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Business Type:

B2B seller

Industry:

Catering & Kitchen Equipment

DEAR Experts Indevaldi helped this kitchen equipment business make the wise choice to implement a system that catered to all their needs.

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Caterwize and Indevaldi unlock stock visibility and growth with DEAR + Xero

DEAR Experts Indevaldi helped this kitchen equipment business make the wise choice to implement a system that catered to all their needs. 

Wian Adriaanse is the owner and managing director of Caterwize, an importer and seller of commercial food service equipment. If you’ve ever wondered where big restaurant kitchens or caterers get catering, baking, or other heavy-duty cooking equipment, chances are it’s from a company like Caterwize. 

Wian was studying at university when he started the business just over four years ago. “At first, it was an in-between-classes thing — just buying and selling locally to get enough money to buy my wife a ring and get engaged!” he says. “That was where it started, but I saw a real gap in the market, so I started building up my stock and as soon as I finished my studies I just went for it.” 

Not long after Caterwize started, Wian did what the brightest entrepreneurs do – he asked for help. Luckily, he knew just who to turn to. 

Schalk Greef started Indevaldi in 2018, to address a gap in the market for small-to-medium businesses who needed what they call an “entrepreneur partner.” “We provide a range of professional services from accounting, tax, legal, HR, and general advisory services,” Schalk says. “We became DEAR Experts so we can optimize small business operations.” 

Schalk met Wian when he was in his final year of University, and Schalk was acting as a mentor for a local startup business acceleration program. “My cousin said, you must meet this Schalk guy, he’s the guy we have to talk to to find out what we don’t know yet,” Wian says.

Together, Schalk and Wian implemented Xero to handle Caterwize’s accounting needs, and invested in an add-on module to manage inventory. It was great to start with, but after operating for a few years, the company found itself up against the system’s limits. Xero is built for accounting, and Wian found himself needing a system that could manage more inventory specifics. 

 “I talked to Schalk, and said we need a system to take the business to the next level, and he recommended DEAR.” 

 

DEAR is the perfect ‘step-up’ system for managing inventory

DEAR has comprehensive and highly integratable reporting abilities. It’s easy for business owners to simply drag and drop to build reports. “It made it pretty easy to give Wian what he asked for, and I think that’s really important. Caterwize do a lot of importing, and we found that there weren’t many affordable systems besides DEAR that could do the cost allocation correctly.” 

However, many businesses want to implement an inventory management system, but simply don’t know the best time to do it. And it can be hard to tell. Many decision-makers avoid hugely complex systems, or fear a business shutdown lasting for days, weeks, or months. Little wonder that many choose simply to soldier on with the system they know, even if that system might be inefficient to the point that it’s actually holding the business back. 

Schalk Greef has a different view — he looks at it philosophically. “Every business has a season, a cycle, and a right point to implement the right system,” he says. “For the first few years of business, it’s normal to get sales up and running, get your brand out there, get your product out there. Every small business can start on something like Xero and use their inventory, but there comes a time when you need to implement a scalable system, and that’s where software like DEAR comes in.” 

DEAR, Schalk says, is perfect for businesses like Caterwize, because it’s easy to integrate, and easy to use, which brings with it a lot of buy-in from both owners and employees. This is a vital factor for succeeding with an inventory management system. 

Caterwize’s business model is multichannel B2C. They sell via a walk-in showroom, a South African Amazon equivalent called Takealot, and their own website. These diverse channels have one thing in common: they’re all powered by DEAR Systems. 

“We sell through Takealot, we have the website, and our own walk-in shop where we have 15 to 20 walk-in customers a day. We do the invoicing and then pick, pack and ship — or give it to the client at the door. Everything is done through DEAR.” 

“At the end of the day it’s not just Wian who uses the system, it’s his staff,” Schalk says. “It needs to be easy and understandable to operate. But for Wian, as the owner, the reporting is very important.” 

 

The reason reporting is so important? Importing.

About 75 percent of the products Caterwize sell are imported from specialist product manufacturers overseas. This makes DEAR’s extraordinary reporting ability a vital part of the business mix. Importing goods can make supply systems and regulatory compliance incredibly complicated. 

DEAR helps by linking inventory and accounting, smoothing supply chains, easing compliance, and providing an unparalleled level of visibility both in the day-to-day operations and via specific, highly-customizable reports. Even with long lead times, DEAR makes it possible to estimate costs correctly, and set prices accordingly. 

“We get stock 60 to 90 days after ordering, so it’s quite a long process. But as soon as it gets to our door we upload it into DEAR. And with the advantages that DEAR gives us with the costing, it’s so much easier now,” Wian says. 

“We also use DEAR for the purchases, and it keeps track of them really nicely. We’ve got a warehouse at our premises where we keep the stock, and of course the stock counts are now easy, with DEAR.” 

Wian and Schalk say that this multichannel approach could easily be full of pitfalls, but DEAR makes it simple to navigate. 

“We had a lot of stock problems before we implemented DEAR,” Wian says. “But with DEAR, having multiple locations is so much easier. It’s also easy to open a report and see exactly what the costs involved, and it’s so user friendly — Schalk trained the staff for half a day, and it was just smooth sailing from there. We don’t have staff asking questions all the time, they just get it because it’s so straightforward.” 

 

Leadership does the strategy. DEAR takes care of the details

Indevaldi adds that there’s another benefit on top of all this: having operations run smoothly gives Wian time to attend to the high-level challenges of growing his business. “Yes, there’s a lot of stuff that Wian is still strategically involved in and that’s all right —  it has to be like that. But the more efficient operation that we have now in Caterwize, created the opportunity for Wian as the CEO, as the founder of this business to think about the next steps,” Schalk says. 

Wian agrees. “With DEAR, I can invest all my time and energy into strategic thinking and planning, and growing the business instead of being stuck with operational and strategic problems,” he says. “Just in terms of growing the business much faster, it’s massive — and we’re only using a fraction of what DEAR has to offer. It’s early days yet, and having the DEAR platform to work with is just right for building from here.” 

Wian is thrilled with the ability to be less present in the day-to-day operations of the business. He’s gone from working a minimum of 12 hours a day to being able to come and go as he pleases. This came in very handy when he had his greatest success to date — the birth of his first child. Because DEAR is built in the cloud, it allowed him to work remotely, throughout the challenges of being a new father, which were further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“There were some medical complications with the newborn, so I was away from work for six weeks,” Wian says. “I could just open my computer at home at night and know exactly what was going on — with the reporting, and being able to see what stock is where. It’s so easy, given the information you have. It really was smooth sailing. DEAR created a lot of extra capacity for me in terms of time in the day.” 

 

Should your product business be on DEAR? “It’s a no-brainer.” 

The visibility that DEAR grants Caterwize has helped in another big way: it’s unlocked the company’s latent capacity for growth. The business hasn’t had to employ the number of administrative staff it would have otherwise needed. Instead, it’s brought on more sales staff. “DEAR made it possible for Caterwize to grow substantially,” Schalk says.

Indevaldi say that the important thing for business owners implementing DEAR for the first time is to make sure they have a partner to help them get the basics right the first time. “Our implementation philosophy is to not overcomplicate the system, just do the basics and reap the immediate benefits, then grow into that system as your operational excellence increases.” 

For business owners who are hesitant to make the move to the cloud, or who are tossing up between different inventory management software options, Catwerize and their expert advisors Indevaldi’s have a unanimous piece of advice: go with DEAR. 

“It’s actually a no-brainer,” Wian says. “It’s so user-friendly, and it’s an inventory system that can really unlock the potential in your business, create capacity in your business so you can scale.. Compared to the previous system we had, there’s more buy-in, there are fewer mistakes, and it’s just easier.” 

Schalk agrees. “DEAR is a simple inventory system with a lot of functionality that can really unlock business operations for retail and wholesale product sellers.”

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