Collision Course!

CSG’s management control requirements meet Vendman’s management control systems head-on, in a partnership that’s set fair for the future of both companies.

The history of every business is punctuated by events that, with the benefit of hindsight, proved to be pivotal: ‘turning points’, you might say. Such moments are seldom recognised as they happen, in real time, but the partnership that has been established recently between Vendman and Consultant Services Group, (CSG), has generated a frisson of excitement in both camps. It’s as though both parties are expecting great things to happen as a consequence of their collaboration.

In the UK vending industry since 1993, ‘Vendman’ is now the by-word for ‘integrated management control systems’. The company has a reputation for innovation, for evolving constantly, for keeping one step ahead of the vending industry as it has matured. Remarkably, more than seventy-five percent of UK vending operators choose Vendman software to monitor the performance of their machines. In a bid to continue his company’s growth, Vendman MD Rob Little has secured a European bridgehead. Back home in the UK, though, further growth depends upon diversification…

Enter CSG. Established in 1969 CSG is a privately owned, family run business employing in the region of 2,000 people and providing contract cleaning, catering and vending services to customers in the Business & Industry and Education sectors. It’s one of the UK’s leading ‘regional’ operators and it includes amongst its customers a variety of businesses, from the blue-chip to the start-up.

Featured prominently on the company’s web site is its mission statement. The second paragraph is particularly eye-catching: “The management has adopted a policy of continual improvement in the quality of goods and services. This involves the implementation of systems, which are designed to make use of cost effective, planned and systematic procedure that determine, assess and achieve quality and economy in compliance with the specific requirements.”

It’s this commitment that put CSG and Vendman on a collision course.

CSG operates in a market sector that affords its players no margin for error. Facilities Management and Catering in the cost-sector are not ideal propositions for the fainthearted. Long gone are the cosy ‘cost-plus’ agreements of yore; they’ve been replaced by brutal fixed-cost contracts. Get it wrong, and you’re in trouble. An ill-considered deal can haemorrhage both money and resources.

Vendman Sales Director Daniel Hamby met up with CSG’s CEO, Simon Midgley, at the firm’s Yorkshire HQ when the partnership was eight months in, and the ensuing discussions focus on the savings and efficiencies that could be anticipated.

Extrapolated across the company’s 1600 strong vending machine park, the numbers are significant: the saving that could potentially be delivered by eliminating unnecessary visits to vending machines is, on its own, eyebrow-raising. Crucially, these savings will be made in a business that is, already, leaner, meaner and more competitive than most.

In the immediate future then, all eyes will focus on the vending division of CSG’s business, and understandably so. With so much potential to sharpen and improve the product offer by monitoring sales as they happen, by making customer service more efficient, by identifying opportunities to do a better job, CSG, and therefore the firm’s vending customers, are on to a winner.

Mr. Midgley said: ‘we have a very strong business already, but of course we want to improve it wherever we can, through introducing greater efficiencies wherever possible. No business in our sector can afford not to do that.’

However, the frisson of excitement previously referred to isn’t the consequence of what is happening now. In fact, it is generated by thoughts of what might come next; thoughts of where the partnership might lead…

Should the relationship develop in the way that Vendman partnerships have traditionally developed – with the protagonists working together ‘hand-in-glove’ – then take it as read that other areas of CSG’s business will soon come under the same joint scrutiny, and that new, bespoke solutions will emerge that will impact upon both the Contract Catering and the Contract Cleaning divisions, which may, who knows, give CSG an edge over its rivals; and Vendman, its entry into a new and enticing market sector.

“We’re excited by the possibilities,” Daniel Hamby admitted. “We all sense that this could be one of those business relationships that we’ll look back on as being significant to both Vendman and CSG.”

“The early signs are very encouraging,” Simon Midgley agreed. “I think it’s safe to say that both companies are ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ and we look forward to seeing the positive benefits of the partnership in the future.”