Post-sales support in the form of training, food development and technical expertise is becoming more of a factor for chains buying catering equipment these days, Welbilt has said.
The company, which owns brands such as Convotherm, Merrychef and Crem, said it is increasingly finding that conversations with customers come around to the level of support it can provide.
“It means so much to them,” said UK sales director Steve Hemsil. “When I joined the industry, a lot of them had their own teams which would do the food development and do their own training on-site. Most of them come to us to do that for them now because teams have been cut back.
“All of our culinary team is now Food Safety Level 4-trained so we can sign off a lot of that stuff for them. They come to us to support them and hold their hands through the entire process. It is key for these big chains so it is something we invest in.”
Welbilt sub-contracts a lot of product training, but Mr Hemsil said he believed it was one of the few catering equipment manufacturers to employ its own full-time training manager.
“Training is such an important part of what we do and that is what ties customers in with us and we can give them that level of service. So it is not just about the kit, it is about being able to support it. And we are up to about 36 of our own directly-employed engineers, so it is big operation.”
Mr Hemsil was speaking to FEJ at the Lunch! show in London yesterday, where it is the only high-speed oven manufacturer to be showcasing its offering at the event.
With the show floor packed with buyers from chains such as Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee, Caffe Nero, as well as numerous other high street food-to-go retailers, the company’s decision to create a stand with a replica kitchen featuring a Merrychef oven, Convotherm combi and Crem coffee machine – to show how they can all work together in a small footprint environment – could prove to be an inspired move.
Mr Hemsil said speed, flexibility, energy efficiency and footprint was at the forefront of food-to-go customers’ minds.
“A lot of these chains have very small kitchens and they have the front-of-house as their kitchen. You can’t have twin bits of kit in there because there just isn’t the space. But if you have got one piece of kit, a built-in catalytic converter, it runs off 13 amp or 32 amp – you’ve got some great flexibility and that’s what they are generally talking to us about.”