Branch Bros is a family-run business with branches in Bourne and The Deepings. It supplies a wide range of products – such as building and landscaping materials, paving, fencing, timber, kitchens, and bathrooms – to both trade and DIY customers.
All stock and sales operations are currently managed manually, with only the back office accounts system computerised. The company recognised that in order to achieve its planned growth, it needed the accountability and efficiencies that only a fully-integrated business management solution can provide.
Operating a diverse merchant business with varied range of products and clients, Branch Bros required a flexible solution that would support its immediate needs and provide a platform for future growth.
Following six months of extensive and thorough research and evaluation of the various software solutions available, Branch Bros chose MAM’s Trader software.
MAM will commence installation of the new Trader system at Branch Bros over the coming months. Application and data servers will be installed at the Deeping head office, with a secure MPLS wide-area-network connecting the remote Bourne branch. Twenty users will be installed across the two sites, each with real-time access to shared data including up-to-the-minute stock availability at both branches.
Top of Branch Bros’ priorities was finding a company that could meet their requirements, not just immediately, but well into the future. “It was very important for us to choose a partner that we would be comfortable working with.” Ashley Branch, Branch Bros Managing Director, explained. “We are entering a long term relationship for many years and need to trust and rely on whoever we decided on. We liked and trusted the people we met from MAM who were very straightforward and honest in their approach and advice, which is reassuring when you are putting in this level of investment.”
“Most of our shortlisted companies were well established with a good track record like MAM. Although part of a larger international company, we felt that MAM still has autonomy and flexibility here in the UK. MAM’s decision to separate and develop Trader for its own market also gave us the confidence that MAM is serious at progressing with the Trader product in our market sector.”
As a company supplying a very mixed spread of cash sales (both retail and trade), and trade account business, Branch Bros needed a solution that was capable of dealing with both types of sale efficiently. “Currently our cash sale business is over 50% which is a higher percentage than most other general merchants so it was extremely important that we chose a solution that could handle cash sales quickly and easily at the trade counters, whilst still having full and comprehensive functionality both for trade account sales and back office routines” commented Ashley Branch.
“We considered retail EPOS systems, traditional well known merchant systems, and dedicated timber applications. We decided Trader was the best solution for a company like ours that has a very general mix of products and customers, both cash and account, retail and trade. We could see Trader fitting in to our business the best.”
Minimal use of third-party software was an important requirement as Ashley Branch explained: “We decided that our choice of software must have its own in-built ledgers for accounting as we did not want a product that had to use third-party solutions. We also preferred a supplier that was the software author rather than a reseller, as we believe that developments will be more forthcoming and achievable if we are dealing directly with the author.”
Branch Bros required a resilient solution capable of meeting the high demands of their busy operation. “The recommended platform that MAM insist on was the most robust and highest specification out of any of the systems suppliers that proposed systems to us” explained Ashley Branch. “We were offered lower specified solutions, perhaps to keep costs down, but this was an area that we felt could not be compromised on. In fact, Trader’s high-specification solution was surprisingly economical.”
Given the current economic climate, Branch Bros were careful to choose a solution that would maximise the return on their investment. “We felt that MAM were realistic with their pricing” said Ashley Branch. “They submitted a competitive tender, fully aware of the current market conditions we are all suffering at present. Obviously in a very tight market, price was always going to part of our consideration – and whilst not the deciding factor – we needed to ensure we would be getting a value for money solution.”
Branch Bros trades from one of its branches 7 days a week and wanted to be able to contact support when it suited them. “The 7 day a week support provided by MAM was also a very attractive benefit. Many merchants like ourselves now operate 7 days a week, so to have your system only supported during office hours Monday to Friday would be considered rather under supported” Ashley Branch explained.