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The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF)

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is the only organisation that represents and protects the interests of builder’s merchants, plumbing, heating, roofing, decorative and timber merchants and their suppliers in the UK and Ireland. We are the authoritative voice for the building materials distribution sector, conveying the views and issues that face merchants and suppliers, to the widest possible audience.

Total membership on 1 January 2021 stands at 760 member companies who together have combined sales of £38bn and employ over 190,000 people in the building materials industry. BMF’s 397 merchant members operate from over 5,745 branches across the UK and Ireland.

The BMF is the active hub of merchant and supplier activity in the UK, working closely with allied industry groups and regulatory bodies such as trading standards and planning departments, to ensure that issues affecting member merchants and suppliers are tackled promptly and effectively. The BMF is an active lobbyist with local and central government in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and has an impressive track record of achievements.

The Challenge

A cornerstone of the BMF’s member offering is an extensive programme of training which needs a blended approach of traditional classroom methods and online learning. Courses span specialist topics bespoke to the merchant audience alongside compliance, sales, skills, and management training. This core catalogue then needs to be accessible across a diverse membership range spanning large national brands such Travis Perkins through to family-owned businesses operating from a single branch. Any solution had to deliver a core experience which could be offered to smaller business under the BMF branded banner whilst offering larger businesses their own branded experience with increased functionality, customisation, and scalability.

The Solution

To meet their exacting needs the BMF asked Totara Partner Cortexa to develop an extended enterprise LMS solution which would provide multi-tenant access catering for the varied needs of their entire membership.

After demonstrating the extensive feature list and scalability of Totara Learn the BMF management team were quickly convinced of its suitability. However, to simplify its vast array of options it was agreed that members should be offered a streamlined three tier system from which to choose.

Smaller businesses would access a fixed catalogue of courses under a BMF branded experience, whilst those selecting higher tiers would deliver their own branded experience which would extend into areas such as creating and curating their own personalised course catalogue.

To match this approach the course catalogue was itself segmented for ease of selection. It was agreed that a core number were to be provided across all tiers but then complimentary bundles of learning would be offered separately. This method would avoid decision inertia and provide cost effective packages with easy administration and billing.

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The Results

Launching back in October 2020 the Totara multi-tenant extended enterprise solution has proved a complete success. Members were quick to embrace the three-tier system available with those selecting the upper tiers have already begun to customise their experiences and explore the features available from such a comprehensive extended enterprise platform.

“We have worked in partnership with Cortexa ever since our training programme moved online. They have continued to offer the best experience and support to both ourselves and our members. Ensuring that our learning platform and course catalogue continues to reflect the high standards we set across every aspect of the member experience we offer.”- Richard Ellithorne Membership Services Director, Builders Merchant Federation.