What started as a joke between a few friends who, one summer decided to take the Aussie colloquialism ‘Budgy Smuggler’ and stamp it on the back of some speedo-style swim trunks, was never intended to grow into one of Australia’s most recognisable swimwear brands.

But now, the fun loud prints of Budgy Smuggler are everywhere come summer, even spotted on the soccer, rugby and football fields. With flagship stores in Bondi and Manly, satellite offices in England and France, and an expanding global workforce of thirty smugglers, the laid-back essence of Budgy Smuggler required a shift. A new work operating model that supports growth and international expansion whilst safeguarding existing operations and the supply chain was critical to achieving long-term brand success.

Transparency from the top down and right back to the top is paramount for success

To improve business operations, Budgy Smuggler decided to utilise technology to its full capacity. Initiatives like monday.com, the  low code-no code work management platform, , were implemented to gain visibility into all areas of the business ranging from supply chain management to sales, marketing and more.

Visibility and accountability across the business’s entire operating model gave Budgy Smugglers leadership team insight into existing and potential cracks or holes, allowing solutions to be implemented before significant challenges arose. The brand’s tagline is to keep it honest, and with a centralised working system that motto is brought to life.

Now, business strategy and objectives both locally and globally are directly translated into trackable, monthly goals, keeping the entire team honest. Every week managers and team members update their progress so the entire team has visibility into how their actions tie into the broader strategy.

By simply streamlining business operations, removing information silos and simplifying workflows, Budgy Smuggler has saved $86,179 in productive work and 2,561 hours of employee time per month. The impact of this work is felt both internally and externally, with the improvement of the customer experience generating stronger brand trust and satisfaction and members of the team operating with a sense of ownership over company goals.

Using organisational visibility to juggle workloads and deadlines

Data is paramount to long-term business success, especially when juggling multiple deadlines, tasks and objectives across numerous countries. Insights generated from monday.com allowed Budgy Smuggler to scale sustainably especially in the last six months by increasing the brand’s international footprint, marked by the opening of a new French office. This step was underpinned by analysis with France now Budgy Smugglers’ third largest market behind only Australia and the United Kingdom.

Visibility has proved pivotal to generating company-wide accountability, particularly with offices and employees located around the globe. Detailed boards track and manage the workflows of each team and partner including designers and manufacturers to keep customer orders on track. This process ensures individual suppliers and designers are not overloaded and deadlines are not missed. 

Beyond streamlined work operations, having access to custom dashboards that display data in an easily digestible format has had a major impact on the way business decisions are made. The approach used to be far more casual, almost shooting from the hip. Now, each decision is far more structured based on historic business insights and projections. With this new way of working, the Budgy Smuggler team has ensured every ball being juggled, ranging from local brand growth to international expansion and office openings, remains on track and in line with business timelines and goals.

Brand expansion with a sustainable growth mindset

With transparency and accountability at the core of business operations, additional brand offerings including custom swimwear orders became better managed. The popularity and importance of this feature for consumers underscored the need to advance the function in a format sustainable for designers, staff and partners without impacting the existing supply chain and seasonal collections.

In the early stages with only 10-15 custom orders a week, the process was simple with a spreadsheet doing the job. But as orders increased, managing customer data and product information from one spreadsheet with a  global workforce proved increasingly difficult. The need for a proper platform to manage each stage of the journey was clear.

Once the physical production process for custom orders was simplified with sales pipelines, customer contacts, projects and more run through one central platform instead of multiple manual spreadsheets, teams were positioned to manage expansion, growth and profitability sustainably. The shift in workflows allowed the volume of custom design orders processed per week to increase from roughly 20-30 to 80-130, leaving more bridal parties, sports clubs, businesses and charities happier with their custom budgies.

Moving in alignment locally and abroad

Navigating business acceleration and expansion by embracing a streamlined approach to operations can propel retail businesses out of the day-to-day admin, leaving more time for impactful work and customer needs.

Budgy Smuggler alone has generated a 53x return on its technology investment since implementing monday.com as its central platform. With each department and employee working toward an aligned business management strategy through streamlined work functions, the Budgy Smuggler workforce continues to follow its business growth pathway and achieve its goals both here in Australia and abroad.

Nathan Linforth is operations manager and strategist at Budgy Smuggler & Gavin Watson is senior retail industry lead at monday.com.