Putting the customer at the centre of your commercial strategy is the secret to success in foodservice, says Blakemore Foodservice’s Richard Harman
Blakemore Foodservice reinvented itself in 2017. Backed by the influence of the wider AF Blakemore Group, the Foodservice division has taken some major steps forward in its development, in line with this booming side of the market. Here is a snapshot of the steps we took in this period to earn success.
Changes in the senior management team led to the creation of a new commercial strategy that has taken Blakemore Foodservice back to basics, beginning with the customer.
Too often, businesses are guilty of thinking they already know what the customer wants without finding out exactly what this is.
Conducting extensive research internally and externally reiterated that we need to have the right product in the right place at the right time, which is similar to the old category management principle.
Having the product that the customer wants when they want it has helped us introduce a slicker stock management process. We have also been able to reduce our stockholding, which has been an added bonus.
The second piece of work has been with our range. This has been achieved in the main by adopting a collaborative approach with our customers. Working together, we have been able to consolidate many of our products, particularly those ‘me too’ products, which has resulted in higher volumes, and, as a consequence, an improvement to the commercials.
We have also reviewed our routing where possible, and again, with customers’ agreement, we have in many instances reduced our food miles in line with our commitment to being a responsible business.
We have not forgotten our employees, either, when it comes to improving our processes. All colleagues are actively encouraged to participate in identifying new ways to manage and improve our processes.
The proof of whether or not this approach works lies with the customer. We have recently been awarded a two-year contract extension from Bourne Leisure; its supply chain controller, Dan Workman, gave us some very insightful feedback, which we believe is not only something that Blakemore Foodservice should be aspiring to when serving every customer, but also something the entire industry should be looking to achieve every time. “Blakemore Foodservice is a business with great values, and a business that works collaboratively to ensure the best results,” said Workman. “The teams behind the Foodservice operation are flexible and proactive, with great interpersonal skills.
“We are a diverse and highly seasonal business, demanding a partner we can trust, and which can execute our requirements with great professionalism”.
With increasingly competitive market conditions within the foodservice industry, all of us at Blakemore Foodservice realise that we cannot stand still. The focus now will be on vastly increasing the size of our current business.
We are constantly looking into further developing customer service and online ordering and increasing our participation within fresh foods, particularly in produce and fresh meat.
The team will also be looking to make available products from within the wider Blakemore Group, in particular our Fine Foods offer, which shows strong potential to be a welcome addition to the higher-end restaurant trade.
Richard Harman heads up AF Blakemore’s Foodservice division