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Almost a quarter (22 percent) of businesses leaders with road-going employees are leaving themselves vulnerable to reputational damage, heavy fines and even corporate manslaughter charges.

By failing to monitor their company drivers properly businesses are leaving themselves vulnerable, according to new research from ​BigChange​, the mobile workforce management technology company, working in partnership with ​Brake​, the road safety charity.

The research, which was conducted by ​Opinium​ and published to coincide with the launch of Leaders for Life​, a new campaign to help business leaders promote safer driving at work, shows that older bosses are most guilty of being disinterested in their employees’ driving.

More than half of leaders (54 percent) aged over 55 with responsibility for company drivers take no action to monitor or manage their behaviour, despite nine in ten (87 percent) saying that road safety is an important concern.

By contrast, just six percent of business leaders aged 18 to 34 fail to monitor their drivers. Young bosses employing company drivers are nine times more likely than their older counterparts to take steps such as implementing vehicle tracking, license checks and random drug and alcohol testing.

BigChange’s survey also revealed that business leaders are more concerned about cyber security than road safety. While 57 percent of leaders surveyed said that road safety was ‘very important’ to the operation and reputation of their organisations, the figure increased to 63 percent when asked about cyber security matters.

Businesses most exposed by ‘grey fleet’ drivers

The research revealed that the ‘grey fleet’, employees who drive their own cars on company business, represents a significant area of vulnerability. One in five (19 percent) businesses make no checks of grey fleet drivers, compared to 14 percent of businesses for professional drivers and company car users.

Martin Port, CEO of BigChange, comments:​

“More than 500 people are killed every year in the UK in crashes involving someone driving for work, yet businesses believe cyber security to be more important than road safety and are more likely to spend time and money reducing the risk of being hacked than they are to cut the chances of their people killing someone in the course of their work. We are working with Brake to lead a big change in business road safety, providing free vehicle tracking to help business leaders drive more safely themselves and showing them steps we can all take at work to save lives on our roads.”

Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns at Brake, comments:​

“Nearly a third of all deaths on UK roads involve someone driving for work and research shows that people who drive for work are more likely to speed, use a mobile phone at the wheel and drive while sleepy, distracted or stressed. People have gone to jail for failing to manage their company drivers properly, yet despite this an alarming number of organisations take no steps whatsoever to monitor their activities. Road safety must be a priority for all employers with at work drivers, whether you’re an organisation managing a large HGV fleet or an SME with employees driving their own car for work.”

About Leaders for Life

The ​Department for Transport published figures today​ revealing that there were 1,793 reported road deaths in Britain in 2017, five a day on average, and 170,993 casualties of all severities.

Leaders for Life is a new campaign, created by BigChange and backed by Brake, to raise awareness of the contribution business leaders play as role models for road safety and reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads.

BigChange is providing its driving analysis technology free of charge to business leaders so that aspects such as speed, braking, acceleration and cornering can be evaluated. It will provide confidential feedback on leaders’ driving habits and donate £1,000 each month to Brake on behalf of the best and most improved drivers.

BigChange aims to recruit more than 1,000 business leaders to support its campaign by acting as role models for road safety by the end of the year. Des Evans OBE, formerly managing director of MAN Truck & Bus UK, Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, and the British racing driver Nic Hamilton are among the leaders who have already agreed to take part in the campaign.

Business leaders wishing to be ambassadors for safer driving can register to support the Leaders for Life campaign at ​https://www.bigchange.com/leadersforlife/​.

BigChange collaboration allows companies to allocate jobs to their partners.

It tracks all the paperwork, monitors issues like health and safety, takes care of billing and scheduling, and updates all parties on the progress of the jobs in real time – giving a sense of control and transparency.

Imagine that you run a plumbing company in Scotland. Your local customers love you and want to work with you on a nationwide basis, but you don’t have the resources to take on contracts in Wales or down in London. Through BigChange, you can now collaborate with other plumbing companies in other areas and sub-contract out the work.

I can’t overstate the potential of something like this. Small businesses can act like big companies – at the touch of a screen. They can reach an almost unlimited scale, bolting on other services and growing their empires. Think of the savings in travel costs if you could sub-contract out work at the other end of the country?

Virtual companies could be created, drawing on the expertise of other firms, using their sales and marketing expertise to grow and thrive.

UK businesses could expand overseas using this system – something that many entrepreneurs may find useful post-Brexit. You could find a contractor in Australia for your customer and watch the job being done in real-time.

In the past, collaboration like this has been bogged down in paperwork, email and endless phone calls. The mist falls over Paper Town and it’s hard to know what’s going on. With JobWatch, it’s all clear and paperless, and your partners appear like an extension of your own firm. Your customers even see the same screen if they log into the booking portal to check which jobs have been completed. Your partner company invoices you, and you invoice your customer as usual – all through BigChange.

It’s that easy.

We don’t charge our customers anything extra to collaborate, but we benefit because we believe that the collaboration feature will encourage more customers to join us. That’s the beauty of a business like this: by focusing on making our customers more successful, we succeed too.

If you are interested in receiving more information on how you can expand your network please email info@bigchange.com for more information.

All The Best

Martin

Martin Port

Founder & CEO

Tel +44 113 4571000

Direct +44 113 4570966

Mob +44 7973 671779

Email martin.port@bigchange.com

Web www.bigchange.com

Martin Port
Founder & CEO

 BigChange, the mobile workforce management software company, today announced the launch of Leaders for Life.

A new campaign designed to turn business leaders into role models for road safety and reduce the number of people killed on Britain’s roads by people driving for work.

The Department for Transport published figures today revealing that there were 1,793 reported road deaths in Britain in 2017, five a day on average, and 170,993 casualties of all severities.

Leaders for Life was developed by BigChange in partnership with road safety charity Brake, and is supported by the racing driver Nicolas Hamilton and several prominent business leaders. BigChange is offering its driving analysis technology free of charge to the leaders of medium and large UK businesses, to help them understand how safe their driving is and take steps to improve it.

BigChange is providing its driving analysis technology free of charge to business leaders so that aspects such as speed, braking, acceleration and cornering can be evaluated. It will provide confidential feedback on leaders’ driving habits and donate £1,000 each month to Brake on behalf of the best and most improved drivers. BigChange’s technology is already used to monitor the driving habits of 20,000 company drivers in the UK.

BigChange aims to recruit more than 1,000 business leaders to support its campaign by acting as role models for road safety by the end of the year. Des Evans OBE, formerly managing director of MAN Truck & Bus UK, Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, and the British racing driver Nic Hamilton are among the leaders who have already agreed to take part in the campaign.

Martin Port, CEO of BigChange, comments:

“The technology now exists to monitor how safely people drive in a cost-effective and non-intrusive way, yet far too many companies simply pay lip service to road safety and do nothing to encourage better driving by their employees. More than 500 people are killed each year by people driving for work in the UK, we are launching Leaders for Life to reduce this number by making business leaders role models for road safety.”

Mary Williams OBE, chief executive at Brake, comments: ​

“More than a fifth of all deaths and serious injuries on our roads involve someone driving for work. This statistic is a stark illustration of why CEOs must make safe driving a priority for their business. Brake is proud to support Leaders for Life, a fantastic initiative from BigChange, which helps CEOs to lead by example and promote safe driving behaviour to their employees.”

Nic Hamilton, racing driver and ambassador for the Leaders for Life campaign, comments:

“The place for rapid acceleration, driving quickly, braking late and cornering at speed is for the track, not the road, and even for racing you have to earn your stripes and complete a test to get your licence. It’s fantastic to see BigChange and Brake engaging business leaders as role models for safer driving in this campaign. I am delighted to be supporting the Leaders for Life campaign and I would urge all business leaders to sign up and play their part in reducing risk on Britain’s roads.”

Business leaders wishing to be ambassadors for safer driving can register to support the Leaders for Life campaign at https://www.bigchange.com/leadersforlife/

​BigChange​, the mobile workforce management technology company, today announced the official opening of its new offices in Thorpe Park, Leeds.

The new ​10,000​ square foot facility provides the capacity BigChange needs to almost double its head office workforce.

BigChange has taken a five year lease on the facility at Thorpe Park and invested £250,000 in preparing it. The new building will enable BigChange to accommodate up to 150 employees and has six customer meeting rooms, each named after technology businesses such as Google, Apple and Microsoft. The open plan layout includes adjustable desks that can be used while standing and ergonomic Herman Miller chairs.

The relocation to Thorpe ​Park is BigChange’s third move in the last five years and represents another milestone in its expansion. The company has secured more than 150 new customers and over 5,000 additional users for its mobile workforce management platform since the start of 2018 and expects its revenue to increase by 74 percent this year to £11.5 million.

Martin Port, founder and CEO of BigChange, comments:

“The opening of our Thorpe Park offices is much more than just a new address for BigChange, it’s a major milestone for the company and a new chapter in our development. The facility is world class in every aspect, it is fantastic for our people and will help us attract many more new clients both large and small.”

Focus. This is the most underrated term in entrepreneurship today.

Concentrating on your core business – consistently doing what you already do well – may sound easy. The reality is that it’s very hard.

There are always distractions out there. Sometimes, these distractions are disguised as great business strategies or innovative projects. They rarely are. They are follies that suck up time and money and make you and your business less efficient.

I was reminded of the importance of focus recently, when reading about the woes at John Lewis. This is a business that is beloved by customers and employees alike. It’s been going for years, has an incredible track record, and is generally seen as the ‘rock’ of the high street. But suddenly, it’s making losses and posting 1,800 redundancies.

The management has blamed Brexit but I think there’s a different reason. John Lewis has been distracted from what it does best: selling goods that people want to buy to customers who want to buy them.

If you look at John Lewis’ model, it’s become confused in recent years. The business made an investment in Ocado over a decade ago, sustaining losses that – luckily – ended up in profit when it sold its stake in 2011. This once-in-a-blue-moon success seems to have convinced John Lewis that it is a venture capitalist, and it’s been backing lots of start-ups through its accelerator programme, JLABS. In the last year and a half, it has even moved into the service engineer space. It is my opinion that they’ve totally lost the plot there.

BigChange john lewis profit collapse graphCan you imagine British Gas opening a department store? Or Homeserve selling wallpaper? John Lewis has no experience running a home services business. It’s completely foreign to the industry they know.

I think that all business owners, me included, should heed John Lewis’ cautionary tale. It’s easy to get carried away with a new idea. When you have shareholders to please, it’s tempting to keep announcing clever things that lift the share price that day. But it’s nonsense: long-term, the business will suffer.

I do some mentoring through Connect Yorkshire. There have been many times I’ve found myself sitting in front of someone turning over £1.5m, making £300,000 profit, with just 15 employees, who says to me: “I’ve got this great idea to do something completely different with this business.” Why? It’s because we entrepreneurs bore easily, and we love a challenge. But that’s the antithesis of good business practice.

BigChange urgentI’m not infallible either. At BigChange, I nearly lost focus recently. A company approached me, offering to add drones to our product set. It sounded so exciting: hi-tech drone deliveries! I was tempted for about an hour but something kept bothering me: none of our customers have ever asked about drones. And I don’t believe in first-mover advantage in business. The pioneers often fail and it’s a later mover that wins the day – the second mouse gets the cheese, as they say.

As an entrepreneur, when you are considering a major move outside your comfort zone, ask yourself three questions.

1.) If the time and money it will require to launch this new idea were instead invested in your core business, listening to customers, and making improvements, would the return be higher?

2.) Have your customers said – explicitly – that they would pay for this new product or service? Not that it would be nice to have, or that it’s an interesting idea, but that they would spend cold, hard cash?

3.) Is someone already doing this better than you ever could?

I’m not trying to squash innovation. We need to be imaginative and keep trying to improve things for our customers. But we need to do that while maintaining focus on the sweet spot: the thing we are good at that customers consistently want to buy.

Right now, we’re selling our software to 25,000 mobile workers in the UK. But the UK market size is an estimated 7m people. That’s our focus, and I shan’t be getting distracted from that.

What’s yours?


Martin Port
Founder & CEO

Housing Units, the award-winning home furnishings retailer, has implemented state-of-the-art mobile technology to improve its expanding home delivery operation.

The 5 in 1 system from BigChange provides mobile apps that connect to customer services to provide real-time visibility of delivery and installation operations.

The two-man delivery crews are equipped with rugged Samsung tablets running BigChange JobWatch mobile apps that are used for vehicle inspections, navigation and live reporting on job status with supporting photographs. Entirely cloud-based, the BigChange solution is used by Housing Units customer service operatives to monitor over 300 deliveries a week.

Housing Units celebrated 70 years in business last year and has bucked the trend with steady expansion and a successful business model that has been recognised through awards including the UK’s No 1 department store and retailer of the year. Headquartered in Oldham with an extensive store nearby, the company has just completed a £5m expansion of the store and distribution centre.

Housing Units sends optimised delivery routes to the BigChange job scheduler for access by drivers on login into their tablets. After completing a vehicle check using JobWatch, the device is clipped into a vehicle cradle to provide navigation to each delivery and then used again on arrival for risk assessment and job completion with a customer signature on screen.

With each delivery and installation, photographs are captured to provide a record of the completed job showing the location and condition of goods delivered. Special templates have been created in JobWatch for items that are prone to damage in transit – such as bathroom ceramics – that customers are asked to sign off as delivered undamaged.

Claire Wild, Distribution Administration Manager, Housing Units, Commented:

“BigChange really has made a big change to our customer service operation. Customers get text alerts reminding them of their agreed delivery time and with the tracking we can immediately contact them if we get delayed. Then we have a complete insight into the progress of every delivery job as it happens.”

Claire added:

“Crucially, the system provides undisputable evidence that the driver turned up at the agreed time and departed with all goods in place and undamaged. This is really important and it has led to a reduction in calls to customer services, allowing cases to be closed much quicker and has all but eliminated false claims.”

Deliveries take on average 18 minutes and Housing Units are using tracking data to compare schedules against actual journey and stop off times. Geofencing is also used to alert the office if vehicles are ‘off route’ and in danger of running late. JobWatch is also useful for contacting drivers with a messaging facility ensuring communication even when out of phone reception.

Claire continued:

“The customer services team rave about BigChange. It really has made their job easier as they are always fully informed on delivery activity and at each delivery location they can even click a button to access StreetView to see the situation outside the customers’ home. Handling customer calls is much easier and should disputes arise, they have all the information they need at their fingertips.”

Karl Shackley, Operations and Distribution Manager, commented:

“BigChange has certainly had a big impact on our business. As well as the gains in customer services, it has eliminated all sorts of paperwork improving efficiency. We reckon the productivity of the delivery operation has been increased by 20 per cent.”

BigChange housing units van

I’ve had two issues last month that have taught me a lot about the weird and wonderful world of social media.

My first shock came last week, when I spotted a post from a colleague on LinkedIn. To spare everyone’s blushes, I won’t give too much detail but it contained an expletive, and tackled a controversial theme, referencing both me and BigChange by name.

The second post was also on LinkedIn. This one was published by a valued salesperson, who was frustrated after several appointments had been cancelled. This individual was asking if anyone wanted a last-minute meeting, and gave specific times when they were free.

Neither of these were major issues. They weren’t defaming the business. There were no sexist or racist comments. There was no nudity. Yet they both worried me, and I asked for both to be deleted.

BigChange social media iconsSocial media can be a brand wrecker, and I haven’t spent five years building a business I love to see its reputation tarnished by a thoughtless remark. The first post contained a swear word, which could really put off some of our clients. It was also being purposefully controversial, in a bid to get more views. That’s fine, but it wasn’t BigChange’s battle to fight, and as I hadn’t been asked permission, I was deeply unhappy about it.

The second post made us look like some small, flighty outfit just at a time when we are looking to win enterprise clients. August is always a tricky time because so many people go on holiday, but salespeople should never moan publicly about that, or tout for appointments: it just looks desperate.

I don’t monitor my employees on social media, and never will. It’s not my business what they post about their private lives – unless they reference BigChange or circumstances related to their employment. You just trust that people will use common sense, don’t you?

I’ve started questioning myself too. I recently posted about Love Island on LinkedIn – who I would hire from the show. It was a light-hearted commentary on a topical issue but again, I have to ask myself, does it show BigChange in a frivolous light?

This has all been a major wake-up call. I have enlisted the help of my employment lawyer Richard Parr from Blacks to change our terms and conditions to ensure that social media concerns don’t keep me up at night.

bigChange ratnersWe now have an eight-page document that outlines what we expect from our people. It’s all pretty straight forward: no defamation, no bullying or harassment, no misuse of company information, and nothing that could damage our reputation. But having a document like this protects both BigChange and the employees, because we all know where we stand.

A few years ago I met a man called Gerald Ratner at a health farm. He became famous after calling the jewellery sold by the Ratner Group “total crap” at an Institute of Directors conference. After the speech, the value of the Ratner group plummeted by around £500m. This was back in 1991 but imagine how much faster a faux pas can spread on social media today.

I feel like we’ve just had a watershed moment at BigChange, and luckily, we’ve acted fast enough to prevent doing a Ratner ourselves.


Martin Port
Founder & CEO

We’ve just moved office – BigChange’s third move in five years.

Each time has been more painful and expensive than the last but this latest relocation – a stone’s throw from our last site – is more than just a new address. It’s a new chapter for BigChange.

We’ve invested in a lot more space, giving us the room to grow from 80 people to 150. The building is bright, painted white, and tastefully decorated. It’s the kind of place I’d been happy to invite any customer – from a small business owner to the chief executive of a FTSE 100 company.

In total, I’ve spent nearly £250,000 on this move, which has taken about three months to arrange. Having survived this hugely stressful process – which is second only to moving house – I thought I’d share a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

BigChange office chairNegotiate your heart out

If you are signing a five-year lease, you should be able to negotiate for 20pc off the rental price. This will cover all the money you’ll spend on the fit out and relocating all your employees and IT. I think this is pretty standard, and most landlords are willing to offer this as a rent-free period at the start of the lease.

Call the council

When you are moving office, you could be entitled to a rates holiday of up to six months. We have now vacated our last building, although we still own the lease till January. So we called the council and took advantage of the rates break, which means we’re slashing that overhead by half. We’re also deferring rates on the new building until we’re fully moved in, which will be towards the end of September.

Never commit for more than five years

There are two reasons to avoid long-term leases. First of all, you don’t know how quickly your company could grow over the next few years. Five years is probably the maximum you can plan for with any accuracy. Also, a long lease is a liability that weighs down on your business. If you want to raise or borrow money, a 10-year lease could make you less attractive to backers.

BigChange office environment
Invest in great chairs – but buy second-hand

I want my people to feel comfortable at work. It’s important to me that feel their best. That’s why I decided to buy in top-of-the-range Herman Miller chairs to ensure that everyone is sitting comfortably at their desks. But these chairs are not cheap… they can cost £1,000 a pop. This is why we found a company to source them second-hand, slashing the cost by at least 75%.

BigChange meeting roomConsistency looks professional

We have created an open-plan office here, which means all our desks are on show. We’ve invested in new desktops for the whole team but used the same second-hand sourcing partner to get the bases for us. An added bonus: these desks are adjustable so that my colleagues can choose whether to sit or stand.

Create a space that works for you

The new office has been crafted around the needs of our people. It is open plan but has secluded pods for when individuals want to call customers without being distracted. We have bought in two amazing coffee machines, and created a chill-out area, which feels a bit like our own Starbucks. We have also invested in frosted windows. We’re on the ground floor and the new rules around GDPR mean that we have to ensure there is no way passers-by could glean customer data through our windows.

Remember to budget properly

We opted for a move that was about half turnkey solution – managed by the landlord – and half sorted by us. It was the best way to ensure that the office looked and felt exactly as we wanted it to. About a quarter of our budget went on technology – sorting out the internet, installing the right cables etc. Another quarter went on desks and furniture. A quarter went on partitioning and painting the walls. The final quarter was spent on presentation, everything from the signage to our video wall, which will be used for demonstrations. A local artist, created our signage. It’s cool but understated and we love it.

Stagger your move

We didn’t try and move everyone to the new office overnight. We moved one department at a time, starting with the teams that have the least direct contact with customers. It was incredibly important to me that BigChange’s day-to-day business was not disrupted by this move. By the time we moved our customer service team, we knew there were no glitches, the wifi was up and running, which meant there was a seamless transition.

We’re all moved in to the new premises now, so why not stop by for a coffee and a look around? We’d love to see you.


Martin Port
Founder & CEO

GAP Hire Solutions has equipped 400 of its drivers with tablets as the first part of the roll out of a 5-in-1 management solution from BigChange.

Called JobWatch, the cloud-based system incorporates a range of mobile apps with live tracking and job scheduling. It also links in real time to GAP’s back office systems, such as their central hiredesk, CRM and financial system.

Mark Emery, GAP’s Systems Development Manager, commented:

“The BigChange solution is transforming the way we work by eliminating lots of cumbersome paper forms. The live data feeds to our central systems will result in significant benefits to the business by providing complete management visibility of our operations across the entire depot network.”

“This visibility means that for the first time we will be able to manage the entire business nationally, allowing for example, the sharing of plant and equipment between depots. We foresee JobWatch providing significant improvements in utilisation, efficiency and customer service.”

The mobile apps include electronic signature capture with proof of delivery (POD) and proof of collection (POC) records automatically uploaded onto GAP’s Smart Office system. This eliminates calls to depots as all information will be available for everyone immediately online. Ultimately GAP’s customers will have the ability to access records of their hires themselves.

The first phase of implementation sees 400 delivery drivers equipped with Samsung tablets and later GAP will extend the system to 200 customer service fitters. Delivery and collection jobs are sent directly to tablets that sit in dashboard cradles and can be quickly detached for signature capture, taking photographs and even completing vehicle checks.

Emery added:

“This new technology is going to make life a lot easier for staff and customers alike.”

“It will provide immediate and clear evidence detailing when our drivers turn up on site. An electronic signature will provide proof that equipment was delivered or collected – when and where.”

The devices have in-built data messaging and satellite navigation that automatically routes vehicles to their destination. GAP’s customer services will be able to see the exact location of every vehicle in real time to keep customers informed of ETAs and work with the driver to ensure the correct drop-off location.

The devices can be used to take time stamped and georeferenced photographs. This photo capture is also useful to provide evidence of arrival onsite and to record damage to plant. “In addition to the environmental benefits of reducing paper with JobWatch, we will be able to bill hires more quickly and with less invoice queries. If a charge is questioned we’ll be able to answer the question immediately as the data will be online,” Emery added.

Martin Port, CEO, BigChange commented:

“We are delighted to be working with GAP and looking forward to help them drive BigChange.”

BigChange

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