Sunflower Framing pioneered our "Gallery Custom Frame Package"
Duncan McDonald CEO of All About Framing describes how the business developed and why the slick manufacturing operation allowed the business grow so healthily.
Sunflower Framing started as our very first outlet in Beaconsfield in Dec 1997 and from the very outset was successful. The choice of location, good staff and our quality framing made us the premier framers in the area. It was not long before we were looking for other locations to replicate our success. We pinpointed Marlow as a town lacking this service and went about building a new framing shop that was to be a blue print for a potential franchised the operation.
As we built the business everything was documented so we could produce a manual of operation, we thought we were on to a winner as initially everything went very smoothly.
As time went on we realised that having another whole new manufacturing setup in the store was not as effective as I thought and it threw up many problems. In particular staff were unable to concentrate on making even more sales as they were always busy making frames, there was also a storage issue and finally each member of staff needed to be fully trained as framers.
"A dramatic re-think was required"
I started a central manufacturing base to fulfil orders for both shops therefore taking stock issues and space issues away from two locations to just one. Our head framer at Beaconsfield who handled all the cutting and joining of frames now did this for both shops, and a computerised mount cutter was installed which actually did the job of two people. The waste or spare stock was also utilised better which saved lots of money. Wonderful!
"A quick redesign of the shops and we were off again"
I thought i had totally done away with all my problems. All the rims, mounts glass and backing were being manufactured and sent to the individual galleries for assembly. BUT. Having a manufacturing unit remote to the shops was a nightmare. Where we use to be able to shout across the shop for confirmation on a size or mount colour every query took a phone call or sometimes just got forgotten. So many mistakes started to creep in it cost us more than we were saving! We needed a software system to handle this.
"I looked at software systems available but none were suitable so we built our own"
We needed a really robust solution that could take a customer order from "cradle to grave" and approached Reading University to help deliver this through their Knowledge Transfer Partnership program.
Work started in January 2011 and our first workable interface was up and running by the end of the year. The transformation of the business was unbelievable, overnight mistakes were minimised and the ability to track every job as to what stage it was at made the galleries customer service so efficient.
"What a difference a year makes!"
All manufacturing services have been transferred over to All About Framing Ltd and the Sunflower Galleries are now a customer. All the bespoke framing orders are input on the software and once checked and authorised are downloaded automatically to the workshop where production is started immediately. Once the rim, mount, glass and backing are fabricated the completed unit is sent to the galleries where they are reunited with the artwork and assembled by the staff. What could be more simple. No ordering stock, storing stock, finding scrap to complete a job, searching to find where the job is in the system, or losing information on whether a customer has paid or not.
All the time saved has reduced staffing costs and increased the time spent on getting more sales.