The FM Taste is a family business, started in 1995, to bring the life back into work lunches. Specialising in fine, fresh sandwiches, The FM Taste has rapidly grown from humble beginnings to be a nationwide provider of fresh vending services, and the approved suppliers of canteen and vending services to a range of business including DHL, the NHS and the Ministry of Defence, among many others. The secret to their astonishing success is twofold: an unerring dedication to quality and the building of strong, personal relationship with its customers.
The FM Taste has grown from fresh sandwich specialists to provide comprehensive catering services. Their relationship with SBS started two years ago, using SB Software’s Vendmanager system. The software is used not only to manage their own operations in hot and cold drink, fresh sandwich and snack vending, but also to manage the inventory, delivery and control of a key aspect of their turnover; manufacturing. This is vital to the success of The FM Taste, who provide their fresh produce to a range of large contracts, including supermarket chains Marks & Spencer and Morrisons. The two separate sides of The FM Taste’s operation are both managed through Vendmanager.
Having used Vendmanger’s competitors for most of his 35 years within the vending industry, Nigel Holmes, The FM Taste’s Director of Operations, admits to being initially cautious about moving to, and learning how to use a new system. Having worked with other vending management systems for so long, the support, training and communication from SBS was absolutely pivotal in successfully implementing the new system, but once he had the hang of the software, there was no looking back. “Steve at SBS has been brilliant. I visited SBS and vice versa”. Quickly the power of the reporting tools had won Nigel over,
“Vendmanager gives me visibility on all levels and on every line, (previous software) can’t do this due to how the reports are complied, (they are) far too clunky! I can construct a report in any way I want. I can produce data and reports all day long giving me full visibility”.
The planogramming functionality of Vendmanager and the information produced has “allowed us to take tactical decisions” says Nigel, "the system can be tailored to your requirements, it has driven the growth of the company; the data is excellent”, allowing the mapping of best sellers, slow movers and tracking the progress of new products in such a way that trends and seasonal variations can be tracked in such a way that no opportunity is missed.
Nationwide distribution provides enough logistical issues on its own, but working with fresh produce creates an array of additional problems. These problems are further compounded when selling fresh produce via a vending system, with freshness and best before information is imperative to the success or failure of the business model. Vendmanager tracks products and their best before information right through the system, from manufacture to vend, providing clear, detailed visibility on risk stock at a variety of levels.
“I really like the reporting and am confident with the detail; we have no need to cross check, meaningful data”.Bar codes are scanned at production, and the machine maintains a full record of best before dates throughout the process, meaning that mistakes are not made, and oversights impossible. Adding the fresh food element to a nationwide vending operation increases the requirement for close, machine by machine management on a daily basis, which would be impossible without a central system of this quality, monitoring individual items throughout the whole vending and catering system. It is an extremely powerful tool to have on your side.
This detail provided by the Vendmanager system is a huge attraction. Aside from providing item level detail of all products within circulation, Vendmanager provides a holistic service for sales too, where sales data is recorded, collated and available for immediate analysis through the bespoke reporting tool. “The cash reporting is excellent, as there is no margin for human error”. Says Nigel, “the handheld scanning avoids miscounts…the pivot tables are absolutely brilliant for extracting large amounts of detailed data”.
One of the most important factors of creating a working relationship with SB Software is the straightforward integration with current accounting systems. Implementing a new vending management system can mean large upheaval, but the seamless integration with their current system, Sage, meant that the applecart was not rocked.
“There was no fuss”.
To find out more about The FM Taste, visit: www.thefmtaste.com