Buying consortium ENSE recently celebrated its fifth anniversary in the UK as part of its spring conference at the Hilton London Wembley Hotel. Catering Insight caught up with UK MD, Bob Adams, to find out how the group has grown so quickly and what its future direction will be:
Did you expect the consortium to be in its current situation when you began in the UK?
Did we see the consortium having the impact that it has had? Absolutely. We knew we had a good business model, one that both distributors and suppliers could benefit from. What we didn’t know was the players and most importantly the culture. At the beginning there were so many challenges just to be able to speak to people, as I often was stopped at the reception phone of each business. That changed over time as ENSE built its reputation as a business with integrity.
Did we see the size of the organisation being as big as it is? It’s easy to say ‘of course, we saw that’, but the truth is that one starts with a vision, not an end point. To say we saw it being x number of suppliers or distributors is not entirely accurate, but to say we saw it having a good strong set of suppliers and distributors where everyone benefits, that would be true. We had no idea how long it would take or who would comprise the distributor and supplier listings, but we knew that if we offered the correct terms and benefits, that our industry would embrace the concept.
Have you seen an increase in dealer members using ENSE suppliers for projects?
It seems like every day we are reading a new story or receiving an email where a distributor has used more ENSE suppliers on their projects. This is due to the ever increasing strength of the relationship that the two partners are developing.
What have been the benefits dealers or suppliers have reported to you by being part of ENSE?
On the supplier side, they report a huge benefit as being able to meet with decision makers twice a year. Our semi annual conferences provide the perfect forum to be able to make deals, solve problems, exchange ideas and strengthen relationships. ENSE is the only organisation that offers this to suppliers, so they love it.
Another exclusive benefit they receive is our marketing effort. We produce a brochure, free to the suppliers, where they can advertise their items. This brochure, over printed with the distributor’s name and logo, has been distributed to over 30,000 end customers in the last 12 months. The suppliers have told us repeatedly that no other business offers this benefit to them, and they find it very valuable to their marketing efforts.
Additionally, the suppliers really enjoy our training days. We have training three to four times a year where the suppliers can train distributor sales people on their products. This has proven to boost sales immediately, as the sales person immediately is armed with knowledge that helps them sell on the streets. We have a waiting list of suppliers wanting to participate in these events, as it’s a very efficient way to reach their target audience.
Lastly, and most importantly, is the growth of their market share. We have example after example of how business has doubled, tripled and sometimes quadrupled over the course of a couple of years for our suppliers. The ultimate reason any supplier signs up is to be able to grow their turnover. They have proven over the 5 years that our scheme is the best at doing exactly that.
From a distributor’s perspective, many times we hear them say that it has increased their ability to purchase from suppliers. Often suppliers never reached them or did not know how to approach them. Being able to meet face to face has definitely improved the ability to buy from certain suppliers. Coat-tailing on that benefit is the fact that the distributor’s purchasing power has helped them achieve better discounts and retros that they would not have earned as a small business.
Distributors also enjoy the training and the brochures as well, as all these items help their sales people become better prepared, offer more professional presentations and ultimately sell more kit.
The most talked about benefit is the retrospective rebate. When part of ENSE, the distributor receives 100% of the rebate they earn. ENSE passes every penny on to them, plus they have the ability to earn money from ENSE directly as well. We believe this makes us unique in the UK where every bit of retro is passed along to the distributors.