There has been much change at AutoQuotes UK lately, following its rebrand from CaterQuotes, new product launches and the arrival of Rob Gibson at the helm of the firm. We caught up with the new MD to see what direction the design and quotation platform is taking:
How have you found your first weeks as AutoQuotes UK MD?
I knew before I joined AQ UK that we had such a great team and my first few weeks have only further confirmed it. When you think about AutoQuotes you think about what a game-changer it is in the industry. I knew AQ was a company with an eye on innovation and a critical player to how our industry operates, but I am amazed to look behind the scenes and see this in action every day. We have so much we can offer the industry; we really are just getting started.
Has your arrival changed the personnel structure?
I join a fantastic team already in place that is very knowledgeable about AQ and passionate about our customers and the industry. We want to channel even more of our positive energy to improve upon every interaction we have with our customers and prospective customers. My role is not only to grow the business but to provide support and guidance to the team to further enhance our customer support and engagement initiatives – that’s what having a customer-centric philosophy is all about.
How do you think the recent rebrand will benefit dealers, suppliers and AQ itself?
The name change was really a formality for the team as the UK have always had the support of the US team and many of our customers have been working across our teams for several years. Customers will feel the immediate impact of this change in the form of more communication from us, improved resources like educational webinars, and increased product development and services that are more in alignment with the US. Case in point, the recent release of AQ GO, our new mobile app which launched for all our customers.
How is the backing of your US head office helping AQ?
Both teams have always worked in tandem to support our customers – it was time the name was reflective of that. The investment from Luminate Capital Partners is fuelling our growth globally and is focused on increased services, products and helping to connect the various parts of the catering industry. The biggest difference for our customers is that we have a renewed focus on wanting to create the tools they need to simplify and enhance their business practices. For instance and most recently, we worked together to introduce AQ’s CAD and Revit content creation service for manufacturers in the UK.
Why has AQ moved more towards joining up design and quotation processes?
We launched AQ Designer in 2011 in the US and brought the Designer Plug-In for CAD to the UK in the last year based on customer demands. AQ product development is driven by the needs of the market and it’s clear that design is no longer an add-on service for many of our customers – many end users require a design during the bid process. Our response to design’s continued importance to our customers is to expand on our current AQ Design Solutions suite with the addition of a Revit Plug-In. We will also release the AQD 2020 later this year which will include many enhancements to better support the needs of not just consultants and designers but for dealers who want to offer design services. The industry requires continued progress and our goal is to focus is to listen to our customer to drive product development – that’s who AutoQuotes is.
Which type of firm has bought into the AQ platform model more, dealers or suppliers?
What makes AQ unique is that we are a solution for all channels – manufacturers, dealers, distributors, etc. The AQ platform facilitates communication and simplifies business processes for and between manufacturers, dealers, consultants to help connect the industry. We have nearly 200 manufacturers currently publishing over 100,000 products which are accessed by more than 1,000 subscribers licensed in AQ. We understand the unique position we are in thanks to our broad customer base and as such, are looking forward to creating more opportunities to bring the industry closer and drive more progress.
Do you feel that dealers and suppliers understand the full breadth of services you provide?
This is a key area of focus for our team. Everything about AQ is geared towards making life easier, saving time and creating more revenue for your business. From a manufacturer’s point of view, we can put onto our library just about any product or marketing detail required – including videos, spec sheets, brochures, CAD and Revit files. We are connecting with our manufacturers to make sure they are optimising their published content to best position their products in AQ. Subscribers have access to a vast array of features within the software – many of which we know are underutilised and could improve efficiency within the tool, like analytics to track your pipeline and activity as well as design. We are working now to focus on increasing educational resources like live monthly webinars and in-house training sessions to help our customers get the maximum value out of AQ.
Can you give any hints as to what launches and updates are coming?
On the immediate horizon is AQ Insight, a reporting platform for manufacturers available later this year that will provide them with the information they need to understand how their products are performing, the 2020 AQ Designer Solutions launch which will include the Revit Plug-In and AQ SKU which allows dealers to automatically upload product inventory on the platform. The product and development teams are always making feature improvements to enhance the usability of AQ.
What is AQ UK’s business strategy, going forward?
Quite simply, our strategy is to continue to be the industry’s most comprehensive solution available to foodservice industry professionals. That happens with innovative product development, productive partnerships and most importantly, investing in our customer’s success.
How do you see the company developing over the next few years?
We will continue to listen to our customers and develop solutions that solve their problems. We know we might not be able to build everything and in these instances, we will look towards partnerships or acquisitions to grow our portfolio of product offerings for the foodservice industry. We want to be a catalyst for progress in the industry and we can’t do this without keenly listening and learning from our customers.