Small business: Hamish Firth - Corporate systems

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Hamish Firth, Principal of Mt Hobson Group, on creating corporate systems for his SME.

Hamish Firth, principal of Mt Hobson Group. Photo / Supplied
Hamish Firth, principal of Mt Hobson Group. Photo / Supplied

Over the last 10 years Mt Hobson Group has provided a specialist resource management and town planning service and advice to both the private and public sector throughout Auckland and New Zealand.

What changes have you made to the way you run your business which brings it up to a top corporate standard?

In the last year, as we have continued to grow and provide a wider range of services to an increasing client base, we have introduced more formal business management systems and standardisation of our procedures.

What systems have you put in and was it costly?

At the end of 2012, with the help of Lisarna Wynyard of Mini Manager we introduced Xero and WorkflowMax to the business. The direct costs were buying into the software, the training and the changeover to a new system. These costs have more than been offset by an increase in efficiency, a reduction in administration due to a centralised system and will assist future growth as we have a platform going forward.

How does it help the company as it grows? What clear benefits have you seen?

• Higher productivity through staff not carrying out tasks incorrectly or needing to continually ask for confirmation or clarity

• Greater customer satisfaction and confidence resulting in higher average sale process and increased repeat business

• Better accountability of staff through easier measurement of their performance against the systems

• Ease of movement of staff in, out and around the business

• Less reliance upon key individuals, most of all the owner, as a result of systems being in place and available for training and up-skilling others

• Greater control over the flow of information throughout the business leading to less double handling resulting in a reduction of errors

Are you planning any other changes as you grow?

We are just coming to terms with what the WorkflowMax system offers the business and learning to use it to its full potential. However we are always looking to improve and update whether that be our basic skill sets or the implementation of systems which increase efficiency and improve the customer experience.

Have your customers noticed you are running the business more efficiently?

We have had positive feedback since we have adopted this system particularly when a client is being managed by more than one staff member.

What tips would you give other SMEs at the beginning of their journey?

Big companies were small companies once upon a time. They have all introduced procedures and systems in their business to achieve and manage growth. If you want to grow, embrace systems that help manage the client relationship and free you up from inefficient administration allowing you to spend more time on the business - not in the business.


Next week we hear from NZ's SMEs involved in manufacturing. What are your challenges and achievements, what are the benefits of manufacturing in NZ? Email me, Gill South, at the link below:

- NZ Herald

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