Best of Suffolk, Best Escapes and Best Estates.2nd Jun 2018
Best of Suffolk Case Study
Alex Tarry runs three highly successful businesses – Best of Suffolk, Best Escapes and Best Estates. A business portfolio, which allow him to combine his love of Suffolk, his passion for property, and his expertise in marketing.
In 2003 Alex purchased a cottage in Aldeburgh which he turned into a boutique-style self-catering holiday cottage, changing the standard and expectation of holidaymakers. Just three years later Best of Suffolk was launched, a brand which is now well-known and recognised as offering luxury holiday accommodation in Suffolk. Whilst Alex’s heart is firmly set in Suffolk, he recognised the demand for luxury holiday accommodation further afield and in 2006 set up Best Escapes, providing a similar service throughout the country.
In 2014 Alex went on to found Best Estates, a property selling and letting business based on the same ethos as the holiday let enterprises: a high energy, high customer service focus, with people being at the centre of everything they do.
“Our growth has been rapid, especially over the past couple of years, and I needed confidence that our growing team would be comprised of the right talent”, explained Alex. “I wanted to make sure that I had the best people. The best people to provide the high level of service we are known for, and the best people to fit our culture and support our values”
Alex met Carole at a networking event about three years ago and decided as he was scheduled to be interviewing a potential team member that afternoon, it would be a wasted opportunity not to ask for some advice over lunch. Carole, who always loves the opportunity to help, and of course talk about her favourite subject, gave Alex some guidance on his concerns and forwarded a link with some useful information on it. Since then Carole has worked with Alex successfully recruiting five team members and has become his go-to person on all HR issues.
“No business owner can be an expert in everything. I believe that part of being a successful business owner is to acknowledge what your own strengths are, and acknowledge when you need an expert. For an organisation our size we couldn’t justify employing an HR lead with the level of expertise and experience we wanted, so working with MAD-HR is ideal. We have access to a wealth of experience and knowledge as and when we need it.”
“I want Best of Suffolk and Best Escapes to be managed in the same style as an organisation based in the city. I’m looking for high energy and high personal drive from my team. Having Carole there to guide us in setting objectives, creating job profiles and introducing a comprehensive induction programme, has resulted in teams who consistently give their best and all working to the same ethos, values and targets”.
Alex’s background in a large corporation had shown him the importance of having systems and processes in place, and the right experts on hand to support the core business.
As well as becoming involved in recruitment and selection, Carole and the MAD-HR team have supported Alex in establishing some basic processes such as contracts, employee handbook, personnel files, and standard operating procedures. Developing an objective structure, pay review system and appraisal processes have helped support the organisation’s growth and development.
Despite MAD-HR being an outsourced service, Alex is in no doubt that Carole is part of his team. “Having MAD-HR as a key part of our team is not about outsourcing our problems. We are still very much responsible but we have the benefit of having Carole there to support and guide us. Having a learned person, who we trust and who has developed an open working relationship with the senior team has been invaluable”.
All business owners know that it gets to a stage, where if growth is going to continue, it is vital to work on the business rather than in the business. The first step to free up Alex’s time was to allow him to be less operational day to day, and Carole helped with the recruitment drive needed to get the right people in place to allow that to happen. The next step was to clarify the strategic direction of both businesses.
“Not only does Carole bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise, but she also has a great skill in bringing a formality and structure to business decisions. She acts as a sounding board when we are debating strategic decisions. Carole is able to process risk without being influenced by politics or emotion but having the benefit of understanding the team and culture”.
Alex goes on to explain a benefit of using a specialist consultant: “Carole can balance her knowledge of the organisation and the team dynamics, with being able to remove emotions and stress from decisions”.
When Alex started working with MAD-HR he opted to make use of the Online Toolkit – an electronic support system providing every possible document, policy and procedure that could be needed for the HR function. The Toolkit is regularly updated to ensure legal compliance and best practice within the 1000+ documents. Whilst processes and systems were being introduced his managers could access the Online HR Toolkit whenever an HR situation arose to save time, money and relieve pressure. Now the procedures are fully embedded, Alex has opted out of the Online Toolkit, preferring to utilise ad-hoc support direct with Carole reflecting how MAD-HR can flex their service to suit the needs of the client at different times of their own growth and development.
When asked what advice he would give another business owner who is considering HR support but is unsure if the investment is of value, he quotes a former president of Harvard University: “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.
“Business is all about the people. I want the best. An incentivised and well-trained team will be motivated, loyal and perform well. I want to invest in people’s careers. A strong and stable HR function is the basis for that investment”.
As Best of Suffolk and Best Escapes continue to grow, the relationship with Carole and MAD-HR will evolve and develop to provide the support they need. Alex can be confident that his HR systems and procedures will remain legally compliant, robust and relevant. “I want to concentrate on my core business and develop our strategic growth plan. Knowing that I have Carole working with me removes any worry of risk or that the organisation’s growth will be hindered by a lack of HR systems and procedures in place”.
2018 is certainly going to be an exciting time for Alex and his team.