The aim of most businesses is to grow – the bigger your company the more profit you can make. In sectors such as convenience and fuel, the way to expand your business is to add properties to your portfolio – the larger independent fuel retail groups tend to do this either by acquiring their competitors, and hence their estates, or by picking up individual sites or groups of sites when sold off by major oil companies. But when faced with ever increasing estate sizes, is it possible to keep margins high by avoiding an increased workload (and therefore potential headcount) for the team in head office?
For an independent operator running an estate of sites who acquires another group of sites, the workload for their accounts department could increase significantly – the amount of people to pay, the amount of accounts to settle, supplier bills to pay, finance reports to collate and analyse – this increase in workload could easily lead to a decision to hire more people to get through the tasks.
Reporting on an estate of multiple sites becomes increasingly important the larger the portfolio becomes. Back office systems gather site-specific performance data, but as operations scale beyond a handful of sites, turning this data into meaningful intelligence is difficult.
Senior management need to be able to get hold of data about sales, margins, stock levels etc. as quickly as possible, reacting to a fast-changing market to enable them to make the smartest most profitable decisions for their business. Deficiencies in reporting are compensated by human effort, which is expensive, time-consuming and error prone. Without the correct financial software, it could take weeks of man-hours to collate site data such as product heading sales analysis, store item margin analysis, and profit and loss reports.
Larger groups also need to be able to manage multiple price files from suppliers – particularly if they have multiple symbol group suppliers, and they need to be able to manipulate and transmit pricing data across the estate quickly and efficiently. Promotions also need to be carefully managed across the portfolio of sites, ensuring that the right promotions are running at the right times in the right stores, and the corresponding stock levels are managed prudently.
This highlights a demand for a financial system that does away with the manual aspect of all of these elements; gives faster reporting, analysis and price management, manages deliveries, logistics, promotions and stock, creates management accounts and facilitates all finance reconciliation. Expanding companies need to be able to manage their growth without an additional increase in personnel to cope with the increase in tasks.
If all this sounds familiar, your business needs a head office solution that aggregates the data from the back office systems across your estate to draw out a universal view of your entire operation. With centralised data and rich reporting capabilities this will enable you to discover trends, and analyse pricing, promotions, stock and profitability instantly. With this enhanced understanding of your business processes you will be able to make smarter, more profitable business decisions; and with everything automated and collated by the system, the potential requirement for extra headcount is negated and the workload of your head office team is streamlined and economical.
For more information on how technology from Ocean Dynamics can help you streamline your expanding business please get in touch.