Custom bicycle maker boosts productivity by 500% using Zoho Creator.

The Company

Founded in 2008 in the Mission district of San Francisco, Mission Bicycle Company epitomizes bike customization, and they do it without compromising quality or affordability. They let customers design their own bikes at the store or their website, and then hand-make in the workshop.

The Builder

Ryan is the operations consultant for Mission Bicycle Company. A true DIY guy, he took up the challenge of setting up an automated system for the business. He started working with Zoho Creator, and within a few weeks, he was all set to try his hand at building the app they required.

"We wanted an electronic version of our build sheet, in a way that could prevent errors." -Ryan Moskal, Operations Manager

The Problem

A popular local business, Mission Bicycle Co. had a growing need to streamline their process. Their paper-based system was no longer adequate. The main difficulty the company faced was the increasing number of errors in order details and bicycle specifications. And organizing the documents, build sheet was a big job on its own.

Solution

Initially, Ryan made just an order management app. He then extended its functionality to vendor management, after-sales follow-up, etc.

Manufacturing: Order management

The order management module of the app has two parts:

Sales interface: This is the part of the system that is displayed at the storefront. It's non-technical, working much like building blocks, allowing the salesperson to select parts and colors for their bike on the input of the customer.

Before the app was created, people often chose parts for their bikes that weren't compatible. Orders had to be cancelled or redesigned. Now salespeople are shown only those options that work with the frame they've selected.

Ryan also added a feature to display the estimated delivery date when an order was placed, this is set as four weeks from the order date.

Production interface: This is the system that the production team accesses. The manager gets the order in a more production-oriented format than the customer interface. Ryan built a function to show the technical specifications of the selected components. That information is vital for the the person building the bike. Think of it as translating the common man's language into technical terms. This system provides a printable one-sheet build summary, using the record summary feature of Zoho Creator, of the order which the builder uses while making the bicycle.

Supply Chain: Vendor Management

With the ordering system taken care of, Ryan turned his focus to the vendor management system. This was an obvious next step since it helped reduce the process time of the ordering app. Large vendors now receive an automated weekly order of the components needed. Smaller vendors who don't support electronic ordering get a printed order sheet.

Finance: Bookkeeping

The thing about people who are self-driven is that they can find opportunities to improve any situation. With vendor management handled, Ryan decided to add even more features to the order management module. He created a function to automatically calculate the cost of making each bike. This, when tallied with the week's revenue, provided the profit earned for that particular week. Similarly, the monthly and yearly figures fell into the basket without much effort.

Customer Relations: After sales experience

Once a bike is delivered, the next step is the after sales follow-up. Ryan used the automation feature on Zoho Creator to send the following emails:

  • Thank you mail: A thank you message is sent to the customer on delivery of the bike, along with a list of maintenance tips like the ideal tire pressure, the type of oil to use etc.
  • Experience survey: Two weeks from the date of delivery, an experience survey is automatically sent to the customer.
  • Free Bike check-up: Mission Bicycle provides one free bike check-up to their local customers two months after bike delivery. A schedule is made to send these reminder mails.

Bike Registration

If you own a bicycle, theft is your major concern. That's where bikeindex.org helps. The registration website works with local law enforcement agencies and bicycle shops to find stolen bikes and return them to their rightful owners.

Mission Bicycle has partnered with bikeindex.org. When a bike is purchased, the details are updated on the site's registry through an integration with Mission Bicycle's app.

"Just like a bicycle needs different components to work together to run efficiently, the wheels, the frame, the drivetrain—the modules we have created in Zoho Creator all work together to give us the complete business data we need." Ryan Moskal, Operations Manager

"The one word I would use to describe our Zoho Creator experience is "empowering." I now feel like we have the tools to address any problem we come up against. Our only limit is our imagination." -Ryan Moskal, Operations Manager

Add-ons

Aside from building bicycles, Mission Bicycle sells accessories like helmets and riding gloves. A bar-code reader and Zoho Creator were integrated to set up a system to replenish the stock of these goods.

Every item in the warehouse has a threshold limit. The threshold for each type of accessory is decided by demand and past experience. Once the available stock reaches the threshold, the company orders to replenish the stock.

In Mission Bicycle's case, every item has a digital barcode card at the threshold point. When the stock runs low and the card shows, employees scan the card using a barcode reader, and an order for the item is placed automatically through Zoho Creator.

Result

  • A staggering 500% increase in productivity.
  • 45% of work hours saved every week
  • Happy customers
  • 0% errors in taking orders