Improving Workflow in Automotive Workshops

Improving Workflow in Automotive Workshops

Charlene Phua No Comments
  Newsletter

Operating an automotive workshop may seem like it involves dealing only with heavy machinery and manual workload. However, some processes you may take for granted could be affecting the productivity of your business. Here are some ways to improve your processes, lower throughput time and save costs for your business.

1. Easing The Process of Job Creation

Whenever a customer drives into your automotive workshop, your employees typically have to manually fill out a maintenance card that includes information on the work needed for the vehicle, its condition upon arrival, and a rough estimate of the total costs. This may be time consuming and more often than not, the maintenance card can be easily misplaced.

By digitizing the job creation process, jobs can be created through an electronic system in a few steps. You will also be able to track the number of jobs performed by each employee as well as the status of each job in real-time, easing the process of wage and commission computation. In instances where the allocated mechanic passes the job over to their colleagues, a built-in camera feature will allow your employees to take a picture of the repair job that needs to be done.

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2. Digitalizing Appointment Booking

Similar to businesses in other industries, appointment booking is done via the traditional method. In order to secure a time slot, your employees will need to pick up phone calls and note the appointment down manually.

By introducing a booking system, your business can eliminate human errors leading from the manual process, while also optimizing your job schedule. With an electronic booking system, your mechanics will be able to estimate when your customers’ vehicles are expected to be due for servicing, and you will have an overview of all bookings for your business, thus allowing you to accommodate more emergency cases where necessary.

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3. Eliminating Manual Inventory Tracking

Inventories of all types and sizes may be scattered all around your car workshop or even located at another warehouse. Tracking inventories in such a messy and hot environment can be a daunting process.

With an inventory management system in place, you and your employees will be able to gain access to real-time information, keep track of purchases and monitor inventory consumption rates. The system will also prompt your suppliers whenever the volume of each inventory is running low.

Due to the weak economic landscape and steep COE prices, many people may not be ready to purchase a car during this period,while existing car numbers are currently dwindling.Hence, customer retention, rather than acquisition, is key during this period. Car owners are increasingly tending to invest in products or services that will extend their car lifespan. As such, one effective way to retain customers will be to bundle such products or services together and offer them at a single price.

An integrated system will help your business to raise productivity, reduce the time for each business process and focus your effort on the other aspects of the business.

Reaching Out to Your Customers in The Face of DNC Implementation

Charlene Phua No Comments
  Newsletter

Are you facing difficulties reaching out to customers who have not given you the permission to contact them through marketing calls and SMSes? Many business marketing activities remained affected since the DNC implementation in early 2014. Being unable to reach out to your potential customers may be the biggest challenge for your business during this festive season.

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Revise your business process and create opportunities for your customers to give you permission for contacting them on promotion activities. For example, by offering an e-receipt option, customers are more likely to share personal contact information. Getting permission to contact them on promotional activities would become easier once you do so. Besides informing your customers about future promotions, you will be able build a two-way relationship with them by personalizing content.

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The cost of acquiring new customer ranges from 5 to 25 times more than retaining an existing one. Instead of constantly finding new ways to acquire new customers, why not leverage on existing customers. The introduction of a referral reward system will allow your business to gain access to new customer data. Marketing messages from referral marketing tends to be more targeted, as people know the preferences of their family and friends better.

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Rated as one of the most active social media consumers in the world, Singapore has the second highest social penetration rate with 59%. The best way to acquire customers through social media is to run engagement campaigns through contest or giveaways. Running a contest is an exciting and fun way to get more attention and spark interest among consumers. Therefore, this allows you to collect their personal information for future marketing purposes.

With that said, to gather customer’s transaction history, demographics and other relevant information is not an easy task. One way to efficiently do so would be the adoption of an integrated system that has the above mentioned functions. Personal data of customer is highly sensitive; ensure that your business adopts PDPA compliant processes and not risk paying a hefty fine handling such data.

3 Easy Ways to Manage Your Flea Market or Trade Show

Charlene Phua No Comments
  Newsletter
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Flea markets and trade shows are the golden opportunity for your business to unload some of the extra merchandise that would otherwise be collecting dust in your warehouse. This is also the time for you to spread brand awareness, showcase your latest products and services, and expand your customer base. With so much time and effort put into these events, you would want your employees to focus on making the sale and better serving your customers, without worrying about the frustrations of back-end operations. As such, we have come up with 3 solutions for you.

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1. Managing Inventory in Real-time

Given the often disorganized and noisy environment at these events, your employees may be unable to manually track the movement of inventory. A lack of access to real-time inventory information may make it difficult for your employees to keep track of sales, monitor consumption rates and to place timely orders.

Adopting an inventory management system allows you to track inventories at your booth, as well as both physical and online retail stores. It also prompts your suppliers whenever your inventory is running low, and enables you and your employees to focus on serving your customers without worrying about whether or not you have enough stock to make the sale.

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2. Maximizing Space

Booths at these events are typically small and expensive. Collecting cash payment and recording sales with a traditional POS system seemed to be the most popular method among retailers. However, these bulky systems tend to occupy too much space at your booth.

By adopting newer systems where transactions are done via a tablet or phone, you will be able to display a wider range of your products, reduce task and man hour redundancy.

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3. Expanding your Payment Options

A new Bankrate survey found that 2 out of 5 consumers carry less than $20 in cash on a daily basis. If cash remains the only payment method accepted by your business, you may be discouraging potential buyers who may not have enough cash on-hand to make the purchases they wish to buy.

As cashless transactions become increasingly popular,it is important for businesses to introduce card payments to broaden their customer base and provide for greater spending power among their consumers. Card payments are also fast and hassle-free.

By migrating to a cloud based management system, managing your business processes such as inventory management, retail transactions, accounting, and manpower management will be easily accessible at your fingertips. By minimizing the manual processes you business has to deal with, you will be able to better focus on increasing sales and meeting the needs of your customers in the most timely way possible.

3 Ways to Improve your Doorstep Service Provision

Charlene Phua No Comments
  Newsletter Uncategorized

If your business involves frequently performing service jobs at your customers’ homes or offices such as air-con servicing, renovation or even lighting installation, you may have realized that things aren’t as easy as they seem. Here are three easy ways to better operate your doorstep services.

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1. Accepting Multiple Forms of Payment

Even though cash payments are fast and easy to collect, you may be encouraging dishonest employees to overcharge your customers and keep the extra cash to themselves. When your transactions take place remotely, it may seem impossible to uncover these dishonest acts.

To curb this problem, you may consider accepting electronic payments and issuing electronic receipts over email whenever a job is completed on-premise, proving greater convenience and assurance to your customers. This enhances the way you track the completed jobs and the revenue earned by each employee.

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2. Tracking of Utilized Consumables

You may be wondering why the level of consumables in your inventory seems to always be running low, despite replenishing them every other day. As your business requires your employees to perform jobs remotely and the consumables requirement differs from job to job, tracking for utilized consumables is often limited at best.

With an inventory tracking system in place, your employees will need to provide reasons for the additional consumables used in each job. This allows you to place timely orders, understand and monitor the consumption rates where necessary.

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3. Efficient Booking System

Currently, many door-to-door businesses operate via the traditional method. Phone bookings are picked up and logged down by hand in order to secure a time slot for the service to be carried out. This reduces business efficiency and may result in errors causing conflicting bookings. You may also find it a hassle to personally contact your worker whenever a job is available, especially during the busier periods, when you may find yourselves overbooking your contractors.

To accept bookings on multiple platforms, your business will need an efficient booking system. You will also be able to create jobs for your employees without contacting them personally as well as simultaneously schedule and manage their availability.

Investing in an integrated system enables you to operate your business seamlessly with just a single touch. This frees up the time and resources needed for each operation, and hence allowing both you and your employees to focus on the more productive aspects of your business.

How an Integrated POS system can Benefit Secondhand Mobile Dealers

Charlene Phua No Comments
  Newsletter Uncategorized
According to Deloitte, Singapore has the liveliest used-phone market in the world, with a quarter of all smartphones here eventually sold in the second-hand market. However, secondhand mobile dealers often face the hassle when dealing with customers in terms of:  trade-in-doc

1. Trade-in Documentation

Customers trading in their used phones often need to present their photo IDs and signatures as proof-of-sale. The number of trade-ins a business deals with can be overwhelming during peak periods; papers tend to pile up, leading to messy documentation that can be damaged or misplaced.
By digitizing customers’ information, photo IDs, and signatures, businesses can eliminate the use of physical documentation, easing the process of buying-back a phone, automatically pushing the bought-back item to your inventory. This leads to improved accountability, allowing for quick and easy information retrieval when documents need to be traced.

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2. Repairs Management

Employees may encounter difficulties in tracking the levels of consumables needed and the status of each repair job. Without an efficient repairs management system, secondhand mobile dealers may find it difficult to monitor the status, throughput time, and delivery of the jobs undertaken. A system that is able to track different jobs simultaneously provides dealers with an overview of the repair jobs in progress, allowing them to assess performance and compute margins.

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3. Inventory Management

Without real time access to information, it will be tedious and time-consuming for employees to keep track of their purchases and sales, monitor the consumption rates and place timely orders. By eliminating manual inventory management, tracking the movement of inventory is simplified. Inventory information can be easily retrieved when needed, improving employee productivity and accountability for your system.

The varied processes and documentation a dealer has to manage may be distracting at times is , hence hindering their ability to focus on revenue generation. Dealers looking for an integrated POS system will be able to streamline their work processes, minimize costly human errors and improve productivity and efficiency in their business.

3 Lapses in Equipment Rental Business That May be Costlier than you Think

Charlene Phua No Comments
  Newsletter

Apart from provisioning the necessary services, Equipment Rental Businesses need to provide customers with the flexibility and freedom during their entire service encounter. However, due to the competitive economic landscape, businesses wanting to maximize their assets will overlook some processes, leading to costly lapses in their business. Here are some of the common lapses in Equipment Rental Business:

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1. Failure to protect consumers’ privacy

Businesses with outdated systems and processes are vulnerable to many data breaches. Under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), organisations that fail to protect the privacy of consumers’ personal data can be fined up to $1 million per breach. Businesses that involve collecting, storing and using customer particulars for booking and rental of equipments and facilities may be at risk if they do not have proper systems in place.

Failing to destroy physical documentation of consumers’ personal information and disposing them in unsecured dumpsters are also in breach of the PDPA.

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2. Failure to anticipate customer demand

It is often impossible for equipment rental companies to accommodate to the schedule of their potential customers. Demand patterns are seasonal and can be unique to your store location; failing to understand such patterns may result in stores inadequately stocked to meet the demands.

With no access to real-time information, it is difficult for companies to better deploy equipment to maximize utilization and minimize customer lost.

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3. Failure to Account for Cash or Document Deposits

Before renting out their equipment to customers, business would often require customers to place a cash or document (i.e. NRIC) deposit, in exchange for a rental slip. Upon the completion of activities, deposits will then be returned to the customers. Conflict may arise when customers lose their rental slips; dishonest employees may also deny collection of deposits.

Amongst the common lapses in the Equipment Rental Business, breaching the PDPA might just be the costliest and most often overlooked. According to The Business Times, just last year, businesses have been slapped with heavy fines after failing to protect their customers’ personal information. Businesses should re-look at their existing processes to identify any lapses to stay compliant and retain the trust of the customers.

3 Pitfalls in the Beauty and Wellness Industry

Charlene Phua No Comments
  Newsletter
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The Beauty and Wellness industry in Singapore has been fast growing, with now more than 18,000 businesses operating on the island In the face of this growth in competition, it is increasingly important for business operators to streamline their operations, capitalize on their strengths, and minimize their weaknesses, lest their business does not survive. Here are a few common pitfalls of businesses in the Beauty and Wellness industry:

1. Inability to Detect Fraudulent Activities 

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According to the KPMG-SMU Singapore Fraud Survey, 58% of fraud is committed by employees. A common fraudulent practice involves a dishonest employee collecting cash payment without recording the sales. Given the effort to sit through hours of footage, unsuspecting managers typically would not go through the CCTV until under-reporting becomes serious enough to warrant suspicion.

2. Failure to Maintain Ample Consumables

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Inventory Management is often overlooked in most spa and salon businesses. Without real time access to information, it will be impossible for employees or managers to keep track of their purchases, monitor the consumption rates and to place timely orders. It is also time consuming for employees to monitor the inventory, especially if there is a wide variety of products that can be used and is only needed in smaller quantities.

3. Poorly Managed Appointment Booking and Tracking

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Booking an appointment is an often overlooked process that can be very taxing on both employees and their customers, especially in event of a conflict in schedules, or when the desired therapists are not available. Many companies are also still using physical documentation (i.e. the traditional pen and paper appointment cards) for their appointment tracking, which could be misplaced. For busier operators, the papers tend to pile up, which can be very messy, illegible and time consuming.  Furthermore, overbooking for a particular timeslot may arise when businesses accept bookings from multiple sources such as telephone booking and their website.

To effectively address these issues, businesses may need to look at more targeted solutions that can help manage their business processes. While some solutions may offer more features and add-ons than others, businesses should seek solution providers that can better tailor solutions to their needs. With a fitting solution, business owners will then be able to focus on serving their customers better.

4 easy ways to drive offline traffic to your store

Kwang Wei No Comments
  Commentary
There are many factors that can bring customers to your retail store. However, when it comes to the offline channel, you would want to fully capitalize on the foot traffic passing your store on a daily basis. They make excellent customers because they are likely to work/live in the area, making them more likely to be repeat customers or fans who would recommend your products/services to their friends.

1. Make sure your signage is easily recognizable and professional

Your business signage is an immediate representation of your brand image. Unique signages give businesses a personality that customers can better relate to.  With that said, you should make it attractive and recognizable to your target group of customers. For example, by making the signage of a toy store colorful can probably suggest a fun and exciting shopping experience for the child. What is the message you would like to convey to your potential customer? If your current signage fail to convey that message, you may like to do something about it. You should never compromise on the quality of your signages. Lightbox signs with visible light tube can be both unsightly and compromises on the signage readability. Besides looking unprofessional, your business may also lose credibility and attention from potential customers.

2. Make A Display Window

Is your store located at a popular destination with great foot traffic? If so, capitalize on it by creating a great window that captivates your audience in order to stop them in their tracks. Your window display is your invitation to the passerby. A well-designed window display encourages impulse sales and peaks a customer’s curiosity. It might even tug at their heartstrings, ensuing lasting fond memories of the shopping experience.

3. Display your best products- don’t clutter

You may be selling a wide range of products and services, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prioritize the promotion of one over another. Overly cluttered shop may deter passer-bys from casually strolling in to make purchases. Identify the most eye-catching and popular products. Put them near the entrance or on racks outside of the entrance to attract customers. If you can already guess what a typical customer is most likely looking for, ensure it is visible and within reach. Don’t wait for the customer to ask, chances are, they may not.

4. Move Out A Portable Sign

Retail stores do not always enjoy the luxury of being located in areas with great foot traffic. You may use a portable signage to direct potential customers to your shop in the event that your shop is not favorably located. A portable sign should also clearly indicate the business you are in and your offerings.  Once again, you should put up your best front instead of attempting to cramp every single product and service onto your signage. You may also use the signs to raise awareness of a new promotion that you are rolling out. Run more promotional activities to capitalize on foot traffic; make it known with great portable signages strategically located.   It may be difficult to capture the attention of your potential customers in the fleeting seconds. Thus, it is even more important employ all the right strategies to raise your chances of being noticed and given the opportunity to impress your customers. If you are looking for help on professional signages or strategies to drive foot traffic, feel free to drop us a message below and we would be glad to advise you further.

Greater government support for business loans

Kwang Wei No Comments
  Updates
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“More than half of the companies polled in SBF’s National Business Survey 2015/16 faced financing issues. Moreover, SMEs, by virtue of their scale, often face obstacles obtaining credit from banks and financial institutions. Despite their financing challenges, SMEs are keen to expand and restructure. The SME Working Capital Loan offers a welcome relief for some of these SMEs, enabling them to address their immediate financial concerns as they look for growth opportunities.”

Mr Ho Meng Kit, Chief Executive Officer of the SBF

 

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  1. Local SMEs will have greater access to financing starting 1 June 2016 through the SME Working Capital Loan. Administered by SPRING Singapore, the programme addresses SMEs’ cash flow concerns and growth financing needs through unsecured working capital loans. SME Working Capital Loans will be offered by 12 participating financial institutions (PFIs). SPRING Singapore will co-share 50% of loan default risks with PFIs and SMEs can apply for unsecured term loans of up to S$300,000 each. The scheme is expected to catalyse more than S$2 billion of loans for SMEs over the three-year period.
  2. The SME Working Capital Loan was introduced at Budget 2016 as one of the measures to address near-term concerns while encouraging business growth and restructuring activities. The programme provides an additional financing channel to support viable SMEs with larger working capital needs. These companies may have cash flow concerns or wish to continue growing their business in the slowing economy.
  3. Based on Singapore Business Federation’s (SBF) National Business Survey 2015/2016 findings, more local enterprises are facing financing issues, such as rising cost of bank loans, and difficulties in renewing financing. At the same time, the survey found that close to three in five companies have plans to increase their investment for business expansion this year, in areas such as employee training and development as well as technology deployment for productivity improvements.
  4. Mr Ho Meng Kit, Chief Executive Officer of the SBF, said, “More than half of the companies polled in SBF’s National Business Survey 2015/16 faced financing issues. Moreover, SMEs, by virtue of their scale, often face obstacles obtaining credit from banks and financial institutions. Despite their financing challenges, SMEs are keen to expand and restructure. The SME Working Capital Loan offers a welcome relief for some of these SMEs, enabling them to address their immediate financial concerns as they look for growth opportunities.”
  5. “The SME Working Capital Loan is introduced to enhance financing support for enterprises and improve credit availability in light of the current economic situation. The objective is to help viable SMEs continue meeting their cash flow needs, and stay the course in their upgrading journey,” explained Ms Chew Mok Lee, Assistant Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore. “We will continue to monitor SMEs’ financing needs vis-à-vis economic conditions, and adjust our schemes to address situational changes.”
  6. To be eligible for the SME Working Capital Loan programme, SMEs must be registered and operating in Singapore, have a minimum of 30% local shareholding, and a group annual sales turnover of not more than S$100 million or group employment size of not more than 200 employees.
Information extracted from SPRING official site
 

Starting right with a mobile-optimized MVP

Kwang Wei No Comments
  Commentary
Before you develop your solution across different operating platforms, its probably a good practice to validate your concept with an MVP (minimal viable product). This is where you will be able to gather more insights to how well your product performs through actual interactions with your users.
“When the product is finally released, customers don’t like the product, the startup fails – going down with it countless costly work hours and perhaps financial resources invested in full-scale development.”
Startups often begin with an idea for a product that they think people want , in part, fueled by their passion and hence personal biases. They spend months, sometimes years, perfecting that product without ever shipping or showing it to their first perspective customer. When they perform poorly in customer acquisition, it is often because they never spoke to prospective customers and lacked insights to execute the concept effectively. When the product is finally released, customers don’t like the product, the startup fails – going down with it countless costly work hours and perhaps financial resources invested in full-scale development.  

Apple or Android first? Its not about the device.

Consider using web applications to reach out to both groups of customers. Modern web applications are responsive, cross-platform and are able to deliver functionalities used to be only available on native solutions such as  real-time communications and push notifications. Rather than deciding on which device to serve, focus on the functionalities and the user experience. With frameworks such as Ionic and PhoneGap, it is indeed possible to publish ‘wrapped up’ web apps on app stores. Disregarding that, a vanilla web app can be added to homescreen via “Add to homescreen” prompt. This may also imply a less obtrusive workflow as compared with the native applications when it comes to user acquisition. Downloading a native app often requires a higher level of conviction of the value it offers before it happens, as compared to simply accessing a web app from a referral link. Well- developed web apps perform well across multiple platforms. Designed to be responsive, they would work smoothly across different OS and screen sizes. The pros and cons between web app and native development has been pretty well documented on various articles. Beyond costly development for 2 separate platforms; for the purpose of MVP, allowing users to experience your service before committing to a download should be an important consideration.