There are changes afoot at Hobart Service. Following the warewash and cooking solutions divisions’ strong swing towards dealer channel business over the last few years, the servicing arm is ensuring it incorporates that focus into its DNA.
The main result of the overhaul is a new partnership with dealer buying consortium Cedabond, to enable its members to offer long-term servicing packages on Hobart equipment, using Hobart Services’ resources.
Three levels of service package are being offered which allow dealers “to talk to the end user about the way they want to budget”, according to Hobart Service sales director, Louise Plant. Covering planned inspections up to an all-inclusive service, all offerings feature access to a specific hotline and dedicated email address. “Dealers can call us and receive a priority response,” she detailed. “We are offering them an extra tool for them to sell Hobart equipment.”
Both Hobart and Cedabond believe this will benefit Cedabond members who are on the smaller side of the scale but still want to be able to offer a repair and maintenance capability. According to Plant: “They will be able to take advantage of our UK-wide 161-person technical team. When Cedabond members are selling Hobart products they can discuss with end users if they have considered the planned inspections that the machine will need. Effectively the dealers will own it and we will help them deliver it.”
While Phil Martin, Cedabond’s executive director, said: “Our members will have access to this massive resource. We are really pleased Hobart has chosen us to launch through. We try to be the best in class so we surround ourselves with the best suppliers who, like our members, are financially stable.
“This is about Hobart Service supporting catering equipment distributors, who have never been made this offer by anybody before. The infrastructure is ready and we can see the work increasing gradually. We are going to cherry-pick certain members we think would benefit most – some will already employ engineers and others won’t. It’s an educational process and I am confident it can be delivered.
“The Hobart alliance is very important to Cedabond because it is the only supplier to have been with us since day one, 41 years ago. It has been absolutely loyal.”
Plant agreed: “It’s a strong alliance – we have created this offering through teamwork. It was natural that this was where we engaged first because of the success with our warewash and cooking divisions. The flow-through to the market is through dealers. We have to engage with them, to offer them a revenue opportunity that is backed by our resource.”
Martin feels the timing of the launch is particularly pertinent too: “In light of Brexit, end users are more likely to want to repair equipment than buy new for about a 2 year period.”
Plant reported that this feeling is reflected in what Hobart Service has been hearing from end users, and the resulting data analysis. “We are having conversations with some large consumers about achieving lifecycle,” she said. “They are getting more risk averse and they want to know budgeted costs.”
In terms of the contrast to general servicing companies’ offerings, she explained: “We have a fundamental difference with the strategic intent – I ensured we took a deep dive into understanding what drives each of our competitors. We are unique in that we are firmly aligned with a manufacturer and we are the single largest field force out there specialising in catering equipment. Another element we are passionate about is we exclusively fit OEM parts.
“We are highly trained and we have very defined social responsibility and ethical environmental policies that drive everything we do. That means a lot to large corporate end users. Distributors can benefit from that continual knowledge transfer within the business, as part of our parent company ITW’s global day-to-day running. Cedabond members can utilise us knowing that we won’t let them down.”
To get to this point, Hobart Service has gone through a large period of reorganisation. According to Plant: “We had to understand who we had most meaning to for the commercial aspect of our existence and that’s dealers. Our organisation has now been restructured, with regional teams that live in their local areas, effectively.”
This encompasses technical specialists in various disciplines, managed by team leaders and regional service managers. Recent joiner Mark Whitmarsh, technical operations manager, heads this up, reporting to new operations director, Christian Hampshire, as well as Plant, who herself only joined a year ago, with the whole division now led by MD Keith Mackie. “It has been a period of coming in, learning and understanding for all of us,” she commented. “We’ve spent time challenging processes, carrying out personal development and appraisals, and changing roles where necessary.
“Now there is a buzz about the place and a passionate feel coming through. We always had a great technical front end, we just need to shout about it more.
“Our number one objective is to give best in class warranty support for Hobart products, then following close behind that is the commercial direction of the business, where we can also offer support for third party equipment. Our engineers have a deep understanding of warewashing and cooking appliances.”
The overhaul also took in changing Hobart Service’s supply chain solutions, enabling next day parts ordering to be made later in the day, and revamping the onsite engineer training centre at its Peterborough headquarters.
Plant concluded: “Dealer support through Hobart is not just through warewashing and cooking, it’s through service too. We now understand what we want to be.”