Floriculture entrepreneur Rene Schoenmaker of African Flower Growers Worldwide from South Africa has been a FreshPortal client since the beginning. Schoenmaker is briefly visiting The Netherlands for business, and we used this opportunity to hear about his experience using FreshPortal. AFG Worldwide is located in Johannesburg and Cape Town. From there they manage all their import and export activities to no fewer than 53 countries around the world. Schoenmaker has been successfully at the company’s helm since 2011. That year everything fell into place at AFG Worldwide.
We obviously wanted to know more about their growth from Rene Schoenmaker and how that was achieved in part thanks to FreshPortal’s software solutions. He tells us enthusiastically.
Chasing the figures
“Whenever sales had to be changed in the past, we needed to make sure the adjustments were made everywhere in the system, down to the individual stem. If we didn’t, our inventory wouldn’t add up and negatively affect other systems and lists. The problem was that much of the data also had to be processed manually, and that resulted in mistakes. Everyone at our company was using many different systems by that point. I often found that I needed to put more people on administration and sales to continue growing, but I wasn’t selling anything more from it. It effectively meant that we were wasting valuable time, people and investments with no results to show for it,” Schoenmaker says.
Best practice in digitalization
A number of floriculture companies are working hard to identify ways of commanding a changing industry, while also benefiting from globalization. In our eyes, AFG Worldwide is a best practice that other companies can learn from. We ask Schoenmaker how he went about this. “My goal was to achieve higher returns with the same number of people. Hiring even more people for administration and sales was out of the question. We had to look elsewhere. ICT had become an indispensable part of our company but also a costly never ending story. We felt that restructuring this – making it more efficient for both us and our clients – had great potential. At that same time, I came in contact with FreshPortal who approach floriculture software very differently. Namely, all the tools you need are in the cloud. It’s scalable, always accessible and completely free of maintenance for the entrepreneur. Those benefits appealed to me tremendously.”
Russian women’s day
Everything needs to be faster, more efficient, productive. Does that also apply to AFG Worldwide? Schoenmaker: “It’s remarkable but thanks to the software an eight-hour work day now yields a multitude of those eight hours. If I had to give a number, it would come down to at least six times as much. That’s really extraordinary. On top of that, what I now spend on software is a fraction of the maintenance, servers and investments I made in the past. For me personally it means that I gained a lot in convenience. With the press of a button I get served a diagram with data that explains peak sales to Russia because it was national women’s day, or what the prices did. Those aren’t the type of things you have at the ready with everything else that goes on in a day or a week. This business characterizes itself as very lively and fickle. I remember a great deal, sometimes I’m like an elephant, but it is quite a lot of data and information these days. A system you can trust with complete confidence is absolutely crucial. And it’s a win-win situation for our customers as well, because they now get significantly faster and reliable deliveries.”
Rene Schoenmaker, AFG Worldwide