HSS Hire Services chose Serversys to help build closer relationships with customers

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HSS Hire Service Group is the UK’s largest tool and equipment hire chain. Estimated to be worth over £700 million, the UK tool hire market is comprised of customer sectors as diverse as occasional DIY users, through to large national construction companies, public sector organisations and specialist trade contractors. Operating under the banner of HSS Hire, the group has an established branch network of around 400 outlets, a 700-strong delivery fleet and over 2,500 employees.

A clear leader in terms of market share, network size, product range and service growth, today HSS Hire is at the forefront of the tool hire industry. HSS wanted to pave the way to achieving significant additional revenue growth, double its sales force and re-orientate focus on better serving the needs of its customers. To achieve a more targeted approach to its portfolio of accounts, HSS Hire wanted to implement CRM. This would herald new ways of working and enable greater directional focus across the organisation.

Historically, the geographic focus of the branch network structure had largely driven customer management across the organisation. As a result, it was difficult for national and regional management team to gain a global accounts view. The high volume and complexity of the accounts, together with prioritising customer activities, tracking new trends and identifying the emergent needs of customers was a real challenge. Furthermore, the national and local impact of marketing and promotional initiatives had proved difficult to evaluate and measure. This was compounded by territory-maintained manual customer records that made it difficult for the organisation to effectively manage Sales Managers performance or to implement a comprehensive company-wide knowledge management infrastructure.

  Key Achievements

Territory Management

Customer information can now be viewed, data mined and assessed across the organisation. Comprehensive reporting provides accurate information on customer actions and needs and prioritisation of resources is attainable.

Automated Reporting

Performance monitoring tools provide management with information on individual sales territories and enables closer direction of sales personnel in terms of prioritising time and monitoring key performance indicators. Activity and record management is automated and trackable.

Single Integrated View of Customers

The Sage CRM MME central database provides a global view of accounts and individual contacts. Action points can be pro-actively identified and progress monitored.

Comprehensive, integrated business reporting

Integration with SPANNER enables full financial analysis of activities and monitoring of customers, and sales territories while providing operational mapping with the branch network.

Record keeping was primarily maintained through the retail operation system SPANNER a bespoke branch focused back office system that provides revenue tracking facilities on customer accounts. If HSS Hire Services was to achieve enhanced sales and achieve greater complicity with its customers, it needed to implement and evolve a sophisticated CRM platform that could interact with SPANNER.

Mike Kemp, Sales Director at HSS Hire Services outlines the challenge he faced:

“Our objective was to improve the visibility of customer interactions across the company and enable improved territory management. We wanted to give our sales people a clearer vision of their individual sales universes and by giving Area Managers better quality and depth of information about their customers and prospects, we hoped to enable them to achieve against new, highly defined key performance indicators. Longer term, this would help us to identify and respond faster to customer opportunities.”

A further advantage of the new system would be access to data rich customised reports, as Mike explains:

“Implementing a CRM system would give us ease of access to consistent, accurate reporting. We wanted the new system to automatically generate activity reporting for Area Sales and National Account managers; removing the burden of administration that’s traditionally associated with manual reporting, our sales personnel were able to reinvest this energy and time into proactive account and territory development activities.”

Although HSS recognised it had a deficiency in CRM, its existing investment in operational systems had to be incorporated into the solution it selected.

“SPANNER is very much the heartbeat of our business we had to ensure that the CRM system we chose offered full and comprehensive integration with this crucial operational and financial platform,”

says Mike.

Selecting the solution

After undertaking an initial outline of system requirements, Mike Kemp and his team began the search for potential solution providers. The selection process was extensive. Potential solution providers were assessed against a 15-point key requirements matrix devised by HSS Hire Services. Of the contenders, Serversys ultimately met all required criteria.

“You only implement CRM once,”

explains Kemp.

“To give sales people clarity, in terms of territory management objectives, we needed to work with a solution provider that not only recommended the right CRM system in terms of functionality and Sage CRM MME certainly gave us the future-proofing, integration capabilities and feature rich operations we were seeking but also offered the ability to support us at the highest level throughout the implementation process and beyond.”

Building consistency

Key to this process would be ensuring that CRM data was inter-changeable with the SPANNER system. Relevant financial information had to be made available to users to enable financial performance monitoring while customer details, including group relationships, had to be available in CRM. Working with the development team at HSS Hire Services, it was agreed that an automated integration process would ensure SPANNER operated as a master data source. Synchronisation mechanisms would be developed by Serversys to ensure data integrity between the two systems and these data requirements were developed in consultation with the team at HSS Hire Services.

About HSS Hire

HSS Hire Services is the UK’s largest tool and equipment hire chain. The Group has an established network of over 400 outlets in the UK and Ireland servicing trade, industrial and home-owner customers.

HSS said:

“We wanted to work with a supplier that didn’t simply recommend a solution and then walked away. Instead, we wanted a partner that had the ability to help us achieve our stated objectives. This meant not only designing and building a fully operational, tightly integrated CRM infrastructure, capable of evolving with our organisation, but also ensuring we achieved greater resource focus, powered by improved customer knowledge. Our ultimate goal was to fulfil a long term CRM strategic vision and Serversys played a significant role in helping us transform into a CRM-centric organisation.”

Mike Kemp, Sales Director, HSS Hire Services

Scoping the system requirements was also crucial. If HSS Hire Services was to use its CRM system to measure the impact of marketing and promotional initiatives, while simultaneously linking and tracking sales personnel interactions in terms of revenue growth, a series of sophisticated reports needed to be developed.

Initiating a new way of working

The design of the new CRM system had to incorporate four functional areas; sales, telesales, marketing and management. Competitor activity and spend in customer accounts would also be tracked and reported on. Additional reporting structures would enable HSS Hire Services to capitalise on another objective the exploitation of market trends and new opportunities.

“We recognised that implementing CRM would be a significant culture change for personnel and we needed to ease that transition,”

confirms Kemp.

“Sage CRM MME provides web access through Internet Explorer, which made it easy to deploy the system to field-based sales personnel. We hoped that by automating many onerous administrative tasks, including reporting, field sales personnel would welcome the system. And because we’d ensured Sage CRM MME was designed to be easy to use and administer when we went live, we quickly won hearts and minds.”

The reality

With the implementation and configuration of the system completed, transition to the new CRM system was completed over a three-month period. Today, field sales and sales administration personnel utilise the system, along with marketing and product directors.

“We are now clearly able to identify where we should focus our sales and customer development resources,”

confirms Kemp.

“We have accurate data to mine and we are able to easily access and review operational data, extracted from SPANNER. All this has helped us to get closer to customers and better understand their needs. Ultimately, we are closer to achieving our strategic goal driving shareholder value for our business.”

Full accountability of sales personnel has been successfully implemented and HSS Hire Services is now able to monitor the impact of programmes on the business. The new ability to undertake specific customer targeting has already given HSS Hire Services an edge over competitors.

“We are now evolving the system, interfacing it with our email system,”

says Mike Kemp.

“We will also continue to refine our visibility of customers, so we can direct resources to where it generates the greatest return. We are well on the way to achieving our customer-centric vision.”