RG: Hi this is Rob Grimes with the IFBTA and I’m really proud today to be with Jeff Pinc, who is the Director of Food Service Technology for Panasonic, one of our industry suppliers. So welcome Jeff.
JP: Thanks and thanks for joining us at the Panasonic CES experience.
RG: So how do you actually handle an account because you guys are global and there’s also a multi-unit operators, there are small to medium businesses, so I assume you have a channel plus you handle major accounts. How does someone actually engage with Panasonic today?
JP: Great question. So we engage in a lot of different ways. Anywhere from independent restauranteurs to reseller channels through large franchise organizations to our reseller channels or direct through some of the large global brands as well. So there’s a direct and indirect model that we have for sales and service.
RG: So a person can engage in any number of ways but you still have dealer model too for the smaller independence in the local market?
JP: Absolutely, a big part of our business. Even a lot of the major chains they won’t allow their franchisees to buy locally or have a relationship locally. So a lot of the programs we have set up or set up that way.
RG: Well, let’s talk about… because you’ve been around the industry and have seen a lot of different things, so let’s just talk about how that really works. In the old days you needed to have local relationships because you were getting service and support on a local level – you had programming support, electronic cash registers and things, but really the industry’s evolved and and the technology is evolved. So how does a local dealer stay on top of that…on top of the technology and how do you make sure that they are actually able to deliver at the level they need to given applications that may be coming from somewhere else?
JP: It takes a close connection with them, of course, and regular training and things like that. But a lot of the software support now can really be done remotely there’s not a lot done on site. On site really is predominantly hardware repairs, and even then.
RG: So is it a partnership if they’re selling software that’s being hosted software, you guys or the company you’re working with provides that support and then they provide the local flavor to it?
JP: Exactly, maybe local configurations, localization, database programming, that sort of stuff.
RG: Does it make it easier or harder for them to sell in this environment today?
JP: I think it’s getting harder since a lot of things that are out there can be supported remotely…Bought and serviced from a central location so they’re having to go the extra mile to win business these days. It’s not getting easier it’s getting a little harder, for sure.
RG: Now, also, this is past history but when somebody was a multinational and they wanted to work with Panasonic, it used to be they really had to engage in a local level or regional level. Is it possible for the large multinational today to engage with a single point of contact that really coordinates and does things for them globally?
JP: We put a great global account management team in place in the past couple of years so many other major brands can go to that one single point of contact. And generally they want them here domestically as well – at least the US brands.
RG: It’s becoming more and more, that even the small and medium growth brands will go international right away. They end up in Dubai right away, right? So I guess that creates a challenge but because of your multi national footprint, you are really one of a small group of providers able to do a total solution globally.
JP: And we’ve got good infrastructure globally as well to support the brands as they expand out there. We’ve got some great master franchisees that are in place that are used to our technology, that work with our technology all the time.
RG: Well great, listen, we really appreciate the support both of you personally and Panasonic as a company as being one of our founding industry partners and we appreciate your joining the IFBTA, what you do for the IFBTA on the local level and also the educational piece. So we want to thank you.
JP: Rob, it’s an honor to be a part of it. Thank you.
RG: Rob Grimes here with Panasonic, our global industry partner at CES.