Much of dealers’ focus tends to be concentrated on specification and installation of catering equipment, but to truly deliver customer satisfaction to foodservice operators, it is important to excel in after-sales as well. Many warewashing manufacturers in particular pride themselves on providing good servicing support, so how can these suppliers work with distributors to offer the best after-sales care?
At Hobart UK, sales director Tim Bender believes: “With regards to after-sales, Hobart’s ‘training for life’ – applicable across our portfolio – really sets us apart from our competitors and gives our dealer partners something unique to offer to their customers.
“Training needs to be offered to get new staff up to speed on best practice, helping avoid costly breakdowns, which can be brought on by seemingly innocuous things like incorrect loading of baskets. We commit to providing after-sales operator training on any piece of Hobart equipment for its entire life – we have found this to be particularly welcomed across the industry where staff turnover is notoriously high and understanding the correct operation of equipment is vital for reliable and efficient operation.”
He added: “Whilst carrying out training, our experienced sales team may identify and report back basic issues with the equipment such as a lack of chemicals, salt for the softener or missing components i.e., curtains, wash arm plugs, all of which affect the wash performance and results and potentially the life expectancy of the equipment. This type of value-added outreach is therefore both unique to the sector, and crucial for the smooth running of busy kitchens.”
Over at Maidaid, it provides free distributor training courses to educate them in the correct operation and maintenance required for the brand’s machines. Sales director Robert Wager said: “This can then be passed down by the distributor to the end user and in turn reduce machine downtime. Maidaid Halcyon has prepared a range of simple single page guides for distribution to end users.”
He emphasised: “Our unmatched technical support and sales support, from a team whose knowledge base is second-to-none in the catering sector, is an invaluable asset to our clients. We are able to provide fast and efficient support on our range of machines to assist our customers.
“It’s imperative that our customer experience should not suffer during these unprecedented times – keeping businesses going is already hard enough. Maidaid has a fully-trained, nationwide service network, all of whom can be relied upon to offer reliable, expert advice on the correct machine for the correct job.”
Furthermore, Maidaid’s offering is backed up by sister companies, Crystaltech Services, which has engineers covering the UK, and spares specialist, Caterparts, which offers next day delivery and technical support.
In terms of technology employed to deliver a quality service, Wager feels: “Not only are we at the forefront of catering technology, we have put our customers at the heart of our business. A few years back, Maidaid invested in a comprehensive CRM package, this has been developed and enhanced over the years to enable us to provide second-to-none after-sales service and support to our customers.”
Meiko is another brand synonymous with a comprehensive after-sales offering. UK MD Paul Anderson detailed: “Meiko’s team of customer service operators provide person to person support for distributors. They have many years’ experience and are trained to deal with the most demanding of service requests and problems – morning, noon, night, weekends and public holidays. Person to person support is available: 08.00 to 18.00 Monday to Friday and 08.30 to 13.00 at weekends.”
Meiko UK’s senior engineers provide a dedicated training service for distributor engineers, which can be onsite or at the firm’s own training facility in Slough. It has also developed ‘train-the-trainer’ seminars to provide the most in-depth assistance.
The Slough HQ also regularly hosts – pre- and post-Covid – open training sessions where engineers from all over the UK can learn, while remote training or social distancing at site have assisted delivery during the pandemic period. Additionally, Meiko offers distributor education trips to its factory in Germany.
Anderson underlined: “Distributors may find a technical issue that they cannot solve, and in the event of these unusual circumstances, direct technical diagnostic support from the factory provides rapid and expert assistance to determine the fault.
“More help for dealers is available via Meiko’s ‘added value’ sales and technical service packages.”
In terms of access to spares, all distributor engineers carry the top 200 required parts for Meiko’s undercounter and hood machines. According to Anderson: “This is part of the reason Meiko UK and its distributor partners have a 94% first time fix rate.
“Not all warewashing suppliers do this, but Meiko will effect a first-time fix on behalf of partner distributors within 8 working hours or face a financial penalty. Our 7-day call handling means we can despatch engineers weekdays and weekends, so a dealer knows he can get a Meiko engineer to attend urgent calls.”
He concluded: “Meiko’s focus on distributor support is what separates Meiko UK from our competitors and it is one of the key building blocks of our business and our reputation.
“Training and technical services support and transparent pricing are key to developing long-lasting working relationships with distributor partners based on the virtue of mutual trust.”
Elsewhere, Sammic emphasised it helps dealers with its ‘ever-developing’ website, including high resolution videos for both sales and general fault finding, as well as offering quarterly training days. Service manager Les Starling said: “We have a hugely experienced team at Sammic, not least in the warewash field along with the dedication and commitment to support sales and after-sales. We can assist with site surveys, commissioning and providing around the clock technical support. Our working relationship and input with our head office’s R&D to the manufacturing plant is substantial, meaning our understanding and technical support is always at its highest level.”
Starling detailed that his team is always reachable, explaining: “We offer contact numbers and e-mail addresses that will respond regardless of day and time to give help and advice. With the recent present trying times, with restrictions and lockdowns, we have still been able to provide online consultation, general advice, distribution and technical advice when needed which we are very proud of and thank all of our team and customers.”
In terms of digital expertise deployed to assist with after-sales support, Sammic appliances are Bluetooth-enabled, and are able to store vital information, which allows the manufacturer’s engineers to give technical assistance to establish the usage of the machine including the amount of hours used and whether the unit has been put under stress from misuse or failure.
Starling added: “We are introducing QR codes to all of our products that will enable customers and technical personnel to scan on their smartphone which will enable them to download all details of the machine including model, serial number, exploded views, wiring diagrams and parts lists.”
For Pentland Wholesale, it offers full warranty support for its range of Blizzard commercial glass and dishwashers. Technical director Andy Threlfall detailed: “This is managed by our own dedicated service department who will take control of any after-sales issues and will contact the end user directly. Our service department will manage any repairs and ensure the customer is fully happy with the unit and report back to the dealer. Pentland Wholesale carries an extensive stock of spare parts for our models to reduce any downtime should any parts fail; we also stock additional glass and dishwasher baskets.”
He continued: “We feel that our customer support is one of the best in the UK. We have a dedicated team of service support personnel who are fully conversant with our products, and our trained technicians are on hand to support any customer or dealer with technical advice relating to our products.”
Pentland’s product philosophy is that simpler is better, with Threlfall underlining: “Far too often, cutting-edge technology comes at increased cost, not only in the initial purchase but also in repairs after the warranty has elapsed. The theory behind our Blizzard range of glass and dishwashers is simplicity: we use traditional electromechanical controls, with a proven track record for reliability. Keeping things simple ensures that the unit is easier to operate and to repair should a problem occur. Spare parts outside the warranty period are affordable, ensuring that the unit can have many years of use with relatively lower repair costs.”
Sweden-headquartered Wexiödisk has a large network of authorised UK service partners, all of which have undergone comprehensive training. According to UK and Ireland country manager David Glover: “This is why our customers can be confident that their warewasher is in the very best hands and that an experienced and skilled engineer is just a phone call away.”
These partners carry out emergency service cases, warranty cases, preventative maintenance and also provide operators with an annual review of their Wexiödisk machine.
Glover continued: “Customer satisfaction is our upmost priority at Wexiödisk, and within the UK we pride ourselves on the aftercare services that we continue to provide. Our partnerships with First Choice Group and Crystaltech mean that we have dedicated specialists for both our warranty and servicing, as well as our spare parts provisions. This means that our customers are able to quickly access any necessary spares with ease and we can offer the very best comprehensive service and warranty packages.”
He concluded: “Working directly with dealers and end users, we respond to any queries instantaneously and get these resolved as soon as possible. It is important to us that we stay true to our ethos and continue our hands-on, personal approach as we continue to grow in the UK.”
Over at Winterhalter UK, its service division MD Kieran Lynch outlined a clear purpose: “Our vision is to become the ‘Best in Class’ warewash service provider in the UK, and we will only achieve this vision by forming partnerships with dealer organisations. Our goals are to reduce breakdowns and the associated downtime, extend the life of our machines and ensure that our machines deliver fantastic results.
“It’s all about working with the dealers and the end users. It’s about education, training and coaching. It’s about good housekeeping and care for the machines. We need to be in it together to get great results.”
The brand’s service engineers do this by offering dealers support and advice on machine operation, and give guidance covering best practice and maintenance, which they can pass on to their customers. Lynch explained: Often our engineers will double up with dealer staff to visit a site. We also offer comprehensive training to dealers, either at our HQ in Milton Keynes, where we have machines and training facilities set up, or at their sites.”
He believes: “Our own highly trained service team means that we can offer exceptional dealer and customer support. Alongside our market-leading machines, we also manufacture warewashing chemicals that are specifically formulated to work with our products. The combination of machine, chemicals and service means that we are the only manufacturer who can provide a total warewash solution that guarantees hygiene and delivers outstanding wash results.”
Modern Winterhalter machines come complete with Connected Wash to allow remote monitoring and to check operation. The technology allows dealers to do the same – so they can manage their own ‘estate’ of machines. Monitoring performance and usage via the Winterhalter portal, it’s possible for dealers to offer advice to their customers: for example, to warn them if they are low or out of chemicals, letting them know if staff are not closing machines down properly at the end of the day, and so on.
Lynch revealed: “We recently launched an online registration for warranty details, so that customers can register their details directly with us. This means dealers don’t have to get bogged down with the complexities of warranty and they can concentrate on doing what they do best. We then work with dealers to ensure that the customer gets the best possible service support in the event of a warranty claim.”
Catering Insight asked many key warewashing suppliers what their warranty offerings are, and the following detailed their provisions:
Maidaid: Varying periods of warranty, with differing levels as selected by the distributor customer.
Meiko: The German brand’s UK branch provides distributors with additional warranty free of charge. The cost is absorbed by Meiko UK and in effect its Group 1 undercounter and pass-through models now come complete with 2 years manufacturer’s parts and labour warranty.
Pentland Wholesale: 12 months full warranty with all the Blizzard range of glass- and dishwashers, with an option of a parts-only warranty should the dealer wish to support the customer themselves.
Sammic: Varying from back to base to 2 years and with the possibility of extended warranties on request at time of purchase.
Wexiödisk: All machines have a 12-month standard warranty, except for the WD-4S, which is 2 years. This can be extended subject to a small cost and service.