Stone Group - Providing digital transformation solutions to organisations across the UK.

Background

Entrust was developed in 2013 as a joint venture company between Staffordshire County Council and Capita and was originally set up to provide education support services alongside schools and academies in Staffordshire. In present day, it has grown to work across over 50 local authority areas, providing specialist expertise in a wide range of services – from catering to finance, governance to HR, and also IT and technology.

For the past 15 years, Entrust has been working with, and relying on Stone to help them deliver transformational solutions to their customers. As a result, both companies consider the relationship to be a mutually rewarding partnership, rather than that of the usual supplier-provider.

Ian Farish, Operations Director for Entrust explained: “Both our company headquarters are based in Staffordshire and both companies have enjoyed considerable growth over the last few years.  Initially, Stone was one of several suppliers we worked with, but, as Stone continue to demonstrate their cost-effectiveness, knowledge, quality service and product innovation, it is now our main supplier.”

Equipment provider

Entrust use Stone for numerous services and solutions and regularly purchase considerable amounts of kit, including desktops, laptops and servers.  As well as purchasing a variety of branded products supplied by us, Entrust has also used a range of Stone’s own-brand equipment such as Equinox.

“We are just in the process of installing our first Equinox solution,” said Ian.  “Although this is a Stone solution, they are more than happy to share their knowledge with us to ensure that our team can deliver a professional install.  They are never territorial about their products and are always happy to provide their professional insight which is always appreciated.  Sometimes, we may need to ‘white label’ products and Stone is equally happy to help us deliver.”

Strategy development

Entrust also appreciate the working relationship it enjoys with Stone.  Strategic planning is crucial to ensure Entrust delivers on its promises to customers, and so, each quarter, Ian will sit down with one of our project managers to develop road maps.

“Our quarterly meetings are vital,” said Ian.  “As well as planning strategy, we also discuss the latest trends in education and new developments in technology.”

Additionally, we are always willing to help out when it comes to marketing, providing knowledge as well as IT support at industry events. Erline Boon, Head of Marketing and Communication at Entrust reiterated the partnership approach.

“It’s really useful to have Stone’s expertise on hand when we need it,” she said.  “Stone is always happy to share information and knowledge with our delegates and they are a trusted back-up at key points throughout the year.”

Developing relationships

People can make or break business relationships, and we have taken the time to build up a great working relationship with Entrust, through dedicated team members who provide both day-to-day and strategic management planning.

Ian said: “Nothing is too much trouble for Stone.  They are always on the ball. They don’t keep us waiting for an answer, which means we don’t keep our customers waiting either.”

While Entrust’s main business is currently around the Midlands, it is starting to do more work in other local authority areas across the country, and is always happy to introduce Stone to new schools.

Ian adds: “I think it is testament to our satisfaction with Stone that we are confident enough to recommend them to our new clients.  We wouldn’t take that risk or place that much trust in anyone else.”

From Stone’s point of view, we enjoy working with a company that shares our passion for education.  We invite Entrust to new product event launches, we always pass on any special offers and invite them to join us when our own suppliers are putting on events.

Good service is a given

Entrust recognise that as a specialist in the education sector, we understand how schools operate, and like them, appreciate how important it is to deliver on time and to address issues quickly.

“If a headteacher has a laptop that is not working, another company would promise to sort it within the week,” explained Ian, “however, Stone recognise the urgency for the school and will sort it out that day.”

We are also careful to ensure that we don’t take our relationship with Entrust for granted.

“We spend millions of pounds with Stone and I have known other companies to become over confident and assume contracts will always be renewed.” said Ian. “Stone constantly benchmark and we discuss pricing at our quarterly reviews.  As they can hold stock for 15 months, we can plan in any price fluctuations in advance and when a school places a large order, we know if prices are going to rise.  Stone continually monitor the market and costs in general and doesn’t take our business for granted.”

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