A necessary expense

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Chance & Hunt, which markets and distributes chemicals, is using a telemetry system at its Runcorn, Cheshire facility to manage clients’ inventories. The system constantly monitors client inventories, checking stock levels against optimum levels. Should stock fall below these levels, the system delivers alerts to the client budget holders and relevant sales staff before channelling orders back to Chance & Hunt’s internal systems.

The company’s recent investment in technology includes the infrastructure to provide remote network access, online credit card purchasing – an industry first – and an integrated ordering system that checks stock and links to the warehouse. This has reduced processing time and improved despatch.

Last year, the company saw profits grow by some 20% which was higher than the industry average, something that Chance & Hunt attributes to its technology infrastructure. This has resulted in more efficient order processing, more sales leads, improved customer service and satisfaction, and reduced administrative burden, allowing reassignment of staff to customer development work.

In addition to its advanced telemetry and ordering systems, Chance & Hunt uses a Customer Relationship Management system to provide valuable information about customers’ buying patterns and enable customer profiling, contact management and campaign management. It also invested in Virtual Private Network (VPN), which gives staff working remotely dial-up access to in-house systems – mobile users can access the CRM data without having to dial into the system and record visit reports for automatic addition to the CRM system when they next connect to the server.

Paying dividends

Chance & Hunt is sure that supply chain integration is already an important source of competitive advantage. With one eye on the future, the company has run a series of business-to-business integration trials, linking its systems with those of key suppliers.

Such a progressive approach has paid dividends, as managing director Dr Peter Fields explains: “We have secured existing customers in long-term contracts through the use of technologies such as telemetry. Success with supply chain initiatives or other customer projects naturally has a dependency on other parties in order to succeed so they must be encouraged to participate and you must demonstrate the business benefits to them.”

The company has found its industry sector to be quite conservative, but it believes that its investment and vision will allow it to deliver the best quality service at the lowest possible cost, and consequently differentiate it from competitors.

“We have always adopted a leading-edge position with the full knowledge that we will have to learn from mistakes and probably have to push customers and suppliers to follow,” says Dr Fields. “We’re now starting to reap the benefits of having a ‘best in class’ system that is comparable with those being implemented by companies that are 100 times bigger, and allows us to interact with both large and small companies.”

Chance & Hunt does not see technology investment in isolation, but as a necessary expenditure to support the development of its business strategy. The company believes it will deliver growth, cut costs, improve service, help win new business and build its brand.

“E-business is embedded in the business plan and strategy. It is a fundamental enabler to help grow sales, cut costs and improve relationships,” concludes Dr Fields.

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