Lakeview drives up customer service at The Radiator Company
Founded in 1998, The Radiator Company has grown to become one of the largest retail distributors of designer radiators in the UK and Ireland. In 2004, the business was acquired by Marcus Orchard and he has since expanded with the acquisition of Clyde, a long-established commercial and industrial heating systems provider and, most recently, Supplies4Heat, a specialist supplier of plumbing and heating products to the merchant sector.
A Lakeview ERP system was already in place at The Radiator Company, providing an effective end-to-end order placement, stock control, delivery and invoicing system.
“We immediately recognised the inherent capability and flexibility of the core Lakeview system,” says Orchard, “which has since been expanded to include additional modules and enhanced reporting functions”.
“Lakeview software is now in place in all three trading companies of the UK Heating Group and is used by every employee across the Group in helping us successfully increase operational efficiencies and substantially drive up customer service. And, as a highly scalable solution, it has enabled us to grow from an annual £3 million turnover business to just under £11 million today.”
In a highly competitive distribution environment, the goal was to improve commercial relationships by developing closer operational links between The Radiator Company and its key customers.
As a result, in building on the established strength of the Lakeview software within the business as an automated distribution and accounting tool, at the outset Orchard was keen to extend its capability in two key areas.
First, it was important to improve overall speed and accuracy by automating other aspects such as quoting for new business and returns management. In responding to more demanding individual customer requirements, it was equally critical to enhance the quality and breadth of reporting and make information already held in the system available in a variety of customer formats.
With much of the business dependent on the ability to provide competitive quotations quickly and professionally, The Radiator Company sought to upgrade the process with the addition of an automated quotation function. A new returns module also ensured that at the other end of the customer-facing process, issues were resolved more speedily, errors minimised and service quality similarly enhanced.
Improved data mining has enabled the business to develop customer and supplier partner specific reports covering a wide range of performance measures, including out-of-stocks, current status reports and delivery KPIs.
“This provides up-to-the-minute information at the touch of a button, replacing previously time-consuming manual reporting – our time savings can be measured in weeks rather than hours or days,” says Orchard.
More recently, The Radiator Company has worked with Lakeview to implement specific EDI solutions which meet the demands of major merchant group clients such as Wolseley Group and Jewson Graham and work is currently underway to incorporate new CRM modules.
The Radiator Company benefits significantly from the fact that Lakeview writes its own software. “In extending our Lakeview capability, we work very closely with their developers and consultants from the outset,” confirms Orchard, “in refining the initial brief, working on-site to implement the new module and then adding further functionality as required after a few months’ experience with the new solution”.
“This flexibility enables us to create new reports quickly and effectively and means that any solutions developed for The Radiator Company can be easily adapted for the smaller sister companies.”
Lakeview’s software is highly robust and, unlike many competitors allows the company’s management team to easily interrogate the systems and access previous years’ sales performance.
Like other businesses on maintenance contracts, the company also benefits from free regular software upgrades, often incorporating changes which have emerged from work Lakeview developers have undertaken with other similar customers.
For Orchard, Lakeview’s simplicity and robustness makes it ideally designed to support a distribution-focused company like UK Heating Group.
“Though price remains important, research continues to show that for distribution businesses on-time and fast delivery remain top of the list of priorities for customers,” he confirms.
“Thanks in no small part to Lakeview, our much-enhanced ability to track and trace deliveries and deal with customer issues rapidly and effectively has seen a dramatic improvement in our customer service ratings. The result is that today we are recognised as one of the best service providers in our marketplace.”
Highlights | Customer benefits and Results
- Integrated ERP system manages company-wide distribution, accounts and reporting system
- Flexible, scalable solution meets the needs of a growing business with three distinct operating companies
- Close working relationship with Lakeview developers enables rapid creation and implementation of customer-specific solutions
- Rapid improvement in customer service scores
- Ongoing continuous development and improvement programme
Visit: The Radiator Company
Author: Angela Kennedy, Marketing, Lakeview Computers Ltd