It is 12 pm at the Central Business District (CBD) on a weekday - lunchtime for most office workers. But not for one group at the OUE Downtown Gallery along Shenton Way.
Instead, they are standing face to face with a 4.2-metre high rock wall that measures 30 metres across - about the length of two buses. Decked out in sportswear, with chalk-bags strapped around their waists, they get ready to scale the wall.
Welcome to Boulder Movement, a month-old climbing gym and the first of its kind in the CBD. Founded by a team of three avid climbers – Lwee Jia Wei, Jansen Ko, and Joe Fu – who decided to turn passion into business, it offers a fuss-free climbing experience catered towards the working crowd who are too busy for long workouts.
"Climbing is a very intense sport. You can really get a workout in a short time, which is very in line with time starved, busy executives working in the area," said Jia Wei, 30. He has a decade of climbing experience.
Since opening, the company has employed a range of digital applications to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly.
Jia Wei explained that as a lean team – the gym has only six full-timers – the founders knew that automating business processes will help them focus on their core task of providing good service to gym-goers.
One of the first things they did was to look for solutions to help them reach that aim. UOB BizSmart, a cloud-based business solution with digital applications tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises, stood out.
Jia Wei is responsible for setting up the system, choosing the software, and training the team to use it.
From left: Lwee Jia Wei, 30, has been an avid climber for more than a decade. Earlier this year, he and two partners took the plunge to launch the central business district's first climbing gym; Time and energy saved from doing nitty gritty work is channeled into providing a curated climbing experience and growing the Boulder Movement brand.
Going digital is a time saver and allows the company to avoid logistical nightmares. With 9 part-timers to manage, the team relies on two types of software – HReasily and Deputy – to settle paychecks and create work schedules with ease.
At Boulder Movement, taking a few days off work and collecting your dues has never been easier. HReasily automates the payroll and leave-taking process, and easily calculates CPF statements for the staff.
"Any misunderstanding on the amount of leave and benefits is avoided, making for better communications within the team" said Jia Wei.
With Deputy, an employee management software, assigning shift work is a breeze. It allows business owners to publish work shifts to employees, who indicate if they can take up that particular job.
"The feature to open up job slots to everyone definitely saves time compared to calling up individuals to see if they're able to fill the slot," shared Jia Wei, adding that it allows the founders to focus on growing the business instead of being tied down by daily operations.
From Left: With Deputy, scheduling of 15 staff on weekly roster is made easy and if a staff is unable to come at the last minute, a replacement can be found swiftly; Xero's dashboard allows the owners to monitor transactions made through their UOB business account and keep manual data entry to a minimum.
To keep track of the company's numbers, he uses Xero, an accounting software. Xero is integrated with the company's UOB business account, and generates invoice payment reminders automatically. This greatly reduces any chances of human error, making it easier to balance the books.
The software, shared Jia Wei, is much more efficient than relying on manual calculations. At the same time, going digital means the company can also easily get updated numbers of the company revenue.
From what I understand of traditional businesses, if you want to know your revenue today, you ask your accountant and your accountant asks for two weeks to compile a report.
Two weeks later, the numbers would have changed by then. You are forever chasing that rabbit.
To manage Boulder Movement's retail section, which sells climbing gear such as shoes and chalk bags, the team uses Vend, a cloud-based point-of-sales (POS) software.
The retail staff do not have to worry about merchandise running out – the app automatically reminds them to restock if numbers are low. Vend also tracks and updates the store's inventory whenever a sale is made.
Jia Wei added that the app is especially handy for tracking climbing shoes, as they come in different sizes. It is easier to keep track of what sizes the store lacks.
"Knowing which of our products are popular and having real-time revenue updates are important for a small business such as ours, so that we can make sound business decisions based on accurate and updated data," he said.
The seamless exchange of data between the apps also helps tremendously when it comes to crunching numbers from each section.
The numbers tally all the time between the accounts and retail side. We don't have to wait for manual data as the numbers are flowing between the platforms.
With staff using both Android phones and iPhones, having cross-platform functionality is a major convenience. Teaching the staff how to use Vend has been a smooth process as well, he added.
"The software is very intuitive to use and it's easy to train the part-time crew. They're picking up quite fast."
The team at Boulder Movement has no regrets about fully automating their work processes. It is now considering franchising the business, and possibly opening more gyms at other locations.
"Once the processes were all set up, I could imagine the inefficiencies we might have to deal with had we used a more traditional system where you need to do data entry every day," he said.
"The important data of the business was always at our fingertips."