2020: The BigChange year in review

As 2020 draws to a close, it’s time to look back over an extraordinary year, writes Martin Port, CEO and founder of Leeds based BigChange Limited - a provider of mobile workforce management technology.

Winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.Despite is one of the many BigChange many memorable moments and accomplishments of the past 12 months
Winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.Despite is one of the many BigChange many memorable moments and accomplishments of the past 12 months

It’s amazing to think that BigChange has experienced so many highlights, despite all the uncertainty and economic challenges. Here are some of the most memorable moments and accomplishments from the last 12 months.

BigChange wins Queen’s Award for Innovation

At the start of 2020, BigChange won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. This is one of the highest honours that can be awarded to British companies - and an accolade that is recognised all over the world.

BigChange CEO Martin Port looks back at the company's 2020 highlights

We were recognised in the Innovation category for our development of JobWatch, our mobile workforce management software. Innovation is at the heart of everything we do here, so the honour makes me incredibly proud.

We are in fine company, joining brands like Dyson, Fever Tree and McLaren. Over the last half a century, just 6,000 businesses have received a Queen’s Award. I am committed to continuing on this journey, so look out for many more innovations in 2021 and beyond!

BigChange University opens its doors

This year, we pioneered a new online training curriculum, inviting customers to take part in free sessions to learn how to make the most of our technology.

Because of BigChange we now have up to the minute, accurate data reporting, with Time sheets signed-off by customers on the app, says Allan Leftford, Head of Customer Services, Bobst

The response has been incredible! More than 2,500 students have enrolled so far. We offer 27 modules, covering various aspects of JobWatch, from new features to worksheets to job type automation. Check out our current timetable of online sessions here: https://www.bigchange.com/bigchange-university/

Keeping customers safe in 2020

Our customers have been our number one priority throughout this crisis and we have done all we can to help them trade on successfully using our platform. One of the innovations that we introduced in response to COVID was our NoTouch Signature technology, which helped essential workers protect themselves and others from infection.

Our smart app meant that they no longer had to hand over a mobile device to get a signature. Instead, BigChange NoTouch enables the signature capture screen to appear on a recipient’s mobile device.

BigChange provides immediate and clear evidence detailing when our drivers turn up on site, says Mark Emery, GAP’s Systems Development Manager

We also rolled out integrations with many popular software packages, such as Microsoft Word, making it much easier for customers to allow staff to work remotely and avoid coming into the office.

Winning new business

Against all odds, BigChange grew 10pc during the first half of this year. We did that while moving all our 170 staff to remote working, with zero downtime for customers.

I am proud to say that our laser focus on customer service encouraged many exciting new companies to join the BigChange family.

By the end of the third quarter of 2020, turnover hit £12.5m, up 30% on 2019’s revenues for the same period. We secured more than £25m-worth of new contracts from over 300 new customers - and the majority of new business now comes in through customer referrals.

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. BigChange's performance this year is a testament to the hard work of my colleagues, not only in the UK but in France, Cyprus, Australia and the US - we're growing well in all our international markets.

New features that help customers make a big change

We have continued to invest in new products and features this year, despite the challenging environment. BigChange is an integral partner for our customers, automating many of their time-consuming processes to drive efficiency and boost their service offering to their own customers.

The proof of our success is in the numbers! We processed over £1bn in transactions this year, and we were the technology underpinning 10m jobs! But we never rest on our laurels. The latest version of the JobWatch App is now available and includes Tool Box Talk, a fantastic new feature to ensure your mobile workers get to the information they need instantly, saving time and making sure your procedures are adhered to.

Tool Box Talk focuses on safety topics related to the specific job, such as workplace hazards and safe work practices. We recently partnered with supply chain experts Reconomy to help customers build more transparency and efficiency into their sourcing strategy, digitising the whole supply chain.

We have also spent £500,000 on a new business analytics and artificial intelligence solution, which will be launched soon.

Incredible speakers

It’s been another successful year for our Motivational Monday series. Let’s be honest, in 2020 we all needed to hear inspiring stories from people who have overcome adversity. Some of the incredible speakers in recent months this year were: Midge Ure, the musician, co-creator of Band Aid and ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’; Ann Hiatt, the leadership strategist, former personal assistant to Amazon’s founder, and former Chief of Staff at Google; the serial entrepreneur and interior designer Kelly Hoppen OBE and the TV presenter and commentator Gabby Logan OBE.

Thanks to all of these wonderful people for sharing their time and insight. At the start of the year, we also 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.

Being there for my community and local charities

At the start of the year, I was appointed to the board of the charity Business in the Community for Yorkshire and the Humber [https://www.martinport.com/news/be-a-positive-force-in-your-business-community]. That was a proud moment for me because I am passionate about supporting my fellow entrepreneurs and leaders.

I’m also a member of Connect Yorkshire, an organisation that connects business owners with seasoned entrepreneurs who have been there and done it. This year, I started mentoring a young entrepreneur too. I’ve been delighted to see how far she’s taken her business in just a few months.

I have also found the experience to be invaluable: if ever you want to remind yourself of the vital principles behind building a successful business, try and teach someone else! As a business, BigChange has continued to support many brilliant charities this year.

So far, we have helped more than 20 different causes, giving both time and money to support their work. One organisation that is close to my heart is Transaid, the transport charity, which we supported through our Motivational Monday initiative earlier this year. We will be launching similar schemes with several other charities, giving them access to our incredible speakers this year and next.

Helping BigChange customers to thrive and grow

At BigChange, we are passionate about helping our customers to become more efficient. With our help, they cut costs, spend less time on admin, and fit more jobs into the working day. One customer, the 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.

Our Net Promoter Score is a reflection of how we performed during the COVID-19 crisis. We are now at 70 plus, up from 68 in the final quarter of 2019. This score rivals the likes of Samsung and Starbucks. A Net Promoter Score reflects a customer’s willingness to recommend you and anything above 70 is categorised as ‘world class’.

…and grow!

But that’s not all. We want to help our customers to extend their geographic reach and form partnerships with like-minded companies. This has been a great success in 2020. The number of companies sharing jobs with other BigChange customers and subcontractors through the BigChange Network has increased by 75% in the last year, as more organisations turned to collaboration to deliver top-notch service for their customers.

Almost 400 companies across the UK are now working this way through BigChange, managing more than 12,000 jobs between them each month. Take VM Elevators in London and Pinnacle Elevators in Wakefield.

These two customers shared jobs seamlessly this year through our platform, helping both businesses to grow and increase their overall market share, while cutting carbon. To help our customers to win new business despite lockdown, we also launched our flagship Stronger Together campaign, advertising their services across our social media channels and on a dedicated webpage.

Supporting the team

We hired 29 new people this year, despite two national lockdowns. Like many companies, we have had to learn how to complete onboarding remotely, and the team has really pulled out all the stops to make new recruits feel welcome.

I know this year has been very hard on my colleagues, so I made sure I kept up the one-to-ones, checking in on everyone’s physical and mental health, and that of their families. Motivational Mondays have been vital for morale, helping to inspire the team. I am committed to supporting staff into 2021 with training and career development.

Doing our bit for the environment

With everything that’s happened this year, it would be easy to forget about the urgent need to act on climate change. We at BigChange have never stopped working to reduce our own carbon emissions and those of our customers. This year alone, our technology has saved 3,000 trees from the paper mill, and removed 5m kg of carbon dioxide through making customers' fleet more efficient.

So, that’s our year in review. Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year, whether you’re a customer, a partner - or you simply enjoy this blog. Your comments and feedback to my posts here have been an endless source of motivation and inspiration, keeping me going through dark times – so, thank you.