H1 update

Sorry for the radio silence dear readers!

H1 was an H with two faces. The first months we’ve been growing super quickly, our revenue peaking at €23k/week. Multiply that by 52, and we’ve reached our target of €1.2M this year.

However, the end of May revenue dipped. Furniture is very seasonal, we’re learning. We have a big garden furniture client, but that’s not enough to fill the gap. The result: bigger than expected losses in May and June.

Therefore, I’m immersing myself into the likes of Pipedrive, HubSpot and MailChimp. We need new leads! Zooming out a bit: next year we need new clients lined up for the start of the summer (which we need to start finding two months earlier), plus we need more garden furniture clients. With some experimenting - sending out 15 cold e-mails resulted in 3 offers - we’ve learned that it’s not difficult, we just need to do it. (any tips on this? Don’t hesitate to text me!)

Some big results for H1

  • We’ve hired Jan-Willem Donkervoort as our chief HR. Jan-Willem worked the last 9 years for a semi-government organisation employing and coaching all sorts of people that are on government support. He brings enormous experience and network in our target demographic of delivery drivers.

  • We launched our all new, super professional werkenbij.br8.nl recruitment site.

  • We’ve expanded our warehousing with an additional 250 m2. Our neighbours had some space available. It did mean sawing a hole in both warehouses to connect.

  • We’ve finally managed to get our official, much needed, NIWO transport licence. Important for insurances, liability and other sensible stuff.

  • Expanded our fleet to 8 vans, on track for 12 vans by the end of the year.

  • Heard rumours that our big competitor (JP Haarlem) is getting quite nervous of our presence.

That’s it!

€20k/week and on track for €1.2M

Week 13 BR8 finally hit the €20k revenue mark! We’re on track to hit €1.2M in 2019.

Right now growth is crazy and we’re understaffed in every function. A great feeling, but it’s wearing down all resources. Vans breaking down, delivery drivers breaking down, warehouse too small, etc. Most of our customers are not happy. But - knock wood - they’re not leaving.

We’re slowly spotting a pattern here: Spring is a big peak. Some of it makes sense (garden furniture), some of it doesn’t (office refittings need to be done in spring as well?). Last year the same situation. We also notice this is a peak for our competitors as well. They also struggle with capacity, which causes there customers to be unhappy and request quotes from BR8. Which is great, but unfortunately we can’t serve them right now. Two thoughts:

  • In 2020, we have to adjust our current, heavily simplified, linear capacity planning to a seasonal one. To make sure we are not understaffed again next Spring. We’re requesting seasonality input from our biggest 5 customers to make a somewhat reliable curve throughout the year.

  • In summer and autumn, sales will probably slow down, as it did last year. I’m trying to keep these incoming leads warm and convert them later in the year. It will be challenging to keep growth going at the current rate.

Another structural problem is lack of recruitment and HR capacity to find and keep good delivery- and warehouse colleagues. Soon more news on this!

2018: €600k revenue

The second year of BR8 is behind us. With almost 10k stops and €600k revenue we made a big jump from 2017 (2.500 activities, €160k). More importantly, we:

  • moved into a bigger warehouse

  • implemented a professional WMS

  • secured funding for future growth

These projects took the larger part of 2018 to complete. In Q4 we could finally focus on customer acquisition again, resulting in 5 new big clients now testing with BR8.

Satisfied? Not completely. We aimed for €750k. The lead time of the projects mentioned above was, of course, longer than we estimated. And they were all blocking our growth.

Our 2019 goals are:

  • grow at least 100%

  • start developing proprietary software

  • hire ‘nr 3’ in the management team

Thanks for reading and your support in 2018!

BR8 1.0… all systems go

At BR8 we quickly found out that furniture logistics is not only about delivery. Furniture businesses typically outsource their warehousing as well. This makes good sense: furniture is very fragile, you want to minimise the amount of movements to prevent damages. That’s why many specialised furniture delivery companies offer warehousing and delivery in one package.

In practice, this means we don’t cross dock ready-to-go shipments, but we receive bulk shipments from the manufacturer and have to link individual items to the right orders. Because customers usually order a table and chairs, mostly from different manufacturers, BR8 has to monitor when an order is 100% fulfilled in the warehouse and is ready to be shipped to the customer. In the meantime, furniture is safely stored with us.

Despite our best efforts, our excel-sheets quickly gave up managing this for multiple clients, so this summer we set out to find and integrate a Warehouse Management System (WMS). It took a couple of months of searching and another couple of months to integrate it with our delivery tool.

One of the must-have features for this WMS: easy integration with e-commerce platforms.

Finally, yesterday our biggest client connected into the API of our WMS, and we now receive all of their orders automatically. Usually this sort of integration takes a full 1 or 2 weeks of coding and a €10k invoice. This integration set-up took us about 10 mins.

Orders trickling into our WMS

Orders trickling into our WMS

This sort of integration is great, not only because it saves everyone loads of time and reduces human error, it also creates switching cost and locks the client into BR8 for longer period of time. It's frickin' awesome, Mr. Bigglesworth.

Bigger warehouse… done.
WMS… done.
Investment…. done.
BR8 1.0 is finally complete. After two years of ‘building the foundations’ it’s now time to find loads and loads of new customers.

BR8 secures funding from Royalis Investments

Very, very happy and proud to announce that BR8 is partnering up with investor Royalis Investments.

Royalis chooses to invest in BR8 because of our disruptive approach to last mile distribution for large and heavy goods. A segment in logistics that will grow rapidly, as e-commerce penetration for product groups like furniture is still relatively low. BR8 combines a solid business plan with a unique recruitment strategy: 50% of our workforce is hired out of long term unemployment. To do this, BR8 has built an extensive network with local councils, to find these candidates that are ignored by other employers.

In order to make BR8 the new standard in last mile logistics, we strongly believe we need to develop proprietary logistics software. Royalis will support BR8 with the required funding and strategic advice to do this, and to generally help accelerate BR8’s growth.

Of course, an announcement like this can’t go without the typical signing and champagne pictures. So, without further ado:



…and champagne!

…and champagne!

On behalf of all BR8’rs we’d like to thank Royalis for their trust and support in BR8’s future!

New warehouse!

Our 300m2 warehouse was very quickly becoming too small. The result: poor operational performance (lost items, damages) and a block on new customers.

I’m happy to report starting today we moved to a bigger, 1200m2 warehouse. Luckily, we could move to the warehouse right next to the old one. Another advantage: we have an option to expand to the other 1200m2 in the same building.

Impression of the new warehouse

Impression of the new warehouse

Next up: implementing our warehouse management software. Technically it’s finally ready to go, now we need flip the big switch and start migrating existing customers to this new tool.

On track for the 2018 goal

At the start of 2018 we've set a goal for €750k revenue, or 360 deliveries per week in December. To monitor whether BR8 is on track for this goal, we use a very simple linear forecast. 

Last week we delivered 175 invoiced stops (the red line), nicely following the projected growth (blue line). 

2018-04-16 16_32_35-Profit loss prediction model & forecast - Google Spreadsheets.png

It was a very tough week, where both are delivery guys (average shift was 11,5 hours) and our warehouse process was stretched to the max. Coming weeks we're focusing on expanding labour capacity in the warehouse, expanding delivery capacity, and hiring more planning capacity. Necessary to keep tracking that blue line and keep our customers happy. 

Just in time: garden furniture!

A big new client started using BR8 today: Tuinmeubelland.nl. In garden furniture, it is very common that your new set is delivered on a pallet. Up to you, dear customer, to assemble all furniture and get rid of card board and shove the pallet in your wood burner.

BR8 delivers and installs all premium sets (over €1500 order value) We will deliver an estimated 30 sets per week, which would make Tuinmeubelland the biggest client for BR8.

The first delivery for Tuinmeubelland.nl

The first delivery for Tuinmeubelland.nl

This new product group arrived just in time, as we notice that normal furniture is a product group with a strong peak in sales in December and subsequent deliveries in January and February. Garden furniture is nicely plugging the hole in excess capacity. 

The €10k/week barrier

Last week BR8 smashed through the €10k barrier, invoicing €11.290 for 153 deliveries. Profitability was very good, gross margins allowed to pay for the planner (hired through a temp agency), and to pay a (still fictive) management compensation. 

Also good to know, we are neatly performing on forecast to get to 360 deliveries/week by December. This target should get us to €750k revenue for 2018. 

Van nr5 is arriving hopefully next week. Much needed, it's the same week we start with a big garden furniture customer!

Auping, finally!

Today's little celebration: we are finally delivering beds for Auping. This premium brand was a tough sales-nut to crack. It is the biggest bedding brand in the Netherlands, so we hope this will ease the sales process for other bedding brands and retailers. 

The first beds where delivered today at our warehouse. 


The BR8 fleet expands

Last week we added another van to the BR8 fleet. We now have capacity for roughly 180 deliveries a week. It couldn't have arrived sooner: in week 7 we did 131 deliveries, beating the previous record from week 51. 

The current fleet: 4 * 19m3 vans, 1 * 40m3 truck

The current fleet: 4 * 19m3 vans, 1 * 40m3 truck

If our forecast materialises, the end the 2018 there will be 10 BR8-vans. Until now we're right on track. In March we will start delivering high-end beds for a big local retailer, and garden furniture for Tuinmeubelland.nl. Very exciting!

BR8 went viral on LinkedIn

BR8 currently employs about 12 delivery guys. Finding these employees wasn't easy though. While most competitors try to hire the hip, young students to do this work, we have had by far the best experience with a slightly older demographic. Most of these guys had been long term unemployed, for some reason. Because BR8 gives them a real chance for a real job, we experience incredible loyalty and work ethos.

Because it's simply amazing to help people in this way, we decided to make this a social company goal: at least 50% of our drivers come from long term unemployment. However, the 1 or 2 contacts BR8 had within the government (UWV) dried up, and being a bit frustrated with not finding any new candidates, we reached out on LinkedIn.

I told a story about "Jan" who joined us after 6 years of unemployement. Now, half a year later, he has lost about 15kg, renewed his teeth, got his truck license, and last week proposed to his girlfriend. Wow!

It went viral! More the half a million Dutchies, about 3% of the population, read it. We have about a 100 people from various government agencies (UWV, Gemeentes, Werkgevers servicepunt, Wajong, daklozen) emailing us with requests to get in contact.

2018-01-23 08_01_32-(1) Notifications _ LinkedIn.png

We couldn't be more happy. Just a quick post to look for more people for our growing business really hit a note with The Netherlands. And now? We are even more determined to help more people who deserve a chance for a real job. 

Week 51 of 2017: 120 deliveries, €9k revenue.


Maybe we could've been more ambitious this summer, but we decided we at least wanted to double our shipments/week before the end of the year. 120 deliveries a week was the goal.

Last week we did it. Precisely 120 deliveries :)

One of these 120 was one huge project we did for a project furniture business called BigBrands. We delivered all the furniture for a €7M apartment in Amsterdam. Total value of this furniture: €150k. Our revenue from this single delivery: €2k. According to BigBrands, usually traditional moving companies do these kinds of jobs, but are incredibly low tech and thus struggle to do the warehousing (receiving 80 different items) and make progress transparent for the shipper. Conclusion: this could be a very interesting niche to service.

The project plus 119 deliveries resulted in a record smashing €9k revenue and €2k profit. Suddenly €0.5M revenue next year doesn't seem ambitious enough anymore. 

It's starting to look like a company

That magical moment, where you can change your Linkedin company page to "11-50 employees". After about a year of delivering we're now 9 delivery guys, a planner and 2 owners. 

(almost) everyone!

(almost) everyone!

It's only true when it's on Facebook! Happy to announce our first spontaneous review from a recipient. We delivered a sofa for our customer Hoogenboezem:

Today 12/12/2017 my sofa was delivered by two heroes Henk and Michael. They called before to announce their arrival and where there exactly in time. They introduced themselves politely, and worked very quickly but carefully. I just moved to my new house, I’ve had many deliveries from furniture companies, but these guys outperformed all the others. Kind regards, Sonja from The Hague

€100k revenue!

Another milestone: we've reached €100k turnover. If we can keep up the current pace we will end 2017 with about €140k this year. Not bad. Could've been potentially much higher if we would have solved another bottleneck sooner: software. November 8 is the new deadline we will say goodbye to Excel en start using new, decent (but of the shelf) software. 

Week 39: €5k revenue!

Last week we did €5k! That is a quarter of a million a year. Sounds impressive ;) Van nr 3 arrived last Friday. 

With every new customer the amount of 'process variations' increases. We're starting to make the first stupid, unnecessary mistakes. We're rapidly approaching the limits of Excel sheets. Coming weeks we're focusing on implementing new delivery software. Long term I strongly believe we need to build our own back-end to support a flawless, perfect customer journey. 

98.93% damage free

Measured on 1026 deliveries, we've delivered 98,93% damage free. For the nerds - that is a 3.8 sigma score.

We've learned from some of our customers, who run their own logistics as well, that it is not uncommon to have complaints with 25% of your deliveries. I remember similar scores from my time running logistics at Coolblue, delivering white goods. 

Apparently we've found a successful way to manage this. Every Monday, we report to our delivery guys about damages. Not speed, not efficiency, only damages. We think is by far the biggest KPI to create a profitable furniture delivery business.

For the last 6 weeks, we've complimented them for another damage free week. 

Next step: make sure these very hot sales leads learn about this. They might be a bit hesitant to give all their expensive furniture to such a young and inexperienced company. Hopefully 98,93% will draw them over the line.

Delivery density vs gross margin

Last week we did almost €4,5k revenue. We made a gross margin of 17% (€750). That is revenue minus direct cost: labour, diesel, and van operational lease. Very proud and happy about that!

We now drive an average 50 minutes per delivery. That will go down and stabilize around 10min, I suspect. The question is: what will be the gross margin at that density? What kind of gross margin to expect in 3 years' time? We're going to crack this exponential/hyperbolic/logarithmic puzzle in the coming weeks, as it is super relevant for financial projections.