Unleashing growth potential through digital transformation


Company background

Salonserve is a prominent manufacturer and wholesale distributor in the UK beauty industry, supplying professional products and solutions to independent salons and spa businesses for over three decades. Founded with the mission to provide better pricing and exceptional service through vertical integration, the company manufactures its own products while also importing from overseas vendors. Salonserve's customer base comprises savvy, service-focused salon owners who prioritise quality over brand names.

Driving forces for change

Claire Kettell, Salonserve's founder, possessed an innate ambition to continually evolve and expand the business. However, the company's existing systems and processes posed significant roadblocks. The driving forces that propelled Salonserve towards transformation were multifaceted. Firstly, Claire's personal drive for growth and development played a pivotal role. Secondly, the critical need for better data visibility to make informed, data-driven decisions became increasingly apparent. The COVID-19 pandemic further reinforced the realisation that cloud-based, accessible systems were essential for business continuity. Additionally, there was a strong desire to increase efficiency through automation and reduce the burden of manual workloads.

flinder smart finance function methodology diagram
Smart finance function® transformation methodology.

The transformation journey with flinder

Recognising the need for change, Claire engaged with flinder, an accounting and advisory firm specialising in e-commerce and cloud solutions.The selection process involved vetting a number of other accountants, but flinder's modern approach, tailored specifically for digital businesses, stood out. Claire was particularly impressed by their expertise and the robust reporting capabilities they demonstrated. She also valued flinder’s direct and honest approach, even when the candid feedback initially felt blunt. While nervous about the recurring monthly spend at first, Claire decided to take a leap of faith with flinder, which ultimately proved worthwhile.

Claire says of flinder,

“They’re certainly ahead of the game...it's almost like they’re in partnership with their clients.

The transformation journey involved a comprehensive overhaul of Salonserve's technology stack. A critical first step was migrating historical data from Sage to the new cloud systems. flinder's team, led by their transformation consultant Hugh Robinson, worked meticulously to cleanse an transition the data, overcoming challenges with inaccuracies and missing information. The system implementation phase involved the integration of Unleashed Inventory Management software to enable real-time stock tracking, forecasting, and production management, as well as Xero Cloud Accounting for comprehensive financial management and reporting. While some staff members initially resisted the changes, flinder provided hands-on support, addressing concerns and ensuring a cohesive implementation across teams. This user adoption process was crucial for the successful transition to the new systems.

Post-transformation benefits and impact

The comprehensive technology overhaul, powered by flinder's expertise, unlocked a multitude of benefits for Salonserve. Most notably, it breaks the previous "glass ceiling,"now allowing for growth and expansion. Operational efficiencies and cost savings were realised through streamlined processes. Inventory management was optimised, reducing overbuying and stock obsolescence. Robust traceability and batch tracking capabilities were introduced for production, a requirement for upcoming ISO accreditation. The ability to conduct granular analyses of product profitability, inventory performance, and supply chain operations became a reality. Real-time reporting and dashboards eliminated laborious manual exercises, while a newfound sense of confidence in data-driven decision-making permeated the leadership team. Revenue increased as a result of working with flinder; Claire has more relevant information which gives greater confidence in decision-making.

Luke Streeter with his macbook having a CFO meeting with Salonserve
Superlens reporting dashboard with Xero and Unleashed data

Furthermore, the transformation fostered collaboration between warehouse and office teams, breaking down former "us vs. them" divides. It empowered warehouse staff by giving them ownership of processes through user-friendly software interfaces. Claire felt she could speak openly with the flinder team, allowing concerns to be resolved promptly through their open communication.

As well as transforming the operations of the business, Unleashed provided a wealth of opportunities for financial reporting too. Salonserve can now see their true gross margin and stock position in real-time, not just at the end of the reporting period. flinder’s application of unit economics across the different revenue streams has enabled Salonserve to delve deeper into the areas of the business that need attention, as well as recognise which are performing well and why. After a session on what financial and non-financial KPIs and would really help Salonserve in their decision-making, flinder were able to produce management accounts and commentary tailored specifically to their needs.

Claire shared,

“That was that was quite a special, quite emotional moment, when I got that first report”.

Future roadmap

Energised by the success of their digital transformation, Salonserve has an ambitious future roadmap. This includes further automation and process optimisation, continued expansion of the product portfolio and customer base, exploring new service offerings like own-branded product lines for salon customers, and achieving ISO certification to gain a competitive edge in the market. With greater transparency on operational and financial performance now addressed, Claire is eager to focus more of her energy on areas like marketing and product development.

With flinder as their trusted advisory partner, Salonserve is well-positioned to capitalise on growth opportunities and maintain its reputation as an innovative, service-centric supplier to the beauty industry.

About flinder

flinder builds and runs smart finance functions® for fast-growth and complex e-commerce brands. flinder transforms businesses by implementing, integrating and running financial and operational systems to deliver an end-to-end solution that provides meaningful, timely insight across the business.