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Recovery grant helps IT business serve more customers

A forced office move and reduced revenues due to the global pandemic meant Ashby de la Zouch-based business IT support provider UKBITS, faced an uncertain future last year. However, with the benefits to the environment caused by the lockdown coming into focus, the business developed an idea to not only do their bit for the planet but also develop another source of income.

Microbusiness UKBITS was founded in 2006 by Simon Kilmister and Pete Rowell. Technician Tom Brecknell and Sales Coordinator, Helen Sutton make up the team of four. The IT company focuses on all aspects of business IT support, from desktops and laptops through to servers, cloud-based solutions and anything in between. The small team prides itself on offering a personalised service with no long-term contracts, supporting sole traders, charities and larger businesses across the East Midlands as well as international businesses with localised outlets.

Since its inception, the business has had a close relationship with the Business Gateway Growth Hub, and values the advice and guidance offered.

Helen commented: “Two of us were furloughed last year and although we retained our clients, many of them reduced their spend with us. Revenue was falling and although we looked into government Covid grants, we were ineligible for all of them as we didn’t pay business rates.”

“It was during a regular catch up with Business Adviser, Aruna Bhagwan we found out about the Leicestershire Recovery Grant and our ideas began to formulate around a recycling project.”

‘Ashby IT Recycle’ was created after the team successfully received a £3,000 grant. It works on a repair, resell or recycle principle. When clients upgrade equipment, they often want to get rid of their old items. Ashby IT Recycle take these off their hands and repair them for resale or, after wiping them of any private data, break them down into components for recycling. This service along with IT advice is open to individuals as well as businesses, opening them up to a wider audience.

The small grant has been used to set up a new recycling area in their warehouse with the purchase of a computer, label printer, camera and racking for storage. The project has gone down well, and the business will continue to offer this service going forward with the potential to create a new role in the future. Over the last 6 months Ashby IT Recycle has helped 105 new local customers and is establishing itself as the “go-to” for securely recycling used IT equipment.

Helen has also attended several Business Gateway and Digital Growth Programme webinars, both face to face and online, following advice from Aruna on which of these would be the most beneficial.

She added: “It’s useful to keep learning and I’m a big fan of networking. The sessions keep you engaged, they are easy to watch and I always leave with something useful.”

Now that Covid restrictions have eased, UKBITS is finding that most customers are reverting to their original monthly agreements and support hours. However, Helen says they continue to advertise and are running new sales campaigns.

“Aruna gives us the confidence to drive forward. She has contact with other businesses and her feedback helps you realise that you’re actually doing well.”

“Catching up with her regularly helps you focus. As a small business, we wear lots of different hats. It is easy to get away from my core role of sales, but I want the business to succeed and Aruna reminds me about what needs to be done to help us grow. We all need that from time to time!”

Aruna commented: “I’ve enjoyed supporting Helen and the team. We’ve worked together to formulate new marketing campaigns and bounced ideas off each other. She is always willing to try new suggestions and it’s lovely to hear they have felt so supported, particularly during such a difficult period.”

“I’m also pleased she has got so much out of the webinars, particularly the sales and social media sessions. It’s not always easy to identify what’s right for you especially when there are so many events out there, so I was happy to provide some guidance where I can.”

Any business in Leicester or Leicestershire can contact the Business Gateway for a free business review on 0116 366 8487 or growthhub@bizgateway.org.uk

 

Pic: Bottom left: L-R: Simon Kilmister, Pete Rowell, Helen Sutton and Tom Brecknell in the new recycling area