Why commercial warewash equipment suppliers have got your back

Meiko warewasher

Good service and support is a prerequisite for most operators when it comes to choosing a warewashing provider. FEJ asks suppliers how they are ensuring that customers get the most from their investment…

When an operator chooses a piece of warewashing equipment, it should signify the start of a relationship with a supplier, not the end of it. That’s certainly the way manufacturers see it — and the vast majority continue to do all they can to ensure customers have everything at their disposal to get the most from their investment.

After-sales support has become a massive focus for the leading brands and many now offer a comprehensive set of training and education tools that foodservice operators can access at little or no cost.

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Hobart UK operates a ‘training for life’ programme, which is applicable across its portfolio. The initiative is designed to get new staff working in kitchens up to speed on best practice, helping avoid costly breakdowns that 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,” says UK sales director Tim Bender.

“While 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.”

Fellow warewashing supplier Maidaid provides free distributor training courses to educate them in the correct operation and maintenance required for the brand’s machines. The idea is that the knowledge can then be passed down by the distributor to the end-user and in turn reduce machine downtime. It has also prepared a range of simple single-page guides for distribution to end-users.

Maidaid provides free distributor training courses on the correct operation and maintenance of the brand’s warewashers.

Sales director, Robert Wager, comments: “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, 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 managing director, Paul Anderson, says its team of customer service operators provides 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 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8.30am to 1pm at weekends.”

Meiko UK’s senior engineers provide a dedicated training service for distributor engineers, which can be onsite or at the manufacturer’s own training facility in Slough. It has also developed ‘train-the-trainer’ seminars to provide the most in-depth assistance available.

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 underlines: “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.”

Further help for dealers is available via Meiko’s ‘added value’ sales and technical service packages. All of this is designed to ensure that operators receive the best possible support from partners when it is needed.

In terms of access to spares, all distributor engineers carry the top 200 required parts for Meiko’s undercounter and hood machines.

“This is part of the reason Meiko UK and its distributor partners have a 94% first-time fix rate,” says Anderson. “Not all warewashing suppliers do this, but Meiko will affect a first-time fix on behalf of partner distributors within eight working hours or face a financial penalty. Our seven-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.”

Elsewhere, Sammic is another company that is continuing to invest in dealer education as a way of ensuring the market is properly supported.

Its website now includes high-resolution videos for both sales and general fault finding, and it also offers quarterly training days.

Service manager, Les Starling, says: “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 round-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,” he adds.

Sammic aims to ensure its team is always reachable: “We offer contact numbers and email addresses that will respond regardless of day and time to give help and advice,” says Starling. “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 reveals: “We are introducing QR codes to all of our products that will enable customers and technical personnel to download all details of the machine including model, serial number, exploded views, wiring diagrams and parts lists.”

Sweden-headquartered Wexiodisk 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 Wexiodisk machine.

Glover continues: “Customer satisfaction is our upmost priority at Wexiodisk, and within the UK we pride ourselves on the after-care 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.”

Over at Winterhalter UK, its service division managing director, Kieran Lynch, acknowledges that its ambition to become the ‘best in class’ warewash service provider in the UK will only be achieved by forming strong 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.

“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,” says Lynch.

“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.

Through monitoring performance and usage via the Winterhalter portal, it is possible for dealers to offer advice to their customers — for example to warn them if they are low or out of chemicals, or to let them know if staff are not closing machines down properly at the end of the day, and so on.

Operators can rest assured that warewashing manufacturers are working tirelessly to ensure they receive the support they need — and that the service companies who represent their brands in the field are suitably qualified to provide help and education the moment it is needed.

Tags : Kitchen Excellence WeekMeikoWarewashing
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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