Equipment enlightenment for distributors


When catering equipment suppliers keep training programmes and facilities up to date, this ensures that distributors can go to operators armed with the knowledge that the products they are specifying are the best fit for a particular kitchen.

For instance, First Choice Group company Combico UK, historically a specialist training provider for Rational combi ovens, has installed an 84inch high definition interactive screen with 4k graphics within its training suite over the last 12 months.

“Catering engineers who now attend the course on offer will benefit from intuitive and interactive software, which means that videos, presentations, exploded view diagrams and manufacturer manuals are all displayed and digitally engaging in professional high resolution quality,” said Martin Dagnall, Combico UK’s technical training manager.

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The firm’s website has also undergone major reconstruction to provide users with faster and easier access to vital technical information. The site dynamically reformats its layout so that it is compatible with mobile devices as well as PCs.

Dagnall detailed: “In addition to all of this, as a result of continued growth and development in the business, we now offer training courses for the MKN Flexi Combi featuring the MagicPilot touch and slide operating system.

"With further manufacturers also in the pipeline, the next 12 months are set to be another exciting period of growth and investment for Combico UK.”

In addition to the specialist training suite at the company’s Cannock headquarters, there is the onsite fully serviced live test kitchen, which is available to its customers and partners for any demonstrations, training sessions and practical courses.

The kitchen facility is also fitted with the EnviroPure Food Waste Management System, which receives excess food waste and through a biological process breaks down the waste into a grey water, suitable for drainage. [[page-break]]

As part of the company’s ISO 9001:2008 certification, all of its methods and processes are audited and then adjusted in line with the ISO guidelines to reflect the best practices, as well as in conjunction with customer feedback.

“At the end of our training courses, attendees are encouraged to complete an honest review of their experience. The results are then collated and used to further enhance the training and facilities in line with user requirements and suggestions,” Dagnall explained.

Combico’s expansion is continuing apace, as it has just appointed two new staff members: Andy Lawrence, previously of Granuldisk, as a technical trainer, and Simon Groucutt, who has stepped up from the HR department to become the firm’s dedicated training coordinator.

Rational itself has a strong focus on dealer training too. It recently upgraded its development kitchen to accommodate both dealer and sales team training at its Luton premises.

Investments include a range of Rational units of various specifications, allowing hands-on training and full presentation facilities with new media screens.

According to Lee Norton, MD, Rational UK: “Our enhanced training package is an in-depth process including, functions, benefits and continued training, that offers on-going customer support in partnership with sales and service training.

"We believe our training sets a benchmark in terms of a manufacture and dealers working together, not only to build sales but also to enhance customer satisfaction, by delivering a better service.

“As of January this year, we increased our focus on dealer training, recognising that this is an integral part of a successful sales journey. To work in partnership with our sales teams, dealers need to be knowledgeable of our product and it is important to understand the customers’ needs and requirements.” [[page-break]]

The manufacturer also offers its Rational Deal distributor accreditation programme, which includes enhanced training, support materials and joint marketing activities.

“This is all about helping our dealers maximise their business opportunities through outstanding support. Deal helps them use the unrivalled profile and potency of the Rational brand to grow sales – their commitment to us is to deliver the quality and service that customers associate with the Rational brand,” concluded Norton.

Over at Maidaid, it has used the past few months to develop a dedicated filming area and is creating machine-specific educational videos.

Chris Myhill, Maidaid Halcyon operational director, said: “The ability to show our customers via an online video makes training and support of our machines so much easier.”

The videos will cover everything from cleaning filters to correct operation procedures and end of day cleaning procedures. These will be accessed via the Maidaid website in next few months.

The manufacturer currently offers two types of free training courses at its Brackley headquarters for its distributors’ sales and service personnel.

The first is a sales training course, ‘The Appreciation & Specification of Glass & Dishwashers’, and is run by sales director Julian Lambert. It covers the main aspects and operation of warewashing equipment along with how to specify the correct appliance, the essentials of site surveys, daily maintenance and cleaning down procedures.

The second course is run by technical services manager Wayne Wetton and is for distributors’ service/installation engineers. This includes the necessary information required to install and correctly maintain Maidaid Halcyon equipment. The course is tailored to each set of engineers and hands-on opportunity is available during the day. [[page-break]]

“Training is constantly reviewed by Maidaid Halcyon and feedback actioned to enhance the training experience for others moving forward,” said Lambert.

“Due to the extremely positive feedback we believe we are offering some of the best industry training currently available. With our aim of keeping training very informal and retaining a light and humorous touch we appear to have a winning formula.”

Elsewhere, Falcon Foodservice Equipment has significantly increased the size of its showroom. “Visitors can now actually see and touch the equipment they are looking to buy, in order to get a better understanding of the product,” said Steve Stenhouse, marketing communications manager.

Its sales managers provide on-site demonstrations to show how to use and get the best of particular pieces of equipment, particularly combis, while Neil Roseweir, Falcon’s development chef, visits sites to give demos to larger groups of caterers.

Falcon’s customers can also visit the factory and development kitchen pre- and post-purchase for hands-on training and testing. Furthermore, the company provides a range of literature plus online training videos, and is looking to expand its video content.

Supplier, Jestic, is another firm which has made training investments, as it has just created a 1,500ft2 test kitchen at its head office in Kent.

Product director Michael Eyre detailed: “We regularly update our equipment in order to showcase the very best in our portfolio. Recent projects and investments have included enhanced ventilation, new layouts, designs and improved functionality to ensure our in-house training facility meets the needs of our customers.

“With a modern test kitchen and commitment to training, I would say that the training offered by Jestic is extremely good compared to other manufacturers and suppliers.” [[page-break]]

The supplier is committed to offering full onsite training for the equipment it provides, both upon installation and for potential customers.

“When it comes to specific dealer training, we realise there is the need for consultants, dealers and distributors to have a comprehensive understanding of the equipment they are specifying or selling to their clients,” commented Eyre.

“With this in mind, we regularly hold training days for relevant individuals or groups, taking them through the latest products, developments and unique features on the innovative equipment in our range.”

The past 12 months has seen the training and development team at Jestic put a much greater focus on bespoke training packages which are designed to meet the individual needs of a business or group.

“Whether undertaken at our test kitchen or on-site, we tailor our package to ensure we deliver quality and effective training to meet the needs of the customer. The second big change has been to employ a dedicated member of staff with the sole responsibility for training customers on a single brand in our portfolio,” reported Eyre.

“As part of our review into training, we concluded that working with key industry bodies and associations would enable us to offer more comprehensive support to the likes of dealers and distributors.

"As a result, Jestic has put emphasis on events such as the CESA Heavy Equipment Forum, a yearly event specifically designed to allow manufacturers/suppliers to interact with dealer teams and key sales field personnel. This is something we have found to be very successful and something we would envisage continuing to be part of in the future.” [[page-break]]

At Ali Group brand Carpigiani, its UK division offers three dedicated training facilities around the UK. The ice cream machine manufacturer’s UK head office and development kitchen in Hereford provides a hub for its training programme.

“This offers the opportunity for individuals and groups to work closely with one of our experts to better understand our range, to develop bespoke recipes or packages for their establishment or to gain a wider understanding of how to produce authentic artisan gelato, while a development kitchen in London and a satellite kitchen in Edinburgh complete our nationwide training facility,” said Scott Duncan, sales director at Carpigiani UK.

The firm’s training focus over the past 6 months has been on the opening of a new development kitchen in Park Royal, London.

“Something that has been planned for a number of years, the development kitchen is a long term investment for Carpigiani UK and will support those from London in the South East working in ice cream, pastry, restaurant or hotels, while also providing a useful tool for dealers and distributors looking to learn more about our products. As a company, we’ve already invested over £100,000 in the development of the site in London alone,” explained Duncan.

Taking inspiration from the brand’s global training base, the Gelato University in Bologna, Italy, the UK division takes a segment of the course, turning it into a one day seminar/taster session once a month in the three training locations around the country.

“Aimed both at end users and at dealers and distributors, the course takes a close look at our product range, giving dealers the opportunity to develop their knowledge in order to provide customers with a comprehensive service, and allowing end-users a base to start producing quality ice cream,” Duncan said.

Additionally, the company has started to offer on-site training and opening day support as standard across the UK.

“As a machine manufacturer, we’ve committed to not only supplying the technology and hardware but also the knowledge and theory behind making wonderful, authentic gelato. This includes marketing and store design for those who may need such a service,” commented Duncan.

“We see ourselves as offering much more of a consultative sales approach which combines investment with full training and education.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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