Greg Fisher, senior vice president for service and parts sales for BUNN, a service provider for various industries, says that when convenience store retailers are choosing a well-qualified service provider, they should keep a few things in mind:
They should consider that the company they choose that will be able to take care of all their business needs, will be able to put together mutually agreed upon service level agreements (SLAs); and that they’ll be transparent about pricing.
But the first and main question a regional or national c-store operator should ask is if the service entity is equipped to handle all of the operator’s locations. “Having a single point of contact or a one-stop shop for all your service needs is a very good thing for many, many reasons,” Fisher says. “You want to make sure you’re talking to someone who can handle your needs regardless of location or geographic disbursement.”
Equipped for the job
In tandem with managing a retailer’s various units, the vendor needs to be able to handle all the pieces of equipment a c-store needs maintained. Beverage equipment might include coffee, espresso, fountain machines, cold beverages, water filtration, ice makers and ovens. “You have to understand the scope of what you want the service provider to handle,” Fisher says. “Preferably, they should handle it with their own people or a combination of their own people and vetted, qualified third parties.”
Fisher emphasizes the importance of a provider using as many of their own people as possible. “Having your own certified network helps you in many ways,” he points out. “You can execute quicker, do it at lower cost and the first-time fix rate is higher.”
Education is critical, he adds. Field service engineers (FSEs) from the service company should go through certification training and be authorized to do the work by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), he says.
Accessibility is also key. The service provider should have a call center that handles a c-store retailer’s needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and from anywhere in the United States or North America. Preferably, the provider’s own people should be fielding the calls. “That’s best in class,” Fisher says. For example, BUNN now offers a national service program known as BUNNserve®. BUNNserve professionally manages uptime of BUNN equipment as well as most other dispensed beverage brands. It includes a 24/7/365 call center that is trained to quickly triage and dispatch by case type or account. Fisher adds, “BUNN, as a OEM, has a vested interested in the reliability of its brand and the success of its customers. We know that if the equipment is functioning at an elevated level, the customer will be serving high quality beverages to their customers and will be providing a great customer experience. The lack of down time and calibrated equipment means money. These factors will lead to the success of any beverage program. Our organization, by providing a National Service Program, can provide just that.”
Service level agreements
Beyond scale and accessibility, a service provider and the C-store chain should be able to put together mutually agreed upon SLAs, Fisher says. “You want an SLA’s in place before the work begins. That creates transparency on all services being performed,” Fisher points out. “It’s a score card for operating performance.”
Items to include in the SLA include first-time fix rates (the rates at which service repairs happen the first time engineers come out), arrival times and resolution rates. NTE (not to exceed) rates should be part of the SLA, he notes. NTE means that if a call exceeds a certain cost limit, the service company will need to receive authorization before doing extra work.
As part of this transparency, a service provider should make visible all activity online. This includes providing a portal for the retailer so they can visit it at any time and receive real-time updates on all service activity, including installations and first-time service costs.
A superior service provider is “one that has invested in service technology to drive efficiencies and communication capabilities with their customers—companies that have invested in software that is capable of managing service, managing a third party network or their own network and can provide the customer with the visibility online of what is going on in real time with their services,” Fisher summarizes.
In addition, a retailer should partner with a vendor with well-established SLAs, with a 90% first-time fix rate, who arrives with-in 24 hours when needed and alert the necessary people. “There are a lot of little things in the execution that help delineate the difference between someone who doesn’t get it and someone who does,” Fisher notes.
Choosing the best service provider for a retailer’s needs doesn’t have to be complicated. With a guideline of what to look for, retailers can be armed with the questions to find a quality service provider.
This post is sponsored by BUNN