Pearce Group has a history going back nearly 150 years. It has expanded rapidly in the past ten to 15 years, against a background of a fast-evolving industry.
Pearce collects, sorts, consolidates and sells on waste paper, plastic, wood, glass and cans. This is a very fast-moving market - and Pearce is a 'middle player' in that market.
"We consolidate the material and sell it on. But it's not that simple; it is very much a commodity-driven market and we are not in control of the price," says Andy Berridge. "As a recycling company, we are in the unusual situation where we buy material from people and are approved by HM Revenue & Customs to raise a 'self-bill'. In other words, we are setting the price, based on everything that goes across our weighbridge."
Prices can go up, and down, dramatically and at very short notice, and Pearce must always be in tune with the changes.
"We have to be nimble in responding to changes," he says. "If the market rises, we need the capability to pass on the benefits to our customers very promptly - that's vital in order to retain our customers. Equally, if the market drops, we need an operational system that can respond accordingly. Otherwise we could be overpaying for the source material."
Pearce manufactures and supplies custom-built, high-quality waste compactors and balers which provide its customers with significant savings on their waste costs. Like so much in this business, it comes down to transport costs; compressed is better, because otherwise you can be transporting air.
By providing the equipment, Pearce enables customers to do half the job at their own site. Part of this business is servicing the equipment - and that involves at least 100 service contracts, all needing two visits a year. Planning the servicing schedule manually used to be a nightmare. Engineers could find themselves going from Cornwall to Scotland and back to Birmingham in a random 'hit list' based on which site visit was due each week.
Other issues could be even less routine. While many Pearce recycling customers are regulars, there are also a good number that deal with the company on an ad hoc basis. Pearce needed a finance system to help keep track of those customers and proactively work to make sure they remain 'in the loop'.
Pearce Group has grown dramatically in recent years - and that's been possible because of the Access systems implemented across the business, says Andy Berridge. "Access has enabled us to drive our business in a more data-oriented way, rather than by gut feeling. That has been really important."
Access Dimensions supports Pearce in achieving detailed financial analysis. "I know where every bit of information is and where it sits. I can pull out any bit of data I need for any report. You can get bogged down in trying to record data, and end up with analysis paralysis. But the big strength of Access Dimensions is its simplicity and accessibility." Pearce implemented Access Financials Operations about 18 months ago, to administer all its buying and selling. Before that, it used a bespoke system which needed updating.
ServiceManager is used at an operational level, for calls and billing. "It enables us to schedule our servicing work in advance, so we know what we are going to do and can efficiently schedule it," says Andy Berridge. "That means we can look at what is coming up this week and schedule it better by shifting the visits around so we don't end up going from one end of the country to the other and back again."
All of Pearce's sales people use Goldmine CRM - which enables them to keep track of information and 'make sure nothing drops through the grate'.
"It gives them a tool to proactively manage their pipeline; we can run a report to show the customers that we haven't heard from recently, then call them and make sure they are still working with us."
Goldmine CRM enables Pearce to record sales activity and successfully analyse entire sales cycles to identify patterns.
All of Pearce's divisions use Access Financials, Access Financials Operations and ServiceManager. The group has developed a good knowledge base allowing it to extract maximum benefit from these systems: "We have what we call 'super users' and they will train down into their team."
Pearce is now considering implementing Access HR, the Cloud-based HR solution which was introduced by Access in 2013 and can be integrated with Access Payroll. Additionally, it is looking into implementation of Access's solution for scanning and indexing, which enables scanned invoices to be posted straight into purchase ledger.
"Using systems we have from Access enables us to be nimble in terms of pricing, whether up or down," says Andy Berridge. "There is so much information we need to analyse. We have the value of the end product, the value we buy it in and the location, which also affects margins. This is where Access has helped massively. We needed information at financial, management, operational, buying and selling levels. I don't just look at customers and know their overall figures - I can drill down through ServiceManager and establish what we are buying and selling for and draw real conclusions."