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Reseller of telematics and fleet technologies moves to offer access to BigChange’s complete field-service job management platform

BigChange, the field-service management software provider, today announced the appointment of EcoTrack as its reseller partner in the North East Midlands. EcoTrack is the sixth reseller to sign up for BigChange’s channel programme since it launched in January 2022.

Based in Melbourne, Derbyshire, EcoTrack is an established reseller of telematics and other fleet technologies that improve sustainability, reduce costs and deliver business efficiencies. The company advises and supports field-service businesses across the UK with the adoption of smart fleet technologies and the move to more sustainable transportation.

By becoming a BigChange channel partner, EcoTrack has broadened its offering beyond telematics and transportation to help clients improve business processes across their field-service operations with BigChange’s complete job management platform. EcoTrack will resell BigChange software to businesses with Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Lincoln and Peterborough postcodes.

BigChange brings together CRM, job scheduling, vehicle tracking, field resource management, job finance and business intelligence in one simple, easy to integrate system. Almost 1,700 field service businesses in the building maintenance, construction and environmental services sectors already use BigChange. The company attracted a £75 million private equity investment in 2021 to fund further growth and innovation.

Chris Tucker, Managing Director of EcoTrack, comments: “Many field-service organisations that invested previously in telematics to improve fleet management are looking to drive efficiencies and improvements throughout their operations. BigChange’s platform saves a lot of time and effort in managing field-service businesses. It is a game-changer.”

Paul Witter, Chief Partnerships Officer at BigChange, comments: “We are delighted to welcome EcoTrack to the BigChange family. It has a strong track record of supporting businesses with the adoption of complementary technologies, and we look forward to growing our businesses together by helping our customers to grow stronger.”

“Look, I know I sometimes say or post strange things, but that’s just how my brain works. To anyone who’s been offended, I just want to say, I reinvented electric cars, and I’m sending people to Mars in a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?”

Elon Musk stunned viewers with his opening speech on Saturday Night Live last year. The Tesla boss talked about having Asperger’s and his attempts to run “human in emulation mode”. It was an interesting insight into the mind of the man who has become the richest man in the world.

 I knew very little about the tech billionaire until recently, when I watched a Netflix documentary about him, and started to consume as much media as I could about his journey, like this interview on the FT

Before this research, I thought of him as a Twitter-obsessed genius, who challenged Vladimir Putin to “single combat”. Now, I think I have a more rounded view of him as a man and an entrepreneur, and it got me thinking about how quick human beings can be to dismiss those whose behaviour seems strange or erratic.

The underlying truth about Elon Musk is that he is a renegade and an independent thinker, who does things in his own idiosyncratic way. He is trying to make many positive changes in the world, whether that’s reducing road accidents through driverless cars, minimising our reliance on fossil fuels, protecting human livelihoods from the artificial intelligence revolution, or helping civilians trapped in war-torn Ukraine. Those are the things that should matter now – and will matter when he is remembered in history books, not whether he’s tweeted a dumb meme.

I’m no Elon Musk but I am also what you might call “a character”. I have my own ways of doing things, I like to take action today – never tomorrow, and I like to question why things are done the way they are. Why can’t we do it better? Over the years, this has certainly rubbed people up the wrong way and I understand why. But if people knew me better, they would see that I’m not so eccentric after all, I’m just absolutely committed to customer service, continuous improvement, and trying to be a good person.

I think that society needs to learn to be more accepting of renegades. No, I want to go further than that, we need to celebrate them and stop trying to limit or ridicule the scale of their aspiration. We need to judge people on their actions, not their words. We need to try and form opinions more slowly, with greater care.

Now, when I think about Elon Musk, I don’t think about the time he smoked a spliff on the Joe Rogan show, or those strange tweets when those boys were trapped underground in Thailand, I see someone whose vision and aspiration eclipses everything else. Someone who will make an indelible mark on human history for all the right reasons. So let’s all try and be a bit more Elon. 

So many of the nation’s small businesses hold fascinating stories just waiting to be told. One of these is the history of Sherwoods, which has become one of the most admired firms in its sector, serving big-name customers all across the Southwest.

This month’s Chairman’s Spotlight is on Jo Sherwood, finance director of the fast-growth firm. She has helped grow Sherwoods from just 15 people to 111, and from a local electrical services provider to a fully-fledged building services facilities management company.

I first met Jo in the early days of BigChange. Sherwoods is run by four outstanding individuals: Jo, her husband Kev, whose father founded the company, Kevin Wiltshire and Jamie Bonner. Kevin W and Jamie started as apprentices in the business and have worked their way up to board level. It was Jamie who first saw the value in BigChange, and the whole team has worked with us over the years to help hone our offering. I’m so grateful to the team for their insight, recommendations, and feedback over the years.

I caught up with Jo to find out how her team has grown the business and the secrets to their success. It all started in 1970 when Kev’s father Mike Sherwood created Sherwoods as an electrical business in Torquay, South Devon. Kev had no intention of joining the business. He did an electrical apprenticeship at another firm! But when Mike decided to join Sir Chay Blyth on a year-long yacht trip around the world, he asked Kev to come and manage Sherwoods in his absence.

“Kev had no experience, he was in his early twenties, and it was during a recession, but he said he would give it a go,” says Jo. “He did such a good job that when his dad came back, he asked him to go into partnership.” In 2003, Jo and Kev were married, and she joined the business. “I started off doing a part-time admin job but, two years later, I was full-time finance director.” Jo has learned everything on the job, achieving her Association of Accounting Technicians’ level 3 qualification around the time she spent growing the business (and raising a family).

“When you are running a business, you have to live and breathe it,” she says. “When I went into hospital in 2005 to have my firstborn, I gave birth on the Sunday night, and Kev came back the next morning and I was there in my hospital bed doing the sub-contractors wages to make sure they got paid!”

Here are Jo’s five top tips for growing a successful family firm.

1.) Invest in your team – culture is everything!

“Our mission is to become the facilities management building services partner and employer of choice across the Southwest region, and we can only achieve this by continuously investing in our people.”

2.) Support your suppliers and clients

“When the first lockdown was announced, I pulled off our debtors’ report and saw we were owed £1.2m. I thought it was all over. But we worked closely with our customers and suppliers to make sure we all survived. We had a policy whereby when we were paid, we would pay as many people as we could, so everyone had some cash flow coming in. It was amazing to see everyone pull together and we built some really strong relationships during that difficult time.”

3.) Bring in new perspectives

“One of the best decisions we ever made was to bring other people into the business. When it was just Kev and I, it could sometimes be difficult. Being husband and wife and business partners, there was not always a clear way to resolve disagreements. But Jamie and Kevin W have grown with the business, they know our culture and how we do things. They now sit on the board and between us, we always find the best solution for the business. We even have heated debates! But we never fall out because we are all committed to Sherwoods.”

4.) Use BigChange

“BigChange has transformed the way we work. We couldn’t be without it now. Every job starts and finishes with BigChange. We cover a lot of the Southwest – it’s one of the hardest regions to cover as a contractor – but BigChange gives us the tools to do it efficiently.”

5.) Keep diversifying

“We are always looking for ways to spread our risk and a great way to do that is through diversification. That’s how we have become a one-stop shop, starting with electrical and then adding mechanical, and then onto a full FM service. We have also diversified into providing compliance services and planned maintenance for a range of clients. During the pandemic, shops, restaurants, medical facilities, and hotels needed to stay compliant and had we not diversified into that area, our challenges would have been significantly greater.”

I have such respect for Sherwoods’ commitment to its customers, colleagues and suppliers. I hope that you are as inspired by their story as I am. Check back soon for my next Chairman’s spotlight!

Paul brings a wealth of global sales and channel management experience to BigChange

BigChange, the leading field service management software provider, today announced the appointment of Paul Monaghan as its first Chief Sales Officer. Paul is responsible for accelerating BigChange’s growth domestically and internationally. 

Paul joins BigChange from Lead Forensics, a business-to-business focused software provider, where he was Global Sales Director. Before that he led sales and channel activities across 22 countries for cloud collaboration company Intrado.

His appointment is an important step in BigChange’s development. In February 2021, the company secured a £75 million investment from Great Hill Partners to support its growth ambitions.

Paul Monaghan, Chief Sales Officer of BigChange, says:

“It’s great to be joining BigChange, at this phase of its growth. We have an amazing platform that really transforms the way that our customers run their businesses.  BigChange is a proven enabler of success and I’m excited by the prospect of driving growth and sustainability for field service firms worldwide.”

Richard Warley, CEO of BigChange, says:

“I’m very pleased to welcome Paul to BigChange to support our expansion plans and help more businesses grow stronger. He has a strong track record of serving customers, building high performing sales teams and delivering sustained growth for software companies.” 

Here’s one thing I know for a fact. Meaningful work is fundamental to a happy life. Whether you’re 25 or 55, able-bodied, disabled, if you have special needs, or you have an IQ of 135, having a purpose, being productive, having some financial independence, and having structure to your days, all these things help to create balance and joy.

This is why I think it is a terrible and worrying truth that so few opportunities are available to those with disabilities in this country. Just 5.1% of people with a learning disability in England are employed; overall, disabled people have an employment rate that is 28.4 percentage points lower than the able-bodied.

And this isn’t because people with disabilities don’t want to work. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, when asked about the value of work, all 60 participants in its study unanimously agreed that their quality of life would be or had been much better in work than out of work. One participant said: “It gets you out of the house, you aren’t stuck in being miserable, everyone needs to get out, disabled or not, you need to get up in the morning, it’s a purpose, it’s the satisfaction when you do work.”

This won’t come as a surprise to many. Yet even though legislation has required employers to make reasonable adjustments to make work accessible for disabled people since 1996, the pathways into jobs for many with physical or mental impairments just don’t seem to exist. Significant barriers remain, from the job application process to ease of access to prejudice.

This was not always the case. The Remploy scheme was created in 1946 to help provide employment placements for those with disabilities, giving them training, support, and a career path. The original Remploy factories were set up for serviceman and civilians who were injured and disabled during World War Two. These factories stayed open for 70 years, but the government decided to privatise a decade ago and in 2013, all the factories were closed or sold. This was a tremendous loss to the disabled community. Remploy created 100,000 jobs for disabled people between 2009 and 2014 alone.

This is an issue that is close to my heart. I feel strongly that those with disabilities deserve the right to work and should be supported into suitable roles. At BigChange, the company I founded in 2013, we have prioritised inclusivity – it’s one of our core principles. Everyone in the business, from RoadCrew to management, understands the need to support one other and embrace diversity. We do this because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s good for business! World class teams are diverse teams.

With that in mind, I am met with Steve Ingham, CEO of the recruitment giant Page Group, this week, to discuss ways to build a more inclusive society. Steve has long been a champion of disabled workers’ rights – and has often been a lone voice on this topic. He said recently: “It just makes commercial sense. You could have a situation where nothing on your website mentions disability. There’s no mention in social media of anyone that’s disabled working for this company. Someone might be sitting there in a wheelchair and they’re the world’s leading cyber expert. They’re not going to come and join you if there’s little evidence that you’ve ever been an inclusive employer.”

I’m hoping that by being more proactive in talking about these issues, I can do my bit for this fight. We need to do all we can to encourage government, employers and charities to champion disabled people in the workplace. We all have different strengths and abilities in this life and that shouldn’t determine our ability to live a purposeful and happy life. 

BigChange field service management software is helping commercial and industrial door specialist Access Innovations reduce paper consumption by more than 70 per cent.

Using the BigChange platform, the West Midlands company has also reduced the resource required to manage its field service operation and has improved customer service with automatic job scheduling, reporting and invoicing. Responsible for around 20,000 doors, Access Innovations uses BigChange to improve workforce health and safety with daily vehicle and driver checks, live vehicle tracking and online access to risk assessments and method statements.

“As well as reducing our environmental impact through a massive reduction in the paper we consume, BigChange has also had a positive impact on other aspects of the business,” commented John Lunt, Operations Director at Access Innovations. “The back-office resource required to record, schedule and report on jobs has been reduced, which in turn results in better service for our customers. I even had one client email me saying ‘give us a chance’ having received completion reports, including photos, and the invoice, all within 5 minutes of the engineer finishing on-site!”

Access Innovations install, repair, service and maintain manual doors, fire doors, automatic doors, rapid action doors, roller shutters, fire shutters, sectional doors, manual and automatic traffic barriers, manual and automatic gates. Operating across the West Midlands and London, Access Innovations also supply and fit security fencing, bollards and crash barriers as well as dock levellers, dock shelters and dock bumpers. 

Access Innovation selected BigChange to replace an existing job control system. Since implementing the complete job management solution, which incorporates customer relationship management (CRM), job scheduling, live tracking, field resource management, financial management and business intelligence in one simple to use and easy to integrate platform, Access Innovations has recorded significant improvements in the workflows used to record, schedule, complete and report on routine service and ad-hoc maintenance tasks. Access Innovations is also planning to expand its use of BigChange with increased use of the CRM functionality which it hopes will support the continued growth of the company. 

“When we were looking for a new system, we identified a number of possible suppliers and requested on-site presentations but only 2 agreed to come and see us,” Lunt continued. “BigChange didn’t just sell their system to the management they communicated the benefits to the users, and they made the decision. Since that day the support we have had from BigChange has been excellent.” 

Access Innovations

BigChange

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