We found an ideal and newly built depot in Uckfield, in an excellent position directly on one of the major roundabouts situated on the town’s bypass. Uckfield was as good a central point to our (80%) marketing area as you could have possibly got. Our new industrial estate had some very successful local companies, which had grown to become national ones, and were eventually a source of inspiration to me. It was announced that we were shutting down the existing depots and moving to Uckfield, and the old premises were marketed and assigned to excellent new tenants – that would definitely pay the landlord his rent. No ping back to worry about.
INSIGHT 117a:- Our depots were also always on prime industrial sites/estates and, as a result, we had no difficulty in moving them on.
All of the current staff from both existing depots were offered new positions in Uckfield. This wasn’t a big deal for our Lewes staff, as it was only 8 miles up the road – but it was a big deal for our Ashford staff, who had to embark on the same horrendous journey west that we had not done sufficiently enough ourselves, east.
Barry, our Ashford manager, put up with it for a while but hated being under the spotlight for the first time with us, and left just as soon as he found another job. The Ashford-based fitters were not prepared to travel the extra miles and, little by little, the thing resolved itself. The very much better Lewes management team where solely in charge of our throughput and things became simpler yet again.
We concentrated our marketing firepower in the 80% quadrant and, apart from some add-ons and recommendations outside that area, never marketed beyond it again.
The accounts, sales management and marketing teams remained in the office in Eastbourne; however, the 5 staff that worked in after sales service and the contract records (the actual hard copy files, tens of thousands of them) were all moved out to Uckfield as well. It made logical sense (again) for these people to be where the (one) service engineer worked from; plus the fitters, who also had to return for service work where they had originally fitted the job, and where their fitting was the latent problem.
I maintained my office in Eastbourne. However, for the first time since the early days of Mark Lane (our first Eastbourne town centre depot), I had an office in the Uckfield depot as well – which was very educational.
Meanwhile, Roger Ash had not been getting on with 4G programming in Informix and was honest enough to admit it. He also felt that our Unix-based mini main frame server (and dumb terminals) had been overtaken by the march of PCs with the Microsoft DOS operating system, which now was capable of networking as well (i.e. multiple users accessing the same files and working on them simultaneously).
The after sales was a big problem administratively. A customer would phone and complain, they wouldn’t have their original contact number and unsurprisingly could never remember their fitting date; all we had to go on was their name and address, and therefore all contract records were filed alphabetically. The £23 service letter was sent to them asking for the information and nothing was done until its return.
INSIGHT 117b:- Originally, we gave a 5 year guarantee for frame finish, fabrication and fitting; and a one year guarantee for locks, hinges and moving parts – all of these guarantees were covered by our manufacturers, including the labour cost of replacing failed components.