When I was creating the business plan for 2020, I had no idea that this would end up being one of the most challenging, worrying, strange and illuminating years of my entire career.
Here are the half-year results for BigChange. I know we’ve weathered the storm better than many, and for that I’m hugely grateful to my incredible team and our loyal, fantastic customer base.
Going for growth
The last few months have been tough but BigChange adjusted quickly to the new trading conditions. The business generated revenues of £8.2m in the first half of 2020, up from £7.6m during the first half of last year.
This is an incredible achievement and is down, in part, to the 166 new customers we brought onto the platform. I’d like to give a special mention to Sunbelt Rentals Inc (formerly A-Plant), part of Ashtead Group Plc, the largest equipment rental company in the UK, which came on board at the start of 2020.
We have secured a record £13m-worth of new contracts during the last six months, and order values are up 25% on last year. I’m proud to say that the majority of new business now comes in through customer referrals. The business has grown well across all our target markets, including France and Cyprus.
Investing in innovation
We have continued to invest in new products and features. We have spent £500,000 on a new business analytics and artificial intelligence solution, which will be launched later this year.
During lockdown, we released a number of features to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. These include: a new ‘no touch’ signature feature for mobile workers, and integration with some of the world’s most commonly used tools, such as Outlook and Word.
Our commitment to innovation was recognised during the first quarter of this year, when BigChange received the highest honours that can be given to a British company. We won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, in the Innovation category.
Proving our worth
Our customers have been our number one priority throughout this crisis, and I’m extremely proud that we have managed to help so many of them to trade on successfully using our platform.
Drainage company Eurotech has experienced a £1m boost to the business since going live with BigChange last summer. Moorhouse Heating Limited has doubled its turnover and tripled its field service engineering team without needing additional staff in the office. Europump has used BigChange to increase its first-time fix record tenfold, boosting the business by £100,000 a year.
Here are just a few of the customer testimonials we’ve received over the last few months:
“Being fully digital, cloud-based and completely free of paperwork proved critical during the COVID-19 lockdown. We literally flicked a switch and were all instantly up and running from home. We just carried on working as normal.”
Jack Aplin, Director, Europump
“During the Coronavirus lockdown we’d have been completely floored without BigChange. If we’d still been paper-based we simply couldn’t have done our job – as things were customers did not see any change at all.”
Mick Brindle, Director, H2O FlowTech
“We were able to shut down the office and be up and running at home within one hour. The BigChange No Touch Signature Capture App has been especially useful, allowing us to gain job sign-off without directly interacting with the customer; with many premises closed our usual contacts are simply not onsite anyway.”
Paul Roberts, Director Metroline Fire & Security
World-class customer service
We are so thankful to our customers for giving us a Net Promoter Score that rivals the likes of Samsung and Starbucks. We are now at 70 plus, up from 68 in the final quarter of 2019. A Net Promoter Score reflects a customer’s willingness to recommend you and anything above 70 is categorised as ‘world-class’.
The BigChange Network
At the start of the year we held Network conferences in Newcastle and Manchester, bringing together customers and partners to share insights and address business challenges. These events were supported by BigChange ambassadors Kevin Keegan and Michelle Dewberry. After lockdown, we held an online roundtable on supporting mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic. More than 200 partners and customers attended the virtual event.
Before lockdown was announced, we soon realised that we would need to cut costs if we were going to keep growing in a sustainable way. We have managed to do that, reducing the outgoings of the business enough to allow BigChange to break even.
Some of these efficiencies were achieved through salary cuts across the business. I opted to take a 30pc pay cut while junior members of the team have seen wages fall by just 5pc. We put less than 30 people on the Government’s furlough scheme and most have already returned to the business. This has helped to safeguard all our jobs and ensure that BigChange is in a much stronger financial position going into the second half. I’d like to thank my colleagues for their understanding and flexibility.
BigChange managed to move all 170 staff to remote working with zero downtime for our customers. We have made significant savings on travel during the last six months – and have reduced our carbon footprint, which is great for the planet as well as the bottom line.
As we have pivoted our business towards virtual working, we have also changed our offering. Many customers were forced to furlough workers, so we launched a series of online tutorials to help their staff learn how to use our core system. These training sessions covered everything from CRM to scheduling, and we welcomed hundreds of users to these sessions. We completed four tutorials a week over a 12-week period.
To help our customers to win new business despite lockdown, we launched our flagship Stronger Together campaign, advertising their services across our social media channels and on a dedicated webpage.
Our Motivational Mondays series has also gone online, and we have offered access to our incredible line-up of speakers to customers, prospects and partners. We are also supporting several charities through the initiative.
None of this could have been achieved without outstanding effort from the whole team, and the enduring trust and support of our customers and partners.
Thank you all.