Case Study: Stuart Plumbing

June 21, 2022

Stuart Plumbing use digitisation to facilitate rapid business growth, improving efficiency and reducing administration costs

Stuart Plumbing & Heating Supplies is a family run plumber’s merchant and bathroom showroom that has been trading for over 35 years. Currently, there are 8 branches in the Leicestershire, Warwickshire and the Midlands area, located at Nuneaton, Hinckley, Atherstone, Bedworth, Narborough, Lutterworth & Wigston plus a branch at Thurmaston opened in 2021. They specialise in central heating, specialist plumbing, bathrooms, showers and a vast range of bathroom furniture such as vanity units and accessories.

A true partnership

Stuart Plumbing has a long standing partnership with print and software supplier Printsense, who have been looking after and managing their estate of Toshiba MFPs for a number of years.

Stephen Elliott, Finance Director commented on the relationship, “We have been so impressed with the support and service from Printsense, who maintain the devices across all our sites. They are such a professional company giving us complete peace of mind, it’s just one less thing to worry about. As they are a Toshiba Key Partner we also see real value in being able to access other parts of the Toshiba portfolio.”

Stuart Plumbing were able to look at other Toshiba solutions when their rapid expansion enabled them to open an 8th location last year. Stephen talked about the effects on the business, “The growth had a big impact on our finance departments workload. With only two staff members manually processing in excess of 2000 invoices a month from a multitude of different suppliers, it was a time consuming and laborious task that was reaching breaking point. We knew that we really needed to think about some sort of automation platform to ease the pressure. We sought the advice of Printsense, who recommended the process optimisation team at Toshiba; experts in helping customers streamline business workflows.”

Automation for efficiency and accuracy

The Toshiba team carried out a full audit, and having identified the key pain points, proposed DocuWare and ancora software to automate the invoice entry process. Jan Henderson, process optimisation specialist at Toshiba talked about the approach, “No two companies are completely alike, it’s vital to take the time to understand each business’s unique requirements and tailor the software accordingly.

For Stuart Plumbing three things were critical: removing the manual tasks, streamlining processes within the finance department and most importantly highlighting and resolving errors quickly for improved accuracy.”

With the scoping phase complete, the transition to the new solution was straight forward, easily integrating into the company’s existing EDI software, and the finance team adapting quickly to the new digitisation. Stephen remarked on the instant benefits for the business, “By automating a very manual and labour intensive process, we have already reduced invoicing time by about 30-40%. A task that would have taken the whole month to complete, we can now close off 10 days earlier. But the biggest improvement is in managing errors, we previously had so many issues with VAT and under and over payments, now the system automatically highlights any discrepancies so we can deal with them quickly with minimal issue, our accuracy levels has improved by 100%.”

In addition to the time savings and increased accuracy, Stuart Plumbing has also been able to reduce the amount of paper being used as invoices are entered straight into the system without being printed first, further reducing costs. The company will also be able to realise savings on annual cloud server licences, as in the future these will not be required.

A smooth audit

Stuart Plumbing had planned to recruit additional staff to cope with the large volume of invoices, but has been able to keep the overhead the same, even though they have grown by over 15% in the last year.

Stephen continued on other advantages of the new software that they had not anticipated as part of the project, “Our key objectives when starting this automation project were to speed up the invoicing processing time and improve accuracy of capture and errors, and the new solution has more than exceeded our expectations. But as we’ve been using the software we’ve recognised other benefits to the business, like auditing, the whole process is much slicker, with all documents from delivery notes to invoices being retrieved quickly and easily. I am also able to access files from my phone, which really helps with creating quotes whilst out of the office.”

The team at Toshiba have been absolutely fantastic, from the outset they really took to time to understand how we operate and make enhancements that would work for us. Nothing is ever too much trouble and they are always at the end of the phone to deal with any queries or questions. We know that we have a fully future-proofed solution that is flexible and can adapt for our growing business. We are very much look forward to working with both Printsense and Toshiba on future projects. Stephen Elliott, Finance Director, Stuart Plumbing