Category Archives: Vending Services

Up ‘The Junction’! It’s A Great Start To The Year

‘The Junction’, Bournemouth YMCA’s Health and Fitness Complex, has extended its vending contract with us for a further three years.

They say that you should start a new year just the same way you intend to carry it on, so we’re delighted that our first post of 2015 is about Seymour Valentine retaining a much-valued client.

We’ve extended our contract with ‘The Junction’, Bournemouth YMCA’s Health and Fitness Complex in Bournemouth, for three more years – meaning that we’ll be the incumbent supplier throughout an eagerly awaited period of refurbishment, which will herald a significant expansion of the venue’s vending operation.

‘With an investment going into the centre totalling over £400,000 we needed a supplier that would offer us a resource of support and professionalism. Seymour Valentine ticked all the boxes and on top of that, the company’s willingness to invest in improving both our vending services and our break-time areas put it firmly in place as our preferred supplier’, said Martin Stockley, Leisure, Health & Fitness Manager. ‘I’m delighted to be working with Seymour Valentine going into this major upgrade and beyond’, he said.

Martin-Stockley

Martin Stockley

Bob, Nicola and the team will now begin to implement the exciting expansion plans. ‘We’re delighted that The Junction has decided to renew its vending contract with us, it’s the best possible way to ring in the New Year!’ Bob said. ‘We’re really pleased that we can continue to serve our client and its customers for the next three years and we’re looking forward to playing a significant role in the refurbishment program. Vending at The Junction has the potential to make an even greater contribution to the centre and that will be our goal as we take the service to the next level.’

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In Tune With The Zeitgeist: Swagger & Jacks Chooses Keurig®…

When the Keurig® Brewing System first arrived in the UK, the majority of ‘early adopters’ were North American ex-pats, delighted to recapture ‘the true taste of home.’ However, us Brits are quick to recognise a good thing when we see it and these days, the style, the simplicity; the breadth of choice and the quality of Keurig® is making an indelible mark in British culture, both at home and at work.

Take Swagger & Jacks for example. Here’s a business that’s in tune with the zeitgeist, if ever there was one. You see, beards are back: male fashionistas are sporting facial hair once more and not just George Michael-style stubble, either: not since Victorian times have men spent so much time, effort (and hard cash) in growing, styling and grooming their beards and it’s upon this connection, with our ‘quintessentially British’ past, that Swagger & Jacks is building its business and its reputation.

‘We’ve recreated a traditional English barber’s shop’, said Swagger & Jacks Mark Young, ‘with the atmosphere of a gentleman’s club.’ It’s an atmosphere that is not solely the result of discerning shop fitting and design: on the contrary, it’s the company’s service, the way it cares for its customers, that affords Swagger & Jacks patrons some respite from the ill-mannered and impersonal demands of high-tempo contemporary living. It’s an oasis of indulgence in a desert of duty.

 

As such, the very idea of offering customers ‘a brew’ concocted of a spoonful of coffee granules or a tea bag is anathema at Swagger & Jacks.Mark-Young-S-and-J

‘It’s all about the quality of the experience’, Mark said. ‘In our original barber’s shop, we employed a full-time barista, which was great; but it was very labour intensive. We wanted to offer a product of similar quality that was far simpler to deliver.’

Swagger & Jacks began an exhaustive process of investigation; aimed at identifying the best possible hot drinks offer to add value to the customer experience. At the culmination of the process, one option stood head and shoulders above the rest: Keurig®.

‘The quality of the drinks is excellent’, Mark said, ‘and there are other advantages too: because the system uses K-Cup® packs, customers can choose from a wide selection of coffees and teas. Because of this, there is no wastage. The Keurig® brewer is simplicity itself to maintain and to keep clean. Likewise, it’s easy to keep the brewing area clean and tidy, too. What’s more, we enjoy a very high level of support from Seymour Valentine, the company that distributes the Keurig®system. The company understood immediately what we are trying to achieve and they worked hard to give us the solution we needed.’

‘We’re delighted that Swagger & Jacks have taken to the Keurig® system so enthusiastically’, said Seymour Valentine Director Bob Norton. ‘This is a company that is successful because it refuses to compromise where the quality of the customer experience is concerned, so their endorsement of Keurig® is an important feather in the brand’s cap.’SJ

Sadly, when it comes to trying-out the Swagger & Jacks experience, (and what man wouldn’t?) the odds are that most of our readers will be out of luck. It’s early days for the company: Swagger & Jacks Gentleman’s Grooming Barbershop is based in Norwich. Its flagship emporium is a blend of vintage men’s barbershop design, with a contemporary British style, which invites customers of all ages to enjoy relaxing and luxurious surroundings, with quality of service at the heart of the experience.

We provide the highest quality men’s haircuts, traditional cut throat shaves with hot towels, beard shaping and design, and hair colouring services specifically designed for today’s modern gentlemen’ Mark said. ‘The Team at Swagger & Jacks has a wealth of barbering experience and they’re all members of the British Barbers Association.’

The chances are that there won’t be a Swagger and Jacks opening near you any time soon. ‘We’ve looked at the possibility of franchising’ Mark said, ‘and although it might be a good way of growing the business, it’s more important to us to maintain our quality of service; so we prefer that people opening a new Swagger & Jacks barbershop have worked with us for some time and are immersed in the way we do things.’

Let’s be clear: when quality is paramount in your customer offer, be sure that you don’t neglect your beverage provision. If attention to detail is an intrinsic part of your business – as it is at Swagger & Jacks – remember the KISS! Rule: ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid!’, or you might say, ‘Keurig® Is Simple, Stupid.’

We Partner The World’s Largest Purchaser of Fair Trade Coffee

Pictured: Gérard Geoffrion; President, International Business Development, GMCR, and Cevat Riza sign on the dotted line…

London, 14 February 2014: Seymour Valentine has signed a Master Distributor agreement for the UK with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in respect of the North American company’s revolutionary Keurig® brewers – together with the pick of its unparalleled beverage portfolio of more than 300 High Street brands.

Seymour Valentine’s colleagues in the Wise Vending Group have signed distributor agreements, ensuring that Keurig® products will be available nationally.

The deals were sealed at the iconic Arts Club in Mayfair and although the launch has been set for 14 February, the first orders have been placed and the first deals have been done: Duff & Phelps, a leading global financial advisory and investment banking firm, which is based in The Shard and is a client of Seymour Valentine, will become the first UK corporate adopter of the Keurig® system.

The creation of a UK hub for the best selling KCupTM and Keurig® Brewer was a protracted process; in fact Seymour Valentine MD Cevat Riza first mooted the idea some 10 years ago and he is ‘thrilled that this exciting deal has now been concluded.’

‘We’re delighted that the company has decided to partner with Wise Group to bring the benefits of this unique beverage system to UK users.’ Cevat Riza

‘As a leader in specialty coffee and single serve beverages with its innovative Keurig® brewing technology, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is recognized for its award-winning coffees, Keurig® Brewing systems, and socially responsible business practices’, Cevat said. ‘GMCR supports local and global communities by investing in sustainably grown coffee and allocating a portion of its pre-tax profits to socially and environmentally responsible initiatives. We’re delighted that the company has decided to partner with Wise Group to bring the benefits of this unique beverage system to UK users.’

As the leading single serve brewer brand in North America, Keurig® has gained a strong and passionate following among consumers that enabled the company to open its first retail Keurig® store, in Burlington, Massachusetts, in November 2013.

‘2014 will be an exciting year for all of us as we are preparing for what will be an exciting partnership’, said Gérard Geoffrion; President, International Business Development, GMCR. ‘Much has happened to get Keurig UK ready for this launch: we have created our legal entity, our supply chain support networks, information technology and trade marketing tools, UK digital/Web, and our UK office. We are delighted to have concluded a distribution agreement with Seymour Valentine and we’re anticipating a successful future for Keurig® in the UK.’

 

 

 

Someday, all vending-at-work will be this way…

Seymour Valentine has demonstrated how the B&I refreshment market is changing by appointing the UK’s first ‘vending barista’.

 

Meet André Boti Bernardo, (pictured), a Brazilian born and bred who, having spent several years as a barista in Italy, joined Seymour Valentine in August 2013. He’s based on the premises of a client in London’s trendy West End, whose workforce of 430 people is employed in the online gaming industry. His remit is simple: ‘keep the customers satisfied’.

André is surely a forerunner of things to come in the vending industry; some day, every B&I site will employ a vending barista of its own. Frankly, the man is a coffee fanatic, which is hardly surprising, given his background. So what’s he doing working in an office, when you’d expect his natural habitat to be in an artisan coffee shop?

Like a swan? Elegant above the surface, efficient beneath

Like a swan? Elegant above the surface, efficient beneath

‘It’s because I love it here’, he says with a smile. ‘I have a large customer base that relies on me to make sure their coffee is always perfect.’ The attributes and attitudes of a barista are more relevant in this busy environment than those of a traditional vending operator: André describes his daily routine. ‘It’s all about having a keen eye for detail’, he says. ‘This is a twenty-four seven site, so the first thing I do when I arrive in the morning is check that the machines are all running smoothly and that there have been no problems during the night. Next, I collect the fresh milk, which is delivered every day, and then I set about cleaning the machines.’

Cleanliness is everything. ‘It doesn’t matter if the machine you’re using is an automatic or a traditional model’, André says, ‘if it’s not perfectly clean, you’ll never get great tasting coffee.’ The basics having been achieved, his keen eye for detail comes into its own. ‘The coffee beans must always be fresh’, he says, ‘and the grinders have to be set carefully, to take account of the ambient conditions.’

The prefect espresso – note the double sided glass.

The prefect espresso – note the double sided glass.

The site has three TopBrewer units installed and each has two grinders: one set to grind beans to a fine consistency capable of delivering the perfect espresso, the other delivering a coarser product that’s ideal for cafetières.

The beautiful, patented stainless steel tap is designed to be built into any tabletop. The simplicity of TopBrewer, designed in Denmark by Scanomat, fits elegantly into any surroundings, allowing customers to focus on the quality of the coffee, rather than the loook of the machine.. The TopBrewer brews a perfect cup of fresh-bean coffee – every time.

One patented part of the system is ‘the smallest milk foamer in the world’. The foamer is installed at the very tip of the coffee tap. Fresh milk is heated ‘on demand’ and foamed to the correct texture. The Scanomatic milk clean system of TopBrewer cleans all hoses with water after each cup. What’s more, TopBrewer provides chilled drinking water, cold milk, hot water for tea and even steam.

You can see a video of TopBrewer in action by clicking here.

‘Top Brewer is a great coffee system and it’s perfect for locations such as this one’, Andre says. ‘The workforce is made up largely of young people who are all very tech-savvy and who are all coffee aficionados. They’re very demanding in terms of taste and consistency so the coffee has to be top-quality; but because of their jobs, the noise generated by a conventional bean-to-cup or traditional machines wouldn’t be acceptable. The great thing about the Top Brewer system is that all the ‘working parts’ are out of sight in a cupboard so the operation is almost silent and all the customer sees is the tap, the swan neck and the iPad, which is used for ordering.’

Bob, Andre and Cevat

Bob, Andre and Cevat

Out of site, the freshly-ground coffee is delivered into a container where, mimicking the role of the barista, it is tamped to perfection; before water is forced through the cake with 9 bars of pressure – in exactly the same way as a traditional machine operates.

Because the iPad is the nerve centre of the operation, customers can download an app to their smart phones or tablets, which enables them to connect to the Top Brewer via Bluetooth

Because the iPad is the nerve centre of the operation, customers can download an app to their smart phones or tablets, which enables them to connect to the Top Brewer via Bluetooth. This means that each customer can ‘save’ their custom drinks settings and order their beverages remotely. It’s a facility that’s been enthusiastically embraced: within days of the go-live, customers were publishing ‘selfies’ on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and extolling the virtues of ‘great tasting, hi-tech coffee’ that they could control from their phones. ‘It really has captured the imagination’, André says. ‘Customers can create bespoke drinks by controlling coffee strength, sweetness and even foam content and they don’t have to programme their requirements every time they want a drink, because the app remembers them.’

The location has three TopBrewer units distributed across three floors, with complementary cold drinks and snacks machines to complete the refreshment offer.

Employees here are working for a company that’s been voted in the country’s ‘Top 50 firms to work for’ and not surprisingly, staff well-being is at the top of this client’s business agenda. Coffee – served in specially sourced, stylish double walled glass cups imported from Denmark – is on free vend, and so are other items, such as fresh fruit and Innocent Smoothies. From January 2014, snacks will be on free-vend, too. ‘Twenty-five percent of all snacks dispensed on site are classified as healthy’, André says.

iPad ordering system

iPad ordering system

Apart from his knowledge of coffee, André has other traits that distinguish him from your average on-site vending operator, most notably his ability to interact with the diverse workforce in any of four languages. ‘I speak Portugese, Spanish, Italian and English’, he says, ‘and I’ve decided that I ought to learn Russian next – there are a lot of them around here!’

His friendly relationship with his customers is obvious. As you watch him at work, people come to say ‘hello’, shake his hand, high-five him and pass the time of day in their native language. He’s without doubt a popular addition to the working environment – and not just because his coffee is perfect!

It’s an eye-opener to witness what Seymour Valentine has achieved by re-writing the spec for the role of on-site operator. When you witness André in action, you can’t help but think, ‘someday, all vending at work will be this way.’

 

*Like the look of TopBrewer? Wait ’til you taste the coffee! Contact us!

What’s Your Definition of ‘Exceptional Service’?

Meet Seymour Valentine customer Danny Lemon, (pictured), a man who won’t entertain second best…

 

Look at any vending company’s web site and the chances are that you’ll be met with a claim that ‘exceptional service’ is at the heart of the firm’s business offer.

What you get depends upon how you define ‘exceptional service’; ‘you pays your money, you takes your choice’. However, one of our customers has the most demanding standards imaginable when it comes to the services he and his team deliver to their clients – and he expects each and every one of his suppliers to share the same ethos.

That’s why we were delighted when – and not for the first time – Danny Lemon invited us to provide vending services, on this occasion for the tradespeople working under his auspices at The London Bridge Quarter.

Danny – on reflection!

Danny – on reflection!

It’s fitting that, throughout an estate based in and around one of Europe’s highest buildings, the highest standards are demanded. Danny is Head of Corporate Services and, in a building that almost has a floor for every week of the year, his is a tough task.

‘We run the building and the surroundings as if it were a hotel’, Danny told us, ‘and when we appoint service suppliers, our main criterion is service, rather than cost.’

As the estate’s chosen supplier of vending and coffee services, we are also recommended to incoming tenants as they seek to fulfil their individual requirements. It’s not mandatory that they do business with us, but as Danny says, ‘I vet suppliers so that my clients don’t have to. Prior to them taking up residence, I’ll have a conversation with them and say, ‘come and talk to me when you want to appoint a florist, or a post-room service, or a coffee provider’, and by and large, that’s what happens.’

Danny’s opinion counts for a great deal with his clients, and thank goodness it does: the reality of hundreds of different service providers coming and going, day and night, would be an unthinkable logistical nightmare. Rather than have a couple of dozen window cleaning firms, for instance, Danny prefers to have one; rather than have a couple of dozen refreshment service providers, Danny prefers to have Seymour Valentine. ‘I’ve known Seymour Valentine for many years’, he said, ‘and they understand that I’ll never accept second best. I deal directly with Cevat (Riza, MD) and Bob (Norton, Operations Director) because they have the authority to make things happen when they need to happen and that’s the way I like it.’

In-situ vending!

In-situ vending!

When he says he aims to run services ‘in the same way that a hotel does’, Danny isn’t thinking of any old hotel. On the contrary, he spent twenty years or so at Claridge’s, London’s traditional bastion of style and elegance. He followed that with fifteen years working front-of-house for the Roux brothers. To paraphrase Greg Wallace, Michel Roux’s BBC Masterchef colleague, ‘service delivery doesn’t get any tougher than that.’

We’re chatting in a smart café on the 32nd floor, and to make his point, Danny lists the service providers that have helped to form my impressions as a first-time visitor to the building. ‘To get to this table, before your coffee is delivered, you’ve already been served by more than half-a-dozen companies’, he says. ‘First, there’s the security outside the building. We’d expect you to be shown every courtesy. Then, there’s the florist: you will have noticed that the plants inside and outside the building are all in pristine condition. The windows have to sparkle, too. Then there’s the internal security, they’ll help you to get into the building. For instance, you’re pulling a large case with you, so I’d expect security to have opened a side door for you, rather than see you struggle through the revolving doors.’ (They did). ‘Then, you have to be greet in an appropriate way by highly professional receptions staff – and you won’t be asked to wear any badges or tags. Next, the lifts have to be working properly and finally; the engineering department has to make sure that all the lights are working as they should be. I don’t expect to encounter an electric bulb or strip light that’s blown. Everything has to be spot on, or the customer won’t come back.

Time to relax!

Time to relax!

‘My goal is to keep service as good – and as invisible – as it is at Claridge’s, but at Claridge’s, everybody works for Claridge’s’, Danny continued. ‘Here, all the services are out-sourced, but each of our service partners is required to reflect our corporate image, from the quality of their work, to the way they dress. We don’t allow any individual branding. Everybody wears the London Bridge Quarter logo. It takes time to have every company and individual achieve our standards, but the effort is worth it.’

In the scheme of things in the London Bridge Quarter, Seymour Valentine is a tiny cog in the engine of service delivery; but nevertheless, we’re a vital one when it comes to creating the sense of camaraderie that Danny seeks to instil amongst his disparate suppliers.

We come into our own in The Welfare Room, a communal space in which individuals from every on-site contractor can take a break, whilst remaining on call. ‘They all share same room to eat and drink together’ Danny says, ‘and vending is important in there. There’s always tea and coffee’, (on free vend) ‘and there’s an internal telephone to alert people when they’re urgently required. Without the Welfare Room, people would be all over the place!’

It’s a comfortable space, equipped with sofas as well as tables and chairs, and the on-tap wi-fi allows staff to keep in touch with their offices. It’s become a popular venue and the number of workers on-site means that it’s always busy.

What’s more, Danny’s philosophy of recommending trusted suppliers is bearing fruit: on his say-so, we’ve agreed a contract recently with one incoming tenant and we’re working on deals with other businesses that should conclude soon.

That’s the thing about Danny Lemon that sets him apart. When he promises ‘exceptional service’, people tend to believe him. After all, he knows what he’s talking about.

* Contact us if you, too, would enjoy exceptional service from Seymour Valentine

The Kids Are Alright!

PICTURED: L-R: Kaydee-Ann Atkinson, Simon Allen and Abby Ravenhurst

 

Maybe we took a chance by taking on apprentices – but our MD Cevat Riza is very pleased that we did…

 

In July to September 2013, 965,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed, a similar level to the previous year. That’s 21.0%, or just a tad over 1 in 5 youngsters currently out of work.

It’s an alarming statistic.

The situation was almost as bad when Cevat was growing up in South East London during the 60’s and 70’s. Just like the kids of today, he found that getting on the jobs ladder was tough going. Thirty-odd years later, Cevat is a successful businessman; the owner one of the UK’s leading vending operators – that’s us! – and of a couple of über trendy bars, Zebrano’s, in London’s bustling West End.

‘I didn’t have much going for me in terms of educational qualifications’, Cevat admits, ‘but I was a grafter. I was prepared to work hard, but it was very frustrating, time after time, to miss out because I didn’t have the right certificates.’

Group hug: with Operations Director, Bob Norton

Group hug: with Operations Director, Bob Norton

That’s why he’s willing to look beyond a youngster’s qualifications, hoping to see something of himself in a job applicant. Consequently, eighteen months ago, we embarked upon an apprenticeship programme, the success of which has vindicated Cevat’s belief that, amidst the youth of today, there is ‘tremendous potential’ just waiting to be realised…

‘Our latest trainees are Kaydee-Ann Atkinson and Robert Davis’, he says. ‘They started their course in September and they’ll be with us for twelve months. Robert is working in accounts and he’s on a day release course at a local college, taking a two -year accounting course. Kaydee-Ann’s working as part of the operations team and is taking incoming calls and helping process warehouse orders. She’s working with an outside organisation online to get a Business Administration certificate. We’re hoping we can replicate with these two the success we’ve had in our previous experiences.’

Kaydee-Ann was ‘as quiet as a mouse’ on arrival, but she’s matured into her role and, as the first point of contact with customers with urgent issues, she’s become a confident model of tact and diplomacy. ‘I’m involved in all the installations’, she said, ‘so it can be a pretty stressful time for customers.’

‘Success’ is not a word that Cevat uses glibly: indeed, four of the original trainees went on to become valued, full-time members of staff. No wonder he talks about them with pride… ‘Abby Ravenhurst looks after our help desk’, he begins, ‘Simon Allen has just been promoted to the role of Sales Administrator and Estelle worked for us in finance before she accepted a more senior post in accounting. Leila worked in general admin and she’s also left us now to move up the career ladder.’

The fact that they’ve been given a chance to shine here at Seymour Valentine is much appreciated by all the apprentices. They each display commendable loyalty to their employer and a sense of kinship with each other. ‘It’s really hard to get a job if you’ve got no experience’, Abby says, ‘and even though I’d done an NVQ when I was 16, it made sense for me to do another one, because I thought with that, together with work experience, I could take it one step further.’ Abby’s plan is coming together: she’s now been at Seymour Valentine for some two-and-a-half years, and has become something of an expert in respect of the Vendman software that is at the core of the company’s operation.

Simon applied for a job; but he was offered the apprenticeship route and that appealed to him, as it gave him the chance to add a formal qualification to his CV. ‘The educational part of it worked out well for me’, he said; ‘it gave me a good grounding for the job I’m doing now.’ In his new role as Sales Administrator, Simon oversees the paperwork for each customer – but he’s also a man with a flair for design; he’s created the templates for Seymour Valentine’s new business proposals. ‘I went through our existing sales materials and worked on the layout and the graphics to make it easier for people to create modular proposals’, he says. ‘I just learned on the job.’ It’s a contribution that has paid dividends for the company and it will help Simon to achieve his next objective: to become one of Seymour Valentine’s Field Sales people.

‘I’m proud of them all’, Cevat says, ‘and I’m really pleased that we were able to give them a leg-up, when so many other companies weren’t interested in them. They took their chance and they proved their worth.’

Our initiative alone won’t make so much of a dent in the travesty that is youth unemployment – but if more businesses were to follow the company’s lead, it might be a different story…