How Motostar reaped the rewards of efficiency gains
At the close of 2014, Motostar Tire and Auto Products posted one of the most successful winter tire selling seasons in the company’s 22-year history. President Gene Bova Sr. said while he was thrilled with the performance of the business, this success presented its own challenges.
“Tires were flying off the shelves, which was great! What was not so great were the challenges we faced delivering all of the products to our customers. We knew that we had to make changes, and we set out to do that this year,” Bova said.
In the wake of this experience, the Motostar Tire and Auto Products management team set goals for improving efficiency companywide within the distribution system. What happened next sets a great example for other businesses working to improve their productivity.
Organize and automate
Motostar’s management team chose to start with the company headquarters in Merrimack, New Hampshire, which is its largest distribution center.
Director of sales Travis Haynes took on the project, with the help of director of finance Jeremy Glines and distribution managers Dean Girouard and Craig Marran, to implement a much-needed warehouse re-organization and activation of a binned inventory management system.
To drive the efficiencies of the physical re-organization further, the company all but eliminated hand-powered equipment, investing in powered pickers, pallet jacks, fork-lifts, and a second floor conveyor to move products.
The efficiency gains of better organization cannot be overstated. Wherever possible in your business, develop a system that simplifies each process, whether it’s in distribution or bookings management. Organizational systems, templates of frequently used forms, and mechanical assistance will all reduce delays.
Centralize and delegate
The efficiency mantra did not stop when it came to other areas of distribution that needed improvement. Motostar Tire and Auto Products installed a state-of-the-art telecom system, coupled with a new customer order center based in Merrimack, New Hampshire.
Now sales calls for most of Motostar’s selling footprint are funneled into the order center, freeing up outside sales staff as well as satellite distribution center managers to offer higher levels of personalized service to customers.
Running an efficient business means ensuring every member of your team can focus on what they do well. By forming a centralized team with a system that allows it to handle all incoming calls, Motostar can take advantage of economies of scale in its incoming sales calls. This gives the outside sales staff and managers more time to add value to the experience of existing customers. Where possible, consider where you can centralize one activity to one area or team in your business. It’s the same principle as a production line – having each person do one job, and do it well, means more can be accomplished faster.
Technological and software solutions are everywhere, but its important businesses know where technology can help and where it might actually hinder.
To assist the order center staff, Motostar invested in GeoTab GPS location and route analysis software for all company vehicles.
“This software affords the order center and management team the ability to track all our company vehicles 24/7, 365, regardless of weather or location. This software analyzes and is used to optimize routes for efficiency and timeliness,” Glines said.
For small businesses, there are apps and platforms galore to help speed up your business operations or manage your business on the go. Just remember that your staff will also need training in how to use them – make sure you invest the time to make these tools worthwhile.
Educate and inform team members
For Motostar it wasn’t just about the changes on the ground. Planning, dedication and organization have to be behind any efficiency drive. Perhaps most importantly, be prepared to spend the time educating your team on the new processes and any technology you invest in. Keeping an open line of communication with your staff members, and making sure they’re invested in the changes, will help your ideas take hold within company processes. Be open for feedback about what’s working and what isn’t.
“The combined efforts from the entire Motostar Tire and Auto Products team to bring these projects to fruition has been amazing, and I am proud of what we have accomplished. We look forward to serving the New England and Upstate New York markets with quality tires and automotive accessories for years to come,” Bova said.
Motostar Tire and Auto Products is a family-owned and operated member of the Zurcher Group, distributing tires and automotive accessories throughout New England and upstate New York. The company operates a delivery fleet of more than 50 trucks from three distribution centers.