Name: Sam Francis
Member since: 2010
Tell us about your business:
TEK Express was formed in July 2000 by a brother and sister partnership of Richard Ashdown and Samantha Francis who had previously worked successfully together in IT for over 4 years. The initial concept for the company was a niche solution, named Swap-out, tailored to large companies who operate with home or field based workers who use laptops/tablets to carry out their role. This solution involves the provision of a replacement unit when theirs fails. TEK Express was formed as Sam and Richard believed that such workers deserve a good as service as you would expect to receive in an office. TEK’s core business is the support for the Corporates however since 2005, we have established a web-based company named The Laptop Specialist to support the needs of SME’s and individuals who are having hardware issues with their laptops. We provide a speedy and cost effective turnaround on all makes and models. Ideally, we want to become the national lifeline to any laptop worker.
The beginning - your ‘eureka’ moment:
Sam and Richard both worked for one of the largest IT companies in the UK which had undergone many changes and to Sam and Richard, the company had lost its sparkle and they felt their customers were not receiving the service they deserved. One day, driving back from Lancashire, discussing the day and frustrations that had started to build, they joked that they should start up on their own. The car journey fell silent for a while and then the realisation that they should indeed form a company together. The remainder of the journey was a buzz of how this could become a reality and 4 months later TEK Express was launched.
The best and the worst of times:
Since 2000, there have been some highs and lows but throughout, the team have been solid. Contracts have been awarded and revenue increased but in 2011, the toughest decision had to be made by Sam and Richard to make a redundancy of one of the oldest team members. Although TEK have never lost a contract in the history, work had taken a downturn and having to make a friend redundant was so so very hard but the team have come through the toughest time stronger and TEK are enjoying some positive times again. Having siblings as partners in business has its advantages and disavantages but one thing has remained true and that is honesty between Sam and Richard. They are both striving for the same goal and each year, that goal is becoming more and more achievable.
What gets you out of bed in the morning - what motivates you?:
To hear a client is happy with the work we have carried out for them. Our company is very service driven, there isn't an actual product to buy of the shelf but we are here to sort out people's problems with their mobile computing. When a laptop goes wrong, suddenly people feel cut off from their everyday activity whether is be business or pleasure so if we can resolve a problem, efficiently and cost effectively, we are very happy people.
Luck or skill - what gets your further?:
Skill is what gets you further however, luck does come into play. Most of our business is driven through the internet so its just down to the click of the mouse if someone chooses our company. Our corporate business is sought through simple telephone marketing however, we have won contracts through our reputation which is a fantastic feeling. Our aim once we have a customer is that they become a customer for life and we have experience fantastic longevity with all our clients since we setup in 2000.
Someone who is willing to take a risk by stepping out of a secure environment to go it alone. Someone who wants to strive for something more than working for an employer and someone who want to give more by doing it themselves.
Moving on up - your ambitions and the next big thing:
Richard and Sam's idea was to build up a successful company and then sell it as a going concern after a number of years so this is still the plan. Richard would like to stay in the IT industry but Sam would like to move into
Your top tips:
1) Work to be the best in your industry but welcome competition and learn from them 2) Be honest and don't stretch yourself too far 3) Continue to seek feedback to improve your business 4) Have a plan so you can set yourslef goals 5) Create a life balance - work is important but having a private life is equally as important
What others say about you and your business:
People are always very complimentary and positive about our business, since 2000, we have received just 5 complaints and we appreciate we cannot always get it right but we think that track record is pretty impressive. I think people believe that we go that extra mile to give 100% and we continue to strive to improve how we do things all the time - this comes from the management so filters down to the rest of the team. Because we continually seek feedback we are able to improve our service offering but more importantly, the team get to hear a job well done from the clients, its always great to get a pat on the back.
“Over the years I’ve heard great feedback about the MDHUB but could not find the time to join another organisation. My first experience came in April ‘09 and I was left feeling very inspired after a few short hours. Since joining, every session I have attended has been of benefit to me personally and my business. In short, I think the concept is brilliant, the management superb and the results are first class!”