Continuing to operate and innovate throughout the lockdown, E-Service has been preparing for the industry’s reopening with new products and a revised work schedule, with managing director Mike Clokie emphasising that the industry must embrace the ‘new normal’.
Coinslot: You’ve been maintaining your business support throughout lockdown, but now UK plc is getting ready to re-open, what measures are you undertaking to be Covid-ready, both for your staff and your customers?
Mike Clokie, managing director, E-Service: E-Service has run with a much reduced number of support staff attending the office and the sales team working from home during the past 10 weeks.
As we reintroduce staff to the office, workshops and warehouses we have carried out risk assessments on all parts of the business to ensure we are meeting our obligations to staff and customers attending our offices. The obvious measures have been implemented; sanitising stations, signage and one way systems around the workshop and warehouses.
Having 40 + employees does mean we will need to restrict the number of people who attend the office daily so more working from home for the sales team and staggered start, break and finish times for the workshop and warehouse teams.
CS: You’ve been busy building a new portfolio to help businesses get back up and running. How did you assemble the new range of products and what role did your customers have in establishing the kind of products to launch?
MC: E-Service focussed its attention to products where we could offer “value add” rather than just being a “me too”, provision of masks and gloves etc. just wasn’t for us. We have developed our own range of hand sanitiser stations, machine dividers and floor stencils, all developed with input from our clients. We ensured we were meeting not only price points but ease of installation and operation for customers. Aesthetics and a quality feel were paramount to our clients ensuring the end user would appreciate the products and feel protected in the venues.
CS: What are the highlights of the new range?
MC: Our stainless steel hand sanitiser station looks superb with automatic dispense and simple indication showing “ready to use”, “dispensing” and “out of product”. It is very easy to keep clean and maintain due to the stainless steel construction. Everyone is considering machine dividers, and with no drilling or sticking to machines required our range of machine dividers are proving very popular. The design allows them to be secured under machines or under machine infills, simple to install and move when required and at a very acceptable price point.
The other very hot product is our contactless payment solution, card payments have never been more sought after. E-Service has a contactless solution to fit the majority of amusement and change machines. The field service team is currently very busy installing these products in time for reopening.
CS: There is some confusion as to the government guidelines for businesses to re-open. On the positive side, which proposals do you think are sustainable within the industry, and less so, what ideas cause you most concern?
MC: Setting aside the false start of June 15th, the most problematic guideline will be the two metre distancing. Personally I feel this would be more manageable in an AGC but in an FEC and areas where you have families and younger children; very difficult to nigh on impossible. The cleaning regime in certain types of venues will be gargantuan to prevent surface to person contamination and I feel in some locations totally impractical or unworkable.
CS: There’s so much talk about “the new normal”. What will the new normal be for you and your business going forward?
MC: For E-Service the “new normal” will be many more video calls, remote working and utilising different communication channels between team members and our clients. Different working patterns will take careful planning to avoid skill gaps but these different working patterns in turn will benefit clients as ultimately the E-Service working day will be extended. Regular discussions with team leaders and a review of the workplace and a significant number of points being added to the H&S manual will all be part of the “new normal”. The implementation of a robust workplace risk assessment aimed specifically at Covid-19 issues will be essential and the only way forward.
CS: Business optimism is understandably fragile at the moment. What do you think the industry will need to overcome the huge challenges it faces over the next few years?
MC: Instilling customer confidence and providing a safe environment will be essential. This will require the continuous attention and dedication from staff members to diligently work the processes and procedures put in place by businesses to combat Covid-19. Yes, significant investment will be required in many areas to deliver the “new normal” and hopefully some of the measures put in place by the government via business loans and tax deferral will assist our industry. However, better to invest now as without these practices in place a second wave or seasonal upsurges of Covid-19 could quite easily wipe businesses off the map.