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Inspiring Growth: When happiness creates a recipe for success

This week in our Inspiring Growth series, we talk to James Taylor, Cofounder and Managing Director of Ice Comms, recently named the Fastest Growing Small Business in the North West Fastest 50 Awards, to find out their ingredients for success.

James founded Ice Comms, a large UK supplier of energy, mobiles, landline and broadband to businesses nationwide, in 2016 following the merger of his existing landline company with a popular mobile provider, owned by Jamie Ward and Stuart Bonell. All three are now joint owners of Ice Comms.

L-R Ice Comms Director Jamie Ward with Managing Director James Taylor

“We’ve always had a very clear vision of what we wanted to achieve,” says James Taylor, Managing Director of Ice Comms. “And a plan in place to reach goals and move onto the next. This alone can’t buy you success – it needs to be from something deeper than that, a purpose the company can nurture, develop and continue to get better at and that is customer service. Customer service is what sells your products and impacts that bottom line.”

It’s easy to say excellent service is the key to Ice Comms’ success. Yet what drives the delivery of service across the business to all of Ice’s customers, from one-man bands to high-profile businesses Swarovski and Yankee Candle?

“A happy team,” says James. “It might sound simple but to truly achieve an engaged, happy and healthy workforce is a huge investment that is constantly changing and challenging. How can I expect my employees to sell our products day in and day out if they’re not happy at work?”

And happiness at work is what lies at the very foundation of Ice Comms. With offices across the North West in Manchester, Crewe, Chester and further afield in Portsmouth and Birmingham, turnover has doubled year-on-year since the business was formed five years ago. The company is set to reach a turnover of £28million this year.

James explains: “While some might say increased sales or more sales than your competitors comes from a pricing strategy – I disagree. It’s from great customer service provided by talented, productive and happy staff. You can only provide a superior, first rate service 365 days of the year if your people are happy and working hard to meet their sales targets because they are empowered and motivated to do so, not simply because it’s something that pays the bills each month.

“From the outset, I wanted Ice to be a great place to work. I wanted to attract people eager to work for us who we’d like to hire too. It’s not just me and the other directors banging the drum either. All of our employees genuinely care about Ice, what it serves to do, and play a role in its continued growth. And they do this because they are happy at work, doing a job they love for a company that supports them and respects them.”

It’s resoundingly clear that Ice is focusing its efforts and passion on the right things. They’ve recently been named in the coveted Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For 2021, coming 47th out of 100 national companies. This comes hot on the heels of being named the 5th best telecom company to work for in the UK – which is no mean feat.

Ice was named the Fastest Growing Small Business in the 2021 Ward Hadaway North West Fastest 50.

“We offer a plethora of employee benefits both professionally and personally”, said James. “This includes an hour and a half training per day for each employee so that they can continue to progress in their career with us. We reward our people well – and it shows.”

Their investment in people is certainly working, enabling Ice to expand its workforce to keep up with the company’s pace of growth. Currently 140-people strong, with many recruitment leads coming from recommendations and referrals from existing team members, the business plans to take on around 15 more people in the coming months.

Melanie Yeomans, a Partner at Ward Hadaway, Manchester said: “Ice Comms is an excellent example of a young, dynamic North West business that’s worked hard on developing the right kind of ethos and values that are intrinsic to growth and continued success. Businesses are often told that their people are their greatest asset. We all need to ensure this is reflected in their approach to running, and growing, a business. Ice, however, clearly prioritises employee wellbeing which shows in the strength they have across their team highlighting that a productive, thriving workforce is a happy one. Perhaps we can all learn from Ice in realising that it’s not success that creates happiness but, rather, happiness that creates success.”

Training the next generation of sales executives is also high on the senior leadership’s agenda, with Ice taking on 18 apprentices in the last six months. Indeed, Ice’s apprenticeship programme is a key aspect of the company’s HR and recruitment process.

James adds: “It’s so important to create a nurturing, supportive workplace where people can learn work-ready skills and fulfil their potential. We’ve worked incredibly hard to establish a positive and empowering culture – and we continue to cultivate that. With all our people, we try to embed the message that whatever they want is there for the taking – and we’re here to support them every step of the way. Reach for the stars and you’ll land on the moon is what I was once told and it’s something I encourage every single one of my team to do too, whether they’ve been with us for five minutes or five years.”

 

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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