Clearing the way for a successful winter
Despite what in many ways was a mild winter last season, we had our biggest gritting night ever, just under 300,000 gritting visits across the season, all whilst growing our portfolio by nearly 20%. Those successes are a testament to our focus on improving customer service and the dedication of our field and customer service teams.
To enable a successful winter season, we created a new mobilisation team to drive ‘right first time’ delivery and a successful client experience. We also invested in our help desk, adding more people and improving the technology so we could deliver a better service. Judging by the feedback we received from customers, the kudos received on site by our field teams and our end of season Net Promoter Scores, that is a strategy that paid off.
While the winter was milder – there were fewer frosty and icy nights overall– we did experience some snowfalls and, although temperatures were higher on the whole, our teams still supported our customers with gritting when temperatures fell creating hazard conditions. We were able to demonstrate solid performance and prove we are able to reliably and consistently service the increased number of customers we now have, which is really promising.
Another area where we’ve seen encouraging growth is in our pothole repair business, which we’ve grown almost 50% year on year. That’s both organic growth among existing clients and adding new ones. The key factors in this are our Permafil product, which is guaranteed for three years and does away with the messiness and expense of traditional hot fill repairs, combined with our continued focus on providing excellent and fast customer responses to customer needs.
We are planning to continue improving our service and to make it easier to do business with us. We continue in investment in our gritting platform and in expanding the number of gritting teams nationally to ensure the resilience of our service. ’We are investing significantly in our digital technology, some benefits include greater integration with customers’ own facilities management systems, which will enable us to ensure faster visibility of service delivery.
We continue to work with our weather partners including the Met Office to ensure and optimise our service delivery. Alongside this, we have joined the industry body the National Winter Service Research Group so we can both learn from and aid in developing both the industry and standards. We see a real opportunity to help both the company, industry, and country drive to achieve our carbon reduction targets.
To that end, we have accelerated our efforts on reducing the carbon impact of our supply chain and gritting. Each season we dynamically adjust our gritting routes to reduce the number of miles per night we drive by being closer to customers. This season, we travelled 570,000 miles saved 12,800 miles and used 175,000 fewer plastic bags as we continued our conversion to bulk stored and transported salt. Linked with that is our gritting asset purchase programme, which is geared towards making sure the equipment we use is the right fit for our customer portfolio to maximise efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint.
Another headline innovative step we’ve taken this year is buying our first ever all-electric gritter. It arrived at the end of the season after the last frosts had fallen, so we will undergo trials with it through the summer and are really looking forward to putting it through its paces in the coming winter.
To sum up, we’ve had a great season where we took our strategy into action through the hard work and dedication of both our field teams and our entire team at Ground Control. Our people are ready and waiting every day, whether it’s cold or not, from October through to April and we couldn’t achieve this kind of excellent performance without them.