Le-Bert confessed to Raby that she was using QuickBooks, “but in my own primitive way.” While SCORE offers a two-hour seminar on QuickBooks, Raby was able to easily formulate a better system that would show Le-Bert her inventory and provide an overall picture of her financials.
He explained: “A lot of it is setting up....to do what you want it to do and not make a mess of your books,” he said. “What I’m going to do is make it cleaner.”
And by having a more efficient system, Le-Bert will be able to invoice orders more easily and then keep track of shipments and payments.
To expand sales, Lorca also recommended asking customers to look at their annual budgets, rather than their immediate needs. From his own experience, Lorca said he found if he did not use his parts budget for the year, it would often get cut.
“If you’re not using your budget, you’re losing your budget,” he said.
So he suggested Le-Bert provide customers with a list of parts they had purchased over time as “wear parts,” that is parts that typically need replacing over the year. If she could convince them to buy in advance, she might be able to increase the size of her orders to suppliers. And in some cases, she might then be able to convince suppliers to give her a discount on the larger orders.
“In this line of business, there are so many competitors that even a one percent discount can make us lose a sale, so we have to be very careful,” Le-Bert said.
Expanding her customer base might also enable her to expand orders. More importantly, it would provide a path to growing the business, Lorca explained.
“She needs to get away from parts for the mining industry to parts for mining, maritime and farming,” he said. “She needs to look at what she provides and what she’s selling and look at the lateral markets.”
And to do that, she must pass on day-to-day responsibilities, like providing quotes for parts and extending credit, to her daughter.
“When you’re moving material this fast, maybe moving on a weekly basis, the more quotes you provide, the more business and the more sales,” he said. “It’s always a juggle of input and output, but the more you juggle, the more you make.”
Following her meetings with Lorca and Raby, Le-Bert was enthusiastic about implementing the suggestions and kicking their plan into action. She is currently negotiating with vendors to secure discounts on large orders. She also works with a company in England to provide parts in more diverse European markets at a competitive price. Finally, she is handing off duties to her daughter so she can concentrate on marketing and expanding her customer base.
And after one trip to Chile and Peru in September, Le-Bert returned with good news: “It worked. I got a couple of leads” that resulted in two new clients.