When there is a move to a new location, the implementation of the ERP package is sometimes regarded as less of a priority. This is particularly true of companies that have never worked with such a solution, who may delay making a decision in this area. Still, they also realise that it is impossible to make a fresh start without the beating heart of the company. It is then up to the ERP provider to wave its magic wand and install the application in less than no time. And not all providers do equally well in this. However, ReflexSystems is a marvel in this area. They proved this once again at cheesemonger Van Tricht...
Cheesemonger Van Tricht is not only renowned in Antwerp but further afield as well. What began as a small, local delicatessen has developed into a renowned cheese store where (the finest) restaurants in the Benelux, Ireland and a few exotic countries (such as the Maldives) are regulars. Furthermore, in 2010 the Wall Street Journal named the company the best affineur in Europe! Current manager Frederic Van Tricht explains, “The ball began to roll when my parents took over the business from my grandparents in 1978. My father had always been in sales and wanted to be on the road again. Therefore, he went in search of something with which he could provide an added benefit to the delicatessen as well as trade beyond this outlet. He quickly came with the idea of focussing on speciality cheeses. This was a product that was just making its debut at that point and to which the supplier could give its own accent by taking care of the aging itself therefore providing products that were perfectly tailored to the customer’s requirements.” Michel Van Tricht distinguished the company from the competition by driving to the Rungis morning market each week, as well as investing in an aging cabinet. This strategy paid off as restaurant owners in particular were asking for exclusive cheeses to add to their menu. The delicatessen also received a boost as people from all over Belgium came to Antwerp to taste the cheeses from Van Tricht.
Relocate and relocate yet again
When Frederic joined the company in 2003, the Van Tricht family decided it was time to expand the business. They bought corner premises in the Fruithoflaan in Berchem to where they relocated the delicatessen. They also installed a ‘Wine & Cheese Bar’, invested in a larger aging cabinet and created more workspace for cutting and preparing the orders. Frederic Van Tricht, “Unfortunately, we also started to notice in the same period that the Rungis morning market wasn’t quite the same as it used to be. They were working increasingly more to order and it was becoming more difficult to find the finest exclusive products. In addition to this, a few competitors followed our example. This is why we decided to work directly with cheesemongers in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.” This was also a successful, strategic decision because cheesemonger Van Tricht continued to grow at a fast pace. However, the result of this was that the company had to contend with shortage of space again. Frederic Van Tricht, “The aging of the cheeses was a problem in particular because we always have 300 to 400 types in the range. We wanted to find premises where we could store the cheeses, in some cases for several years, and that allowed us to separate processing from the delicatessen at the same time. Unfortunately, it was not so easy to find an affordable base in a good location. However, we discovered that the solution sometimes comes out of nowhere. Some time ago, we met Michel Moortgat who had taken over De Koninck: a brewery with which we had had a good bond for years largely due to a book that my father wrote about the combination of cheeses and Belgian beer. Michel Moortgat suggested that we move into the bottling plant from De Koninck. It was, after all, partly empty due to the takeover by Duvel Moorgat. This was the ideal solution for us because the size and location were perfect and we could put more emphasis on the combination of beer and cheese (seeing that the brewing was still being continued there), which is a link in which we strongly believe.”
Time for an ERP package
At the beginning of this year, cheesemonger Van Tricht started its renovations. Eight aging cabinets were installed, as well as various refrigerators and an area for cutting and preparing orders. In total, this amounts to a production hall of 600 m2. Frederic Van Tricht, “We fully realised that this move was the ideal moment to cross over to a real ERP package. Up until then, we were working with two separate programmes for invoicing and administration, which led to a lot of extra administrative work. Moreover, we did not yet have automatic tracing and it became difficult to comply with the legislation due to our wide range of products. We also did not have enough tools to provide us with a clear view of the business. For example, I did not have a clear picture of the day’s turnover. To acquire this, I would have had to look up a few things. It is obvious that this method of working in these times is not beneficial. This is the reason why some time ago we started to explore the ERP market. We eventually came across ReflexSystems. After a demo, we were convinced that this package was custom made for us. The fact that the supplier was also located very close by was a bonus. We also had a good feeling about the team at ReflexSystems: the contact was no frills, to the point and instilled in us a lot of confidence. We quickly became aware that we should choose this ERP solution.”
Implemented within three weeks
Due to the hard work involved in the new premises, it took a little longer to sign the contract. “As is often the case with the move to a new location, the ERP project was also put on the back burner,” explained ReflexSystems Manager Jan Ickx. “This is particularly true of companies that have never worked with such a solution. They sometimes underestimate how much work and time the implementation of such a system requires. Fortunately, over the years ReflexSystems has built up a wealth of expertise in successfully completing ERP implementations in a very short time frame. However, in this case, it was a huge task because there were just three weeks between signing the contract and starting production in the new premises. Fortunately, Frederic Van Tricht realised that it was an absolute necessity that the package was operational from day one. Therefore, he made the time available to clean up all the data and place it in Excel sheets. As a result, we only had to transfer the data after which we could test and adjust the application straightaway. This way, cheesemonger Van Tricht could start working with the basic functions from ReflexSystems on time. This was very important in order to make a proper start because, at the end of the day, an ERP system is the beating heart of the company: it controls all the movements. We can now take the time to further optimise the solution and train the users in the other possibilities of the package.”
Even more to discover
Specifically, cheesemonger Van Tricht has chosen the invoicing, accounting, order entry and tracing modules. Two Flexes were also installed to prepare orders. Even though at the time of the interview the system had only been operational for three weeks, Frederic Van Tricht was already extremely satisfied about his investment. “It simply makes work much easier,” he explained. “Data does not have to be entered twice, orders are entered straight into the system, fewer errors are made, you have an instant view of the goods available for delivery, the system informs us if customers require a repeat delivery after a holiday…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It is incredibly easy that you can adjust the prices with just a press of a button and you can access a whole range of listings. The latter enables you to manage your business better. For example, you have a clearer picture of which cheese is doing well or not and which sales outlet is suddenly ordering more or less. Another huge plus is the fact that ReflexSystems also places the orders automatically in the correct route and provides the option of adjusting the routes. There are undoubtedly a hundred and one functions that we do not yet use but we shall discover these in the coming weeks…”