DEVELOPING a strong set of company values has put specialist driving recruitment agency 24-7 Staffing in the fast lane for growth.
The Chippenham-based firm, formed four years ago by managing director Julian Thompson, supplies permanent and temporary driving staff to nearly 200 clients including blue-chip operators across Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire.
These range from Wincanton, the UK’s largest logistics group, to small family-owned hauliers. It also supplies chauffeurs and drivers for a range of vehicles such as polo horse transporters, builder’s merchants as well as delivering new cars for road tests by journalists.
Sales and marketing director Melody Thompson, Julian’s wife, who joined the firm three years ago, believes an emphasis on building a strong company culture has driven its growth.
Turnover has just reached £1.2m for the past 11 months and on May 1st it opened a second branch in Yate, near Bristol.
“There’s a national shortage of drivers, - this country’s an island and so almost everything in your house has been on a truck at some stage,” said Melody.
“But what differentiates us from our rivals is a commitment to our drivers which we are demonstrating by training them. So far we’ve supported 22 new and existing recruits to upgrade their licence skills, these include C+E, C, Lorry Loader and ADR upgrades. This investment is not only good for clients because of higher driving standards, but it’s also good for the drivers because they are more skilled and so can earn more.”
The company, which employs seven staff with more than 100 years’ experience in the transport industry between them, adheres to what it calls its company values and beliefs. These include a commitment to five-star service for clients, developing respect and communications among its staff and the 700 drivers registered on its books, honesty and reliability in everything it does, and putting its employees’ families first.
“If you’re clear about the company’s values it’s much easier to make decisions on a daily basis.” added Melody. “They’re important to us and are backed up with robust systems that are in place to continually improve service delivery for clients and drivers.”
These include a powerful IT system which handles the payroll, bookings and back office tasks.
The company holds an annual strategy day in which everyone in the business is involved to develop future goals and looks at every aspect of the business from operations, sales, and IT, to human resources.
“We do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and give staff the opportunity to contribute to this anonymously.” said Melody.
The firm has worked with Business Link for two years on a range of issues. It received grant funding towards its IT upgrade, while Julian and Melody have had leadership management development. It has also worked on staff development with Train to Gain, which is funded by the Learning and Skills Council and delivered across the South West by Business Link.
(Quote from Julie Cromwell, business adviser, to come)
While the firm will spend this year bedding in its Yate office, it has ambitions for a total of 12 offices across the South West – probably opening them at the rate of one a year.
“We could grow faster by making acquisitions but we believe our success has come from the fact that we have been able to hand pick excellent staff,” said Melody. “We’re looking for steady growth that’s focused on profit, not necessarily big numbers, so we’re not in a hurry.”