How are you adjusting your business to cope with economic conditions?
In this industry, or outside, you need a viable cost base and the need to balance is a key factor. But business is the same.
What new areas have developed?
We are always looking at new revenue streams. We are growing our landline
business as well as our online portal, where you go on and use information for connections – we are using system integration in our business. We do fulfilment, prepay Sim, and the traditional side.
Have you slowed down business due to pressures in the industry?
I think the traditional dealer business has slowed as there have been less of them around. The demise of cashback and the one man dealer on the high street has obviously changed things.
What are the implications of call centres being used less by operators?
All the networks, except 3, don’t really use them. 3 needs acquisition of customers, and call centres allow them to do this. There aren’t many call centres left – overall, we deal with double figures and this has not increased dramatically. There is a group of call centres out there. This can increase – if someone goes bust.
Why should the best dealers choose EBS?
The million dollar question! There are many reasons you deal with someone. Reputation, and also if you deal with systems you should choose us. And people like dealing with us.
What do you think dealers should be doing?
Dealers should be looking at different revenue streams. B2b should be associated with products and services and high street dealers should be looking at other telecoms products. It depends who you are, it’s difficult to say if people have different ideas about what they want to do.
They are telling us we should all do IT, and people read into that what they do into mobile. Convergence isn’t for every dealer and you need to be specialist to do it.
What does it mean for you, being so focused on 3 and Orange?
If you have all five networks, there is more choice but there are also more problems. When there are four, you have to keep everyone happy. We do Virgin Mobile and O2 for prepay Sim, and 3 and Orange for distribution for all services.
How is the deal with Fonehouse going?
It’s going very slowly, because you have to take into account that the incumbents are very much involved in the franchise network. EBS and 3 came in as a third operation and we need to sign individual dealers in and get 3 involved in the programme. It’s good for everyone though, as we get access to 50 franchises, and the franchises can only do 3 through us.
Advantage did it before and they went bust, so it has potential but will take time. Potentially it is a big opportunity, but we will have to see how things go.
Where do you see the market going?
The market is going to get tougher as it is consolidating – networks are looking at new ways of making money. But consolidation is a fact of life and is a direct correlation of what the networks are doing. You need to do what networks want you to do, or you will fall by the wayside.
We will remain here, we are competing. We have been here 25 years and we are adapting. Things are tough for everyone.