Residential and Commercial Services: Customer first

Posted by pt91 at Mar 26, 2014 02:19 PM |
Growth in RACS surplus is the result of a customer-focused service, says Director Frances Stone

Given the word ‘commercial’ in our name, you could be forgiven for thinking that Residential and Commercial Services (RACS) is all about the money. Whilst generating a surplus is important to us, it is actually the customer experience which is and always will be our priority.

Customer experience is at the heart of everything we do across each of our functions. One of the great things about working in RACS is that almost every student and member of staff will be a customer of ours at some point, whether they live in our residences, buy our books, eat our food, attend one of our events or use our print services. Every single customer can expect a similarly high level of service, and can feel confident that we are always striving to improve further.

Students in hallsGathering and responding to feedback is crucial to our future success. We are one of very few commercial divisions in the sector to have a business analyst, and we regularly ask our students, staff and other customers for their views on what we do well and how we can improve. In recent months, we have opened a shop in Oadby Student Village and achieved Coeliac UK accreditation in direct response to requests made by students and staff, with more improvements planned for the next academic year across all areas of RACS.

We strongly believe that by doing a great job, engaging with our customers and giving them the service they deserve, our commercial success will naturally follow, and in recent years, that has been the case. Our income for 2012/13 was around £28.5m and we were able to make a contribution to the University of £3.1m – that’s 44% of the University’s total surplus. Over the past five years, we have grown our annual income by almost £3.5m and have contributed, on average, 28% of the University’s surplus in that time.

Deli on your doorstepWe recognise that the University is and always will be an academic institution first and foremost, and we understand that what we do in RACS may be seen by some as of secondary importance. At the same time, the reality is that universities are becoming more like businesses, without the ability to rely on the Government for grants and having to find their own ways of funding projects. Our ambition is to grow our surplus, to give the University an increased ability to reinvest in facilities and projects.

The future for RACS is bright and we have a number of exciting opportunities ahead, from the launch of our new catering van (right) to a fully revamped online shop. There are some challenges ahead too; in particular, investment in a Central Kitchen and in our accommodation is crucial if we are to continue to grow our income and deliver the level of experience our customers demand. But overall, we can be positive and excited about what lies ahead.

We’re always delighted to talk to anyone who wants to find out more about RACS, or who has an idea for how we can work together. Feel free to contact me on

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