"Fourteen years on, Trace has identified the top five reasons why it believes the EO model can deliver benefit to organisations post-Covid."
Neil Stewart, sales director, Trace Solutions
In a year that has witnessed huge change for organisations, employee ownership – offering employees a stake in the business - has come to the fore as a way to re energise and unify the workforce. The Employee Ownership Association reports year on year growth in EO companies in the UK, with over 450, contributing in excess of £30 billion to UK GDP in 2020. It offers a compelling option for improving staff retention, putting employees at the heart of the organisation whilst delivering a persuasive point of difference to customers.
Trace Solutions has been employee owned since 2007 – it was ahead of its time when its founder Richard Wolfe bought the company back from being a Plc. Fourteen years on, it has identified the top five reasons why it believes the EO model can deliver benefit to organisations post-Covid.
1. Stand out from the competition
With under 500 companies in the UK having EO status, it’s a point of difference to prospects and customers that’s tangible during the sales process and beyond. As a PropTech IT company, Trace has discovered that being EO in an industry where its competitors are largely investor-backed, high-growth organisations make it unique among its peers and provides another reason to consider doing business with the company beyond just its product offering. There is a greater feeling of partnership where a ‘service’ is being delivered and promise of a long-term fruitful relationship for both organisations. In some cases, it has been an important reason for customers choosing to do business. An organisation that’s not simply driven by profit but has customer service central to its strategy is clear to those who engage with it.
2. Provide greater wellbeing for employees
In a post-Covid workplace where organisations have been largely working remotely and have struggled to create a culture that helps with recruitment and retention, offering EO to new employees is a benefit that that attracts candidates, and differentiates a job offer from others. Higher employee engagement, motivation, wellbeing, retention and recruitment are all benefits of EO. Trace’s employees often refer to being part of a close family unit where openness internally means there is a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and involvement within the communities it operates in. Everyone has a collective responsibility for the delivery of good service and software to customers - pulling in the same direction to achieve it. Around 20% of Trace employees have over twenty years’ service with the company, with the average length of service of the workforce being twelve years.
3. Deliver a superior product
The fastest way to an extensive product portfolio is often via company acquisition, however it can be difficult to glue together the component parts of two or more organisations’ products and services into something that has the customer at the heart of it. By contrast, as an EO company building a product from the ground up, testing it with the customer base and continuously updating it to suit the needs of the market means the product is built with the customer in mind and is supported by the people who built and understand it best.
4. Put your customers before profit
Putting customers first means that the needs and requirements of clients comes ahead of anything and everything else – even profit. Trace is clear that if its PropTech software isn’t right for a prospect, it will flag up its concerns rather than sell a square peg for a round hole. Long term customer partnerships are the primary objective, and they are nurtured by providing excellent customer experience via product experts. Building trust and understanding within the customer base, such that clients know they have a supplier that is concerned with their challenges and is working hard to address them – above all else.
5. Deliver stability for all
In an EO company the threat of acquisition is eliminated. Employees care more because they own it, have a vested interest in remaining in its employment and doing the right thing for their customers. Trace’s longest serving customer is over forty years and having ridden a wave of instability in its flotation on the stock market in the early 2000’s, and its subsequent buy-back in 2007, the company is in an enviable position to promise and deliver on longevity and quality of service for its customers.
June 25, 2021 is Employee Ownership Day