What a difference a year makes! Twelve months ago we were based in small offices at South Shields and employed fewer than 28 staff. Now we’ve relocated to bigger premises at Spectrum Business Park in Seaham and our headcount has trebled to 82. That’s some growth story – and there are many exciting chapters still to come. We’re on track to be at 100 staff by the end of this year and our ultimate goal is to increase headcount to 150 by early next year, one year ahead of our original growth plan.
We’re currently seeking to hire a head of international to oversee the roll-out of our global growth strategy. In addition, we’ve created a further six senior roles, including a head of e-commerce who will oversee the implementation of our digital sales strategy, a marketing and communications manager, and a head of corporate who will advise clients on a range of cost-saving measures. In all we’ve taken on 22 staff since the beginning of October, including a head of energy management who will ensure that our customers are compliant with a raft of energy-based regulations. Our head of procurement and marketing and communications manager are both due to start in a few weeks’ time.
Growing a business exponentially is exciting and fun but not without its pitfalls. Many ambitious companies have imploded after trying to expand too rapidly. At Great Annual Savings Group we’ve implemented a controlled growth strategy which focuses on hiring quality staff rather than simply ramping up the numbers. We’ve put in place rigorous recruitment, search and interview systems so we’re confident that the people we’re hiring are a good fit with our culture. We’ve also been careful to ensure that we’ve not outgrown our internal systems and processes. It’s no use hiring an extra 50-100 staff only to discover that the IT infrastructure won’t allow them to do their job effectively.
There’s also the important topic of finance to consider. Recruiting extra pairs of hands can result in a significant outlay in new PCs, hardware and software. We’ve invested in a cloud-based, centrally-managed IT infrastructure that can be extended on demand to match the growth of the business. That has negated the need to purchase a new telephony switchboard, software licenses and desktop computers, which would have added thousands of pounds to our cost base.
In a bid to create a low-cost, low-energy environment at our Seaham headquarters, we’ve also invested in energy-efficient computers that automatically switch off at the end of each day. Meanwhile, all data has been moved off-site into a secure cloud data centre, which means that no additional energy is required to cool internal servers. It also means that we don’t have to invest in additional resource to manage the IT or telephony systems, which allows us to keep our costs under control.
Another vital aspect of growing a company is the ability to retain great relationships with customers. Winning new business becomes irrelevant if you’re losing existing customers due to poor service delivery. At Great Annual Savings Group we don’t forget the personal touch; we’re in regular contact with all of our customers – new and old – to make sure that our service provision continues to meet their needs. That will be a cornerstone of our business philosophy even when we’ve trebled or quadroupled in size.
While we’re determined to expand the business quickly, it has to be controlled, sustainable and done in a manner that’s fair to our staff. If we achieve that – and I’m confident that we will – it will lead to a prosperous future for the company and its employees.
For further information about Great Annual Savings visit www.greatannualsavings.com.