The 10 best ways to help your customers choose the right product whilst also helping your profits

Why is it important for all your staff to understand the products they are making?

Today’s consumers are more knowledgeable about individual ingredients and their efficacy therefore products need to show they can work and when selling a new formula , producing or even despatching – staff need to be aware of what the product is and does.

The 10 best ways to help your customers choose the right product whilst also helping your profits

By empowering your staff with this information you position your business as “experts” in the field and your customers can rely on you to make the right decisions and give the right advice about their products.  Here’s the top 10 ways to help your customers choose the right product:

  1. Don’t assume the customer knows best – in many cases, they may be providing you with their “ideal formula” based on an outdated perception of what the current market trend is or basing it another product they have seen online (whose formula may not be correct/truthful itself).
  2. Understand the key differences between capsules/tablets and powder mixes from both a manufacturing point of view AND a consumer point of view . If the product is aimed at people of a particular age group or demographic – would that fit with the product type?
  3. Understand how the brand and the packaging can hugely influence the buying potential of the product and indeed the price point it would reach to the consumer.
  4. Be ready to explain all aspects of the choices the customer can make. This is not just the individual ingredients, this can be the packaging type, the order quantities, the likely potential price point based on the branding positioning on the product and more.
  5. Remember, in almost all of aspects of the product conception and enquiry, you will have more knowledge than the customer – be ready to use it to give the customer the best product whilst giving you the best profit return.
  6. If you would like to help the customer to choose a particular product you already produce– always offer them their original specification in the quotation, but also offer the other product as a comparison. Never discount the fact how important the cost of a product can be when a client is choosing the product they will purchase.
  7. Be aware of the current trends in the marketplace. Sign-up for as many industry newsletters as you can, and talk to your suppliers to understand what is selling well.
  8. Understand the marketplace where the product will be sold. Ask questions of your client to find out.  The packaging and type of product can be significantly dependent upon its marketplace.
  9. Use a software solution (even a spreadsheet) to keep track of the allergens, active ingredients, claims, nutritional values and selling points which can used against any specific ingredient. That way, when you create a new formulation, the background information for the items within it is readily available and can be quoted from to give the client certainty about how the product will work and how it can be promoted.
  10. If a new formulation or ingredient becomes available within your business AND it’s something which is working within a new area for you, be sure to inform your whole team! If branching out into sports nutrition is new for you – tell your whole staff.  If offering new products suitable for children or the elderly is an area you’re branching out to – again – tell your staff.
    Only if your entire sales team (and the wider company) are fully aware of all of the strings to your bow can they answer the questions posed from your customers.

The top 10 production management tasks commonly overlooked for a small scale nutraceutical manufacturer

Here at Receta, many of our customers fall under the category of SME when it comes to identifying the size of their business. As such many employ a relatively small number of staff and many only have a small amount of experience in the nutraceutical manufacturing sector.

We’ve compiled a list of the top ten most common issues we see when it comes to managing your manufacturing productions for our SME customers:

 

TO p10 production managements task

 

Keeping on top of ingredient expiration dates

For many start-ups or businesses moving into the sector, the requirement to manage your stock from an expiration point of view is something never considered.  In many cases a supplier may provide an ingredient with a shorter than expected shelf-life – shorter in fact than existing batches of the same ingredient you may already have in your storage area.  Without careful labelling and an accurate system (such as a Receta) when it comes to the auto allocation of the correct stock batches – a business can quite quickly find managing their ingredient batches becomes a huge headache.
A second concern is the on-going management of stock that is either past its expiration date or rapidly approaching it.  Again, without an accurate system that is able to generate reports to help you both identify and then manage these potentially problematic ingredient batches – a business can find that they only become aware of problematic batches during the production cycle which is using that material.  This is at best an efficiency, purchasing and logistical issue and at worse a potentially legal issue should the business be inadvertently using expired ingredients.

The solution to the problem lies in ensuring you have an automated system(s) in place for tracking and dealing with these issues before they become a problem.   The ability to maintain an active log of your current material batches and their expiration dates is an absolute minimum.  Also ensuring that your system of allocating stock adheres to both the FIFO method (more of that below) AND the expiration date of stock is a requirement as well.  Finally, and probably the most difficult to put in place (should you already be running without the previous two requirements setup), is the ability to re-train your staff to ensure that they adhere to the new protocols regarding stock management. Failure to do this, will likely mean that all of your hard work is for nothing!

Maintaining accurate stock rotation (FIFO) and making sure staff apply the correct methods

As with the above issue, it may not be an obvious part of the initial setup of your ingredient storage areas to allow for the allocation and therefore usage of stock on a FIFO method (First in, First Out).  This widely accepted method of allocating and using your stock should be central to your plans when it comes to allocating the space required to store your ingredients.  You should give ample consideration to how the stock will be removed from storage to then be used in a given production.  How will it also be returned to the correct stock area?  In many cases, without an accurate stock batch control system, many businesses fall back on a manual allocation method whereby the individual batches used in any given production are selected by the warehouse staff whose job it is to pick the items in question.  They then may enter their selections into a system/spreadsheet/hand-written document to attempt to keep their stock management up-to-date.  This method should be avoided at all costs.  By working this way, you are giving the power of allocation to the individual, who may not be fully experienced with picking the correct batch based upon FIFO and/or expiration date.  In some cases, this could mean that newer stock is used in favour of older stock and very quickly your stock rotation falls down.

To correct this problem generally requires the power of the batch control and stock allocation to be moved further up the process in terms of production progression.  The allocation should ideally be controlled by an automatic system which is aware of your batches (based upon the deliveries which have been recorded) and can allocate the stock correctly.  Your warehouse team simply then need to pick the correct batches based upon their picking list sheets and your stock control and batch management virtually handles itself!

Understanding the complex nature of mixing techniques

Many of our SME businesses when first starting out with mixing their formulations may not be aware of the wide variety of mixing machinery options on the market and may not be able to fully understand which machinery best suits their needs.  In many cases, a simple standard ‘ribbon’ blender would offer a satisfactory finished mix should the formulation include either a small number of ingredients and/or all ingredients with the same attributes (such as flow rate, density etc).  However as soon as you have formulations falling outside of those setups (specifically those with a small amount of active ingredients in amongst several larger ‘filler’ ingredients), then you may need to consider upgrading both your mixing machinery and your knowledge in mixing best practice.

The correct techniques to adopt to achieve the correct blends are beyond the scope of this blog, however this area should be fully explored if you wish to ensure the quality of your product range to the end consumer.

Ensuring an efficient flow of the right allocated materials to the right manufacturing station at the right time

It is a common issue for inefficiencies to creep into the production management area of an SME when it comes to how that team are managing the flow of materials both to and from the storage areas.  With the right system in place, the ability to “pre-pick” the allocations for individual productions and also “group-picking” can be achieved, further improving efficiencies.

Consider the following scenario:
A lubricant material (such as Magnesium Stearate) may well be used across several productions in a given day.  Each production would use the same underlying batch(es).  At what point is the right time to put that material back to its storage area?  Putting it back after each production may not be the most efficient but will be the easiest to track a materials location at any one time.  Holding onto the stock and leaving it in the production area may be most efficient but may not be the easiest track the location.  Each option has its pros and cons.

With an efficient system such as Receta, you can plan your picking and replacing with 100% accuracy.  A good system will let you pick on demand, pick across several productions and also understand the most efficient time to replace ingredients.

Whilst not having a good system in place to cover this problem may not be the most pressing issue for a new business – it should still be considered if the business is looking improve efficiencies and therefore reduce costs.
Creating standard policies for the despatching of orders

In keeping with some of the above points dealing with standardisation and efficiency, creating a standard policy and work-flow for the despatching of orders is sometimes overlooked by new businesses. The simple task of “sending an order”, may upon first glance seem very straight-forward.  “How difficult can it be to package something and send it via courier?”  Without proper evaluation of how you are planning to send and package your items, very quickly you can be subject to customer returns due to damage and incorrect deliveries.

To standardise your packing and despatching can be easily achieved with a little bit of advanced thought.  Consider who will supply your outer packaging boxes? How many will you need to buy? Does your standard products fix well within your boxes?  Have you considered any additional packaging you may need to protect your products? How will you send your items?  Will you use different couriers dependant upon location? What can you do to standardise both your packaging method and materials across all of your product ranges?

Fully answer the above questions and you should find this problem is consigned to the history books!

Keeping on top of the maintenance on machines

With a new production line comes several new machines, each with their own maintenance schedules.  In many cases, this can involve daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly and annual tasks and can require the cleaning and changing of parts, on-site service engineers visits and indeed whole replacements. The dates and requirements for these tasks should be clearly notes in either a system (such as Receta’s “Machine Tasks” section) or a document kept alongside the machine.  It is vitally important that the manufacturers recommended maintenance schedules are adhered to ensure the validity of warranty and extend the longevity of your machine life for as long as possible.

Failure to complete these tasks can quickly lead to machine breakdown which in turn adds to your overheads and reduces profits!

Ensuring customer ETA expectations are met in conjunction with incoming stock deliveries

As has been covered in other blog entries, keeping your customers informed as to the progression of their order is an absolute must.  Handily, Receta offer many opportunities to automate that customer notification and keeps your staff free to manage the day to day running of the orders themselves.  However, one key area which should always be addressed is the way which you calculate your likely despatch date for the individual products.  To understand how this should be calculated, it’s best to understand all of the factors which could influence this date and ensure all are taken into consideration.
Things to consider:
Do you have the materials needed to produce the goods, in stock?
Do you have the packaging design finished and print ready?
Are there any issues with producing the item such as problems with mixing, difficulty with labelling the product?
Is the item being sent to an unusual location?
What capacity do you have on the machines which will be used to produce this item?

Only when all of these have been taken into consideration (usually in conjunction with speaking with several other staff members), can accurate ETAs be given.  If any of the above factors change, it is vital you update your ETAs and inform your customer accordingly!

Management of customer packaging (especially from the third party suppliers)

One of the biggest issues we hear time and time again from our customers is the difficulty they face when dealing with materials being issued directly from the client (or at least ordered and supplied into the premises by the client).  In most cases this will be the packaging material for the new product(s) to be placed within.  Most commonly this would be labels and/or outer boxes, however it could also cover other types of containers and closures. Your ability to produce the items required on the customer order can be heavily compromised should any of the above materials fail to arrive in a timely manner – and in those scenarios it is a wise choice to maintain a constant line of communication with your client during then time when the order is placed through to the time the materials arrive on site.  In many cases the client may not have a full understanding of the implications of not having their stock arrive on the site at the time/date agreed.  They may also not have a full understanding of the specifications of the materials they are ordering and sending directly to you and this may cause further problems such as the materials not being fit for purpose upon arrival.

This neatly brings me onto the single most commonly reported issue which our customers face when dealing with customer supplied materials and that is to do with product labels.

In many cases, the complexities of getting an initial design correctly produced are high.  The issues to overcome can be layout and visual, legality of the information on the label, correct sizing and other specifications, decision on the stock (paper etc) used for printing onto, quantity to order and more.

The lack of certainty and lack of experience in this sector by the customer can easily add many days onto the delivery date of a label which can impact on the ability to produce the finished product.

Unfortunately, with the complexities of labels, there are no easy answers to fix this problem – however if are able to ‘arm’ your cutomers in advance with all of the relevant information to help them when it comes to designing, printing and supplying the labels – that can be a great help. Think about producing a single document which outlines the size, bleed, label core size you are expecting.  You should also look to pre-warn your customers of the likely implications of providing their own artwork/labels and how this can easily push back their delivery date.

Accurately planning your productions using a schedule

To accurately plan your productions, ideally you would use a production schedule calendar (usually referred to as a Gantt chart).  Ideally the ability to add productions to your schedule should be easy and straight-forward and keeping track of production status’ for jobs should also be as easy as possible.As a fall-back, even something as simple as an online calendar can help when it comes to planning.  This system or document should be easily viewable by all concerned parties to enable any potential problems to be spotted as early as possible.

In most cases, the expected turn-around time for the customer should be adhered to, as well as determining other factors which can influence the production dates available. These can be machine availability, staff availability,  using accurate production timing data to ensure a long enough gap between other productions to fit this production into and more.

With Receta, as well as a standard production calendar, it can also handle your ability to accurately plan the timings for the job based upon your previous history.  In practice, this means your production planning becomes as accurate and efficient as possible easily and quickly!

Housekeeping of obsolete materials and low value stock

Without an accurate system to maintain a record of your stock holdings, it is very easy for slow moving or low quantity stock to fall through the gaps and remain on file for some time.  Ideally, you should look to hold minor stock checks as often as you see fit and larger stock checks at least annually.

With the help of a product such as Receta, you can also generate a report showing stock which falls into the category of slow-moving, and also another report showing materials which may be ok to archive/remove. You should ideally be able to generate similar information yourself in your own systems, allowing you the chance to easily identify the stock currently clogging up your shelf space.

By ensuring your holdings of these stocks are kept to a minimum you reduce your storage overheads and therefore increase efficiencies with picking and in turn improve your profits!

 

Looking to easily solve the top 10 problems outlined above – choose Receta!
By choosing Receta as your preferred ERP for your business, you can be sure that we will become a useful addition to your skillset within your business.  As part of your adoption of Receta, we offer on-site training to help aid adoption of the software as well as free video conferences, help videos and more.

Why not contact us today to discuss how Receta can help your business?

 

Your GDPR Responsibilities within Receta and your Nutraceutical Manufacturing Business.

With the new GDPR regulations coming into force we understand there is lots of confusion with our customers with regards to what your responsibilities are as a business with handling the personal data of your customers and suppliers..

What does GDPR actually mean?

In a nutshell, the GDPR regulations are designed to standardise, improve, supersede and add more rules into an individual countries’ (within the EU) existing data protection rules. Within the UK this is known as the Data Protection Act, and itself is over 20 years old. This means in many cases, individual countries were handling personal data differently, and in some cases, the rules within that country were not fit to match the digital age in which we live.

GDPR for Nutraceuticals

Why does GDR exist?

There are some outdated marketing policies out there, which do not take into account the growth of the internet in recent years. The GDPR have been introduced as a measure to further protect the data of individuals residing in the European Union, and to reduce the amount of spam marketing activity that happens.

What are the overall themes I need to be aware of?

Essentially GDPR governs how you are able to contact your customers (and in some cases, dependent upon your business, – your suppliers). The rules within GDPR are largely centred around how you are able to market to these contacts and how you should handle the data of those contacts.

How does this impact on my business in general?

In short, you now MUST have the explicit permission of the contact to get in touch with them, in specific ways about certain topics.
For example, you may have a customer who is happy to receive your promotional information via email but not telephone. All businesses must now maintain a record of ONLY the data they have a permission to hold and use it in a way the customer has agreed to.
In the above example, if you maintained a record of that customers’ email address AND telephone and were using both for marketing AND you went against their request to only contact them via email – then you’re flouting the rules and could be given warnings and even worse – a potential fine!

What does the term “personal data” mean?

The definition of the term “personal data” can be boiled down to “The type of data which can identify an individual human being”. That can be a name, telephone number, email address, bank details etc. If you are holding that type of data about your customer or supplier – it would be regarded as “personal data” and therefore fall under the new GDPR rules.

How does this impact on contacting prospective new customers?

As you have probably guessed – if you haven’t had the express permission from the customer to get in-touch – then quite simply – you cannot get in touch with them! This means the days of cold-calling and cold-emailing individuals (without using carefully vetted bought-in lists for example) will become things of the past. Whilst this may have a negative effect on the ways you currently find new customers, it means you will potentially spend less on your marketing, which in turn means the leads you do acquire through other marketing means are more likely to be much more interested in your products and services!

How does this impact on contacting existing customers and suppliers?

This is a slightly grey area as the term “customer” can mean different things to different businesses. Essentially, if you are contacting the customer on an on-going basis regarding things such as the progression of an order, or chasing up a debt – then in most cases this would be regarded as using the customers’ data in the pursurance of a contract and therefore ok to use.
However if you are sending a newsletter out to your customers and they have not indicated they want to receive that newsletter – then that is something best to stay away from.
As a matter of good business practice, it’s a worthwhile exercise to purge your existing databases of old contacts with whom you no longer do business, as holding that data when it’s not being used in a meaningful (non-marketing) way is also not allowed under GDPR.

Storing of Data

If you are holding any data about an individual which allows you personally identify that person, then under GDPR you have to show that you are taking the required steps to secure that data. In terms of digital documentation, that means keeping your online security up to date, maintaining internal security of your documents and generally most of the things you should have in place in your IT infrastructure which is protecting your other data as well.
In addition you should ensure that you have procedures in place which your staff are aware of for how that data in handled, how the data should be stored and what you should do in the event that the data is stolen or misplaced.

What does the “right to be forgotten” mean?

One of the specific new parts of GDPR is that the person identified in your data can request that you remove all of the information you hold about them and you have a short window of time (1 month) to comply with that request.
Essentially, unless you have an overriding reason to keep the data (an invoice which you need for tax reasons for example), you should aim to comply fully with this request as quickly as possible. If you are unable to fully remove their data, you should write and explain this to the customer. If you are unsure if your reason for keeping the data is valid, each EU member state has government backed GDPR websites outlined your options.

How should I use Receta to make sure my data management remains within GDPR?

In your role as “Data Controllers” (a title within the GDPR which identifies the type of person managing data), you have the ultimate responsibility in terms of the data you add into the system. However, Receta can help by offering you both the chance to store the customer marketing preferences against an individual customer record, plus the chance to delete any/all of an individual customers’ information within the system.

What considerations might I have outside of Receta?

Consider the following step-by-step plan to ensure you are well on the way to complying with your GDPR obligations:

 

  1. Conduct an audit of the existing customer and supplier data you holdM
  2. Make a list of the current processes you have for handling that data.
  3. Identify the lawful bases for processing, storing and documenting that personal data (pursuance of a contract for example)
  4. Create a document which outlines how you request and record consent.
  5. Write/Update your data protection policy which includes the “personal data” identifiers you will hold. Send this to all staff member and make it available to all customers on request.
  6. Consider appointing a specific Data Protection Officer who is responsible for uploading your new policy and training new staff.
  7. Implement any improvements to any technical processes you perform on your data such as encryption or levelled access.
  8. Create a policy and protocol in the event of a breach and make staff aware of this.
  9. Update your marketing material to allow the customer to give clear consent on their preferences for being contacted.

Where can I go for more information?

In the UK you may wish to look at:
https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/

Or in the greater EU:
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/reform/what-does-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-govern_en

Why not contact us today to discuss how Receta can help your business?

*This blog has been written by Receta as a condensed summary of GDPR and not as a full comprehensive review. We advise all readers to undertake their own further reading and research into GDPR, including a review of the GDPR guidance set out on the Information Commissioner’s Office’s website (or equivalent in your country).

Becoming GMP Compliant within your Food Supplement Manufacturing Business

Looking to become GMP compliant can be a daunting task, however the benefits of it to your order book can be significant.

In this article we will discuss the what it means to be GMP compliant, the benchmark tests for GMP compliance and finally, we will discuss how Receta can take care of several sections of your compliance requirements, leaving you free to handle the ‘physical’ organisation part of the GMP framework guidelines.

GMP Food Supplement Compliance

What are the guidelines I should work towards to become GMP compliant?

In advance of attempting to gain your GMP certification you should make yourself aware of the requirements you will need to adhere to.  A great resource for this can be found at:

http://www.foodsupplementseurope.org/sites/0023/uploads/content/publications/good-manufacturing-practice-for-manufacturers-of-food-supplements.pdf?1407341246

Another good source of information can be found at:
http://www.ehpm.org/attachments/article/117/EHPM%20Quality%20Guide%20101214.pdf

And specific to the UK, the governing body – the MHRA, offers the following guidance, which although centred around medical and pharmaceutical products gives an excellent outline of the requirements you will have to comply with:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/good-manufacturing-practice-and-good-distribution-practice

What does becoming GMP compliant actually mean?

In essence, as the title suggests, becoming GMP compliant means your business is operating within a common framework given the title of GMP or “Good Manufacturing Practice”.  Obviously, within each business sector, there are niche requirements dependent upon the processes you go through during manufacturing, the usage of materials and staff interactions; however, the general principals are similar for any business.

What is the purpose of the GMP Guidelines?

By moving your business into GMP compliance (and then using that as a potential marketing tool), you can both improve your business offering, make the quality of your finished product improve consistently, streamline and standardise your internal management processes, ensure the health and safety of your staff AND attract a potential sales audience who are specifically looking for their supplier to be GMP compliant.
The underlying goal behind GMP is to standardise several areas of the manufacturing process, thus ensuring customer satisfaction (and in some cases safety) when buying your products.  It also ensures you are running the manufacturing parts of your business safely, efficiently and most of all making sure your business can withstand any third party audit, product recall or inspection at any time.

What are the first practical steps I should look for when starting out with GMP compliance?

As referenced above, by following the general guidelines for GMP compliance, you can effectively create a large tick box document for all of the tasks you believe you need to complete in order to pass the GMP tests. Group the tasks into the sectors of your business and appoint a sector ‘champion’ who will be responsible for making sure the tick boxes can be ticked for their sector.  Set deadlines for the completion of the tasks and have regular meetings with your champions to check progress.

What are the pitfalls for becoming GMP compliant?

One the most common issues with GMP compliance is that in some cases, the changes needed to your working practices are quite significant.  Although from a management or board level perspective, these changes may seem obvious and something which “simply has to be done”, at ground level that may be much easier said than done.  In many cases, the existing working practices are engrained in staff and you may find that you have to overcome some deeply held personal preferences and beliefs in order to get the new required ways of working into practice.

To this end, I would recommend that before you attempt to make any changes, you first conduct several scoping meetings with your staff.  Explain the plans you have and listen to their concerns and ideas for how best to proceed.

In many cases the ‘end-game’ plan for how you need to work as a business may not be achievable straight-away, in which case you may need to move your working practices incrementally over several months to a point where you meet your original requirements.

Failure to do this can have two major effects.
1) By moving too quickly, you can alienate your staff and you may find that your big changes never take hold, or
2) If you take too long to make the changes OR the changes are not monitored, you may find that your staff quickly slip back into their previous practices, making your job even harder!

When I’m ready how I become certified as GMP compliant?

Each country or region of the world has its own governing body which deals with GMP certification, an indeed you can employ the services of any number of third party consultants who can help smooth the process of becoming certified.

You may also wish to approach your governing body directly for an assessment.  Be aware that either option usually carries a fee therefore it’s wise to do as much work in advance to be sure you are compliant before going for an assessment.

How can Receta help with your GMP compliance?

Many of the GMP guidelines are related to physical interactions with staff, machinery and materials within the business, however there are several areas relating to good working practices and record keeping where Receta can really help.

Many of the guidelines like to encourage you to maintain accurate records of your adherence to the GMP compliance requirements on an on-going basis.  This could be:

  • The on-going compliance with the operating instructions of a machine.
  • Maintaining accurate records of your handling of materials both in and out of the business
  • Your ability to handle quarantined materials
  • Your ability to maintain accurate production records and master batch production instruction compliance

Plus many other areas of record keeping.  In all of these cases, Receta includes functionality to ensure you are able to pass these tests easily and quickly.   Best of all, as your staff use Receta in their daily working tasks, they will naturally be building up the data required as a part of your GMP compliance requirements.  This means that should you ever have your GMP compliance audited, you can showcase your Receta system and all of its features for compliance, without your staff needing to complete any further paperwork specifically for the GMP side of things.

The features such the quality document store, the production method management, material attribute management and much more all help to ensure your journey to become GMP compliant is as straight-forward as possible!

How can we here at Receta help to ease you into your new software?

By choosing Receta as your preferred ERP for your business, you can be sure that we will become a useful addition to your skill-set within your business.  As part of your adoption of Receta, we offer on-site training to help aid adoption of the software as well as free video conferences, help videos and more.

Why not contact us today to discuss how Receta can help your business?

Implementing a New ERP System into your Nutraceutical Business

Deciding upon and implementing a new ERP into your Nutraceutical Manufacturing Business

The biggest hurdles Nutraceutical Manufacturing companies face when deciding to implement a new ERP system is in choosing the correct software to meet their needs into the future.

To decide upon your new software you must first understand where you have gaps in your existing setup and what your existing software is lacking in terms of features.  This could something as simple as trying to bring together your existing manual paperwork setup into a more cohesive single management tool, or it could as wide ranging as giving you additional functionality throughout your business which is currently holding you back.

So how to decide which system is right for you?
The easiest way of understanding your needs, is to have each department make a list of the tasks and actions they perform on a daily basis which need to be done to get your customer orders ‘out of the door’.  This starts at purchasing, through to stock management, batch control, production management, customer and order management, and continues right through to financial exports and report/data analysis.

From the lists you obtain from your departments, break these off into ‘absolute’ requirements (these are things which have to be done to get the job done), and ‘nice-to-have’ requirements, which are things you currently do which aren’t 100% required but would be useful to have in place as well.
You can then perform gap-analysis whereby you can generate your own report showing both the absolute gaps you have (these are areas your business currently has no ability to manage at present), and ‘department gaps’ (these are areas where you have functionality of sorts, but there may be repetition of data across work areas, double checking of data across multiple areas or anything whereby user entry could cause issues into the future).

 

If any new system is to succeed, it must cover at least the basics of your initial list, but also fill the vast majority of your absolute and department gaps if possible.  No system will ever cover all gaps (unless you work with a team who are happy to customise your version to your needs – such as Receta!), however you may well find one or two that cover most bases.  The threshold you need to cover before the new software becomes viable is a personal decision for your business, however by setting a very high threshold you won’t be left in a situation whereby the new system doesn’t offer a great improvement over the old system and therefore proves difficult to get your staff excited about using it.

Choose a “New System Champion”
Identify someone at your business (possibly yourself), who will be the driving force behind the integration of your new system.  Not only will they be the person who initially tries out the new system, they will need to inspire others to get on board with using the new software and they will also be the person who keep others ‘less sure’ of using the new system on-board with the new setup.  In many cases, staff will prefer to ‘stick to what they are used to’ and there may be a great deal of inertia to overcome before these staff are willing to accept the new way of working. The “New System Champion” needs to be someone with the skill-set to make sure all of this runs smoothly and be a strong enough personality to push things through to conclusion.

Testing, testing, testing
If it all possible, you should arrange via the vendor/developer to obtain a trial for a period of time of the new software.  With a system such as Receta, this can be setup almost immediately and comes without any cost for the first 30 days.

You should then look to gather a small team of the key people in each department who will be the first people to use the new system.   They should look to use the system as if it were live to manage their current workload, whilst also still working in the ‘old-way’ so as to gain a good idea as to the improvements the new system offers and any potential shortfalls.  Of course, this does mean that these key staff are being asked to enter their work twice into the both the old system and new, therefore this should be fully explained to your key staff and ideally, should only be running as a test for a few days maximum.
You should ask each member of staff testing the software to make notes as they use it for each test.

Within the period of your trial, you should aim to get through as many tests with each department as possible, testing the new software’s ability to cover the tasks you need it, whilst also making notes of the improvements it brings to your business with the additional functionality offered.

Deciding on the new Software
As with any business investment, the decision to move to new software should be based upon the feedback from your tests plus an evaluation of the costs of the new system compared to your existing setup.  In many cases, you may find for example, the new software is cheaper than your existing setup but offers less functionality, or indeed may be more expensive than current but offers lots of additional features. Receta offers the best of both worlds in that our standard pricing plans offer a significant saving over our competitors but also provide some unique industry leading feedback, enabling the management of your Nutraceutical business to be easier than ever.

Looking at the test feedback, plus a good understanding of the budget needed to run the new software you can then go ahead and make a choice to move forward with the new system or not.

Implementing the Software to the wider business
With the decision made to move to a new software, the next hurdle will be the implementation throughout the whole business.  With a system such as Receta, it is designed to manage the entire work-flow of the business from incoming enquiries, stock management, formulation management, production management all the way through the despatching, invoicing and reports.

With that in mind, one of the most often used integration pathways is to choose specific areas of the business who will be the first to use the system live.  In many businesses, the systems each department uses are often separated and therefore, you can enable each area of your business to use the new system without impacting on the other areas of the business.

In short, the method we see used most often is to bring the new system in gradually.  This usually involves getting the front-end staff using the system for customer management, quotations, sales orders etc.  This can then be followed by production management and stock management.  Finally, the financial department and reporting can be brought across. Each staff member then gets the time needed to learn their section of the system and you can iron out any issues before another area of business is brought in.

Of course, the order in which you start each department using the new system in entirely down to you, however this approach does seem to work more effectively compared to a single full switch over in one go, which if the staff are unprepared can prove difficult.

How can we here at Receta help to ease you into your new software?
By choosing Receta as your preferred ERP for your business, you can be sure that we will become a useful addition to your skillset within your business.  As part of your adoption of Receta, we offer on-site training to help aid adoption of the software as well as free video conferences, help videos and more.

Why not contact us today to discuss how Receta can help your business?

5 Top Tips to dramatically increase your conversion rate for your nutraceutical sales enquiries

With any business, customers are the single most important thing to you and your company.  If they have gone to the hard work of seeking you out and then made contact, or even if you have been the one to find them out and they have gone to the trouble of taking an interest and requested some more information – it’s crazy to think you wouldn’t try and give them the absolute best experience when dealing with your business.  And yet, I’ll bet if you questioned ten of your most recent customers or leads, they would all have had different experiences to report, and in some cases may have chosen not to do business with you because of the customer service they received.

Now I’m sure you and your staff don’t believe you are going out of your way to upset your customers – so where’s the problem?

It’s all about giving your customers and leadsa thought out, consistent, attentive and efficient response throughout the whole process.

  • Take too long to get back to them? – They’ll go somewhere else
  • Don’t give accurate answers to their questions? – They’ll go elsewhere
  • Make them repeat themselves when being passed between staff in your business? – They’ll go elsewhere
  • Don’t make communicating with you easy? – They’ll go somewhere else

Essentially, if you make any part of dealing with you difficult for the customer – they will vote with their feet and go to an alternative supplier.

It’s even MORE important if that customer isn’t get buying from you and is simply a warm lead.
At the moment that potential customer is not only trying to find a company who can make the product(s) they are looking for, they are also subconsciously trying to find a company (and the staff members therein) which they can form a bond with and be happy to place orders with.

So how do you make sure you convert ALL of the customers ALL of the time?

I’ve put together a little list below with some pointers:

  1. Evaluate your staff and place the people with the best conversational manner, front and centre on the telephones or make them the first person your customer would meet at your reception or at a trade show.
    First impressions count and if your potential customer feels at ease dealing with you straight off the bat – they will much more likely to take bad news such as a higher price or a longer lead time. Don’t worry if these staff members don’t quite have the right words in their sales pitch or may not know everything there is to know about the business – those are all experiences, skills and nuances which can be added as they go along – personality is key in converting your leads and keeping your customers.
  2. The right tools for consistency.
    Every business relies on software at some stage to manage parts of its business  – so why do you leave the sales enquiry process open for debate and open for different staff members to deal with different customers in different ways?

    Sure every customer IS different and you do have to amend your approach to each one to suit their business, the contact’s personality and preferences, however in virtually all cases the end outcome would arrive at the same completed quotation/order.

    This is where something such as Receta can help.

    By enabling the “enquiry steps” within the software, your management can create and store a series of ticklist guidelines which they need every enquiry to go through.   Each step can contain as much or as little guidance for the staff members as needed and is simply used as a guide by your sales team to ensure that every single enquiry is dealt with in the same way.

    By storing a new enquiry in Receta, the enquiry steps become available for that enquiry and are used like a ticklist to show who and when a particular step was completed. A set can be a reminder to get something as simple as the customer name or more complex such as a series of questions to make sure the correct specification is gained from the customer for their new product.

    This gives you a massive conversion advantage because you can be sure that all of the potential pitfalls of a new customers request can be catered for as you have already covered all of the nitty gritty requirements you have as a business which you need in place before you can provide a quotation/order.

    And best of all , going back to Tip 1, it now doesn’t matter if you have someone at the front-end who is inexperienced but really good on the phone – as long as they follow the steps you’ve outlined in your enquiry steps – you will get the information you need and your customer will be happy to deal with you.

  3. Giving your customers the right information with a persuasive argument.

    Don’t think for one second that your current perceived USP is the reason ALL of your customers choose to deal with you – it isn’t. It could be your turn-around times, the quality of your end product, your prices or your proximity to their business.

    I’m here to tell you – it’s actually none of those and ALL of those at the same time.  What’s actually holding it all together is the staff member they are dealing with while they place enquiries and orders with you.

    As the old saying goes – people by from people, and it’s the staff members in your office who are currently getting you orders and converting your leads.
    However your individual staff members may not be the best at selling, up-selling or cross-selling – so how do you stop missing out on those extras or stop not telling your customer about that killer price break they could achieve if they ordered just a little higher quantity?

    Going back to Tip 2 – that becomes easy!  As examples – Set an enquiry step to include the fact that you need for every quotation to include price breaks higher than the quantity requested by the customer.  Set an enquiry step which says all quotations must include prices for other “linking” products which sell well together.By using the enquiry steps along with the right person at the end of the telephone you get the triple benefit of giving your customers the information they requested quickly, they get that information from a person who they have an affinity with are would be happy to buy from AND best of all –any up-selling or cross-selling will have been built into the quotation the customer received as a matter of course!

  4. Speed (or the perception of speed).

    If a customer has to wait more than 24 hours for their costs to arrive in their inbox – they will likely move (or have moved) to an alternative supplier. In many cases your new customer will not have any kind of awareness or appreciation as to the nuances behind a nutraceutical product (formulation, ingredients, packaging etc) and will expect to simply pick-up the phone and get an instant price.

    As a business if you have “off-the-shelf” standard products you offer – then you may be one of the lucky ones who can indeed provide an instant price – however I’m pretty confident that in many cases, that initial price gets amended by the requests the customer makes (change of formulation, packaging etc) – so in reality your ‘off-the-shelf’ products are not actually products at all – they are merely there as enticements to make your customers aware of the type of products you manufacture.

    In either scenario, there will usually be a time-gap between the customer detailing their enquiry and the quotation arriving in their inbox.

    Getting this quotation back to the customer in a timely manner is one of the key deciding factors a customer will use when choosing their supplier.
    If you can get a quotation out to the customer the same day or within a few hours, you give yourself a huge advantage over a competitor who takes 48-72 hours to price a product(s).

    So the question is – if both you and your competitors are pricing for the same enquiry and you both have to go through the same background exercises in order to calculate the prices you will sell at – how do you get the jump on your competitor?

    It’s actually pretty straight-forward – it’s all about perception.  If your turn-around time for the finished quotation is let’s say 48 hours.  You may need to make sure you have all the information you need from the customer, you may run credit checks, you may need to converse with your suppliers to get pricing, you may need to converse with the customer several times to get the specification correct for their product etc.  All of these take time and it’s time you don’t have when it comes to getting information back to your customer.

    To bridge that gap between enquiry to quotation time you can use communication via telephone and additional documentation to give the customer the perception that the gap isn’t quite as large as it really is.

    Example – If you already have all the information you need from the customer, then tell them that a quotation will be with them soon and then you don’t hear anything else until you send the quotation (typically days later) – what do you think your customer is doing in that gap of time?

    You can bet they aren’t simply waiting around to get your pricing – they will be shopping for alternative suppliers!

    To lessen this, you need to communicate with your customer about their enquiry – it sounds simple but I bet you don’t currently do it (at least consistently)

    If you’re waiting for a supplier to get back to you – tell them!
    If you’re waiting for a manager to sign-off on the pricing – tell them!

    Whatever the delay is at your end which is stopping you from fulfilling the request of the customer – if you tell the customer – they will feel part of the process and much more willing to wait a little longer as opposed to giving you their enquiry and then not hearing anything else for more than a day!

  5. Make it super easy for your customers to deal with you
    If you customer finds it hard to deal with you as a company – even if you have a better price than your competitors – there will be a time when the frustration of getting what they want from you becomes too much and they move away.

Understand the typical questions you get asked and the typical pieces of information you need for every enquiry.

For the typical questions – Create a ‘cheat-sheet’ of typical questions and answers and distribute it to your staff so they have the answers your customers need right in front of them at all times.

For the typical pieces of information – Add these to your enquiry steps so your staff ask the right questions of the customer at the correct time.

If dealing with you as a supplier is easy for your customers they will find it easy to say “Yes” when placing their order.

Here at Receta we pride ourselves on offering you the software and support to develop your nutraceutical business from not only production through to despatch and invoice but ALSO from the very beginning of every enquiry you get, making our software unique in the industry.

Why not arrange for a five minute demonstration of the power of Receta and let us show you how moving away from your current Manufacturing Software (MRP/ERP/CMS) may be the most important improvement to your business in years!

Contact Us Now!

Why do you find it hard to tell your nutraceutical customers what they want to hear?

Over the next few days, why not take a step back and analyse how your business communicates with your customers:

  • What type of calls you receive from your customers?
  • What sort of questions are they asking?
  • How many times are your staff repeating themselves over and over again, relaying the same type of information many times?

Receta ERP SASS

I’ll bet the majority of the calls from your customer relate to information you already have but haven’t passed over to them?

Questions such as:

  • “Could you tell me when I’ll get my order?”
  • “Could you provide me with a copy of my standard price list?”
  • “Could you send me the specification sheet for my product?”
  • “Could you track the progress of my delivery please?”

Now consider how much time all of this answer repetition is taking?  How much money are you spending on staff wages to answer these questions?  And perhaps even worse – how much of a damaging impact is this having on your customer relations?

If you customers feel it is hard work dealing with you – how soon will it become too much effort to get the information they need and they look elsewhere for a supplier?

If you are currently falling into the trap above, then I’m here to tell you – this should be one of the easiest bad habits to stop!

You are effectively paying your staff to relate information to your customers which you really should be giving them automatically –  and because your not – you’re actually spending money to make your customer relations worse!

How crazy does that sound?  And yet I’ll bet a good chunk of you reading this are doing exactly that every single day.

So the obvious question is – how do you as a business fix this?

This very conundrum was posed to us by a client recently and we knew that our cloud based ERP  – Receta could eliminate this issue immediately.

We knew we could take some of the actions you perform daily within our software (and generally in other software you personally may be running), take that action and automatically inform the clients’ customers of that action – we could help improve our clients’ client relations in a heartbeat.

Let take the following example:
Every day, the client was producing quotations to go to new clients.  They were also adding new sales order, creating invoices and despatch notices. In their old system, in all of these examples, manual documentation had to be then created (in word processing software) and a new email had to be manually authored, and the file sent to customer.  We changed that instantly – now whenever a new quotation is created, the client automatically sends a copy of the quotation plus ALL specification sheets and formulation certificates in a single email directly from within the system with a single click.
When a new sales order is created, the customer gets a notification via email automatically to say it has been entered and they will be informed of an eta without any interaction from the user.

When a despatch consignment and invoice is created, the customer has all of this information emailed automatically so in all cases the customer has all of the information they need, directly in their inbox with zero effort from the staff at our clients’ business.

This functionality plus lots more is available by default within Receta, so why not consider letting us offer you a no-obligation demonstration? We don’t need to visit your premises and you don’t need to install anything on your computers to take part.

Our experts will take your questions via a screen-share and we can answer any questions and show you live examples of how Receta can fix the inefficiencies within your business and make you more money.

Contact us now to get started

Sage Manufacturing MRP – Does your entire business stop simply to run MRP?

If you use Sage Manufacturing to manage your Nutraceutical business you will be familiar with a huge problem when it comes to planning your productions or managing your stock levels

Running Sage Manufacturing MRP is slowing your business!

You need to see what stock you need to purchase or allocate in order to fulfil your sales order so you run the MRP in Sage Manufacturing. Everyone in your business has to stop during this period (which can take a considerable amount of time in some cases)  as Sage will not let you complete any jobs whilst it does the work in the back-end.  In effect your entire business is unable to use your main software system and your entire staff are unable to work whilst you wait for the MRP to complete.

Even worse, in many cases, the MRP will be inaccurate and requires additional work after-the-fact to correctly view the required purchase amounts or allocations.

This huge bottleneck was why, when it came to designing the MRP equivalent in Receta, we opted for a different approach.  With Receta you can use the planning tools at any time, the results are generated within seconds and best of all – it does not affect anyone else using the program at the same time!

With the planning tools available individually or directly within sales orders themselves, it becomes as simple as a single click to view your entire stock usage requirements.

Why not arrange for a five minute demonstration of the power of Receta and let us show you how moving away from your current Manufacturing Software (MRP/ERP/CMS) may be the most important improvement to your business in years!

Contact Us Now!

Think Receta is only for manufacturers? Think again! It’s perfect for wholesalers and brokers too!

Being a wholesaler/broker for nutraceutical vitamins and supplements, it can difficult to find a system which you can use to manage your stock, your orders, your customers and your suppliers.

Many standard offerings are very generic in nature and don’t understand the nuances involved in the management of capsules, tablets and powder mixes, let alone the differences between types of containers, closures and labels.

In many cases, wholesalers will resort to using a generic system and supplement it with separate spreadsheets and databases to keep on top of the additional information needed.

Receta is also perfect for wholesalers

Examples could be:

  • Formulation spec sheets for your customers
  • Label design artwork storage
  • Traceability on the batches of capsules and tablets in your stock
  • Customer return logs
  • Invoicing customers

    Receta is a system which can do all of that and more!

    Specifically designed for the nutraceutical industry, it can help organise your business in a way unheard of in your sector until now!

    Think Receta is only for manufacturers? Think again! We have lots of customers who are wholesalers and brokers and find that Receta has paid for itself within weeks due to the increased efficiencies it has brought to their businesses.

    Take a look now at our features page to understand everything Receta can do.

    Call us now to arrange a free demonstration of the power of Receta and let us show you how it can help your business.

Is price checking and maintaining your Nutraceutical products profitability a daily headache?

To understand if you are a company who falls into this trap, let’s first fact check to see if you have any of the most common problems:

  • An ERP/MRP System which is separate from your quotation system or purchase system?
  • A ‘manual’ method of calculating your product costing using basic spreadsheets and calculators, in turn leading to a ‘manual’ method of calculating your sale price?
  • A lack of visibility of the effect material cost price changes have on the profitability of your products.
  • An ‘ad-hoc’ schedule for ‘remembering’ when a product should be re-costed for the customer without set dates or triggers which would help this process.
  • Difficulty in understanding how the labour charges for the production can differ between different production methods/machinery.

Nutraceutical Management Made Easy

If your company can tick the box next to any of those, then unfortunately you are indeed one of the companies who are currently falling into the trap of being so focused on getting on with business, and selling your product range – you lose sight of the profitability of your product range.

This can be serious for your company as all too often a full order book can look to the untrained eye that your business is doing really well. It may be very difficult to obtain your competition price structure and therefore your only visibility and guide for your own pricing and placement within that market can be by looking at your own products. However without the profitability set correctly against your products, you and your staff become ‘busy fools’ – working to maintain an ever-reducing profit margin without any visibility of how that is being eroded over time.

The only way to truly solve this kind of problem is to setup strict guidelines within your company.

Examples of this could be:

  • When a material price rises – staff should re-evaluate all products using that material and adjust cost prices accordingly
  • When a quotation is raised for a customer, staff should check against the products to see the last time the selling price was re-calculated – if it’s outside a set time you have identified – a new costing and pricing calculation should be undertaken by your staff.
  • If you introduce a new machine or change staffing costs within your business affected products should be re-costed accordingly.

 

If your current systems do not allow this kind of action to be performed automatically, it could be time for you as business to consider the impact this gap in your abilities is actually costing your company.

 

It may be that you as a business are crying out for an integrated system which could handle all of this for you, within the wider environment of handling the rest of your business as well – however you feel the costs of implementing such a system would be too great?

 

I’m here to tell you that that’s simply not the case.  With our system – Receta – the actual costs of implementation in terms of both the actual costs of the software AND the staffing costs needed to complete the integration/start-up of the software are by FAR outweighed by the savings in terms of efficiencies and improvements to your bottom line.

 

Why not contact us now at info@receta.co.uk and arrange for a free demonstration.  We will arrange a screen-share meeting at a time to suit you and tailor our demonstration to show you the key features which overcome the problems you currently face in your nutraceutical business.