‘Bolts & Moore’ grows three-fold
Just over 18 years ago, Justin Moore bought a small nuts and bolts store in the outer-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Since this time Justin has grown and expanded the business to three successful fasteners stores that are well known and utilised by over one-thousand trades throughout Melbourne.
Business: ‘Bolts & Moore Pty Ltd’
Director: Justin Moore
Location: Ferntree Gully, Hallam and Bayswater, Victoria
Buying Group: CSS (Construction Supply Specialists)
Ferntree Gully Bolts was established 28 years ago, and since this time store owner Justin has significantly grown and evolved the store through his own innovations as well as through the assistance of the CSS (Construction Supply Specialists) group.
“My background involves working in similar businesses with bigger profiles. My former role included working as a state sales manager for an American supplier of nuts and bolts to industrial supply stores,” he said.
“As a former sales manager to the Ferntree Gully Bolts store, the original store owner approached me with a business proposition when he was ready to retire. The opportunity was there so I jumped in and expanded the range. Combining the range expansion with the assistance of CSS made it a lot easier to get involved with other products and give them a go as well.”
“Although I expanded the business quite a bit between the time of purchasing the business and joining CSS around 11 years ago, being a part of the group was definitely the next step in building the business. Joining CSS also coincided with the opening of our second store, Bayswater Bolts, and going on to open Hallam Bolts just over five years ago.”
“I think the benefit of being in a group like CSS includes getting along really well with the members as they all have strengths in different areas. I learn from them and they work well with me in sourcing product,” Justin said.
Today the three stores located in Ferntree Gully, Bayswater and Hallam sit under the ‘Bolts & Moore Pty Ltd’ banner. The three stores vary in size (Ferntree Gully 500 square metres, Hallam 400 square metres and Bayswater 650 square metres), and all boast a mix of 75 per cent account based customers to 25 per cent non-account based. Of the 25 per cent, the mix sits at 50 per cent trade and 50 per cent DIY.
Stand out qualities
Providing on-going expertise in anything fastening has enabled all three businesses to grow and evolve quickly over the years, according to Justin.
“We provide products and expert advice on anything as simple as a nut, bolt or screw, right through to concrete anchors and adhesives. We have showrooms at each location that feature all of the pretty stuff at the front of the store – like power tools, hand tools and the more glamourous products that people are more inclined to look at and be interested in than the average nut and bolt – while all of the ugly stuff sits at the back of the store,” he said.
One of the most advanced developments for the ‘Bolts & Moore’ group was recently launched, after the business introduced a new stock management system for several industrial customers which involve scanning machines linked to an internal system within all three stores.
“The new system went live last month throughout all three stores. It came about after we had an app built under the ‘Bolts & Moore’ name, which is basically a barcode scanning app. So it allows customers to load up their customer details and the barcodes are linked to our shelf labels in-store,” he said.
“We have come up with an option to supply our customers with a shelf label as measure of re-ordering. So they just go into the app and they start scanning the products that they need. The order is then collated. They can choose any products they require and the amount they need all from the app. The app will then ask the customer to complete the order which automatically loads to their email and the file is sent to our point-of-sale system in a format that we can read it. Once the file is downloaded to our point-of-sale, which saves us from having to type it in, it then creates a printable order/pink slip so the order can be sent out.”
“Generally this sort of stuff is an account order and is delivered on-site. There are a few other companies that have an elaborate replenishment type systems such as this. I know one of our competitors will only look at this system if their customers spend $100k per year. Our point of difference is you can download the app for free and away you go.”
“One of our customers wants us to come and complete his ordering for them once a week. So we send our delivery driver out, he does the scanning for them and that way the bins always remain on-site and the customer knows if they are waiting on goods or if something has gone amiss and there is a lot more traceability to it,” Justin said.
So far the system has been well accepted by customers and has also allowed the business to open a few doors.
“There are several new businesses that have come on board, that we have not dealt with before, and who are looking for an online ordering solution. The ease and basic nature of the system has meant that they are prepared to have a look and that is half the battle really. If you just compete head-to-head on product then it all just comes down to price which is why it is important to offer customers a point of difference, otherwise it is a much harder fight,” he said.
While Justin understands that nut and bolt retailers often work best in industrial estates, and the Ferntree Gully store sits more in a residential area, he said the store is very well known because it has been there for such a long time and there are plenty of industrial estates nearby that continually service the store.
“We also sell to customers in the city and the other side of town. We will go anywhere to make a quid and sell something. If it is in your wheelhouse you might as well have a go,” he said.
“We understand that there are quite a few like-for-like nut and bolt stores that offer their customers similar ranges to ours. But we make sure that we separate ourselves from our competitors through knowledge and service. These are the two key things we focus on and we believe we do this very well. We are also at the forefront of any new products that are introduced into the market.”
“As we have developed I have also made sure that I continue to evolve the business through avenues such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Our database is also a big part of our business. COVID was an interesting stepping stone for us because it gave us the ability to gather plenty of data from our customers, mainly because we were required to keep track of who was coming and going in-store. Capturing all of this information during the 2020 shut downs gave us 1500 new contact points throughout the businesses,” Justin said.
The expansive data base has also allowed the group to significantly expand its marketing.
“We had a carpark sale the other day and we sent an SMS broadcast to 4300 mobile numbers, from the system which made the sale a great success. So the whole COVID thing definitely has been a glass half full experience for us.”
“We have grown quite a bit in the last 18 months and we are at a point now where we are advertising for new staff to join us. With 20 staff on board at the moment, I am looking forward to continually expanding the business by bringing on experienced and friendly staff,” he said.
Growing and evolving into the future
For now Justin’s main focus will be on “a bit of everything” as he continues to grow and evolve all three stores.
“History tells us that it is important to be nimble and also go with the flow in business. I have an external sales guy who knocks on doors and we get quite a bit of enquiry through him and through recommendations.”
“As much as our name suggests that we are good at nuts and bolts, we are continually pushing the barrow that we are more than just that and there is plenty of future organic growth within our customer base we can pursue. The more we push our little sales replenishment system out into the market, the better,” he said.