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Company:Portable Space

Small Grant Scheme £22,600

Investing in websites, capacity and tracking technologies

Having enjoyed a number of years of continuous growth, Portable Space had ambitions to further expand its operation and improve its customer proposition. The Stowmarket-based company specialises in the hire and sale of portable office accommodation offices, shipping containers for temporary storage and shipping container conversions.

For 2018, it identified that to meet its growth ambitions it would need to upgrade its website, increase its transport fleet capacity and invest in new delivery tracking technology for its drivers. Commercial Director, Mark Dolman, worked closely with New Anglia Growth Hub to secure the necessary funding to accelerate the delivery of their plans. Watch the video to find out how one of New Anglia Growth Hub’s advisers supported Mark’s aspirations.

If your business has ambitious growth plans and needs help with funding the vital components that would deliver them, we’d love to hear from you. Pick up the phone and call us on 0300 333 6356 and we will put you in touch with one of expert advisers who’ll arrange to come and meet you to discuss your plans.

To learn more about the details on how we worked with Portable Space and continue to work with them to support their business growth, please read more below:

The story behind Portable Space

Starting out originally as a company that hired out portable accommodation and transport, Portable Space has grown rapidly and organically to now have three core pillars to its business:

  1. Portable accommodation for hire and sale – providing offices for the construction and commercial sectors
  2. Shipping containers for hire and sale – temporary storage for construction sites, commercial or household requirements
  3. Container conversions – shipping containers converted into offices, toilet blocks and turnstile units for festivals

Portable Space has enjoyed a number of years of continuous growth, buoyed by the reinvestment of profits back into the business that has enabled it to purchase more containers to meet the demands from a growing number of customers. It now has 1,900 units in total.

Portable Space’s relationship with the Growth Hub

Portable Space has worked with the Growth Hub for many years. The Growth Hub has provided it with business support and advice and has also facilitated access to grant funding, the first of which was in 2015.

The management team at Portable Space has a very clear vision to increase turnover year-on-year, that’s based on well thought through growth plans. This has enabled the team to identify when and where the business requires external help or additional funding.

Working closely with Growth Hub business adviser, Richard Glinn, the team has been able to pinpoint funding availability that matches specific business activities and have developed an approach to incorporate this into their annual plans.

The latest support from the Growth Hub

Portable Space’s 2018 plan highlighted the need to undertake a growth project to help it expand. There were a number of key elements to this plan including upgrading its website, increasing its transport fleet capacity and investing in new delivery tracking technology.

The website is a critical cog in the Portable Space business as all bookings have to be made through it, accounting for £8m in revenue. The management team has always placed their customers’ needs at the centre of their business and it was this desire that led them to the conclusion that they could provide them with an even better online experience. This required further significant investment in a new platform as well as making major improvements to the customer journeys that has resulted in greater processing efficiency, improved cashflow and reduced administration costs.

It also added to its transport fleet, enabling it to deliver to places such as London that have stricter regulations on engine emissions.

Another addition to the Portable Space operation was the introduction of hand-held technology for its drivers that will make the tracking and recording of container deliveries become automated, instant, paperless and time-saving.

Growth Hub help

Before making an application for funding, Mark Dolman, Commercial Director, and Mark Smyth, Finance Director, met with Richard to identify the key criteria governing any grant funding that might be available.

As with most applications for funding, it takes a good deal of paperwork and preparation to put together a compelling argument for finance. Richard helped them to complete all the necessary parts of the application along with presenting evidence to support Portable Space’s claims and to outline how the grant would benefit the organisation.

Richard also plays a key role in helping Portable Space anticipate the monitoring requirements that comes with grant funding after it has been awarded. His knowledge and experience of working with a wide variety of businesses means that he can quickly address issues that arise and oversee the whole process.

In 2018, Portable Space received total grant funding of just under £24,000 which accounted for 20% of the total cost of the growth project of around £120,000.

Advice from Portable Space

Mark Dolman believes that having well thought out plans and a good grasp of the finances gives you a real head-start when requesting grant funding.

He explains, “Being open with Richard about our business plans enables him to see the big picture and the challenges we face. That means he can be proactive on our behalf to give us advanced notice of appropriate grant funding and support. We are delighted with the relationship we have with New Anglia Growth Hub, and Richard himself, and would recommend any business with ambitions of growth to get in touch with them to see what sort of assistance they can provide. Without their help we wouldn’t have achieved our level of success so quickly. We are definitely going to keep the relationship going as we have very ambitious plans for further growth!”

The adviser’s view

Richard Glinn said, “Whilst Portable Space has made the most of its opportunities in the way it has grown the business, the management team realised very early that engaging with others outside their organisation can accelerate their growth. Having worked with Mark and his colleagues for a number of years, it’s no surprise that they are so successful. Being very organised, having a clear plan and an intimate knowledge of the financials does, without a doubt, give them a distinct advantage when it comes to applying for grants. We want to see all the money that goes into businesses make a difference and help them grow. With Portable Space that’s exactly what happens!”

Call to action

If you have plans to grow your business and would like some support, please contact New Anglia Growth Hub on 0300 333 6356 or email growthhub@newanglia.co.uk.

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