Blackhawk Network.

Key Facts


New laRhea Grande Premium 2 coffee machines


Bean hoppers per machine for greater coffee variety


Hemel Hempstead


Hot Drink


13 Sep 2022

Unhappy with their incumbent vending supplier, Blackhawk Network partnered with Connect for a customer-first, high quality coffee solution.

About Blackhawk Network

Blackhawk Network delivers branded payment programs to help meet today’s most challenging business objectives. Blackhawk Network work with their partners to innovate, translating market trends in branded payments to extend reach, build loyalty and increase revenue. The organisation operates in 28 countries, including the UK, and works with leading global brands.

The Challenges

Blackhawk Network’s UK based team work across four-floors in their Hemel Hempstead office and have access to four hot drinks machines across the space – one machine per floor.

The business was experiencing significant issues with their vending supplier and decided it was time to consider alternatives, with the aim of addressing four main areas of concern.

  • Poor service
    The team at Blackhawk Network were unhappy with the poor response times to any service calls they raised. In some cases, service calls could be left without an engineer attending for longer than seven working days.
  • Irregular, ineffective communication
    Communication with the incumbent supplier was infrequent, and did not give confidence to the Blackhawk Network team that problems would be solved promptly, when raised. Account management support was not acceptable.
  • Low quality coffee
    Despite being raised as a concern, the incumbent supplier had not made efforts to improve the quality of coffee, either by changing machine setup or by utilising alternative consumables. Subsequently, staff were not enjoying the coffee from the hot drinks machines, and this was leading to decreased vend volumes.
  • Inconsistent operator visits
    There was a lack of consistency when it came to operator visits to the Blackhawk Network site. As a result, there were often occasions where the hot drinks machines would be out of ingredients, out of action due to waste being at full capacity or the machine had not been cleaned to an acceptable standard.

We’ve been helping businesses for over 25 years and we’ve heard the same issues pop up time and time again.

Where others drop the ball on service levels and account management, we put in the graft to keep standards high, which is something we’re extremely proud of at Connect.

It’s been a pleasure working with Paul and the Blackhawk Network team and I’m confident we will enjoy a long standing and successful working relationship.
Tom Lightfoot, Head of Corporate Accounts, Connect Vending

The Solution

Paul Edwards, UK Facilities Manager at Blackhawk Network, reached out to Connect Vending to discuss the challenges the organisation was facing for hot drinks provisions.

Paul’s experience with Connect stretches back several years across previous roles, where he has worked closely with Tom Lightfoot, Connect Vending’s Head of Corporate Accounts. After several years of outstanding Account Management support, Paul’s first port of call was Connect Vending.

Blackhawk Network had a set of key improvements they required from a new solution, which included solving the problems that had arisen from the relationship with the existing provider, whilst taking a step on from the equipment currently on site.

Connect Vending committed to achieving the following with Blackhawk Network:

  • Excellent service
    Connect Vending’s reputation in the market is unsurpassed. Logged service calls are allocated an engineer, who on 75% of occasions will attend the client site within 4 hours.
  • Regular communication and support
    Following years of success working with Connect in previous roles, it was important that Paul had the outstanding communication and support from Connect’s Account Management Team.
  • Great quality coffee
    Blackhawk Network wanted staff to have the flexibility to choose from a wider range of drinks, and receive great tasting coffee every single time. Connect Vending’s team are trained to calibrate machines and ensure that each machine serves a great cup of coffee, consistently. The range of consumables available to Connect also ensures that the ingredients are of the highest standard.
  • Consistent machine operating
    Through Connect’s network of experienced vending operators, machines would be cleaned, replenished and maintained on a once or twice-weekly basis, ensuring that the poor service delivered by the incumbent is a thing of the past.

Connect took Paul’s requirements and constructed a proposal which would see the existing machines replaced with four sleek, modern laRhea Grande Premium 2 coffee machines. Each machine would have the capacity for two bean varieties, aligning with Blackhawk Network’s requirement for extra variety for their staff to choose from.

Having worked with Connect for several years I knew they were a market leader in the vending space.

Their innovative solutions and customer-first approach ticked all the boxes and we are delighted with the solution that Connect have implemented for us.

We look forward to working with Connect Vending for many years to come and we are certain that the challenges we faced in delivering great vending are now behind us.
Paul Edwards, UK Facilities Manager, Blackhawk Network

Although finding the correct solution for the site was the main driver for choosing Connect Vending as supplier, the strong relationship between Connect and their suppliers also meant that Blackhawk Network saved money over their previous agreement – the cherry on top of the cake.

A taste test was also undertaken for Connect to demonstrate the capability of the machine and ensure that the coffee beans that were being proposed would be of the required standard. Feedback from the session was extremely positive, and Blackhawk Network agreed to proceed with Connect Vending’s proposed solution.

The new solution has been popular with staff, with initial feedback indicating that the requirements for great quality coffee were being fulfilled by the new solution. Blackhawk Network’s procurement team were also extremely positive about the change, particularly the exceptional pre and post-sale support from the Connect team and the smooth installation and machine setup process.

Following the success of the new machines in the UK location, the business is now rolling out machines to other sites including to their office in Dublin, Ireland.