In an industry career which began in 1993 as a Night Time Cashier working for Chisholm Bookmakers, Iain Graham has risen through the ranks working for some of land-based gaming’s best known brands. He joined Blueprint Operations in April 2022 as Head of Business Development and in December 2023 became Head of Account Management. Iain reflects on the benefits of Blueprint’s collaborative approach to sales and why the upcoming Park Avenue Open Day is one of his personal favourite industry events.


BPO announced the launch of its Buy Direct model in December 2021  – what has it enabled you to do differently as a company?

The key advantage of the buy direct model is that it has brought us much, much closer to our customer base.  As a result, we continue to gain a real understanding of our customers’ needs across the varying sub-sectors of our industry. It has meant  that we have been able to shape our offer within a structured pricing framework.  The subsequent move – which we announced this year – to a field-based, regional model of account management has certainly helped accelerate this. 

Does having a more collaborative approach to machine sales require a different skill-set than a more traditional approach?

Absolutely.  It’s not just a change in skill-set but also a change in mind-set.  Historically, the primary focus was to hit the phone lines in order to hit the numbers. Whilst this gave us some success, we knew there was a better way to ensure sustainable success, build our reputation and in the process to build long-term, meaningful relationships with our customers.  We now work much more closely with our 600+ accounts in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of their needs both immediate and over the longer term.  The key skill required for this is ‘Listening’. We know that by taking the time to fully understand a customers’ business and their requirements, it enhances the chances to secure repeat business and for us to be recommended to industry colleagues.


The business was quoted in Coinslot as favouring a field-based as opposed to a phone-based approach – is this paying dividends?

We recognise how busy our customers are at different times of the year and that it’s not always practical or convenient for them to either come and see us or to attend the various industry trade events.  Empowering the team to get out and about this year has certainly paid dividends and this is especially evidenced by the number of new customers we are now selling to as well as the volume of repeat business we are getting from our established customer base.  

How much do you learn by speaking with and listening to the experience of your customers and does any customer insight find its way into future cabinet designs?

We learn huge amounts from our interactions with the industry and customer feedback is essential to the success of Blueprint Operations business.  We receive regular feedback across a wide range of areas from tech support and after-sales, billing and accounts through to platform, systems and cabinet design. This represents a real benefit and one that’s enhanced by the new field-based approach to business.  

Having access to the experience, insight and knowledge of the operators that we work with also benefits the team and we are equally keen to pass on what we learn both internally and to our wider customer base. On the back of feedback received, we recently hosted a Customer Engagement Forum at our head office in Newark.  We invited a wide range of customers, varying from large High Street Operations in AGC and Bingo through to smaller independent Single-Site (Pub and Club) operators.  Customers met with the heads of our key departments to discuss all aspects of Blueprint Operations and the feedback will be invaluable to us in further enhancing the entire operation.      

Parent company MERKUR UK has launched the Slots Academy as a method of investing in future business leaders – are any of the Blueprint team involved in the Academy?

I’m very fortunate and proud to count myself as one of the delegates on the Slots Academy and have benefitted greatly from the five  workshop-based modules that we have completed so far.  It’s invaluable  working alongside great talent from the wider MERKUR Group and including myself there are five team members from Blueprint Operations who are part of the Academy. It’s a great initiative and we are now roughly a third of the way through what is a 15-month programme. This is just one example of the investment in people made by Blueprint Operations and the wider MERKUR UK Group and I’m very excited to see what the rest of the programme holds.

How much are you looking forward to Park Avenue, where does it sit alongside events such as ACOS and EAG and how many of the team will be in attendance?

Park Avenue is a fantastic networking event and a key highlight of the event calendar for me personally.  I’m delighted Blueprint continue to support this event and thanks again to John Stergides and Mark Horwood for hosting us.  Whilst we will take a couple of machines with us, and it’s always great to get some business done, for us Park Avenue is more about the people and demonstrating our support to the Industry.  It’s far more relaxed and a lot less pressured and formal than either EAG or ACOS but nevertheless just as important.  I’m particularly looking forward to this year’s event as it’s a significant gathering of the industry and an opportunity to discuss political developments impacting the White Paper. In terms of attendance, this year will see our largest representation. As well as myself and the five-strong account management team, our Managing Director- Andy Tipple, Ops Director – Nadia Timofeev and Head of Product- James Fergusson will also be coming along to support.

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