Christmas is a quiet time of the year for us – things don’t really pick up until the second week in January when everybody has returned to work and we get a deluge of two weeks of accumulated problems hitting the office all in one go. Add to that the usual sprinkling of snow that brings the whole of London to a halt, and January turns into what I would describe as an eventful month.
Something that has made it even more eventful than usual is the news that we have finally found suitable premises for our Surbiton Service Centre which we hope to open in March or April, depending upon the speed of the lawyers in drawing up the lease. We are taking over a shop unit in St James Road which is about 100 meters from the station, and that means the next few months are going to be a whirlwind of organising the fixtures and fittings for the new premises, liaising with suppliers, organising signage, utilities, and all the hundreds of other tasks that a new branch requires.
I've been meticulous in keeps lists of everything we required to get our Fulham service centre up and running, including the suppliers we liked (and those we didn't like the flooring contractors who simply never turned up). We are also using the experience of the last four years to shape how we are organising the new shop, building on what works, and working to maximise efficiency within the limited space available. All this should mean that the process is as streamlined as possible, and by knowing exactly what we want we can keep the fitting out costs to a minimum.
We've also taken our first apprentice on board, which is another exciting development. I was wary of the apprenticeship scheme until I met some candidates and was impressed by their enthusiasm. Aaron has been with us for a couple of weeks and it’s great to see how quickly he’s picking up the real-world skills we need to do our job. I know more than a little about the way information technology is taught in our colleges, mainly because I get to see the end result, and I'm amazed that there is still such dislocation between what industry requires, and what education gives us. I’ll keep you posted on how things go but I think the apprenticeship scheme could be a fantastic alternative to spending three years accumulating a huge debt.