When husband and wife team, Julian and Melody Thompson, set up their driving recruitment agency, 24-7 Staffing, in Chippenham in 2004 little did they realise that just two years later their business would have grown to eight members of staff, over 400 registered drivers and almost 100 active clients.
Despite their obvious success Julian fully admits that as the team started to grow, it became evident that effective management training would provide ideal leadership opportunities for the business. “We feel that these vital soft skills are often over looked by small business owners because they are so busy running their business, rather than leading a self reliant team of people to manage the growth.”
The business had already received assistance from its local Business Link team in applying for a Business Development Grant to upgrade the existing technology systems so Julian and Melody felt confident in approaching the team again for advice.
Julian and Melody worked closely with Business Link adviser Julie Cromwell to work up a simple traffic light-themed skills matrix to identify the missing key skills. Julie recommended investigating the Organisation Leadership and Management, or ‘OLM’, matched funding programme as a means of covering the cost of specialist management training.
Having been accepted onto the OLM programme, Julian and Melody invested a lot of time in identifying the best training programme for their needs. It was crucial to find a course that not only offered the right content, but could also balance the management needs of a growing business and family commitments. They eventually identified the Leadership and Management Programme (LAMP) run by the Willshire Group in Corsham.
Starting in March 2006, Julian attended the course once a week for eight weeks. As the sessions were only half days, running 8.30am to 1pm, and took place in Corsham only five miles away, they easily fitted into Julian’s busy schedule. He also particularly enjoyed the practical experience and advice given by the tutors.
“The set up of our training sessions was really appealing to me and the fact that I was in the same group as a wide range of business owners and employees, of all ages, meant that we really got to talk in depth about a variety of difference management skill requirements,“ says Julian. “After completing the course I immediately began to see the benefits – I changed my working practices for the better and attended to management issues more effectively, particularly with regards to planning, confident delegation, time management and team coaching. I’ve also been able to pass on some of the skills and methods I learnt to other members of our team which has definitely impacted our business for the better.”
Julie Cromwell comments; “As an adviser, having businesses take up your recommendations and actually benefit is the ultimate in job satisfaction. Julian and Melody have seen a real positive change in their business since this training took place and they are now involved in a wide range of Business Link programmes and are frequent attendees at our workshops and networking events.”