My name is Paul Young and I started my working life as a painter and decorator at the age of 19. I grew a beard to look older than I was and from this age I was determined to be my own man, create a business that I could be proud of, have some fun and make some money along the way.
At its peak, my business had between sixty and seventy painters fully employed all over the South East of England. We were doing some very nice houses and had a clientele that included a number of celebrities and famous sportspeople.
He is one of the main service agents for Greggs
In the financial correction following the internet bubble bust of 2001 my clients stopped developing their properties and almost overnight the pipeline of work completely dried up. I returned from a business trip to Gibraltar to find seven businesses had gone into liquidation and the £100,000 of cash we had in reserves was not going to be enough to save us. Bank overdrafts were then pulled and the business could not survive and was declared bankrupt.
Feeling a bit bruised I headed to Germany and developed the art of spray plastering – didn’t enjoy the experience at all however the change of life let me realise other things also needed to be fixed and I left my wife.
Moved back to Temple in London and started a new business which was great fun with jobs including the painting of the judges chambers. A new opportunity opened up and I moved to Lincoln in the center of the UK to become the principal maintenance contractor for Greggs Bakeries.
This new business was similar to the painting company. With me allocating, managing and administrating all the billing, job allocation and cost control. With a team of sub-contractors who are able to price up and submit estimates for the work needing to be done on each of the shops.
How many trade clients do you have? Do you specialise in this industry?
We prefer to work on a fixed contract and the principal client is Greggs. With our current contract covering circa 45 stores. We have some private clients, however these tend to be old customers or good friends.
We have a number of skill sets, however the key benefit we provide is our ability to react and deal with almost any issue.
Shop front redecorations through to roof repairs – we can deal with most issues that you find in a bakery.
How did you hear about NextMinute?
A few years back the stress was really starting to stack up and I had a heart attack. This, as you can imagine gave me a chance to reflect and to make some changes. I looked at how I was running the business and thought there has got to be a way, a better way to have control and visibility over what was happening in my day to day running of the business.
To free up my time from the tedious long winded processes that I had built up over time. I needed to address the things that were causing me stress and I could see that it was how I was using paper and spreadsheets to manage jobs.
I needed to be focused on different elements of the business. Solving problems has always been important to me and I knew I had to solve this one.
There were lots of solutions on the market. I had used Microsoft Projects before and was very familiar with how technology can help to consolidate information. Apple was the base of the systems we use and so it had to be IOS compatible.
We had simple needs and underlying everything in needed to be easy to use. Our contract with Greggs is on a tight SLA and we must be able to prioritise the jobs and distribute them to mobile teams quickly.
We are dealing with incoming quotes and multiple jobs open at the same time, all in different stages and requiring different levels of input. I need to know what needs my attention and where any issues may be about to start.
There was a considerable amount of paper in the business. Even now we print more than we should. We are needing to move to a digital world where finding, storing and most importantly retrieving information is easy. We print and store and file, archive, and then destroy – this needs to stop and it will very soon.
Greggs us a system called Aeromark and we have to take information from this to create our jo. s. Each job relates to an order number and a location. A location may have several jobs per month and we need to consolidate this all into a single invoice. We can do this much easier now as all the information is linked together with specific numbers.
Why did you decide to opt for NextMinute?
We looked around and for us we thought that it was easy to use. Greggs have their own job management system which has been in place for many years. It does it’s job but it is not for a business like ours.
They would not respond to our requests for information and like big companies they are not really set up for smaller business. Delivering a solution based on a monthly subscription is still not universally offered.
Was there a particular problem NextMinute helped solve for you?
Before NextMinute we were not 100% sure that all costs were being recovered. We provide an open book where the client is able to review the invoices we send them in detail. We must be able to show exactly how an invoice is made up and so having a clear and easy to follow process is critical. If we cant provide the data the client will lose confidence in us and the relationship will be in trouble.
With NextMinute I can easily see all the associated costs, the time they have been loaded and report these to the client in no time. The stress levels have gone down and the client is very happy.