Many’s the success story that has an inauspicious beginning and the story of Sue Loftus’ wonderful career at Coinadrink is one of them. She started with us in April 1994; but it might have been earlier: ‘The first time I applied for a job, I was turned down’, she says. ‘It was second time lucky for me.’
It was lucky for Coinadrink, too…
In the latest article in a series that turns the spotlight on our staff, meet Coinadrink’s Customer Care Manager: Sue Loftus
‘I was thrown in at the deep end’, Sue remembers. ‘There was a staff shortage at the time and it was ‘all hands to the pumps’. I was given a pair of buckets, a selection of cleaning products and a fully-stocked van, together with a list of customers, an A-Z of Birmingham and a name badge that said I was a ‘Hygiene Operator’.
‘I enjoyed it; stocking the machines and dealing with the customers. But it used to puzzle me that I was still on the road at tea-time when the others were finished by 2!’. Then, one fine summer’s day, I finally got the hang of the job. The first time I completed my round by 1:30, my first thought was that I must have missed somebody out.’
(…and bear in mind that Sue and her colleagues are on the road while most of us are still in the far-away land of Nod).
After a year in which she’d come to know the streets of Birmingham like the back of her hand, she was offered a change, which involved taking-over another route much closer to where she lived. She took the job.
Having made a success of that, opportunity knocked again. ‘I was offered the chance to be the ‘holiday cover’ operator.’ In this role, it was no time at all before Sue could proudly prove that she knew every account and every customer that Coinadrink had – personally.
By 1998 she’d been singled out as ‘supervisor material’ and soon, she had a small team reporting to her. ‘I had no experience of ‘man management’ then, so it was an important job for me.’
She’d been settled in that role for a year or two; but when the time came for the company to adopt electronic management systems, she was asked to move ‘inside’ to help with the transition because her knowledge of the customer base was unique. ‘It wasn’t easy, though’, Sue says. ‘After ten years on the road, it wasn’t long before I was getting itchy feet.’
In 2004 she became a ‘Sales Executive’. ‘I got the chance because Norma Graham was retiring.’ The role had two elements: generating new business and managing existing accounts. ‘We were a team of four’, Sue says. ‘We got to know each other well and we discovered that some of us preferred the ‘cold call’ element of the job while others enjoyed looking after existing customers and making sure they had the best possible experience when doing business with Coinadrink.’
Sue enjoyed her ‘customer care’ duties, whereas her colleague Natalie preferred to ‘open doors’ for the business. It seemed sensible for Sue to take over the care of Natalie’s existing customers to release Natalie to concentrate on attracting new customers and expanding the business.
That’s what happened – and it’s been that way since 2008.
It seems hard to credit it, but Sue’s been with us now for just over 22 years. Having said that, she like to get away from us as often as possible: every Friday, as soon as she’s ‘clocked-off’ at 3, Sue and her partner John turn off their mobile phones and head for the peace and quiet of their caravan in Wales. The only exception to this rule is when the couple jet away to Malta, which, Sue says, is ‘three or four times a year and / or whenever it’s humanly possible!’
Sue is celebrating a milestone birthday this summer and whilst it would be ungracious of us to reveal a lady’s age, we hope you’ll join us in wishing Sue Loftus, our Customer Care Manager, ‘a very happy birthday’.
*There’ll be another story about a member of the Coinadrink staff next time.