Roadchef, owned by Antin Infrastructure Partners Limited, operates 30 motorway service areas (MSA) and is the third largest motorway service area operator within the UK and is the only MSA operator to achieve Gold Status as Investors of People.
By the nature of the business some of the key personnel working within the motorway service areas spend much of their time mobile in and around the various premises. Using the existing communications platforms it was difficult for customers, suppliers and colleagues to reach the right people within an acceptable time frame. Roadchef was relying on BT to support many of its older systems and in some instances equipment had broken and not been replaced leaving sites with less than satisfactory communications.
Some of the systems no longer suited current requirements leading to poor and inefficient communication within the sites and frustration amongst the staff. Furthermore, some of the sites simply did not have enough handsets left for the systems to work effectively. Roadchef had a mix of telephone systems across its estate meaning different skill sets and equipment were required to support each site and due to the diverse nature and age of the equipment installed it was impossible to network the systems.
Arrow used the integrated DECT facilities within the Panasonic platform to provide the relevant personnel in the business with mobile DECT handsets allowing users to make and receive calls from wherever they need to work. The handsets are fully integrated, which means they have access to the same system features that a desk user may have, with the added benefit of mobility.
Motorway service areas do not employ dedicated receptionists and the staff tasked with taking calls have other responsibilities within the business. As a result calls were not always answered in an appropriate amount of time. Equally taking calls and tracking down the required people disrupted workflow.
Arrow configured the auto attendant, integral to the Panasonic platform, to route calls directly to the required staff, whether they were desk or DECT phone users. This dramatically cut down answer times and reduced workload on admin staff. The voice mail facilities allowed external callers and colleagues to reliably leave messages for staff. The Unified Messaging capabilities enabled Roadchef to link the voice mail system with its email platform allowing users to access messages in their preferred manner and in a way that suited their working practices.
The incumbent platforms had no multi-site capability and Roadchef was in the process of upgrading its WAN technologies and was looking for a platform that could make use of the inter-site connectivity when required. The Panasonic platforms are fully networkable, enabling Roadchef to route calls between sites free of charge, while taking advantage of the many centralised telephony features the platform offers.
The majority of sites had entirely new structured cabling, however in some instances sites had legacy wiring still in place. In terms of ongoing management it was important a single platform was employed across all sites and as such the solution needed to interface with both infrastructures.
The Panasonic system sits comfortably across both the latest and legacy infrastructures making it the ideal solution for companies with complex network environments. In the case of Roadchef, it facilitated the adoption of the latest telephony technologies while allowing for the phased role out of new structured cabling systems. Roadchef had in excess of 300 analogue lines, over 40 ISDN2 lines and 64 ISDN30 lines over its 30 sites. When taking over from BT, Arrow was engaged by Roadchef to undertake a full, multi-site audit of the line estate. The audit and the improved tariff that Arrow was able to provide resulted in substantial cost savings for Roadchef as well as improved productivity.
Roadchef could see the benefit of moving to SIP trunks over time, but in the short to medium term wanted to retain the existing analogue and ISDN lines. The Panasonic systems Arrow proposed and delivered support both traditional and IP trunks, allowing Roadchef to migrate at its own pace.
The Panasonic platforms support a vast array of features and services. The multisite solution that Arrow provided met the immediate requirement to upgrade the aging legacy estate, improved service levels to both internal and external parties and provided a stable and flexible solution that allowed Roadchef to adopt new features at a pace that suited their business.
Arrow’s implementation team liaised between BT Openreach and Roadchef to ensure a smooth transition of lines. Nathan Sharkey, Head of IT for Roadchef comments, “We had a number of key projects running simultaneously and it was therefore vitally important that the telecoms solution went in smoothly and with minimum demand on our internal IT team. Arrow delivered the solution both on time and with little disruption to the business”.