When Andy Beadle was appointed managing director of Hampshire-based firm Lightning Fire Safety Systems two years ago, the company, which installs and maintains fire alarms and other electrical safety gear, still used a paper-based management system.
The system needed a full-time employee to administer, required 600 pieces of paper to be filed each month, and was so hard to penetrate it prevented managers from doing the detailed financial analysis needed to boost their profits.
Worst of all, it didn’t allow the company to track the service history of the individual fire alarms at each facility, which was a major turn-off for the large pubs and clubs it was trying to win business from.
The lack of records for specific alarms meant Lightning Fire’s engineers had to service every alarm at a site each time they visited, so they spent more time than necessary.
It also meant the client could not prove beyond doubt that an individual alarm had been serviced in the event of a fire, which exposed them to liability.
Andy knew there had to be a better way and there was. At the start of this year, Lightning Fire went live with the simPRO Enterprise.
We spoke with him to find out how he was finding the new system.
Andy says that in less than a month of having simPRO fully operational, Lightning Fire had already picked up three new clients it may not have gained without the system. "A key implementation benefit for us is that we can provide an asset in the form of the register," Andy said.
We can provide a service history for a particular detector so the customer can then check it. Because of that, we have picked up three contracts since January, where we may not have got them. But we were able to demonstrate simPRO and we secured the contracts on the back of it.
Moving beyond price
In a tough economy, no business wants to be locked in a race to the bottom on price. But as Andy says, that is exactly what happens if you cannot differentiate your service with a value-added system like simPRO.
"We’ve just gone through the worst recession in my history of working and we’re just starting to come out the other side," Andy said. "Things are tight and people are always looking at price, so anything that gives you a benefit that you can talk about other than price – of which simPRO is one – is an added benefit."
simPRO is so much more efficient than the paper based system it replaced that Lightning Fire has been able to cut one administration position significantly lowering the overheads for the 11 person firm.
simPRO is also fully compatible with the cloud-based Xero accounting software that the company uses. "It was a bit of a no-brainer for us because Xero came first and then we bought simPRO on the back of it because the two are linked together," Andy said. "We used to have a group accountant and we don’t need him anymore because Xero and simPRO are linked together. So again, another cost saving."
It is generally accepted in business that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage.
Before simPRO, Lightning Fire had trouble gauging later on what it had spent on each job. Now, it can access the information with the click of a button.
"When I came on board one of my responsibilities was to develop the business and to increase profitability, which is why we went for simPRO," Andy said. "We have a quarterly meeting and we have to produce figures to show profitability. We can now show job profitability, right down to contract if we need to."
"We can look at the underlying figures and, if there’s an issue, we can drill down into it which we couldn’t do previously."
"We can now allocate the cost of the labour to a specific job and we can also allocate the cost of subcontractors to a specific job - as well as materials - so we get more accurate reporting. And it’s all done on the system rather than by hand."
The full video case study details other ways that Enterprise has enhanced Lightning Fire Safety Systems’ processes to increase profitability. We’d like to thank Lightning Fire for their time and sharing their story. For more information on Lightning Fire Safety Systems visit: lfltd.co.uk