Digitisation works, in every sector. We visited a couple of SMEs and picked their brain to learn how they took their first digital steps. Read on to learn more.
Several SMEs have made the leap to running their business digitally. Unfortunately, at the same time, not every sector has reached that same level of maturity. What are some of the most common arguments? Too complex, too expensive, or lack of time. In some cases, they simply consider digitisation out of their league.
Total nonsense of course. Digitising is child’s play for every SME, not just for the IT agency or digital agency around the corner. Less obvious industries such as construction, real estate and the craft sector are now taking their first steps to manage their business more effectively.
But you don’t have to take our word for it - we talked to several SMEs to learn how they took their first digital steps, with success!
Cheyns Technics: new buildings and renovation
For the past 15 years Cheyns Technics has been installing sanitation, heating, lighting, electricity, and ventilation for new buildings and renovation projects. In addition, they also take on the entire building process as a building contractor - from installing floors to roofs.
Co-business owner Ruben Van den Bossche, noticed an upward trend towards professionalising the construction industry due to the economic crisis. “Even though we already had a strong framework, unfortunately, we still used several, fragmented Excel documents. We made the switch to an online CRM tool that encompasses online contact management, invoicing and sales. It just made our job a lot easier.
“Our processes are now a lot more easy, streamlined, and efficient.”
The result? In just 4 years’ time, Cheyns Technics doubled their turnover as well as their headcount. But, we still managed to take care of our administration without having to hire extra staff. “Our processes are now a lot more easy, streamlined, and efficient. And we have a much better overview too.”
SV Zulte Waregem: football club with tradition
Belgian first division football club Essevee left the paper age behind them as well. "It wasn’t easy; some of our employees only had basic computer training" says commercial manager Tyas Kastelijn. In the end, everyone gave in because the club got a lot more cash flow by automating invoices. "Miscommunication became impossible. From that point on everything was consolidated in just one system.”
"Thanks to digitisation, there is now room for follow-up and reporting."
"Digital workflows now allow us to eliminate unnecessary steps so we have room for follow-up and reporting. Before, we manually created orders in Office. These orders were then sent to our administration department to arrange tickets, followed by the billing department, and so on."
We see nothing but happy faces now. And according to Tyas, the rest of the football world is bound to follow soon: "Obviously it’s nice to be a pioneer, but I think all clubs are open to change and welcome technology in their workplace."
WineWise: wine courses for businesses and individuals alike
With 15 teachers, WineWise has become an established name in the wine sector. In 2010 business manager Sybille Troubleyn made the actual transition from oldfashioned ways of working to the digital era. "Today, we refer to a time before and after our digital transition because it made such an impact on our business. I have to admit; I'm a real computer novice. But at the same time I had to ensure my one-man-business kept growing. Digitisation was an obvious choice."
Digitisation announced the beginning of a new era for WineWise: “In the past, I dedicated a lot of time and effort to the hustle and bustle of my own business. These days, invoicing only takes up a few seconds, and I have a good overview of the turnover and outstanding invoices, and much more.”
“We no longer waste time. That’s really important for our general motivation... and managing our agenda.”
“Nowadays, if a potential customer calls us, we immediately see all the details in our database and connect them to a targeted mailing list. With email tracking we track who opens it and who doesn’t so we can only follow up on those that are really interested. As a result, we no longer waste our time. That’s really good for our motivation… and our agenda!”
Confiserie Larmuseau: Ghent snowballs
Confiserie Larmuseau is a business that earned its keep with the famous snowballs from Ghent. They are a unique regional product made from dark chocolate, butter, and powder sugar and the brainchild of a family business that exists for over 100 years now.
Student entrepreneur Tanguy Serraes, representing but unrelated to the Larmuseau family, helped renew the business as a whole. “When I took over in 2013, we literally had nothing: no invoicing software, no contact management - let alone tracking options and graphs.” And as young entrepreneur, Tanguy is definitely not a fan of any administrative fuss.
“In terms of administration, we gained a tremendous amount of time.”
He decided to take the leap and go for an online CRM platform. “When it comes to administration, it helps us save a lot of time. In just a few clicks we can generate reports. We now closely follow up on all our data - from contact to company.” As a starting business manager, Tanguy is often on the road. “With the CRM package we can see the distance we cover each month. A huge improvement.”
Decock plumbers: plumbers with experience
Decock plumbers is a company that offers an impressive range of services. Entire bathroom renovations and separate new build installations are their cup of tea. While digitisation wasn’t evident, it was a much-welcome change in their business.
“Continuous adjustments, a lot of frustrations and a waste of time. Fortunately, that’s in the past now.”
Without even realising it, invoicing was a true nightmare. Continuous adjustments, a lot of frustrations, and a waste of time. At a certain moment we went looking for better alternatives.
Customers are instantly up-to-date on the status of their project and our partners know what we expect from them. That way we avoid discussions and we keep everyone happy.
And the frustrations around invoicing? We resolved them once and for all. We now automatically email invoices. For customers from an older generation we still deliver them to their mailbox. Apparently, you can now also automatically email people. That’s a service we would like to start using in the future.”
Digitisation works for every business, however large or small.
In brief, those who think that digitisation is only accessible for hip advertising agencies, should think again. Every day, every type of organisation, however large or small and regardless of vertical or sector are reaping the benefits of working digitally.
If you don’t take the leap, you’re missing out. These days, consumers have endless opportunities and don’t wait until you can offer them the latest innovations but flock to competitors instead. Staying behind isn’t an option. If other successful companies can make it work, you can do it too.
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