When an emerging company in the security sector changed its business model to read ‘people first, security second’ many traditionalists were taken aback.
Now, with a growing international portfolio of clients across sectors as diverse as corporates, heritage sites, theatre, live entertainment venues, rail and critical national infrastructure organisations the Ashridge Group has proven its point, even to sceptics.
Run by Co-Directors Emma Walker and Mark Walker, the company now has a five-year track record of growth and increased its turnover in 2017 by 98% year on year. The Group has embraced technology, expanded its range of services across three distinct but inter-related companies: Ashridge Security Management, Ashridge Facilities Management and consultancy firm Cognitious Ltd.
It is, however, the customer experience delivery that makes the difference, according to Managing Director, Emma Walker.
“Adopting people first, security second was a bold move but it soon became clear that if you get the first one right, you create the basis for success. What customers need in their security provision is absolute mutual trust and nothing establishes that better than the quality of your people.”
For other SMEs looking to penetrate a B2B market dominated by much bigger organisations, Ashridge Group has a four-point plan for its sector that it offers as a template: –
- Active re-investment in training and soft skills, particularly for front-line employees who are your best sales tool, actively promoting your business through their actions, often as representatives of the client in reception or, front of house roles
- Changing the business model to ‘people first’ means employees feel trusted, responsible, more engaged, and thus more aware. It is about supporting and enabling teams and not dictating policy and suppressing broader thinking, and decision-making through empowerment
- Account management practices that are communicative, responsive and agile, and not slow as with larger organisations
- Added value solutions to benefit the client through cost-saving, delivered by using knowledge, skills and resources to provide a creative or equally effective proposition that avoids or reduces costs. For example, energy efficiency strategies, the recording of building fabric or lighting maintenance issues.
Ultimately, it’s outcomes that prove or disprove a business model and the company, which hasn’t lost a single account in five years, gets 90% of new business from customer referrals.
Gavin McGuiness, Security SME, Business Improvement Management, at Engie, the French-owned global energy giant, is a typical happy customer.
“Ashridge Group sets the benchmark in service excellence delivered by professionals, through synergy and understanding of their client’s needs, ever improving and constantly pushing the boundaries.”