Kay Waite ACCA discloses her experience of working before and after the introduction of Afinitis
“Afinitis’ unique insights coupled with the ability to drill deep down into 100% accurate data in real-time, allowed me to easily discover new sales opportunities, maximise existing sales, improve customer retention, increase productivity of all staff and operations and most importantly saved us all time and money. It is an essential business optimser and I wouldn’t run any future business without it.”
During my time in an SME company, I encountered many problems with their current systems and methodologies. The main issue was that we inherited our software from head office which, at the time was Dynamics GP which had many flaws and raised quite a few concerns.
Firstly, reporting was non-existent and we lost control and all visibility over operations and the day to day running of the business. We also relied heavily on Excel and used Power Pivot to link back to the database. The issue with this was that the data became too large and the spreadsheets ultimately became corrupted.
I then had to learn SQL to interrogate the database and built 80 quick reports which relied heavily on management input and any requests for new information resulted in a new report having to be built which was extremely time consuming. This was also hindered by my limited knowledge and would only be used once or twice. Over time, the reports got tweaked or duplicated and the integrity of the data was in question, for example we could have 3 different reports telling you 3 versions of the truth to one question depending on the query and heavily lacked standardisation.
These reports were then used to compile a reporting pack for management in Excel. This way of doing things was taking management a whole day to complete and was a week out of date by the time it was circulated and rarely anything was done with it.
I started using Afinitis and it was incredible! It offered up only one version of the truth and no matter which way the data was spun; the results were the same so they were 100% accurate and 100% relevant. The custom dashboards also offered complete transparency and allowed me to communicate the key information accurately and in real-time to the key people that needed it.
The system was easy to use and utilised the previous pivot table drag and drop knowledge. The pathways element to the programme was also helpful as it allowed us the ability to use the numbers and findings to drive business decisions and impact the bottom line positively.
My initial response from the first run through of the data was wow! I couldn’t believe how quickly and easily we could see different aspects of the business in real-time!
We could see how many customers we had lost in a year. Not only the number of customers but who they were, what they bought, how much they spent and how often. This information was then sent over to the marketing team who worked on customer retention and rebuilding lost relationships.
We were given complete transparency about growing and shrinking figures for Customers/Countries/Product Families etc. This information we were not expecting to see but was invaluable. All of the data was always 100% accurate and up-to-date and didn’t rely on anyone’s input before the report was generated which saved huge amounts of time.
Setting up with Afinitis was pretty much plug and play and only took a couple of hours and required very limited training in order to get everyone up to speed with how it worked. Analysis views and dashboards were created easily which allowed us to spend more time making decisions rather than days wasted turning data into information; it revolutionised my role! The pathways element of the software also allowed for informed business decisions based on years of collective experience providing us with unique insights into products, methods and customers which enabled us to grow exponentially.
Some of the quick wins Afinitis gave us:
- Targeted all customers that had not bought from us in over a year and engaged with them, sent catalogues, called resellers and rekindled those lost relationships
- Used Afinitis to identify customers with machines over 5 years old and generated a list of phone numbers and contacts and did a telesales campaign offering those customers a discounted price to upgrade their machines
- Used Afinitis to follow up on customers who had recently bought machines from us to offer them consumables, add-ons and service contracts while we were still fresh in their mind
- Found out who our best salesman was for upselling accessories at the point of sale and made them the benchmark for training. We customised our system so when a saw was quoted it automatically quoted for blades and service contracts at the same time. Unsurprisingly most of the customers took these extra items even though they didn’t know they wanted them when they called us
- Discovered which resellers were growing and shrinking and allocated specific account managers based on this, they all have 5 top resellers and some middle resellers to grow too. Having key account managers is working well the customers are engaging more and discounts have been renegotiated based on current level of performance and regarding the resellers giving them incentive to sell more
- Discovered just how badly our export market had been hit following the departure of some key staff in the organisation. We took on a dedicated export sales person and they are nurturing this part of the business back to health with great success, they have found decent resellers in new parts of the world
- The growing and shrinking product families was an eye opener, we thought we knew what was going on here, but it turns out our bread-and-butter product lines had taken a hit in the supply chain and had been slowly shrinking without much notice. As we couldn’t get supply, the demand had dropped off so the reordering which was based on demand had slowed down and there was a knock-on effect on shrinking sales
- We fixed all the stock that needed repair and selling them as used machines to generate cash from ‘dead’ stock
- We highlighted the slow movers and obsolete stock and made moves to market these specifically to reduce the space they take up in the warehouse and release the cash for them back into working capital