In the fourth part of a six-week series featuring SMEs that have taken steps to build their capabilities or venture into new markets with Spring Singapore’s support, Aaron Tan speaks to Presto Drycleaners.
The Straits Times
August 26, 2015
FOR over a decade, the office of laundry service provider Presto Drycleaners was stockpiled with handwritten orders that made it difficult
for the company to keep track of garments.
“If an order or item number was written wrongly or illegible, it took us a lot of effort to locate a particular garment on our premises,” says Mr Chan Chek Yeow, chief executive officer of Presto Drycleaners, which operates from a 7,000 sq ft cleaning plant in Toa Payoh Industrial Park.
That changed early last year, when Presto Drycleaners embarked on a move to computerise its business processes with the help of several government agencies including Spring Singapore.
For a start, it implemented a laundry management system that automatically tracks garments and improves laundry sorting for delivery, eliminating the need for manual tracking and sorting of the large laundry output on a daily basis.
At each of its 11 outlets located across Singapore, staff armed with Cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) terminals can also enter and retrieve service orders of customers from the laundry management system easily.
How the system works is simple.
Instead of relying on handwritten orders, each garment collected at each outlet will be attached with a pre-printed water and chemical-proof barcode label to facilitate easy tracking as it passes through various stages of the cleaning process.
“This makes it possible for us to track where an item is at any point in time, as well as the number of garments that each customer has sent to us for cleaning,” says Mr Chan.
“More importantly, the system has improved our productivity and efficiency.
“We have reduced the time it takes to track misplaced garments at our plant from days to minutes, and also sped up order-processing at our outlets,” he adds.
Through the laundry management system, Mr Chan is also able to manage the company’s staffing needs better.
He explains: “We used to hire temporary staff in anticipation of higher workloads, but if the volume of orders turned out to be low, the staff would have little to do. Similarly, we found ourselves understaffed when volumes became unexpectedly high.
“Now that we know the exact number of orders we have each day, we can better optimise our manpower based on customer demand.”
The company’s service levels have also improved tremendously.
Thanks to the system’s ability to pinpoint the exact location of a garment, Presto is now able to retrieve garments of customers who make
requests to expedite their orders.
“We used to turn down such requests because it took too much time to locate a specific garment in the plant.
“But now, we can retrieve a garment wherever it is and speed up the cleaning process for urgent orders,” says Mr Chan.
The customer service improvements extend to house-call services, where laundry such as curtains can be collected from a customer’s premises.
Staff on house-call visits will carry a mobile device installed with the same software that powers the company’s POS terminals at the outlets,
making it possible to process laundry orders and deliveries while on the go without relying on pen and paper.
Mr Chan says the productivity improvements brought about by the laundry management system and POS terminals have translated to a
10 to 15 per cent increase in sales for the company so far.
The benefits of the laundry management system would not have been realised without efforts by its management to help its staff – most of whom are seniors – see the productivity improvements.
“For example, we got staff at the outlets to learn from a senior colleague who had been trained to use the system.
“The staff saw how they could work more efficiently by simply registering laundry items into the system using a barcode scanner instead of recording items manually,” says Mr Chan.
The Capability Development Grant (CDG) is aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) defray qualifying costs of their capability upgrading projects to improve productivity and develop business capabilities for process improvement, product development and overseas expansion.
To encourage more SMEs to build business capabilities, the application process for grant support of $30,000 or less has been simplified. SMEs can look forward to simpler application
forms and reduced documentation requirements for such projects.
For more information and guidance on the CDG, visit www.spring.gov.sg/cdg or call 6898-1800 to make a free appointment with an SME Centre business adviser.
The 24th annual Singapore Retail Industry Conference will be held at Suntec City Convention Centre on Sept 22.
Co-organised by the Singapore Productivity Centre and the Singapore Retailers Association, the conference is Singapore’s key retail event for the latest retail trends and global best practices.
With the theme of Re-Evolve Retail, this year’s conference promises to inspire companies to achieve greater growth through international and local sharing, focusing on how retail businesses around the world have transformed to meet today’s challenges.
Visit www.sgpc.sg/index.php/sric2015 for more information.
For more information on the retail sector and stories on how retailers have built their capabilities, please visit www.spring.gov.sg/retail or email email@example.com.
This article was first published on Aug 26, 2015.
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