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CASE STUDY: Meet the service provider that easily supports a broad range of industries and customers spread across vast and tough terrains

March 13th, 2013

Category: ERP Enterprise Resource Planning, Online Retailing, Point Of Sale Systems, Retail Business News, Retail Business Tips

TJM Products (North Queensland)

Company Background

While TJM is a national brand, the North Queensland franchise covering the top end of Australia from Mackay, Cairns, Townsville and Mt Isa in Queensland to Darwin in the Northern Territory is owned by Rod Spinks.

While most people associate the TJM brand with vehicle equipment (see their video) accessories and road safety tools, there is more to the business, according to Mr Spinks.

“Yes, we provide a huge range of products for work and play from roof racks, bull bars, suspension, winches, air compressors, driving lights, battery systems and canvas products, to mine flags, fire extinguishers, canopies, ute lids, to name a few, says Mr Spinks. “However, we’re also a ‘full service’ provider particularly to organisations like local councils, fleet and mining companies, and car dealers.”

“For example, people come to us because they have a particular requirement, be that carry a load on a motor vehicle, or they need a lifting device or storage device and generally these products need to meet a specific criteria. We facilitate the manufacture of parts to build a required product – hence, the 60 workshop staff we have on hand to service these requirements.”

This ‘full-service’ model is further delivered with a new business launched this year, called Light Fleet Safety Solutions which aims to service people like civil engineers, commercial contractors, government authorities or those working in the mining industry that need specialised equipment to meet safety compliance.

Challenges

While TJM Products manages a large and complex inventory numbering 15,000 parts, by far the biggest challenge is the vast territory it operates in and services its customer base. If you travel by road, the distance between Mackay and Darwin is 2,831 kilometres and for the most part it’s a rough and unyielding landscape. TJM’s retail stores/showrooms and workshops are also spread across this large terrain.

How do you easily manage stock and 100 staff across six bricks and mortar stores and three online businesses that service consumers, wholesalers, and commercial and government customers?

The Solution

Not only does TJM Products easily manage its operations, Mr Spinks estimates the business has seen about five per cent growth per annum (on average) during this period. While some of the success factors are due to sound business acumen and longevity (operating since 1985) – making it a recognised and trusted brand, underpinning these is the software TJM Products uses to facilitate and manage operations.

The software called CONTROL and provided by Creative Computing, is a sophisticated business solution designed for retailers and wholesalers. TJM Products uses almost every available module on offer from integrated Point of Sale, Order Entry and Invoicing, Inventory Management, Replenishment, to Customer Relationship Management, Sales Analysis, and Financials.

In line with Rod Spinks’ belief that technology is a fantastic enabler of business profitability and relevancy, Creative Computing has also provided eBay integration into the CONTROL business system and created an Online Catalogue for TJM Products’ wholesale customer base.

Major Benefits

Integration overcomes the tyranny of distance

CONTROL’s major benefit, according to Mr Spinks is that “everything is integrated”. He explains: “It doesn’t matter what I’m looking at: P&L, inventory, general ledger, staff and sales performance, I can instantly see what’s happening right now across all areas of my business: retail and wholesale, at the shopfront, workshop or online store. It’s all centrally located. The right hand knows what the left hand is doing, which is very important when you run a fairly complex business across a large geographical base.”

Integration also means that if a product is ordered from a particular store whether online or bricks and mortar, this is immediately reflected in the backend of CONTROL’s Inventory Management system, providing accurate inventory control.

Point-of-Sale with a unique point-of-difference

One of the features that help shopfloor staff sell more products and enhance customer service is their ability to showcase product images at the point-of-sale, something that CONTROL provides. Because inventory is so wide and distances are vast, it’s impossible to hold a lot of stock in-store and staff utilise a second computer screen visible to the customer that provides product brochures with features and benefits, specifications, fitting instructions, and so on.

eBay integration to minimise slow-moving or dead stock

Holding a very large inventory (an excess of $3.5 million worth of stock) means that a certain proportion will be slow-moving or dead stock and Mr Spinks believes eBay provides a platform to move this stock out of the door faster. While it has only been three months since investment in eBay which also included some special enhancements by Creative Computing such as freight content and better integration of images and products, Mr Spinks envisages that eBay will eventually enable the business to easily and quickly sell stock that is usually left languishing.

Online Catalogue improves service to wholesalers

With such a broad geographic territory to cover, it can be challenging servicing a number of clients, spread across disparate regions that are also resellers of TJM Products. To enable them to easily order products, Creative Computing designed an ‘online catalogue’ which enables these resellers to access products where they can view images, product descriptions and wholesale pricing, and from where they can order the products instantly. The online catalogue is integrated into CONTROL’s back-end system which means all ‘wholesaler’ activity is reflected at the backend.

Conclusion

With Rod Spinks’ forward-thinking vision for the company, Creative Computing also recently enabled TJM Products to move their business systems into the ‘Cloud’, eliminating the need to maintain a server onsite. He says, “I think owning hardware is becoming redundant especially for my type of business where it’s so diversified and stores are located thousands of kilometres apart. As my whole business was relying on a single server it meant that if the server was to go offline, the whole network would go offline. However, with my business systems now in the cloud, I’m safeguarded against this.”

He adds: “What’s also great about operating in the ‘Cloud’ is that I can sit in a coffee shop, log onto CONTROL with my iPad, and look at any part of my network, any time.”

On a final note, Mr Spinks reflects that as a long-term customer of Creative Computing and user of the CONTROL business management system, “there have been a lot of enhancements and innovations to the system that have enabled me to stay abreast of business changes and customer demands. Some of these enhancements have come about due to requirements for my own business or from other retailers’ requirements. But what’s great is that they’re put back into the CONTROL system for everyone’s benefit. I like that”.

For more information, Contact us or phone Bernie Hogan on 1300 646 536.

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IN BRIEF: TJM Company Overview
Operating name: TJM Products
Business owner:
Rod Spinks
Type of business:
Vehicle equipment and road safety service provider
Turnover:
$28.5 million (gross)
Growth:
Average 5% year-on-year growth in the last 10 years
No of staff:
100 (40 shopfront and 60 in workshops)
No of physical stores & workshops
: Seven: Cairns, Darwin, Mackay, Mt Isa, Townsville and Brendale
Commercial breakdown
: Five stores under TJM Products brand; one Minecorp outlet and part-ownership of the TJM Brendale Operation.
Customer base:
50% B2C (retail) and 50% B2B
Business expansion:
Light Fleet Safety Solutions, launched in 2013
Websites
: www.tjmproducts.com , www.tjmbrendale.com.au , www.lfss.com.au

IN BRIEF: Supporting Retail Software
System:
CONTROL Retail Business Solutions, from Creative Computing
Year implemented
: 1994
No. of users
: over 40
Modules utilised
: Integrated POS, Order Entry and Invoicing, Inventory Management, Restocking, Sales Analysis, Manufacturing and Kits, and Financials
Other:
CONTROL integration with eBay; online catalogue for wholesalers
Recent upgrades
: Moved entire retail system online (Retail ‘Cloud’ services)
website:
www.creativecomputing.com.au