Concrete Products


Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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46 • August 2019 FEATURE BY VICTORIA K. SICARAS How to Improve Business? Fix Time First Concrete Supply Co. uses mobile technology to streamline operations, enhance customer interaction and strengthen its bottom line Delivering a perishable product to jobsites whose schedules can change with the weather, among other things, involves challenges that are often beyond a concrete producer's control. As a result, the effort to meet performance goals is a continuous balancing act. It requires the flexibility to handle a multitude of curveballs including unforeseen jobsite conditions, customer behavior and equipment issues. To drive financial improvement, producers must identify and address the things they can control. In many cases, that means time management. "If you want to improve your business efficiency, you have to fix time first," says Henry Batten, CEO of Concrete Supply Co., based in Charlotte, N.C., and past National Ready Mixed Concrete Association chairman. Many producers are turning to mobile and cloud-based technology to streamline the processes that tend to bog down employees and eat up their time—freeing staff to focus on what matters most: serving customers and troubleshooting those unexpected curveballs. These companies are improving efficiencies by equipping both employees and customers with tools that provide a direct line to the real-time information needed to make more immediate ordering and scheduling decisions. "When we say 'improved efficiencies,' that's just a catch-all phrase for saving time," says Batten. "Technology is all about putting [the right information] in front of people so they can react quicker, and they can evaluate their own performance to find ways to get to the next step, or load or job faster." BUILDING THE ROAD TO EFFICIENCY Like many companies, Concrete Supply had to scale down to survive the Great Recession. After years of layoffs and cutting back, often down to the bone, the concrete industry emerged from the recession with a troublesome labor shortage—the biggest issue the industry is still facing today, notes Batten, adding, "When business started expanding, we had to decide how to move forward so we could take on more work despite having fewer people. For us, that meant investing in scalable technology first." The initial goal was to improve internal operations related to cus- tomer contact, which included streamlining the quote-to-order cycle and optimizing concrete load scheduling and delivery. "We wanted to spend less time entering orders, setting up sales quotes and managing customer data—and more time in front of customers selling products and helping them successfully complete projects," explains Batten. At the time, the company's sales account managers had to man- ually prepare and submit quotes for customers and maintain those hardcopy quotes. Once a project was awarded, that information had to be manually transferred into the dispatch system so the customer could place an order. "As you can imagine, this resulted in constant phone calls to dispatch addressing those details," says Batten. "In fact, 25 percent to 30 percent of all calls to dispatchers were internal. Meanwhile, actual customers were often placed on hold, waiting for the next available dispatcher." The solution was to implement cloud-based business management tools that gave employees remote access to the company's sales, proj- ect and order data. As a result, account managers had all customer information at their fingertips, which enabled them to create quotes with more speed and accuracy—and minimal phone calls to dispatch. The tools also automated the quote-to-order steps by converting approved quotes into projects, which minimized the time spent com- pleting paperwork so employees could focus more on execution and improving service. BCMI Material Pro app

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