“We’re doing 75% more work than we were this time last year”, says Mike Marjoram as he hands me tea in a Royal Mail mug. I’m sitting in his office in the national headquarters of Royal Mail Sameday on the northern outskirts of Peterborough. From where I’m sitting, I can see through to the national control room where a team of 8 control staff are busy handling the work.
Mike, 49, is General Manager, having been appointed following the demise of the joint venture with BSG. The joint venture arguably had some success, in that it showed the potential for the Royal Mail brand to attract same day courier work. Although there were some problems with the business model, it all added up to enough for Royal Mail to be happy to acquire the business assets of BSG, to pay off the creditors, and to start again with a wholly-owned new company in November 2007.
With Royal Mail now the sole proprietor and investor, and with a new management team in place, it’s Mike’s job to see to it that the potential is turned into reality.
Although there have been some redundancies following the change of ownership, the company still employs a total of 14 staff, and is due to recruit two more sales staff imminently. “We are really ramping up the sales effort now”, Mike says, “and have changed our approach entirely. We were putting a lot of effort into recruiting sales franchisees, with some success, but our policy has shifted towards employing our own people directly from now on”, Mike explains.
The power of the Royal Mail brand to pull work in is felt particularly strongly at the top end of the market, where major brands tend to choose their suppliers with at least half an eye on the strength of the brand of their key suppliers. “We really get noticed whenever companies are short-listing in the tender process”, says Mike. “We’re seen as a safe choice, as in the old expression, no-one ever got fired for choosing IBM”.
Mike also sees lots of potential for growth from within Royal Mail itself. “Now that we’re wholly owned by Royal Mail, other people within the wider organisation are happier to talk to us about opportunities. It’s a cultural thing, and we are happy to make the most of it.” This is opening up opportunities, Mike says, both in terms of Royal Mail’s own internal spending on same day courier work, and in terms of approaching Royal Mail’s existing corporate customers on the letters and parcels side, to offer same day as a natural extension. “The opportunity just within Royal Mail is huge” Mike says, “but we won’t be limiting ourselves to that. We’re out there, selling in the open market”.
The service offering is also changing, with flexibility being the key word. “You have to be prepared to adapt to what the customer wants nowadays” observes Mike. He points to a newly-won contract offering same day home delivery within Greater London on behalf of a major e-tailer. “It’s a long way from traditional same day courier work”, says Mike “but it’s a good example of people wanting extend the work they place with Royal Mail to create an exciting new service for their consumers. And our ability to provide real-time PODs online was also crucial”.
The new approach is also changing the way the company gets the work done. “We’ve made a total shift away from seeing the couriers as a profit centre.” Mike tells me. “We used to put huge amounts of effort into recruiting licensed drivers, who paid us a fee to cover an area, and of course if we didn’t yet have enough work in their area, they left quite soon. Now, we’re much more flexible in our relationships with our drivers. We only consider experienced couriers, and just look to recover the relatively low cost of the POD and GPS tracking equipment we give them. We still put everyone through the Royal Mail vetting system, of course.”
It’s a business model that sounds like it makes sense. A clear focus on sales effort and account retention, a national control room, a flexible well-equipped workforce, and invoicing and collections services provided by the parent company.
I ask Mike whether he is optimistic about the future of the market. He is emphatic. “We are optimistic enough to be investing in new sales staff, and in a new headquarters building in which to house all this growth”. There’s a note of caution, though. “We do have to be flexible, and we do have to respect the trust people place in us, and get the job right”.
You get the impression that this is a company that has now found its feet, after something of a false start, and is now confident not only that it has found the right low-cost national business model, but that also it is sitting on massive sales growth potential from the power of its trusted brand.
All it has to do now, is go out and make the most of the opportunity.
You can find out more about working for Royal Mail Sameday at: http://www.royalmailsameday.com/ or call their driver recruitment line on 0870 6093051.