2020 - A very unusual year!!
WHAT A YEAR!!
Chris Gibson, Managing Director of GGM Groundscare gives a review of what can only be described as a very unusual year! As we approach the end of the 2020 which many of us are glad to see the back of, what have we learnt? What have we dealt with? and what plans have we in place for 2021?
As we come out of the 2ndnational lockdown period and re-enter Tier 3 restrictions for the second time, the news regarding vaccines does finally seem to provide light at the end of the tunnel signalling that we are on our way out of the nightmare of Covid-19. As a business, we have had to make many changes and adjustments to follow the restrictions and regulations that we have all had to adhere to, and we are all hopeful that 2021 will see us being able to start getting back to a more normal way of life.
This year has undoubtedly presented challenges that would have seemed unimaginable only twelve months ago, but as a team at GGM, I believe we have faced them with a strong determination, and an unwavering commitment to continue to offer our customers as near normal a service as possible. We’ve not always got things quite right, but I know everyone in the company has certainly tried their best.
Ever since the first lockdown back in March when we very quickly had to adapt our working practices and operate with some very tight trading restrictions, our priority has always been to keep our staff, customers and suppliers safe and this remains our main focus.
We continued to work safely throughout the pandemic with a determination to keep our whole team together, keep our commitments to our customers, and keep machines operational for our professional and domestic customers throughout the season. Hopefully, we have largely managed to achieve this, by encouraging all our team to make wise decisions and act in what they believe is in the best interests of our customers.
During 2020 we have had to find new ways to continue providing service and support for our customers safely, undertaking remodelling of the showrooms for social distancing, and have used digital communications and worked from home far more than we had ever have anticipated. I am sure some of these changes will become the “new normal” but I for one have certainly missed the opportunity of face-to-face interaction with our customers and the opportunity to demonstrate some of our new products. I am hoping that in the New Year we can start to plan open days and attend exhibitions once again.
During the year we’ve continued to look at how we take the business forward and have started a number of new initiatives that aim to help maintain our position as one of the leading Professional Turf Equipment dealers in the UK.
Service Contracts and Maintenance
Customer Service has always been at the forefront of our business. We have invested in tablets and electronic job cards for our outside service engineers, which allow them to add and remove parts from a job whilst still on site, record the condition of the machine and save images to streamline administration.
The continued popularity of our fixed price “Service Agreements” and extended warranty packages has resulted in us investing in a new workshop scheduler and planner, which helps ensure we undertake the services as they fall due and also allow us be more accurate with repair time estimates.
We have continued to invest in the latest machines for our hire fleet, to ensure we can offer customers cost effective alternatives to purchase; from short term spot hire requirements to long term agreements backed up by on-site service, confirming hire has become an integral part of our overall offering.
During the lockdown we’ve had to find new ways of keeping in touch, so we’ve been improving our use of social media and continued to develop our online services which have resulted in a huge increase in traffic to our websites. The trend towards online platforms will, I am sure, continue and so it is up to us to keep up to date with the latest technologies, ensuring that we don’t lose the personal touch when it comes to customer service.
At GGM we also take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and we’ve made a commitment to work towards carbon neutrality. We are working towards the ISO14001 standard and have undertaken a full environmental audit and have started to invest in greener alternatives. These include replacing several cars and vans with EV’s, expanding our charging infrastructure at the depots, and updating lighting with low energy LED and installing Solar PV panels to generate power within the depot.
We are determined to minimise the impact of our operations on the environment and as part of this continue to seek out more environmentally friendly solutions for both the business and our customers.
We are always on the look out to give something back to our local area and we had planned to undertake a charity team walk up the three highest peaks in England. As this was not possible, I dreamt up my own challenge of cycling to work and walking home (a round trip of approximately 100 miles) raising funds for two local hospices and our charity partner Greenfingers. This, together with other activities our team have undertaken, has resulted in us raising over £10,000 for charity since the start of 2019.
Above everything this year, the one thing I take most pride in is the way our whole team have responded to the ever-changing restrictions placed upon them and the way they have continued to support our customers in the best way they could be it working from home or in the depots - I could not have asked for more. If we have not delivered quite what you had expected, then I apologise but rest assured our whole team has done their best and is committed to continuing to improve the service we offer to all our customers.
Despite the pandemic, we are determined to keep growing and investing, so we have started recruiting again and we are aiming to help some of the younger members of our society with apprenticeship opportunities. These young people will be our future engineers, parts and support staff and the investment in their training and development will help secure our future growth.
2020 has undoubtedly been a challenge so we have decided to extend our Christmas break slightly this year so all our team get a good break and some time with their families and ensure we are all in the best shape to face 2021 and beyond…