In 1995 Burbidge & Son commissioned a far-reaching independent customer survey to help establish the most important supplier attributes required by its target market of small-to-medium-sized kitchen manufacturers and retailers.
The results revealed that the most important competitive edge could be gained by achieving a consistently reliable delivery performance.
Burbidge used the survey to benchmark itself against its competitors and found that while it was recognised for many positive things, particularly the quality of its products, its delivery performance was generally seen as poor.
Managing director Ben Burbidge said: “We had already started looking at transport arrangements. We had been running our own fleet, which operated an inflexible milk round, and were considering using a carrier. The survey showed service was more important to our customers than anything else and our service was bad.
“Our ability to complete and deliver on time was not very good and we were losing share to competitors on that basis. We realised that to improve we had issues to resolve that were deeper than transport.”
This is when Warwick Manufacturing Group, part of the engineering school of the University of Warwick, was consulted. Among the aims of the consultation was to: