Paul Simpson joined Carl F Groupco in May this year to head up the hardware supply organisation’s existing strong, and successful, sales operation. With a team of 14 people including field personnel, internal sales and Regional Managers, Paul combines a collaborative approach supporting the company’s sales team with his management responsibilities reporting to the board of Directors.
In his previous post as Sales Director for Birchwood Price Tools (BPT), part of the Travis Perkins group, Paul developed a number of major brands including Scruffs, Defender and Rhino: while leading a successful team, turnover during his 18 years’ employment with BPT increased from £3million to almost £50million.
Balancing a hands-on, support led role for Regional Sales Managers with recognition of the need for regular communication with the sales force ensures that Paul’s team is clearly focussed on the company’s mission of providing solutions – delivering hardware.
As part of his proactive approach, Paul doesn’t believe in sitting behind a desk spending all day analysing figures ……….he aims to spend 80% of his time out with the area teams visiting customers and suppliers. He states that his role is very much collaborative – he works with the experienced sales force to support them whether it is a specific project, a contract or negotiating a trading package. Paul believes in working in close relationship with the business as a whole to ensure two way information share between the company’s management and the sales workforce. Reflecting Paul’s commitment to time on the road, the interview for this report took place while he was in Ireland primarily visiting existing Clients but also pursuing some new business opportunities.
Paul shares a clear vision with Carl F Groupco’s managers regarding the company’s brand values that reinforce the organisation’s market leading status namely a strong customer service ethos, depth of technical knowledge and a quality of offering that encompasses the company’s people, products, packaging and customer experience.
Aside from the brand values already mentioned, Paul’s reasons for joining Carl F Groupco included the company’s professionalism and flexibility. Commenting on service levels, Paul said:
“The commitment at Carl F Groupco is nothing short of phenomenal: the whole company is engaged, each and every member of staff pulls out all the stops to supply full delivery orders placed before 4pm next day. I can honestly say that I have never witnessed this passion for performance from a supplier organisation.
“There is no complacency at Carl F Groupco – service values are at the heart of the organisation and these have been a significant contributor to the company becoming a major player in the UK hardware industry. A lot of companies ‘talk the talk’ about service but Carl F Groupco really does ‘walk the walk’………..in fact, more often than not, it’s a run more than a walk because, unlike anywhere else I have ever seen, the warehouse staff are totally engaged in the company’s commitment to providing full deliveries, on time, first time – despatch personnel will literally run to make sure deliveries are fulfilled.”
Paul sees that the sales team is a significant asset to the organisation – with six members of sales staff in double digit years of service, product knowledge is extensive but enthusiasm hasn’t waned. He praises the team’s responsiveness observing that, like their warehouse colleagues and other members of the Carl F Groupco organisation, they go the extra mile providing expert guidance and support to customers.
With regards to his management remit, Paul represents the sales operation on the management team reflecting the figures and providing updates regarding initiatives, new product innovations, trends and manufacturer partnership developments.
Paul sees the benefits of a new sales meeting format that has recently been introduced. Now with a wider remit, the updates take the form of a quarterly business conference with each department reporting on key developments, wins, core activities and forward planning. In line with Carl F Groupco’s strong emphasis on communication, Paul wholeheartedly supports the conference initiative where the whole company is updated on current activities and objectives, plus the all-important future vision.
Carl F Groupco’s buddy back up is another company initiative recognised by Paul as reflecting the organisation’s market leading status. He observes the major advantages of having an internal sales team that works in tandem with the Regional Sales Managers. He observes that this not only is hugely beneficial to the field team, but it is extremely helpful for customers to talk to a dedicated in-house account manager.
Another activity area at Carl F Groupco that has impressed Paul is the company’s CRM system with strong company-wide commitment to log data to provide the all-important fully informed service to customers. In collaboration with the sales team Paul has further revised the system’s CRM content to enhance the information that is stored, develop the support provided to customers and to assist in the planning process that aids clarity of the operation.
Paul has seen first-hand that the company is focussed on clearly understanding the needs of the customer and presenting the best options. He appreciates the fact that the organisation is not focussed on quick fixes and short term solutions, it nurtures long-term customer relationships, going the extra mile to present options in an uncluttered and unbiased way: this ensures that the brand and price point is tailored to meet each sales enquiry. Paul sees a huge advantage in the fact that Carl F Groupco sources best products in class rather than being sole supplier of an own brand range. As a result, the sales team is liberated in the options they can present. Paul reports that the fact that Carl F Groupco isn’t shackled by the constraints of own brand bias is a major USP for the organisation, and one that will be further developed as the company continues to grow.
Paul also embraces Carl F Groupco’s ability to provide a one stop service. Again facilitated by the fact that the company is able to offer various brands, complete order availability is a major benefit to customers who receive one delivery of all the required hardware products. The advantages to customers of this service extend beyond reducing the stress and complexity of product selection; cost is significantly taken out as multiple deliveries are a considerably larger overhead to an organisation than just one, with the added advantage of one set of paperwork.
Summing up his vision for Carl F Groupco’s sales organisation, Paul advises that he will continue to work with the team to develop relationships with the existing client base and key manufacturing partners. While new business has its part to play in the growth of the organisation, Paul sees the need for customer loyalty: in the desire to continue to grow the business, existing relationships should never be compromised.
Paul is normally ‘on the road’ by 6.30am. If his day is spent with a Regional Manager, he meets them between 8am and 9am and accompanies them on two to four calls. At the end of the day, Paul agrees actions and responsibilities with the Regional Manager and makes a call to the office to get an update of the day’s sales activity. Paul normally leaves the Regional Manager by 6pm and will stay overnight to work with a different Regional Manager the following day, or travel back home using the drive time to talk to his team. Paul speaks to every member of the field sales team at least three times a week for an update on their region’s activities. At the end of every day, Paul spends at least an hour catching up on emails and mapping out the next day’s activities. Typically, his working day finishes around 9pm, but he has been known to still be working on emails and paperwork until 2am in the morning.
Generally Paul’s working location is his car on the A46! In the five months since joining Carl F Groupco he has driven over 25,000 miles. When in the office, he is based at Carl F Groupco’s administration and distribution centre in Peterborough.