South Coast Building Supplies Interview
Blue Rock Systems Ltd, Southampton
To produce a written interview for the Blue Rock Systems Ltd blog, based on an in-person interview with Tim Payne, Managing Director of South Coast Building Supplies
Formed in August 2008, they now boast 4 branches supplying building materials across Dorset and Hampshire and have recently heavily invested in a new e-commerce system.
Looking to their future and the next phases in their growth plans, South Coast Building Supplies recognised the need for a more suitable and targeted software solution to help them. After years of fitting their business around software, they were keen to move on to a system that could fit around their business, allowing them to process and trade how they would like.
It was with this in mind that they engaged with Blue Rock at the beginning of 2021 to discuss the Intact iQ system.
As well as placing their order for the Intact iQ system, they opted to host their system with Blue Rock through its dedicated hosting centre, meaning more security and availability across their branch network.
Glen Jewell, Sales Director at Blue Rock Systems, interviews Tim Payne, Managing Director of South Coast Building Supplies.
Glen: Tim, how did SCBS come to be the business we know today?
Tim: We made it up as we went along really. Gary (Ellis, SCBS Director) bought it off administrators when it was known as Southern Brick, with no experience of running a construction supply company but lots of experience in building materials.
He contacted me because I knew the financial requirements for the business, and we kept on a lot of the Southern Brick staff as they knew the prices, suppliers etc.
We’ve grown from turning over £170,000 in the first month to £3.3 million in the first year and have grown by about 20% each year — with a revenue of over £22 million today.
Glen: What software were you using at the time?
Tim: Within the first 12 months we started using Sage 50 for our accounts but we also needed an ERP system, so we went to market and, at that time, opted for a cheaper and simpler option.
Glen: We failed to win you over at the time, unfortunately…
Tim: Yes, it was just a case of needing a low-cost option at the time to get us going, but once we reached a £15m turnover and had four branches, we needed more strategy — we couldn’t keep making it up as we go along.
We needed to be more structured in terms of job roles, organisational structure, how we buy things, margin controls, and installing iQ was a big part of that — it gave us control.
Glen: Your old ERP system didn’t have its own financial ledgers and linked to Sage 50 I believe?
Tim: That’s right, we were working on two systems and the integration was not as comprehensive as we wanted.
iQ was a lot more reliable and scalable — in terms of size and processes.
The number of workarounds we were having to do was holding us back from growing to where we wanted to get to but iQ has removed many of those already and will continue to evolve.
Glen: So, you’ve been using iQ for a few months now, how are you getting on with it?
Tim: We’ve got all four branches using it now with great success, although we’ve only been live for a few months. We are already using the Transport Scheduler module, which our Winchester Road branch, in particular, have got nailed — it adds value daily.
Over the next 2–3 months we will be sharing that learning with the other branches, creating a best practice and setting an example. Our transport specialist particularly noticed how it was making his life easier.
We’ve set up shortcuts on desktops to make finding reports so much easier, a click of a button is so simple.
Glen: With new installations, some staff don’t take to change that well, but all you need is a “champion” within the business to use a feature effectively. They realise how much easier it makes their day, and they snap it up.
Tim: We’ve still got the odd member of staff to win over to the new system but we’ve got processes and training planned — once they realise how much more efficient it makes them, it won’t take long.
Glen: So, what’s in the future for South Coast?
Tim: Tune, tune, tune, efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. That’s the main aim at the moment. IQ enables us to become more productive and set up rules and controls which can be mirrored throughout the branches to ensure that our teams follow best practices.
There may be a new site on the horizon, we’ll see. We also want to develop the e-commerce side of the business, which will be catered for by Blue Rock and iQ.
Glen: Are Blue Rock doing a good job for you?
Tim: I think what makes the difference is the extra support and flexibility that Blue Rock provide us with. We choose to install a brand-new system in the second half of the pandemic and when product shortages were rife — an exceptionally busy and hectic time.
This meant that if we needed some additional ad hoc training, advice or changes then we could lean on the Blue Rock team and they always came through for us.
We’re in the early days still so we need our handheld a bit, but when we do raise an issue or need some help, it’s sorted straight away.
We’ve had absolutely no doubts about working with Blue Rock or thought “why did we do this”.
In fact, we’ve recommended Blue Rock to a few merchants now.