By investing in cloud software early, new ventures can ensure they’re ready for success. Because Unleashed scales alongside your business, providing a framework for growth instead of holding you back.
Here’s Ben Russell-Smith, founder and director of Lazer Lamps, on how he’s used Unleashed to fuel a real British success story.
My background has always been in automotive lighting, which led me to start Lazer Lamps back in 2010. The company’s been growing ever since: selling into motorsport, the road market, commercial trucks and more.
At Lazer, we want to bring innovative world-class lighting technology to our customers. We’re developing new products all the time, continually pushing the boundaries of the technology. And we manufacture all our products right here in the UK.
Our goals are to continue delivering world-class products. We’ve been expanding for nine years. In the next 20, we want to cement our position as the leader in automotive lighting.
For us, a good product comes down to performance and quality. When a customer puts one of our lights back to back against a competitor product, we want to come out on top. Plus, we aim to ensure every product we sell is fully quality checked — with the performance we expect and no warranty returns.
We’ve got big customers in various racing series: including the Blancpain 24-hours, the FIA World Endurance Championship (the top four finishers at Le Mans last year used our lights) and the World Rally Championship. That filters down to big customers in the road market as well.
Our motorsport customers are crucial to our product development. They require very clear visibility of the road. They want to see every detail.
I’ll be at an event or testing in the north of Sweden in winter. One of the world rally drivers will tell me they want a bit more distance, or they need the light to be a bit clearer or crisper in certain corners. I’ll take that feedback straight to our engineers. We have a full light tunnel in our factory, which we’ll use to project the light the driver used on that day so we can understand where the lights need to be improved next.
Once we have a product that works for motorsport, then the same technology filters through to the road. Our road customers want the very best. They see the lights used by these top motorsport teams and get them fitted so they can see everything at night that they could see in the daytime.
Growing with Unleashed
We’ve used Unleashed since the company was only me working out of a garage in Tottenham. Now, we have 50 employees and counting, annual turnover of €10 million and we’re growing into new space all the time.
I chose Unleashed back in 2010 because I recognised that their platform would be better at helping us scale than a lot of other software systems. It’s very adaptable. The Unleashed team acknowledge our feedback and implement the requests that we’ve asked for. We’ve got a great relationship — we’ve grown together over the last nine years. Every time Unleashed releases something new, we see the benefit.
The biggest thing I’ve learnt — and what I’d encourage any manufacturer to learn — is to choose systems and software that can grow with you. Quite often you can be constrained by software that you pay a lot for upfront. It might not actually have the flexibility and adaptability you need as you grow.
Unleashed, for example, has always embraced working with other cloud solutions. We use a couple of others, and they integrate seamlessly with Unleashed. We have a total system of apps, and they all work in tune with one another. Each one focuses on the bit that they do well, and they make it better — while thinking about the other apps that they are interacting with.
How Unleashed makes my life easier
Unleashed makes our lives easier because it works across every aspect of our business. It makes developing new products, or updating existing ones, fast and effective. It’s a very efficient platform for us.
As soon as we ‘dream up’ a new product, it gets a number in Unleashed. And then as the bill of materials is grown in our CAD system, those components are added into Unleashed too. It gives our buying team a very clear idea of what needs to be purchased, and when. We track everything: from purchasing to the build process to the finished sale.
Our staff all have lots of experience with ERP systems, but nobody has mentioned moving over to a standard ERP system from cloud-based software. With Unleashed, software upgrades come in immediately with no need to manually install updates. The whole system just runs seamlessly.
“Nobody has mentioned moving over to ERP”
Using Unleashed to foster productivity
As a UK manufacturing firm, productivity is key for us — we want to improve productivity while guaranteeing innovation in the final product. So we’re looking continually at the parts in our products, and which supplier processes we can bring in-house to increase efficiency.
Unleashed has helped us be more productive because it’s so intuitive and user-friendly. As a fast-growing company, we don’t always have time to train staff on new systems. We throw them in at the deep end. With Unleashed, our staff don’t need hours of training to understand the system. You can jump on and immediately get an idea of how everything works: it’s all very straightforward.
I’ll put a new buyer in front of the software and they’ll be more proficient than me in a couple of weeks. The how-to videos are incredibly clear, very nicely constructed and they explain new features really well.
More productivity wins with the B2B Store
For the last three years, we’ve been looking for a way for B2B customers to order via a portal. Previously, it was all over email and phone.
When the Unleashed B2B Store launched, it was the obvious solution. It could effectively handle every level of customer discount, and the system is so intuitive that it hasn’t needed anything to get dealers and business customers using it.
They can see stock levels straight away. So if they want to order 200 lights, they can see whether that’s possible and place an order with no fuss.
It saves us so much time. We’re entering a busy period and handling all those orders is a big job for our sales operators. It was a big job last year, and it’ll probably be twice as big this year. The B2B Store means I’m confident that our internal sales coordinator can handle the phone and email orders — because Unleashed is taking care of all those large orders via the portal.
Plus, the B2B Store has reduced the risk of human error. Writing an order manually from an email or the phone takes time and leads to mistakes. Even a minor error — like getting the wrong colour — can mean paying for a courier collection on a product that might be as far away as Australia.
The goal for Lazer over the coming years is to strengthen our position as a manufacturer for large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). In fact, we already ship into one of the big OEM vehicle manufacturers as a Tier-1 supplier. We see our methods working to attract the big vehicle makers as well.
A lot of our customers are wanting optics that are tuned for their unique needs. With Unleashed, we don’t have to shy away from dealing with that added complexity.
The biggest thing that holds us back is space. We find that we move into a big factory, and within a year we’re wondering why it looks so small. So as we move from being a medium to a large enterprise, it’s great to know that we have an inventory system we’ll never outgrow.