Wilkes Puts Vendmanager to Work: the First Six Months

Wilkes Puts Vendmanager to Work: the First Six Months

Simon Black (MD of SBS, left) went to visit Mark Booth and his team in Wakefield, 6 months after signing the deal for Vendmanager, to find out how things are going. “In the first 6 months alone, we have saved more than the whole Vendmanager contract is going to cost us” Mark explained, laughing.

Many of you in our sector will know Mark Booth, Director of Wilkes Vending, already. He has a reputation for being straight talking. Direct and focused. Challenging but fair. And above all, results-focused.

Or, in his own words: “I am a tight Yorkshireman and proud of it.”


So, what’s making Mark so happy nowadays?


We can track the commercial agreement between Wilkes and SBS back to a Yorkshire handshake - shared in Lancashire. At Vendex North, Old Trafford, November 2017 two Yorkshiremen (maybe it takes one to really know one?) agreed heads of terms between the two companies.

Simon and Mark shake hands at Vendex November 2017: the project to further improve Wilkes Vending - already a highly successful operation - through the applied technology of Vendmanager - was underway.

Simon and Mark shake hands at Vendex November 2017: the project to further improve Wilkes Vending - already a highly successful operation - through the applied technology of Vendmanager - was underway.

Fast forward to today, and a lot has changed already at Wilkes HQ in Wakefield.

The first thing you notice walking into the office is the noise. Or lack of it. “Within a week of implementing the service side of Vendmanager, the phones had simply stopped ringing,“ explains Mark. “Now it’s automated. We have new ways in which the information is distributed today. Simpler, quicker, better in every way.”

Evidence of that is all around - large monitors mounted on the walls display the constantly up-to-date data and analysis that is generated by Vendmanager. The lifeblood of the Wilkes vending operation is there on hand in real time for all to see at once, whenever it’s most useful.

Keeley Morgan and Nicola Hurst use a bank of four monitors - their “mission control” - to run customer services and operations.

Keeley Morgan and Nicola Hurst use a bank of four monitors - their “mission control” - to run customer services and operations.

As the “go-to-person” for “everything” Natalie keeps her fingers firmly on the pulse. Always. Routinely checking the Vendmanager analysis displayed as standard, or generating specific data against her own priority criteria whenever required.

As the “go-to-person” for “everything” Natalie keeps her fingers firmly on the pulse. Always. Routinely checking the Vendmanager analysis displayed as standard, or generating specific data against her own priority criteria whenever required.

Mark back in his own office with his wall-mounted personal Vendmanager monitor: “In the first 6 months alone, we have saved more than the whole Vendmanager contract is going to cost us. In Yorkshire that’s good enough reason to smile. Wouldn’t it be the same everywhere? It should be.”

Mark back in his own office with his wall-mounted personal Vendmanager monitor: “In the first 6 months alone, we have saved more than the whole Vendmanager contract is going to cost us. In Yorkshire that’s good enough reason to smile. Wouldn’t it be the same everywhere? It should be.”

Nearby, Natalie Hinchliffe - the system manager - sits in front of a large screen of selected key Vendmanager information - available all day.

As well as smaller satellites, Wilkes run two main depots, bringing service geographically close to clients. Depot 1 is Wakefield, and Depot 2 is Lancashire (based in Blackburn).

Mark explains progress so far with Vendmanager: “My favourite question is why? Why are things being done like they are? Or not another way that might be better. Using Vendmanager, we are constantly looking. Checking for idiosyncrasies. Verifying grey areas. Searching for what is possible. And evaluating results through trials.”

“We have implemented Vendmanager across the whole business - and are maximising results. But we run each trial first with Depot 2 - because it’s smaller, so I can assess real returns sooner. Early on we saved one route and one service desk from that site alone, without cash going down. So we knew then that we were onto a winner. And of course the results scale up as we extend to Depot 2 as well.”

“At this moment in time, Vendmanager is the best decision I ever made. Wilkes has long been a good healthy business. Lean. Profitable. But I realised we had already pushed efficiencies as far as we could go - without investing in technology to inform our decisions and operations. And that’s where Vendmanager came in.”

“For me, it’s been like an adjustable spanner, with the flexibility to do anything we want. We are delighted so far. And this is just a start. A good start, yes, but come back in 6 months and we’ll show you more. Much more. You ‘aint seen nothing yet.”

“Remember that I use the word “invest” in the Yorkshire sense of the word. I would never spend company money on anything I wouldn’t buy myself.”

Published 31st August 2018


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