“The start of January is a natural time for reflection, to consider what has been achieved in the past twelve months, and what our goals are for the year ahead.
Everyone in Wates Living Space can look back on 2017 as a year where we have gone from strength to strength, cementing our position as the UK’s leading planned and responsive maintenance business. While, perhaps, this can be most simply illustrated by a rising turnover, the true indicators of our success as a business can be found by looking a little deeper.
Our team is mobilised throughout the breadth of the country, working for 63 housing associations and local authorities across 500,000 properties. Our largest contract is currently with Birmingham City Council. Since April 2016, a 260-strong Wates workforce has undertaken housing maintenance and repairs across West Central and East Birmingham, covering over 31,000 properties in the city.
The Council is thrilled with the service it is receiving and, while improving the homes of so many people in one city is a substantial endeavor in itself, this contract perfectly demonstrates the wider impact our work has in the communities in which it is delivered.
When the contract completed its first year of activity in April, we had spent £7.8m with small businesses in the city, with 44 of those companies situated within a 20-mile radius of Birmingham, generating £12.7m in economic benefit for the local economy.
We are also working with our local supply chain to deliver a range of training opportunities to improve employment prospects for the city’s jobseekers. This included hosting a Building Futures course, our two-week accredited vocational training programme aimed at adults aged 19 and above that are not in education, employment and training, and we currently have 11 individuals on site undertaking apprenticeships in fields such as electrical installation, maintenance and plumbing.
A further way we are able to contribute to local economies up and down the country is through engagement with the social enterprise (SE) sector, which consists of organisations with a profit-for-purpose ethos. In Cardiff, for example, where we deliver a £2.9m roofing contract across 193 properties on behalf of the City Council, we launched a campaign in July for other businesses to follow our lead in working with SEs.
As part of the campaign we held a ‘Seeing is Believing’ event during which we introduced local businesses to SEs from across Cardiff. This was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to delegates from across the private sector the difference SEs can make to the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of society.
Our success in delivering a quality service to our clients and in providing an economic boost to our communities is ultimately down to one thing; the exemplary team we have developed. Wates is a family business, and the ethos of respect and mutual support runs through the core of the business and from top to bottom.
It is a testament to the culture within Wates that our staff retention rate is very high. This is fuelled by the faith we have in and the support we show to our employees – we take the time to invest in training and personal development programmes, and it makes me immensely proud to see so many employees rise up the ranks and reach their full potential.
While this speaks highly of our working environment, it also provides huge benefits for our customers, as they can be assured that they will be dealing with a consistent team during the course of our contract with them, one that develops an understanding of the intricacies of the locality they are working in, and the properties that they are servicing.
Put simply, our high staff retention rate goes hand in hand with our high customer retention rate. While winning a raft of contracts from new clients in 2017 such as Sheffield City Council and The Guinness Partnership in London was an excellent achievement for our business this year, it was particularly rewarding to win more work from existing customers such as whg (formerly Walsall Housing Group) and Town and Country Housing Group. Such appointments reflect the confidence and trust that our team engenders in customers, and we look forward to continuing these great relationships in the year ahead.
However, during 2018 there can be no room for complacency. We aim to continue our growth, investing in and recruiting to our continually expanding team while delivering an excellent service to new and existing customers. Just as every football match starts at 0-0, every working day starts with a blank slate and we don’t take our hard won reputation and position as one of the UK’s leading social housing maintenance providers lightly. Our team is committed to working harder each day to ensure an excellent result for our customers on a daily basis.
Looking more broadly at the social housing sector, following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, it is clear that there are many issues in the industry that need to be addressed and resolved, and we are committed to working with our partners to tackle these. The devastating loss of life at Grenfell means that social landlords across the country are doing everything in their power to ensure that a tragedy like this can never happen again. We are working with all our customers to ensure their residents are confident that their homes are a place where they can sleep safely and feel secure. There are few things more important to an individual’s health, happiness and security, and we take our responsibility in contributing to this incredibly seriously.
In 2018, I am determined that Wates Living Space will continue to be a force for good – be that through improving people’s homes, continuing to be a fulfilling and nurturing place of work or by the significant investment we provide to the communities that we work in.
Winning further work and delivering an exemplary service is imperative to our operation, but it is ultimately improving the lives of people in communities across the country that drives what we do.”
David Morgan, Managing Director, Wates Living Space