PrintIT Reseller spoke to Andy Perkins, co-owner of CSL Group, about the company’s 48-year heritage, its service-centric approach and future growth plans
Perkins joined the Leicester headquartered firm, when it was known as Copying Services Leicester, as a service engineer 30 years ago. “It was a small company, there was just six of us, compared with today when our headcount sits at around 48 people,” he said.
Growth was strong and consistent for the Konica Minolta single-line dealership and Perkins rose rapidly through the ranks. He was promoted to Service Director and after demonstrating prowess in closing sales, assumed responsibility for the sales function. “As the years went on, the original directors retired and I alongside co-director Michael Mathias, continued to purchase shares,” he said. Ten years ago they completed the purchase of the business outright, and today they jointly co-own the entire company.
Recently two long-standing employees, John Sharp and Jamie Denham, joined the management team and were appointed as directors of the business, a move which Perkins says reflects the continued growth of the company, its optimism for the future and the contribution which both have made and will continue to make, to its success.
“Somebody once said that the key to success is to surround yourself with good people. This is certainly true of CSL’s success which is a reflection of the length of service and professionalism of its staff. John and Jamie epitomise this culture,” he said.
The company has remained true to its roots and maintained its status as a single-line Konica Minolta partner. “We like the build quality and the fact that the brand is an innovator particularly in the colour sector,” Perkins explained, adding: “We have been tempted over the years to expand and sell some cheaper brands, but we’ve always come back to Konica Minolta, the advent of colour for us was a pivotal point in the relationship, we saw that as a key opportunity and with the Konica Minolta offer, we’ve definitely enjoyed some significant successes and secured some major wins.”
CSL Group was one of the first UK Konica Minolta dealerships. “I firmly believe that if you do one thing, then you should do it well. From a service perspective, all 13 of our engineers are manufacturer trained and only deal with Konica Minolta hardware, this specialism resonates well with our customers and enables us to deliver an unparalleled level of service,” Perkins said.
Independence is a strength
CSL Group counts many household name brands amongst its client base but assigns equal importance to winning new business within local, smaller clients. “The market has continued to consolidate and there are fewer independents today than there have been historically, and we see our independence as a local supplier as a core strength,” he said.
“We are fortunate that we are of a sufficient size to compete with national or even multi-national vendors, we have terrific backing from Konica Minolta and our buying power ensures we have a place at the table when it comes to large tenders and bids, but we work hard to ensure that we provide local customers with the same high levels of customer service,” he continued.
CSL Group’s customer retention rate is enormous, according to Perkins. “We lose very few customers, we look after them and many have been with us for many years.”
According to Perkins, the service side of the business is very important. It has won the National Service Award from Konica Minolta for twelve consecutive years, something which Perkins says speaks to its commitment to maintain the highest levels of support to its customers. In addition customers are allocated a dedicated engineer, a move that ensures relationships are forged and that the engineer is wholly familiar with the customer’s devices and history.
“We commit to the industry standard four-hour response time, but we manage that very tightly and are currently at 3.1 hours,” he said. All engineers carry around £8,500 worth of stock with them and CSL Group utilises vehicle management software to help make its service support more responsive and efficient.
Perkins explained: “This system is incredibly valuable, providing us with real time visibility over where each engineer is at any given time. The information enables us to route the nearest engineer to any call, advise them on the most route ad give our customers accurate ETA times. But we are also able to monitor car stock levels in real-time too and often, we will despatch an engineer who is maybe not the closest to the customer, but who has the correct part with him to effect a first-time fix. If you ask any customer, they would rather the engineer who attended came equipped with the right parts to resolve their problem, rather than have one come back another day.”
CS Remote Care
CSL Group has invested heavily in its back-office systems to improve its efficiency. State-of-the-art machine-to-machine communication (M2M) between the devices and service operation enables it to pull the latest status information from connected devices.
“Whenever a service call comes in the operator logins to identify any technical issues. This not only enables us to ensure the engineer has the correct parts to resolve the problem, but also where possible provides us with the information we need to fix remotely,” Perkins explained.
“Around 20 per cent of service calls coming into our helpline are cleared this way, we can fix the issue remotely which removes the requirement to send an engineer and provides an even faster resolution time to customers,” he added.
CSL Group has enjoyed consistent year on year growth of 15 per cent. Last year it achieved a £7m turnover and is targeting £10m for next year. In addition and complementary to its core business, the company also has two digital print centres in Leicester and Market Harborough.
The firm’s head office is in Leicester and it has two further operations, Long Eaton, near Nottingham and Market Harborough, Leicestershire. The company also plans to open a new office close to Nottingham city centre imminently. “We have a strong foothold in the East Midlands and a customer base that spans all industries from large conglomerates to small local businesses,” Perkins said.
“The new office opening in Nottingham will provide us with a platform to expand further across the Nottingham and Derbyshire regions. We have a growth strategy in place and see significant opportunities there,” he added.
Its Leicester-based showroom has also recently undergone refurbishment. “People buy from people and we’re keen to invite existing and prospective customers to visit us, to meet the team and experience first-hand all that we offer,” Perkins said in conclusion.