After a long trial with other, less able inventory management apps, Bill Rendell and Heritage Building found a happy home in Cin7
Heritage Building has a long, storied history. When former accountant Bill Rendell first bought the business, it was simply a supplier of recycled timber, and it was doing pretty well on that basis.
But Bill had the foresight to start selling other building materials, like doors, windows, light fittings, bathroomware — “You name it,” says Bill. “We set ourselves up to be the one-stop-shop for the heritage building industry, and started selling equivalent-new reproductions as well.”
This transformation happened fairly early in the business’s story, and at first Bill used MYOB and spreadsheets to manage the complex inventory requirements of a second-hand goods business, where nearly every item sold was in some way unique. Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well. “With MYOB, there was no accountability for stock. It was just like a big box that you chucked all the information in — but I didn’t think there was anything better around at the time.”
After struggling with MYOB for almost nine years, Bill turned to what was then a new business in the very new industry of cloud software implementation and coaching — SMB Consultants.
SMB founder Jeff Atizado and his team helped set Heritage Building up with his first inventory management solution: Lightspeed. At the time, it was best-of-breed software, and the new fully-digital way of operating was revelatory for Bill’s business. But times change. The second-hand market was becoming less and less viable, and growth was stymied by the need to keep on top of manual tasks and fixing errors. “We were doing nothing but fixing stuff-ups,” Bill says.
The problem, Bill says, was that Lightspeed hadn’t moved fast enough to keep up with the rest of the rapidly-changing world of online business.
“It’s very difficult to get Lightspeed to work with Shopify,” says Bill. “We couldn’t get the shipping set up the way we wanted it. It just wasn’t possible with that program.
He turned to his trusted advisors to help turn things around. “I started speaking with Jeff about using Cin7. The more I heard about it, the more I was impressed with what it could do.”
“It was interesting for us, because even though Bill had been a customer for eight years, the second time around is an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate their requirements and build a solution that incorporates what is important to them today. It simply isn’t just a process of replacing old with new. Businesses grow and change and you need to take the time to understand what are the new objectives,” says Jeff Atizado.
Since their first engagement with Heritage Buildings, SMB Consultants have developed a process to deeply understand the business they’re working with. How is the business changing? How has it evolved? And where does it want to go?
Together, Bill and the SMB team found that a new software solution could help him exit the secondhand goods market altogether, while growing his business in entirely new directions.
“That process at the beginning of the project, to understand how we were working, was critical,” Bill says. “Back when we first started with SMB and Lightspeed, that process didn’t exist! Doing the scoping showed me an entirely different SMB, and following the process all the way through to implement Cin7 has proved it out. They understood what we needed, and made sure it happened.”
After the initial consultation, SMB Consultants used Cin7 to create a working proof-of-concept, to introduce Heritage Buildings to new workflows and opportunities offered by the software. Once the proof-of-concept was finalized, SMB worked with Bill and his team to implement the full project.
Today, Bill has transformed his business from one that physically stored and moved a lot of second-hand goods to a modern, just-in-time purchasing model that doesn’t require carrying a lot of stock. This shift, SMB says, simply wouldn’t have been possible without Cin7.
“Some big wins from Cin7 have been being able to give Bill a tool that allows him to track which items need to be ordered, and that allows him to keep track of online sales, to order quickly, and get them shipped in time,” Jeff says. “One one side, the purchasing, on the other, fulfillment.”
Under the old system, it took up to two or three weeks for Heritage Building to get goods to their customers. But now they can get goods into customer hands in less than a week. Cin7’s ability to support a dropshipping model has enabled Heritage Building to reduce its total stock holding by a factor of more than four, with a huge accompanying reduction in administration requirements while improving shipping times.
“Our stock holding at present is about 200,000. Our stock holding was 1.5 million with half the turnover we’re doing now , and we’re doing it better. We’ve basically reinvented ourselves from the ground up, and we’re now a very viable online shop as well,” Bill says.
“With shipping, what we’ve achieved now was beyond anything we could conceive. We’ve reduced our turnaround time for orders from about two weeks per item, down to three to five days.”
Soon, with new shipping workflows they’re looking to create with SMB in Cin7, he reckons they’ll be able to use Cin7 to make shipping even faster.
“One of the things we’re doing now is looking to integrate with his dropship fulfillment provider, so we can streamline how quickly we can get orders from them, which will again cut down the amount of time it takes to get the product into a customer’s hands,” Jeff says.
As well as pivoting from second-hand goods to a thriving multichannel business selling new materials, Cin7 has allowed Bill to branch out with a hot new sideline — selling fireplaces.
“It’s going gangbusters,” Bill says. “Again, that’s because of the website, and the website is because of Cin7.” Having a modern inventory app like Cin7 as their foundation means that it’s easy to sync with best-of-breed ecommerce apps like Shopify.
“We’ve basically got a direct connection between Cin7 and Shopify,” Bill says. “We can move the products back and forwards, we can adjust counts. No drama. No chance of an error. That’s brilliant.”
“We can plug a lot of apps into Cin7. Lightspeed couldn’t do that.”
Heritage Building, SMB Consultants, and Cin7 have been a winning combination. Anytime he’s needed help, SMB has been there for support. Bill has his own specialist implementation partner at SMB, Jess, who’s helped all through the scoping and setup, and can now lend a hand whenever Bill needs it. “I’ve still got Jessica there, when I need her, whether it’s a big or a little thing. You can’t hire for that — well, I don’t think you can,” Bill says.
Likewise, Jeff says that their work with Heritage Buildings is a great showcase of how beneficial it can be for businesses to have a long-time software and coaching partner – for both parties.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Bill,” Jeff says. “It’s great being able to look back and see the changes that we’ve made. I think Bill is being a bit humble, knowing how much change he’s actually made, but when you look at how much inventory and overhead he’s reduced, while increasing sales — that’s a winning recipe. It’s been great to be able to grow together.”
Heritage Buildings had great results the first time they worked with SMB, but the second time around, with the transformation powered by Cin7, things are better by an order of magnitude.
“The difference between two years ago and now — it’s almost unrecognizable,” Bill says. “I can work anywhere I need to be. For me, that’s a lot of help.”
The new efficiencies offered by an inventory solution that connects seamlessly with other business-critical apps have paid enormous dividends for the business. After 17 years in business, growth has been unlocked.
“In the past two years, we’ve doubled our business,” Bill says. “We’ve gone from an average of about 250,000 per month to about half a million per month. And about half of that growth is our online shop. We’ve been increasing turnover every month for the last two years, and we’re now the number three distributor in our category in Australia.”
None of it would have been possible without Cin7 — and the help they’ve received from SMB Consultants.
“Without Cin7, it would have been impossible to do what we’ve achieved,” Bill says. “It’s that simple. We are who we are today because of Cin7 and SMB Consultants. Our website is going exceptionally well, and I don’t think it would have been possible before Cin7. It’s worked very well for us.”
Bill Rendell, Director, Heritage Building