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View from the channel: John Green, Managing Director, Commerce Business Systems

Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

A: We have seen an increase in business over the last 12 months at a rate of 15% turnover and MIF. I put this down in part, to the work ethic of the CBS team and the whole company’s dedication to customer service but, also, we have been able to adapt very quickly to the constant changes and issues within the industry last year. I am very confident about the future. It’s not just about copiers and printers anymore; it’s now about the fully encompassing digital solution we offer and through that wide range of services, we have increased our customer base and also our product portfolio.

 Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
A: While we are still very strong in the photocopier / MFP market, we are seeing a very big increase in the demand for VOIP, cloud-based IT services and IT support services. We have been proactive in all of these areas. We’re now working with like-minded suppliers and investing in people and skills to make sure we deliver the right products, service and support, while keeping a very close eye on the latest developments as technology and the economy evolves so quickly.

Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
A: We have invested heavily in software, staff and in expanding our operation. We opened a new northeast office in October 2022, to support our rapidly increasing customer-base there and we have recently opened a new service centre in Bradford, located next to our head office, in line with our ongoing plans to strengthen and further develop our customer service and digital and IT support.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel
businesses today?
A: The increase in interest rates has had a knock-on effect on every part
of our business and no doubt, this is reflected across the entire industry. Understandably, from the point of view of what we offer, this has affected the lease rates of our products and services, the price of hardware and consumables has rocketed, and we have software suppliers who are increasing support costs at a level that we could not possibly pass on to our customers. We have restrictions on how much we can increase our charges to our end-users so it’s an additional challenge to work out what they will accept. What is more the cost of the utilities, wages and fuel mean that our own internal costs have risen too.

Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?
A: I do feel that every vendor and distributor could take a very close look at how they are operating and evaluate how the current cost increases will impact on the products and service they are offering. Everyone needs to play their part and it’s vital to remember that increases in costs should not be at the detriment to service levels.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?
A: I love my job. It’s evolved over the past twenty years from when I began as a salesman trying to run a business from a small home office to now, where I’m a Managing Director who has a great sales force behind me – so what would I change and why? While driving to our Bradford office from my home in Leeds, on January 3 2023, my only negative thought was the dark miserable morning I was experiencing. In that moment, I wished I could do what I do but in a warmer sunnier climate. The technology is certainly there but I’ve built so much here and, as they say, home is where the heart is.

cbs vehicles and offices