Stonebond Properties is on an ambitious growth path as the business believes there is a unique opportunity to expand regionally from its current base in Chelmsford replicating the proven business model and operating procedures. The first new regional set-up will be in St Albans focussing on land opportunities within Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes. The team has grown by 30 in the past 2 years and are now developing over 50 new homes per year and have over 100 plots in the construction pipeline for the following year.
In this article, we caught up with Edd Cherry, grandson of the original founder Alan Cherry, who shared an insightful view with us into the exciting expansion plans for the business and the role he sees technology playing in supporting that growth now and in the future.
Edd and the team were keen to implement a dedicated housebuilding system that can cope with their growth plans early to avoid inefficiencies down the line as volumes increase.
Edd commented, “We took the decision to invest the time and money to introduce the new systems, allowing us to teach just 20 people how to use new software, rather than waiting until we have over 75 employees and forever struggling to use these systems to their full potential in the future.”
One System for One Team
Before introducing EVision Housebuilding, Stonebond Properties were using Eque2’s Construct for Sage 200. Whilst Construct worked well for the commercial department and Sage worked well for the accounts team, the lack of housebuilding-specific functionality meant there were too many spreadsheets being manually maintained separately by other teams.
Edd continued, “One of our main aspirations for moving to EVision Housebuilding was to make sure everyone was feeding information into one system and therefore at any moment, the relevant people could see the latest update on any project relevant to them.
Before we implemented Housebuilding we were spending too much time in meetings internally and manually searching for updates from multiple people and documents to produce a clear picture of what was happening on each project – which was then quickly out of date.
As we evaluate land purchase decisions, we need to be able to produce detailed forecasts using ‘what-if’ scenarios to help us predict profitability on each plot, before committing to future investments – with a dedicated Housebuilding solution in place, we can run these directly from the system rather than relying on information in spreadsheets.”
Paul Kelly, Commercial Director, and Edd have been overseeing the implementation of the new system alongside their day jobs, and was keen to get started on the core finance system that EVision is built within first – Microsoft Dynamics Business Central – and then roll out the EVision Housebuilding solution across the relevant teams.
“We have been using EVision since the beginning of September which is working well and have the Build, Sales and Care module of the Housebuilding software live on every site. The way the systems talk to each other has really helped us to gain a real-time view of information across every site.”
Edd added, “We are now also managing our Customer Care processes within the software to manage activities during our defect period, which provides us with an efficient way of capturing defects, issuing the work out to the relevant subcontractor and keeping the customer up to date. Again, this is a process we wanted to streamline now whilst we have minimal defects rather than later down the line when our volume of sites and therefore plot completions increase.”
Completing the Housebuilding Solution
The final part of the puzzle for Stonebond from a Housebuilding perspective is to implement the Sales module which will integrate with a new website to manage sales releases, enquiries and direct reservations. Stonebond’s land teams across their two regions are currently introducing the land module which will play an important role in validating land purchase decisions and building scenarios to confirm the timing of future profit and cash positions.
Supporting the Future
Edd finished by saying, “Overall, we are very pleased with the progress we have made with the team at Eque2 – Tim Reynolds and Lee Dunn, in particular, have been excellent, always on the end of the phone, and together we were able to make brilliant progress during the lockdown period by switching the training to online sessions, which we found surprisingly efficient.
We are in a good position to ensure our new systems will support our growth plans, however, we are also excited by opportunities we see to further innovate and enhance our use of EVision Housebuilding by working with Eque2, including streamlining the production of our monthly board packs using Jet Reports and automating the entry of invoices with Continia.”
For more information on Stonebond Properties, please visit: https://www.stonebondltd.com