Lessons learnt in a fast-growing business – Air Marketing Group

Guest Blog (1)

Air Marketing Group launched on March 7th2016, in someone else’s boardroom with three members of staff. It’s fair to say things have changed a little since then, in fact, we have seen 375% growth, have been voted Exeter’s Fastest Growing Business and Outstanding Business of the Year by the Express and Echo, were recognised nationally at BESMA and the Amazon Growing Business Awards, won the Business Services Award at the Exeter Living Awards and established our sister company, Roots to Market, who help us to service our clients beyond our initial expectations.

We celebrated our third birthday this year, in our third ‘proper’ office, with a team of 60+ people and a portfolio which includes a number of major household names and many local companies fuelling our success. For us, success is starting to taste sweet, or maybe that’s the birthday cake, but either way the journey to this point has not come without positives and challenges with plenty of learnings.

The key thing learnt is that businesses need to be supported by a strong team.

Our team, affectionately called Team Air, have supported the company at every step of the way, drawing on their dynamic and driven culture to push us through the stressful times and come out the other end with a smile on our faces. It is important, when scaling up or hiring new employees, that you don’t risk the balance and culture that you have already established in order to fill seats. Don’t rush the hiring process and risk the damage of your culture – this is a lesson that we learnt when we had to scale up quickly for one of our first major clients, taking on temporary staff and doubling in size.

Many people assume that the more employees a company has, the better the business is. But often this is not necessarily the truth. A company can have thousands of employees and still go bust – just look at the high street giants like HMV and House of Fraser who are both constantly in and out of administration. Your company is more likely to be a success if it is backed by a strong team, one in which everyone understands the goals and values that your company is striving for.

With this in mind, at Air we learnt that we shouldn’t be afraid to give junior employees, those who have been with us from the start or shown promise, a chance to move into more senior roles. Instead of spending time bringing in employees who don’t understand exactly what it is Air is focused on achieving, we offer the large majority of our promotional roles to those who already understand the skills and attitudes we expect our team to have. In showing this respect and gratitude to those already within our team, we see a lower turnover of staff considering our industry as they know that opportunities are always on the cards, be it in the form of training programmes, promotions or pay rises.

Our gratitude isn’t only shown in the form of job progression. At Air we place importance on celebrating the small achievements throughout the week, all of which add up and contribute to the bigger picture. We’re vocal about these achievements, we have a shout out board, Friday meetings where we share a drink and the events of the week, weekly awards and incentives – most recently we have been sending 5 team members who have achieved outstanding results on a weekend getaway. All of this inspires a healthy sense of competition, it never gets toxic because Team Air know that they will always get the recognition they deserve.

Investing in HR management and working with a recruitment company are both ways in which you can alleviate the stress of on boarding and retaining employees at a time when your business is growing quickly. We have worked with the team at Sarah West from the very early days of Air. In working with a recruiter, we have been able to discuss and hire exactly the kind of people we are looking for. Go to them with what you have in mind; what kind of attitude, qualifications, background and personality do you want your team to have? It’s time to create your winning culture!

Our HR Manager, Sam Bennett, has been nothing short of a miracle since starting with us last September and is one of many introduced by the Sarah West team. Over the past 6 months, she has worked with Team Air to make sure that everyone is on the same page, aware of the changes that would be coming within the business and has put better procedures in place for the on boarding and retaining of our team. As we grow further, we now have a clear view of the infrastructure and team organisation in place. A lesson taken from this by our MD, Owen, was learning when to delegate. In a fast-growing business, like Air, one person can’t oversee it all and changes like these, more often than not, are good.

We know that as we grow further we will come up against other challenges but we’re proud of how far we have come in just three years. Our team is definitely at the heart of it all and so looking out for them is our number one priority and it should be yours too. As we’re told as children, ‘there is no I in TEAM’.

Opinion Piece by Air Marketing Group, B2B full cycle sales and acquisition specialists.

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