The Labour Movement has been enabling a number of small- and medium-sized enterprises to improve productivity and share the gains with their workers. Here is one partner’s story.
A three-generation family business dealing with paint, hardware and general household accessories, Johong Hardware & Paints is every bit your friendly neighbourhood hardware store. Over the course of 25 years, the business has steadily grown from a single heartland store in Hougang to three today.
To remain competitive and cope with the challenges of a growing business, the company began working with NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) to transform its operations with the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP). As an enabler, e2i helps connect businesses like Johong to partners who can help them transform their business. Through helping companies be more efficient and competitive, their employees will be able to benefit with better jobs, gain new skills and grow in their jobs.
“Enabling my staff to really focus on attending to customers is very important in our line of paint sales. It requires them to take the necessary time to engage customers to help them find the right paints for their needs,” said owner Diana Cheng.
“Previously, even with four staff in store, we always found the work endless. This included counting our stock, packing the items, keeping track of stock on display and stock in the storeroom. This was frustrating for my staff as they had to juggle between keeping stock, pricing the items, organising everything and serving customers,” shared Ms Cheng.
Tapping on IGP, the company began automating its processes with a computerised management system to track its extensive inventory across all its stores. This enabled the company to save up to six man-days per month on stock-taking alone. An added benefit was that it could be synchronised with the stores’ point-of-sales system (POS), which helped provide live sales reports and saved at least two man-hours daily from store visits. To further engage its customers, the company utilised the system’s capabilities to include a programme with discounts for members.
“We have actually noticed more customers returning to us to take advantage of the membership discounts,” said Ms Cheng.
As an additional sales channel, the company also invested in an e-commerce platform that lets customers shop for products and learn more about the company’s handyman services at their own convenience.
More importantly, these productivity gains have been extended to the company’s eight staff, who have each benefitted with more than 10 per cent in wage gains.
Find out more about e2i’s Inclusive Growth Programme.