Having been in business since 1987, when they mainly sold in-cup drink machines, Northbridge moved into operated vending in 1990, using floor-standing vending machines that dispense hot and bottled drinks, snacks and confectionery. This way of working is both administration and labour intensive and so, with the company still using paper-based records for engineers and merchandisers, in 2013 managing director Craig Holt knew the time to update and improve was upon them.
“Over the years we have seen steady business growth in all sectors due to customer demand, last year proved to our best year to date. As the business grew we knew we had to do something to help us manage the ever-more complex management of it and so decided to look at a new computerised system. Our operational paper-based system worked to an extent but it was time consuming and had no way of reporting valuable data. After looking at a number of options we decided to go with SB Software, as they really listened to our needs, promised to be flexible and their software integrates with Sage, which we use for our accounts.”
Northbridge began using the new Vendmanager system, which took three months to install and be fully operational, in April 2013 and an immediate impact was felt when it performed a full audit on all of the company’s machines. Now, two years later, the system is running like clockwork and offers a wide range of business benefits.
“I have to say I was concerned initially about the integration of SB software into Sage accounts package, but I had absolutely nothing to worry about and have had not one single issue,” adds Craig. “I love the new system, have my own custom reports at the click of a button and can receive reports tailored specifically to me that cover things such as finances and operations, which means I can react to the market instantly.”
“I no longer look at Sage for stats, as the SB dashboard gives me live data. I can download a full report on the performance of machines in seconds, which is obviously great information to take when I go to see my customers. As well as these system benefits, the support from SB is also superb: they are available from 6am, which is ideal for a company like ours that starts early each day; I know I can always ring Phil or Tom directly and they’re happy to help; and they will continually try to be flexible with the system to meet any demands we have.”
Other day-to-day benefits of the system include cash bag scanning, which produces a daily variance report and allows discrepancies to be dealt with in 24 hours; handheld devices that clients sign to ensure that filters have been changed in their machines; stock rotation based on accurate, real-time data; improved stock control that means vans can now be loaded daily; and more efficient administration, which has significantly reduced the company’s staffing costs.
“The system is truly awesome,” says Craig. “All of the staff agree too, and say they would never go back to the old system. From the very first enquiry, SB listened to what we wanted, have done everything they said they would and provided us with a system that has transformed how we work.”To find out more about Northbridge, visit: www.northbridgevending.co.uk