Paxman Landscapes is continuing to trailblaze in the use of technology for small landscape contractors.
Director Justin Paxman is already known as a social media advocate, crediting the company's online presence with turning the business around after the recession led to redundancies.
This year Paxman invested in an accounts package and computer system to improve procurement policies and manage costs. It covers everything from purchase orders and invoicing to balance sheets and subcontractors' insurance and tax data, allowing Paxman to instantly see how each job is doing.
"Previously we did it all separately because we were paper based, but we've condensed all that into this new package," he explained. "I'd say it's probably the best thing I've ever bought."
The next step is to buy a tablet computer for each employee. While on site they will be able to pick up job data from an online dashboard and fill out forms such as risk assessment questionnaires. Before and after photos can be sent to the main office for sign-off.
Technology can help a small business be efficient and focus on the important work, said Paxman. "Our motto is that we want to keep our overheads low and get maximum productivity."
The strategy is working, with turnover increasing, good retention of old contracts and new contracts coming through, especially in Paxman's target market. "We're starting to break new ground into where we want to be, which is with the bigger boys," he added.
New commercial clients include BAM and Wates Construction. Domestic enquiries have also picked up. The York-based company is approaching 20 staff and hopes to increase turnover 20 per cent year on year over the next three years.
Strong growth has made it a struggle to fill middle management positions, but a renewed focus on developing apprentices is starting to show results. Paxman aims to train at least two each year and mentor them through gaining their level two and three qualifications.
Paxman Landscapes Recent contract wins
Paxman recently won three new contracts, including landscaping at the 100-acre Nikken Advanced Manufacturing Park site on the Rotherham-Sheffield border in South Yorkshire on behalf of ESH Build.
An ongoing relationship with Audi dealerships will see Paxman landscaping a new showroom in Sunderland in partnership with BDB Design Build in September.
Over the summer Paxman will also landscape Aldi's new stores in Rotherham and Sherburn-in-Elmet, on behalf of JF Finnegan and Triton respectively.
One recent large contract involved tree clearance at an abandoned convent in York for Vita Developments, while a move into snow clearing and gritting at industrial colleges is expected to generate extra winter work.