Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?
A: We specialise in supplying public sector and the NHS and government in particular. Business this year has been very good indeed. We are significantly up on last year and on-target to do £5 million for calendar 2020, which will be around 40 per cent growth. It’s because we have such a clear focus and understanding of the needs of our customers that I feel confident about the future. We always aim to deliver service that goes beyond customer expectations and provide competitive prices. We always work hard to ensure that we can keep on setting a high standard.
We’re currently on five procurement frameworks and anticipate being on more by the year-end. We are one of the smaller IT suppliers on those frameworks, but in our view, we offer a service to rival any reseller business.
Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
A: There has obviously been a lot of demand for mobile devices and for anything that enables home working and an efficient, socially-distanced work environment. Headsets, webcams, video conferencing, displays, keyboards, mice, Wi-Fi equipment, consumables and security software. We are seeing strong demand right across the board on hardware and software to be honest.
Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
A: We are always looking to be more efficient and effective at meeting the needs of our customers. But our business model works well, so the changes tend to be small. We keep our CRM software up to date and where we see an opportunity to improve, we always take it. Sometimes that will be an enhancement we can make internally, sometimes it will be taking advantage of an initiative from our suppliers. We are a close-knit team, so best-practice can be adopted almost immediately by everyone at Kingsfield. It is all about being alert, aware and open to any potential. At the end of the day, the continued improvement in our performance is measured by our customers and the amount of business they send our way.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?
A: Not getting sucked into the hype over new technologies for which there is not yet a proven or quantifiable demand. This is perhaps contrary to the so-called ‘accepted wisdom’, but I think there is a danger that many resellers will get distracted by the pandemic situation and by suppliers into adopting strategies and making investments that won’t yield meaningful returns quickly enough. It’s vitally important to have a clear focus – and for us, that means meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of our customers.
Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?
A: It’s funny really. Often, vendors and distributors seem to talk a lot about new solutions and concepts and how they are leading the way with ground-breaking technologies, when in reality they are in the business of selling as much hardware or software as they can. Of course, their products have to meet a need – there has to be demand for what they are providing and there is certainly tremendous and growing hunger for IT products in the public sector. But in most organisations (NHS Trusts are a perfect example), the demand for the exciting new tech is fairly niche and specialised. The rest of the organisation (which means most of it) just needs good, simple IT products that work. Suppliers should not lose sight of that reality.
Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?
A: The time it takes to do it. I love my work and we have a wonderful team here. Working with them every day is a real pleasure. It gives me great satisfaction to know that we are helping to meet the needs of our public services in Britain and thus, in our small way, helping them to deliver better, more efficient and effective services to the general public. I would not change any of that – but I’d maybe like to give myself a few more days off. Perhaps I will, eventually. But for now, I love doing what we do.