Property management for John Lewis & Partners
John Lewis & Partners operate around 560 leases and they’re all astonishingly varied. O6ix has come to the rescue.
Builders merchant group Travis Perkins were one of the first companies to adopt Trace Solutions’ estate management software, o6ix. But for many years they used it only as a repository of property data.
They weren’t taking advantage of its accounts functionality or its ability to perform financial transactions. All these were handled instead by the purchase ledger and other departments; they involved paperwork, spreadsheets and endless phone calls. It was a bureaucratic recipe for inaccuracy, frustration and poor service.
All that changed when Darren Screen – a man who’d previously administered Dixons’ retail estate – became Travis Perkins’ Property Finance Director. Within weeks he’d determined that the o6ix system had to be used the way it was meant to be used, to its full capability. The system went live 6 months later.
The Travis Perkins estate is particularly complex to administer and is the group’s single biggest business overhead by far. Around 2,000 outlets, branches and other properties are occupied by 17 autonomous businesses and brands, at a cost of over £200m in rent every year. There are freehold, leasehold and long leasehold properties; rents to be collected as well as leases to be paid; and in some cases single premises are shared by more than one of the businesses. The team who administer the estate need to be more than efficient; they need to be able to produce financial reports that are meaningful at the most granular level.
In a series of presentations, the estate management team was shown how much o6ix could help them – allaying understandable fears that this was simply a cost-cutting exercise.
They were shown how specialist enterprise-grade property management software could do so much more than the company’s general ledgers. Rents, service charges, insurances and so on: all the property incomings and outgoings would be automatically balanced within o6ix, and only then transferred, in summary form, to the company’s corporate accounts by using Trace’s General Ledger eXchange tool.
But first they had to be trained to take full advantage of the software’s power. “The Trace consultants were massively knowledgable and understood exactly what we were trying to achieve. They were very hands-on, helping us with system configuration, our own internal procedures and with all the training we needed”, says Darren.
The first automatic payment to be made by the system took place on October 1st, 2014 – a total outlay of over £3,000,000, comprising more than 200 individual payments. Says Darren: “Trace were on hand just in case, but it went absolutely swimmingly, with no errors at all. Everyone who needed to be paid was paid, and we didn’t pay anyone we shouldn’t have!”
Now [the property team] have everything they need at their fingertips. They feel so much more professional
For a company with aggressive plans for growth – they intend to add around 500 further outlets over the next 5 years – o6ix has removed one very significant potential stumbling block. “The property team is so much more efficient now. We can handle a lot of extra growth without having to expand the team”.
That team have been absolutely delighted with the transition. “Now they have full control over their work. Where once they used to have to run around between different departments looking for information, now they have everything they need at their fingertips. And they feel so much more professional when they’re dealing with landlords and other people on the phone. For the accounts team, the month end and budgeting processes are far simpler, taking less than half the time it used to”,
“the working environment is just so much easier and more pleasurable”.
Trace were very hands-on, helping us with system configuration, our own internal procedures and all the training we needed
Darren Screen, Property Finance Director, Travis Perkins
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