When Time Is Of The Essence: The story of how one market innovator forged a vital link in the supply chain.
Setting The Scene: When The Clock Is Ticking
How do you follow up on homegrown success when your hard-earned reputation doesn’t easily translate into a new market?
For Heavey RF, an Irish-headquartered specialist provider of pick and pack infrastructure and services into the supply chain sector since 2000, and now operating in the UK, frustration was growing at the slower-than-expected progress in positioning the business as a significant player in this much larger and more widely-dispersed market.
Whilst the company supported some of the giants in European and global supply chains from their bases in Ireland and the UK, it often felt like each new connection with a prospective customer was like starting all over again.
Their brand identity, infrastructure and resources, which were adequate in supporting the company’s profile in a homegrown market, seemed ill-equipped to position the company where they needed to be: right at the heart of both the UK and wider European markets.
Although clients spoke in glowing terms about Heavey RF’s expertise, systems and teams post-installation, every new win still felt too hard-fought, too tortuous.
Frustrated with starting each new conversation on the back foot, the team determined that they needed to put their best foot forward instead, and figure out how to better introduce themselves and their offering in a way that made immediate sense to prospective customers.
Time To Step Back
In order to determine a new approach that would apply across all markets, the team decided to look to the strongest and most enduring relationships which they had built with customers over the previous two decades, both in Ireland and the UK, and engaged Islandbridge to work with them to survey some of those best customers.
Using Islandbridge’s simple but highly-effective Best Customer Assessment Toolâ, which rates customer relationships according to how highly they ‘need, want and value’ their offering, are ‘willing to engage’ and ‘able to pay’, the team quickly profiled those customers who best matched what Heavey RF had to offer to the market.
Specifically, Islandbridge identified Heavey RF’s best customer as ‘one who sees you as an integral part of their commercial success, wishes to engage with you on a strategic basis, and consults with you on all aspects of the pick & pack component of their supply chain (typically in a warehouse environment)’. Typically, this person had the title of Head of Supply Chain or similar, someone with ultimate responsibility for the smooth and flawless delivery of valuable products or parts into the hands of their customers.
And so, with a clear picture of what a successful relationship looked like from both sides of the shop counter, Islandbridge set out to site visit and survey those best customers who were dotted the length and breadth of Ireland and the UK.
Running Like Clockwork
Standing on the warehouse floor, seeing at first-hand the extraordinary logistics driving deliveries of vital goods to all corners of the world, and hearing from those who oversaw them, Islandbridge developed a real appreciation for the intricate systems at work, and the part that their client played in providing them.
Customers spoke of Heavey RF as a ‘vital link in our supply chain’ and gave examples of how, time and time again, the team had helped them shift gears and speed up operations, giving them the machinery to deliver on their own promise to customers.
They talked of the intelligence that was built into the new technology, and how it worked for people right across the organisation to ensure a seamless and trouble-free operation.
And finally, they spoke warmly of their own counterparts on the Heavey RF team and how they brought an energy and enthusiasm to each step of the process, no matter how challenging, ensuring that what was often quite a daunting undertaking – the introduction of a brand new system into a mission-critical link in their supply chain – ran precisely according to plan.
Off To A Slow Start
When asked about their initial impressions of Heavey RF, many of these Supply Chain Managers spoke candidly of their reluctance to engage with a newcomer who didn’t appear to offer anything significantly different from existing suppliers. And whilst they confessed they were often frustrated with the levels of expertise and support offered by those suppliers already in place, they naturally feared the potential disruption to their supply chain if they were to introduce an unknown component into the mix.
They acknowledged that they had underestimated our client, seeing only the part rather than the whole, and usually relying on the diligence and subject matter expertise of Heavey RF’s team to help them to appreciate the benefits of introducing a single end-to-end system into their warehouse, rather than the sometimes more piecemeal arrangements they had before.
Some of them wondered aloud how they had managed previously, recalling the breakage of various links in the chain which led in turn to time-consuming and costly delays, resulting in many cases in missed deadlines, wastage and the loss of valuable business. They talked of having to work around the clock, through the night and across whole weekends and cancelled holidays, to try and make up for that lost time so as to keep their promise to their customer.
Time On Your Side
Working on the basis that it’s the job of the brand to help customers make better decisions and choices, the team at Islandbridge were now tasked with positioning Heavey RF in a way that would make immediate sense to prospective customers in their target markets.
A review of both the direct feedback from satisfied customers as well as their own first-hand experience of seeing Heavey RF’s systems in action highlighted the importance of time and timekeeping for those customers. With the constant threat of missed deadlines hanging over each supply chain, particularly those in sectors which demanded ‘on time, every time’ delivery, logistics teams were clearly working against the clock at every stage in their operations.
And so it made sense to explicitly acknowledge the vital timekeeper role played by those managing the supply-chain teams and the infrastructure and the matching role of Heavey RF in supplying the expertise and the systems to help them keep time on their side.
This in turn led Islandbridge to propose a simple brand framework that would enable Heavey RF to position both the organisation and its offering as the natural choice of the best customers in their market:
‘Where timing is of the essence, we help our customers work smarter by providing the precise instruments, tools and expertise to enable them to pick and pack promptly and accurately, and in turn ensure that the right part is delivered to the right person and place, on time, every time.’
Time Changes Everything
Using this brand framework as a measure, the project team reviewed all Heavey RF’s key activities and messages, and concluded that some of those messages were not helping customers to easily recognise the company as their right choice of expert partner.
Noting that some customers had stumbled over the Heavey RF name, which included both an unfamiliar Irish family-name (sometimes confused as ‘heavy’) and an unhelpful reference to a technology (radio frequency) which was increasingly only one of the many technologies deployed in the warehouse, Islandbridge proposed a change of name as a priority.
And whilst there was an initial reluctance to consider changing the name which had served the company well over the previous decades of growth, the team at Heavey RF soon bought into the requirement to engineer a new name that would better serve the prospective customer, and form a powerful first link in the communications chain connecting the company to its market.
Working with Copywriter Katherine Ridge and the Graphic Designers at Crilly & Wardell, Islandbridge proposed a new name and visual identity that would clearly signal to the supply chain manager the vital role at play: Timewise Systems.
With this lynchpin in place, the other links in the chain followed quickly. Now, the company was able to tell prospective customers how they might work together to ‘Keep time on your side with our intelligent warehouse systems’ and demonstrate the processes they had put in place to increase productivity, reduce costs, improve accuracy, guarantee customer satisfaction, simplify service and support, and make better business decisions.
Harnessing The Power Of Time
When Timewise Systems introduced their new brand identity and messaging to their market, existing customers quickly got back to them to say that this new positioning really ticked the boxes for them, and was already helping them to better introduce Timewise to both their own colleagues and others in their supply network.
Meanwhile, the Business Development Teams, in the UK in particular, reported that fresh conversations now got off on a much stronger and surer footing, with prospective customers moving quickly past ‘What do you do?’ to ‘How can you help us speed up our supply chain?’
Now, for the first time, the business felt that it could really translate its successful track record into markets outside of its homeplace, and capitalise on the opportunities to deliver to world-class client companies the world-class systems they required to harness the power of time to ensure that ‘the right part is delivered to the right person and place, on time, every time.’
“For years, satisfied clients spoke of our being the vital link in their supply chain, but we often struggled to impress prospective clients here in the UK of what we could do for them.
Now, for the first time and thanks to the work we did with Islandbridge, we’ve really translated our successes in our native markets into the global environment, making it much easier for clients to choose us and our systems.”
Steve Watson, Managing Director, Timewise Systems UK
Project Leadership: Steve Watson of Timewise Systems
Brand Direction: Gerard Tannam of Islandbridge
Visual Identity Design: Adrian Crilly of Crilly & Wardell
Message Copywriting: Katherine Ridge of ProfessionalWriting.ie
Website Design: Adrian Crilly of Crilly & Wardell
Website Build: Chad Gilmer of iPlanit