The dust is still settling at Pendum LLC. Literally. This summer the nation's largest independent ATM service company packed up its Denver headquarters and consolidated operations in Elmhurst, Ill., 18 miles west of downtown Chicago. There, in an unassuming one-story building in an unremarkable office park, construction is currently underway on a best-in-class ATM service and support facility.
The centerpiece of the reconfigured building will be an ATM lab that houses almost 100 different makes and models of ATMs from NCR, Wincor Nixdorf, Nautilus Hyosung, Triton — even a 1986 Fujitsu, because "they're still out there, even though they probably shouldn't be," Browder said.
One-dozen Pendum "super-technicians" will use the ATM lab to help techs in the field when they run into unusually difficult maintenance issues. "The reason why we have so many makes and models of ATMs is because they'll actually physically walk to the ATM and they'll talk to the technician while looking at the same make and model," Browder said. "It's better than trying to flip through a manual and saying, 'Well, look at this.'"
The new facility also will feature classrooms used for the company's certified technician training programs. All Pendum techs come to headquarters at least once a year to get updated on new equipment and procedures, Browder said. New techs will spend as much as three weeks at the training facility.
'Excuse our metaphoric dust'
And then there's the other kind of dust-settling. Since Browder took the helm as CEO of Pendum three years ago, he's led the company through some major adjustments in structure and direction.
For many years a CIT and ATM service provider, Pendum sold its armored transportation and cash-in-transit business to Loomis for $100 million in March of 2011. The company then set about refining its focus on ATM service.
This effort brought about further changes as Browder and his team took a close look at its logistics and personnel and started asking how they could improve efficiency across the board at Pendum. As a result, the parts warehouse was moved from Memphis to Chicago, which presented a more efficient distribution hub.
Additionally, the Pendum tech staff was reduced, as the company dismissed non-performing employees. According to Browder, both employee morale and customer satisfaction improved as a result. The company now employs 280 trained and certified technicians.
A simpler, streamlined ATM service model
Around the same time, the company changed from a first-line, second-line technician model to a maintenance tech-only model. Browder said this actually allowed Pendum to offer better service at a lower cost to customers.
"[First line] was really put in place just to get a response time SLA met," he said. "Get somebody to the site, see if they can repair it. Maybe reboot the machine, maybe put the receipt paper in the right way, unjam it, whatever they need to do to get the machine back up and running."
The problem, he said, was that a first-line tech might spend two hours of drive time and another hour of machine time only to find that the problem was "above his pay grade." This would result in more drive time and additional maintenance time to address the real problem with the machine. And for the customer, the result would be reduced machine availability at greater cost.
"So, what we want to do is we want to have a tech respond to a call, it doesn't matter if it's a simple paper jam or if its replacing the hard drive, that technician can do it," Browder said. "We recognized that just sending somebody out for a few dollars less per hour and then running a second-line tech in after them to follow and chase them around — the model didn't work. It just didn't work."
Ultimately, the move to a maintenance tech-only approach proved to be good for both Pendum and its customers. For Pendum, the logistics were simplified and streamlined. For the client, uptime was improved without increased cost. "And in the end that's what they're looking for anyway," Browder said.
Getting better at ATM services
When the dust (of all types) does settle — sometime in January, it's expected — Pendum will have all of the elements in place to work toward new goals for 2013 and beyond.
Browder said that the company had several plans in play now: Pendum is now "in the throes" of setting up a manufacturer-agnostic remote monitoring center, he said. The company also has a new partnership with FirstData to provide ATM outsourcing for FIs. And it's investigating opportunities to expand its maintenance capabilities to include self-service devices such as airport and hotel kiosks and grocery store self-checkout.
"But I still think that in 2013, although we'll be teeing that up, I think that our focus is going to be just still getting better in and around the ATM services and growing that," Browder said. "But mostly, what we'd like to focus on in 2013 is just top line revenue growth. And most of that we'd like to see in the services side of the business. Because we're a services company."
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