Vision Reach Builds Profitable Businesses Through Simplified, Streamlined, And Automated Business Processes
There are three words that resonate for Vision Reach – simplify, streamline, and automate. Based in Colchester, the business uses 30 years of collective experience to help businesses throughout a range of different sectors – including construction – find the right systems and processes that will enable them to scale, react to market demands, eliminate unimportant tasks, streamline activity, and ultimately exceed customer expectations.
Although Vision Reach spends their time helping other businesses evolve and grow, they still recognise the value of continuous professional development for themselves. Director Alan Martin has been working with I-Construct and receiving mentoring from Derek Godfrey to build up his industry knowledge and provide a better service for his customers as a result.
Vision Reach works a lot with the supply chain of construction companies, so having further knowledge of the construction industry has been hugely beneficial. He was also a lead generator for TALE (Transport and Logistical Efficiencies), another Haven Gateway Partnership initiative for businesses moving goods from A to B.
Evolving processes to develop a more efficient business
As many business leaders recognise, good processes can be critical for a business to succeed. In some cases, these can be very small changes. An example Alan gives is where someone might be going to a computer, creating a label, and putting it on a box.
“This doesn’t make sense if you are already putting a delivery note in a transparent envelope – so all you need to do in this instance is fold it the other way, so the address is shown, and you’ve saved yourself time with a simple process change.”
It can also be larger changes too. As Alan notes,
“sometimes we find a business doesn’t have the tools to get to where they want, such as computer systems. So, we will go out and source the right computer system and then implement that. We do all of the data migration, training, and hand-holding that is be required.”
With experience in so many businesses, Alan is well-placed to give solid advice to entrepreneurs and other SME business leaders. As he comments,
“The first piece of advice I’d give is – be prepared to take your time. Despite what the Elon Musk’s of this world suggest, your business isn’t necessarily going to be an overnight success. It takes a lot of work, so just be realistic. There’s going to be some pain – but just keep going and stick with it. Running a business is not for the faint-hearted, and it’s one heck of a journey.”
Easy mistakes can be made when implementing systems
When thinking about some of the mistakes he has seen his clients make, Alan says,
“A lot of people will always start with saying ‘Okay, I need an accountancy system because that’s what my accountant is telling me’, and then after that, they are left to get on with it. However, it’s important to actually think about how your business is going to work as you will then save yourself a lot of pain later down the line.”
Contrary to what might be expected, Alan doesn’t always advise buying complex or expensive systems as soon as you start trading,
“I absolutely don’t recommend that you put a system in upfront. Instead, think about your processes and, in the same way, you should be with your business plan, continuously think about and review your processes and keep them in line with where you are taking the business. It’s easy for processes to become unaligned, and then you end up having to draft someone in – like me – to sort the mess out.”
The benefits of reviewing your business processes
Streamlining a business can have huge benefits, both in terms of time and cost savings. For one of Alan’s clients, he has managed to reduce time spent on their order processing by 63%, which has had a significant and positive impact on the business.
For another customer, Vision Reach identified a role that was costing the business a significant amount. Making this role redundant had a noteworthy effect – the business was able to employ several multi-skilled people to support the business operations in ways that improved productivity, output, and turnover.
Where to start
The process that Alan follows for reviewing and streamlining business processes is simple, yet effective.
“The first step is an overview, where we have a brief chat with the business owner or Managing Director – whoever is feeling the pain. That overview is largely to go through what the headaches are, what they are experiencing, or what they are not getting from their point of view, and then identifying how we can actually help.”
“Then we follow up with a process review, which can be done very quickly. We tend to go into the business for a day, sometimes half a day, and we map it all out – rather than just looking at the process that is the problem for them. We look at the business as a whole, with the problems in mind, because if you fix processes in silo, then inevitably you get lots of tidy little processes, but these don’t then join together. This can end up introducing more problems and means you’ve only fixed those small areas, rather than the whole process. We also look to understand the capabilities of the staff and how resistant they might be to change, so they don’t feel like anything is being forced upon them.”
The next step might involve coming up with a new solution, providing training with existing tools, or tweaking a solution that already exists. This is then implemented after the overview, with time also spent raising awareness of the other types of things that can be achieved to make time savings. Alan then explains,
“Afterwards, we are then able to offer continuous improvement support, reviewing how everything is working each month and helping with any problems that are being further identified as time goes on.”
The complexities of streamlining construction processes
From working in a number of different industries, Alan has recognised that construction as a sector has a lot of opportunity for developing and streamlining better processes. As he comments,
“I am building a construction side to what we do, because it’s a market that no one is doing and it really, really needs some help.”
When asked why the construction industry is changing so slowly, he says:
“Because it’s a hard subject. The problem is that they’ve got so much legislation, and literally everything is written in a contract. That is a problem as it makes it all so difficult, and no one wants to tackle it. There isn’t room to manoeuvre, especially where the customer is dictating some of it. It’s a hard nut to crack, but there’s opportunities there.”
The support that I-Construct has been able to offer has helped Alan better understand the issues construction companies may have. As he recognises,
“I don’t think I would have looked at construction companies in the same way that I am now without I-Construct. Our mentor, Derek, has really helped us to see how the difficulties that they face in terms of streamlining and avoiding wasted time. There’s lots of innovation available, but they just haven’t been able to do it because they’ve been stuck in the day-to-day of running their businesses.”
For businesses in construction, the innovation starts with streamlining processes, to get the best results. Alan concludes,
“For small businesses, especially sole traders and smaller tradespeople, it’s about digitising their business in the first instance and building up the cash reserve as a result through making cost savings. This will then give them the headspace to think and the foundation on which to innovate. Otherwise, they just won’t have the time. Then after this, there’s there the follow-on innovation that can be made in potentially launching a new service, or product.”