For any small but growing business, there comes a time when at least one of the software systems that keep operations running smoothly and efficiently is no longer up to the task. And so it was with Filters Plus, a Perth-based distributor of air, fuel and oil filters – and related products – to the mining, industrial, marine and automotive industries.
It was in 2016 that Brendon Robinson, owner of Filters Plus, decided that his company’s financial management system, MYOB, had to be replaced.
“MYOB served us well for many years, but we reached a point a couple of years ago where it became obvious that we needed to step up”, said Brendon. “The system had several limitations, including that it couldn’t do inventory management and would not have been able to handle the online sales side of our business, which was in the advanced stage of planning at that time.”
“Inventory control is a big thing for us, and Jiwa allows us to do a lot that we couldn’t do before”
After evaluating a handful of business management solutions, Brendon decided on Jiwa. “There was a set criteria that our new solution had to meet, and Jiwa stood out amongst the others for its feature-richness, affordability and ease-of-use”, he said.
Filters Plus now uses Jiwa to meet the business’s accounting, purchasing, reporting, sales and inventory management needs.
Brendon: “Inventory control is a big thing for us, and Jiwa allows us to do a lot that we couldn’t do before. For example we used to have to shut down operations to do a stocktake, whereas now we can do rolling stocktakes whenever we want to. With the press of a button we can produce a stocktake report and know that the information that comes out is timely, accurate and comprehensive.”
A distribution company runs best when its inventory is always where it’s supposed to be, and can be seen to be where it’s supposed to be – a task that Jiwa achieves with the help of its multi warehouse toolset. Multi warehousing provides complete visibility across warehouses and controls the transfer of goods from one warehouse to another. Filters Plus uses multi warehousing to keep inventory under tight control.
“It was really helpful to us that Jiwa came with two warehouses already installed because it allowed us to create one warehouse for items that are ready for sale and another which we use as a kind-of a holding area for goods that for whatever reason cannot be sold”, said Brendon. “Sometimes there are damaged items that aren’t fit for sale, or a supplier has got our order wrong or we have loose ends to tie up with a supplier before a new product line can hit the shelves. Having a second warehouse in Jiwa means we don’t have to log these goods alongside our other inventory, which is what we used to have to do and it caused us all sorts of headaches. Having two warehouses for two different purposes makes monitoring and moving inventory a very straightforward process.”
Typically, soon after Jiwa gets deployed in an organisation, it becomes clear that many important tasks that used to take time, effort and manpower, now can be done simply, quickly and without much human input. And that’s how things played out at Filters Plus, leading the company to reduce its headcount by one, as Brendon explains:
“It’s no coincidence that I let go of our company bookkeeper not long after we acquired Jiwa”, he said. “With Jiwa now on board the tasks that used to be performed by our bookkeeper can now be easily and better managed by our sales people, our admin manager and myself, and without any noticeable increase in our workload. For example bank reconciliations, which were handled by our bookkeeper, used to take a number of steps, and several days, to complete, so our accounting records were often out of sync with our bank statements. But now all that’s a thing of the past – using Jiwa I can do it all myself with a few button clicks, and I know that the financial information I see on screen is completely up to date.”
It’s not only Filter Plus’s office workers who have slashed the time it takes to get things done; the company’s delivery drivers are also more efficient because of Jiwa. One of the technologies Jiwa integrates with is IFS SmartFreight, a popular shipping management solution that has found a home at Brendon’s company.
“We have integrated SmartFreight into Jiwa, and the result has been great”, said Brendon. “Previously our delivery drivers, who were responsible for plenty of dispatches each day, had to write out each consignment note manually in a process that was time-consuming and susceptible to error. But now our drivers can print con notes, stickers and freight manifests straight from the Jiwa sales screen. Streamlining our delivery operations in this way has proven to be a massive time and money saver.”
This capability really became particularly important after Filters Plus opened its eBay store, which now generates up to $50K in turnover per month.
“Our eBay customers have high expectations when it comes to speed and efficiency”, said Brandon. “It’s not unusual to come into the office on a Monday morning and find 30 new orders, all of which need to get out the door that day. Using Jiwa the process of getting goods boxed and dispatched is fully automated, so we’re not getting slowed down by manual procedures. Without a system like Jiwa in place we would struggle to satisfy customer demands.”
The efficient management of backorders can be a challenge for a distribution business. Recording all sales orders with items on backorder, placing purchase orders for backordered goods with the supplier and, once the inventory arrives, searching through sales orders to match them with the correct purchase orders – it’s a process that can, if not done right, be clumsy, time-consuming and prone to mistakes.
The Jiwa solution handles backorders with ease, as Brendon discovered: “Prior to Jiwa our backordering processes were clunky, to say the least”, he said. “But now it’s very simple – we log these orders in with the press of a button my Jiwa dashboard and, when the products come in, I email the sales people to tell them the orders are past due and it’s time to get them out.”
Into the Future
One of the strengths of Jiwa is its ability to easily adapt when business conditions change. Filters Plus is one of thousands of West Australian businesses to be hit by that State’s economic downturn, however with the economy now emerging from its malaise, the company is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.
“Along with the WA economy, our market sector has been in a lull”, said Brendon. “But there are signs of improvement now, and when the market turns we’re going to be well-positioned to handle the increase in business activity because we have Jiwa in place. Jiwa has what it takes to grow and evolve with us, which is why I am confident the system will be integral to our business operations for many years to come.
“And as we enter the next phase of our business journey we will continue to be ably supported by the team at Professional Support Group, our Perth-based Jiwa Solution Provider.”