Makita New Zealand, based in Auckland, imports and distributes electric power tools. A subsidiary of Makita Corporation of Japan operating in New Zealand since 1961, Makita has established itself as a major player in the power tools market.
Growth comes with its own set of problems. Makita NZ manages a vast network of dealers covering the entire country. From a business standpoint, these dealers are Makita NZ’s customers. On any given day, these customers send in 500 or more orders via email. In addition, end users – people who buy from the dealers and use the tools –contact Makita with product inquiries as well as warranty Issues and claims. Some of these requests Makita can answer directly, but often they must be forwarded to the relevant dealer for processing.
Sam Rakei, Makita’s Regional Sales Manager, shares how his team now handles the hundreds of emails that come In daily and how they relied on Spark’s IT Partners network to switch platforms in Makita’s busiest month of the year without any negative effect on its operations.
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Import and Distribution of Cordless Electric Power Tools
Makita HQ receives every day 500 or more emails consisting of orders and requests from its dealers across New Zealand, as well as inquiries from end users. Sam’s team handles these requests day in day out.
The biggest challenge was that the team only had Outlook to manage this deluge of emails, and over the years had developed elaborate rules, filters, and processes to accommodate this situation. Sam said that they must have had at least 20 steps to follow for each order that came in.
This meant that from the moment a sales rep received the order in Outlook, they had to follow a process that took about five to ten minutes on the average. Clearly, this was very inefficient and time-consuming, but also it became a source of frustration both internally and externally.
Inside Makita, sales reps felt that they weren’t being supported. They were doing a lot of work, but they weren’t achieving much because of the limitations on what Outlook could do and the tedious manual processes. Apart from these internal frustrations, customers felt neglected: response times were slow and service quality was deteriorating.
Sam knew that he had to find a solution to their problems fast; otherwise, all these problems would just continue to snowball until Makita eventually started losing customers.
Makita New Zealand is also a Spark Business Hub customer, and at the time happened to talking to Spark about changing their phone system. Dealing with Spark gave Makita access to a wide selection of local IT managed service providers who could offer IT support.
Looking back, this introduction by Spark was a crucial event. If it hadn’t happened, Sam’s team might still be using Outlook today, or worse, have implemented a costly system that really didn’t solve the core issues. Makita’s relationship with Spark and Spark’s access to a wide array of local IT providers was what made being a Spark Business Hub customer worthwhile.
IT is easy to take for granted. It’s one of those things that you don’t notice when it’s working well, but hurts a lot when it’s not. Spark knows this, which is why it’s continuously growing its own network of local IT providers in the different Spark Business Hub locations and offering these resources to businesses across New Zealand.
Regional Sales Manager, Makita NZ
When Sam realised His team needed something better for handling hundreds of customer emails each day, he started searching for solutions. One of the first software offerings that he came across was Zendesk. After seeing a demo, Sam recalls thinking “that it’s probably a terrific program, but it just wasn’t the right fit for us.” He felt that the system was restrictive, especially when looking at the long-term. He didn’t want to be “trapped” in a system that they could use for only a few years before having to start the search process all over again.
Soon after that, Sam started talking with Dave Wilson, iT360’s CEO, about Makita’s challenges. From there, Dave and his team proposed a customised solution for Makita using Zoho Desk.
After talking with Dave, Sam felt that Zoho was right for Makita. One of the reasons he shares is how he felt reassured that there were endless possibilities with it, and that they wouldn’t have to switch to a new platform in a few years; rather, it will only need some tweaks to adapt to changes.
“We made a record mark in terms of how much sales we’ve done in one month…we smashed the previous record by a mile…we still managed to basically produce a high output in terms of sales as well as reducing the lowest error rate…”
Makita’s experience is a notable example of the benefits that can be achieved when a business takes the time to find the right software and the right technology partner. Not only was Zoho Desk able to help Makita save time and become more efficient, but it also helped them break records for sales in their busiest month ever. If you’re looking for a way to improve your business processes, make sure to consider all your options before deciding. The wrong software or IT partner can be costly – but the right combination can be transformative.
When asked to compare the current situation with where they were before the implementation of Zoho Desk, Sam’s first response was that the negative energy that they were having before is now gone. This is all thanks to having turned the 20+ step manual process into a three-step process. What used to take 10 minutes now just takes 10 seconds.
“It’s made us more efficient and effective.” Now, Sam’s team can put all the time they’re saving into other areas that add further value (instead of administrative and repetitive work).
The example that Sam gave is that they now can gather insights and proactively tackle issues before they become big problems. “[Let’s say] we receive XYZ inquiries from this one customer asking us the same thing over and over again. Maybe they need a bit more training in regard to this particular product because they don’t understand. I didn’t have that option before where now, I do.”
But the biggest win for Makita was not just being able to cut down steps in their process. Rather, when they made the transition, they were coming up to their busiest month of the year, but even while implementing new software still reduced errors overall.
To survive in today’s environment, businesses need to have their IT strategically working in the background. If you’re constantly having IT problems or your IT partner is always reacting instead of preventing them from happening, you’re fighting a losing battle. Having an IT partner that is flexible and understands your unique needs is critical. Speak with one of our team to explore your options.
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