When you’re an SME ice cream maker that sells mostly wholesale, Covid lockdowns are tough. When you’re an SME ice cream maker without the right food manufacturing software – in some of the toughest trading conditions in years – then you need to make changes fast.
“The impacts of Covid-19 on our business were massive,” says Greg Hall, managing director and founder of iconic Kiwi ice cream brand Kohu Road. “We lost 60% of our sales during lockdown, because everything was shut.”
“Of course we were super happy to still be operating but we really had to look at how we could save costs and focus on profitability. And one of those big swings was moving from a very big American software system to a nimble, agile, cost-effective and affordable Kiwi system that works so well.”
Reeling from the difficult conditions of the pandemic – and looking for better, more affordable software – Kohu Road migrated their business to Unleashed with Xero mid-2020. The shift unlocked what Greg describes as “huge savings on our bottom line” – as well as more flexibility and scope for innovation, and improved staff satisfaction through ease-of-use.
Pivoting to Unleashed
Greg created Kohu Road 15 years ago, and despite launching smack in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis the premium ice cream brand found its feet.
As the company grew, Greg sought out software that would power the business’ back end – and settled on one of the big American ERPs.
“It was just massive,” says Greg. “It cast a big shadow over our operations. It had functions out the gazoolie, but it was hard to use. It was like a super tanker – slow to turn.”
The cost of this system was one factor in Greg’s decision to change. He also wanted software that would support the innovation in flavours, packaging and products that had seen his business make such a splash. Kohu Road was the first firm to release dairy-free and vegan ice creams in New Zealand – and had always been ahead of the pack with its compostable, eco-friendly packaging.
Product innovation has been a key part of Kohu Road’s response to Covid-19: having the right food manufacturing software helps.
“Innovation sits at the foundation of everything we do,” says Greg. “And we need to marry that with the back end. We need innovative, creative, dynamic, systems in place to help us realise that creativity and innovation in the products that we get to consumers.”
By contrast with their previous ‘supertanker system’, Greg describes Unleashed as a zippy jetski that freed up cash and time, letting them be more flexible and creative. Something that was critical through lockdown’s strains.
“Making new products has been a key part of us getting through 2020,” he says. “We launched a new range of drinking chocolate; we opened an online store, and Unleashed has helped us with that. There has been a whole lot of dynamic change and pivoting happening over the last 12 months that’s really had a massive positive impact on our business.”
Under budget and on time
Greg had actually considered using Unleashed for his inventory and manufacturing needs five years previously, but had decided the system wasn’t yet ready. Now, with their accountancy firm advising a move, Greg looked again and decided Unleashed had come on in leaps and bounds.
“They’ve done amazing things with it. They’ve really brought it up to 2021, and it functions in a way that’s far superior to what we expected. We’re delighted with those improvements and changes.”
The migration also proved a breeze – “all we did was upload .csv files”, says Greg – and it was completed on time and under budget. Now both their advisors and bookkeeping firm can access their Unleashed account in their work with Kohu Road, which keeps everyone on the same page.
“They were delighted,” Greg says. “Marrying Unleashed and Xero together worked seamlessly and perfectly. It’s just a happy couple; they just work really well.”
Migrating Kohu Road’s many different recipes and products to Unleashed was as simple as uploading a .csv file.
More time, more visibility
The shift to Unleashed for Greg has been a sweet success, and not just for its affordable flexibility. “The best part of using Unleashed for me is the time it saves,” he says.
“It saves my staff heaps of time – they’re not putting in all the overtime, and it frees me to pursue other passions outside of just making ice cream.”
“As a business owner you want your staff happy. You want them motivated, you want them to enjoy their work. And the change I’ve seen in them since migrating to Unleashed is substantial.”
“They love using the system. Everything’s on hand on the dashboard, it’s easy to see, easy to get information, easy to get reports – so it’s a win win situation for us.”
Article by Greg Roughan in collaboration with our team of inventory management and business specialists. Greg has been writing, publishing and working with content for more than 20 years. His writing motto is ‘don’t be boring’. His outdoors motto is ”I wish I hadn’t brought my headtorch’, said nobody, ever’. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with his family.