enterprise, and we have a purpose about what we do and support people
with learning difficulties and autism. So that not only means that we have
to produce good quality fresh products across all of our sites
and our corporate catering, but it allows our participants
to be involved in everything we do and get that training aspect
as everything that we are involved in and allows them to move on
to other opportunities and jobs. So when I joined the NOW Group,
everything was paper-based, there was very little communication
between the departments, and that brought its own issues and didn’t allow us to have a clear focus on what our sales
were going to be for the month against our projections. Our system was operating
through essentially an Outlook calendar for our bookings. That created an awful lot of manual work. It led to a great deal of mistakes
and different issues we were having and really communication problems. Prior to having Flowlens, we were really working
on a four to five-day turnaround between an order being placed
and sent out to a customer and an invoice being able to go to them. Using Flowlens has allowed us to carry out
that entire function within a single day, which is obviously having
a major impact on not only the operational side of the business
but the cash-flow perspective of the finance side of our business. So, I suppose, since I joined Loaf, over the last two years
we have doubled in our number of cafés. We now have four cafés, and our corporate catering
has increased by 25%. It has been down to the fact
that we can communicate more. They do internal transfers. Anything that’s made fresh here
goes to each of the cafés and that is processed through our CRM. Using Flowlens has allowed us to greatly reduce both
the amount of people involved in the corporate catering function as well as the amount of time
it takes us to get from a point of an order being placed straight through
to an invoice being produced. For, particularly, growing businesses,
Flowlens is really beneficial in terms of taking what may be processes
that are no longer fit for function and systems that aren’t fit for function. It really allows us to incorporate a lot of the different areas
of our business into one simple system. The Flowlens system
gives us a lot more confidence if we’re going to the board meetings or we’re presenting
on our monthly accounts that it’s accurate information. We provide weekly reporting, and Flowlens has allowed us to capture
all the information in one place with one simply run report. In the past, we were using a calendar, having to go into each calendar entry and calculating our weekly
sales figures through that. Obviously, the alternative we have now
has probably reduced our turnover time in getting that information out by–
you’re talking maybe four to five hours, which obviously allows a kind of quick
and effective decision making at the other side of the business from a management
and operational perspective. I think, for me,
from a strategic point of view, it allows me to have information
on an accurate basis whenever I require it, and allows me then
to make decisions going forward based on accurate information. If I, in the head office, am getting a call
from a customer with a complaint, I am able to address
the situation right away, look at the order, look at the information
that has been provided to them, and Flowlens is also allowing us
to capture the issues that are involved in areas then and addressing anything, so we’re not seeing that happen
on a repeated basis. The team at Loaf were very keen
to get a system in place. Once we were able to show them
exactly what this would allow them to do and where we’d want to get to
once we got this in place they were very keen to do this. We did have small issues along the way in making sure that it was fit for purpose
for each of them, but that was quickly resolved. We were able then to make sure that the model was directly fitted
for what we needed, and, over the year, that’s made
a massive contribution to the team. From my perspective, I found Flowlens to be very simple
to use from day one. From my background, I have a lot of experience in using
different systems of this nature. So, for me, it was night and day
compared to what we were using before. We’re now not restricted
by laptops and computers. For example, our delivery drivers
and our food preparers are now able to use tablets
in order to create and complete tasks and manage their workload; whereas, in the past, we were working off delivery sheets
with untimely information. We had a small pot of money
as any small business would do, and I had to sell the benefits
of using some sort of system. So I wanted to make sure
that we could pick a system that would tailor around
exactly what we needed, rather than buy one off the shelf that we would try
to adapt ourselves to work with. So, initially, when I met with Flowlens, I was able to get a demo
of how this would work, and then I could see how that would fit
with our business model. And then once we agreed
on the model and how it would fit, then we had an implementation team
and a project manager then who worked with us directly
to make sure that fitted with the team and worked through every aspect
of what we needed it to do. I was very aware that there was a need for communication
throughout the organization, and that was about linking up the services
which we were giving for each organisation. So if somebody was purchasing
from our corporate catering, that we were also looking at
placement opportunities, we were looking at jobs,
we were looking at them becoming JAM Card, and linking everyone up, and that was the fundamental reason why we looked at Flowlens
and a CRM system, that they were able to communicate with and make it easier for that one organisation
to have that one point of contact. The progress that we’ve made from that,
from introducing Flowlens, has allowed us to have
a number of strategic partners. An example of that is JP Corry, who are a well-known builders merchants
throughout the UK, and within Northern Ireland, then they’re able to become
JAM Card-friendly, purchase our corporate catering, offer placements, and look at
job opportunities with them, and that has allowed us
across the organization to work together effectively on that. We are now well aware
of what the CRM is capable of and what Flowlens can do for us, and we’re working with them
on other opportunities with how we develop that further. Oh, I’ll have to go
with their salad platters. My favorite dish is the loaf sausage roll. (chuckles) So, you get a meat platter,
you get a rice platter, and then the salads and breads.

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