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Foodservice distributor builds dynamic, bottom-up budgets to better respond to complexity

4 mins to read

Operating in the food wholesale industry, Savona Foodservice is a high transaction, low value business where margin management is critical.

Read on to hear from Savona’s Managing Director, Mike Morgan, about how Phocas helps him and the team to connect, understand and plan better together.

The search for a provider that thinks like a partner

Back in 2016, Savona decided to move from its two legacy, paper-based ERP systems with limited BI and CRM capabilities because they were creating multiple versions of the truth and two sets of numbers that didn’t match up. It was making it difficult for Mike and his team to compare ‘eggs with eggs’ across the two depots.

As part of Savona’s system overhaul, its management replaced the incumbent BI system with Phocas Analytics to finally build one version of the truth.

When initially searching for a new solution, Mike wanted a software provider that thought like a partner, not a consulting company.

Phocas has some really good people who are easy to do business with. It was clear from day one, that Phocas sees the long-term value of a relationship.

He was also impressed with how flexible and intuitive Phocas was; saving time by removing the need to manually populate spreadsheets and automate reporting.

Helping to keep everyone's fingers on the pulse

The transactional and master data that Savona imports into Phocas every night comes from a range of different sources including the business’s ERP, Qnetex.

On a daily basis, Mike and the team analyze a range of activities from sales quantities and margins through to customer behavior [or lack of], in order to identify gaps and upsell opportunities with ease. What this has meant is that now more people are hitting target which for Mike, was always the primary objective. It was never just about business reporting. It was about reinforcing positive behaviour.

Using Phocas makes me feel like I've got my finger on the pulse and I can react immediately. But more importantly, so can my team. Without needing to ask anybody else, everybody's got access to the information at the touch of a button.

Mike says one of his favourite features of Phocas Analytics is the ability to present data as images, whether that's charts or graphs. This helps draw his eye to the trends that are going on in the business, which can often be lost in the raw data.

Overcoming common challenges in foodservice

One such trend is inflation which has been widespread in the wholesale industry since the pandemic. By delving into the data in Analytics, the team have been able to highlight situations where sales appear to have increased, but volume is down – helping them estimate Savona’s category and market penetration more accurately.

Mike says Phocas is also enabling the business to keep things simple when it comes to pricing. Thanks to Analytics, the business has been able to regionalize its price lists, rather than having standard pricing for the whole of the south of England.

In terms of quantifying the benefit, we anticipate it’s saving about 10% of our sales team's time by reducing the amount of manual pricing they've got to do, which is prevalent in wholesale.

Stock control has also been a big challenge in recent years but one that’s been made easier with Analytics. Demand can be unpredictable in foodservice and customers can pull stock from the business without prior notice. Phocas helps Savona better plan for seasonality and establish different stock holding policies for different products depending on whether they’re identified as slow or fast moving.

Making budgeting and forecasting a piece of cake

Savona has since added Phocas Budgets & Forecasts (B&F) and Phocas CRM which work seamlessly with Analytics.

Using B&F, Mike and the team have eliminated several challenges with its budgeting & forecasting process. One was the amount of manual effort it was taking with people having to pull reports together and historically, print them. And second, budgets were typically only available on a weekly or monthly basis and therefore the sales team were finding out too late to take corrective action.

We've implemented monthly budgeting for the field sales team, which they have access to daily. And they're actually knocking on my door waiting for the system to update because they want access to that data immediately so they can react.

B+F has also enabled the business to adopt a bottom-up approach to budgeting which would have previously been too difficult. Building the budget on a more granular level, allows Mike and the team to identify areas for greater growth rather than applying a blanket percentage increase which can be a drawback of the top-down approach.

More Phocas  products equals more benefits for Savona

Mike says the business is already benefiting from the synergies created by adopting multiple Phocas products.

The Phocas CRM allows us to capture our new business pipeline, which has previously been rather anecdotal. And Budgets and Forecasts has allowed us to also measure our sales team against expectation. By combining both of those systems, it's actually allowed us to separate the anecdotal from the fact.

The team are enjoying similar benefits by using Phocas CRM and Analytics together.

By combining the new business pipeline in CRM with sales versus target data in Analytics, Savona’s business development managers can self-serve and measure their personal performance. Its regional managers can also measure team performance daily to identify sales shortfalls before they escalate.

When asked if Mike would recommend Phocas to another foodservice wholesale business, it was a resounding yes.

He believes Phocas is key to making the right commercial decisions in your business.

If you're struggling to get access to your data and to understand what's going on with your customers and your products, then I would certainly use Phocas to bring that to life.

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