We talked to Zoe Edmeades, Managing Director and co-owner of The Security Company (International) Limited about Information security and here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Zoe Edmeades: I have learnt so much over the last 12 months about myself, my family, and the people I work with. How resilient, creative and agile we can be, how I can trust my team to work really well from home, and how we communicate better now than we did when we were in the office and how much I miss face-to-face human interaction. It has also been incredibly stressful. It’s not a time I would like to repeat, but we have all evolved incredibly fast and become stronger for it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded The Security Company.
Zoe Edmeades: I arrived in the world of security when I joined TSC in 2007. I had been looking for a new challenge since moving out of London, and I wanted a career in an industry I could feel passionate about, where I could influence change and hopefully make a difference. Focusing on the human side of this very human industry is what drives me, so when the owners made me aware they were looking to sell, I seized the opportunity and became co-owner, with my husband Tony, in 2019.
How does The Security Company innovate?
Zoe Edmeades: We are not afraid of change, as the last 12 months have shown. To innovate, we start with a clear direction and mission. Then we listen, learn, share, encourage, and experiment. The key is to accept that not all innovation efforts succeed. But the attempts that work, combined with learning from what didn’t, makes you a stronger organization.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Zoe Edmeades: We acted fastback in March and immediately trimmed all non-essential costs. We gave up our beautiful office and now work 100% remotely. Initial revenues were down, understandably, but we have an incredibly supportive investor, Capital for Colleagues, and a strong customer portfolio, which has helped us recover and move forward.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Zoe Edmeades: Every business has had to make difficult choices in the last 12 months. It has been incredibly challenging. Tony and I had just taken over as owners when the pandemic hit. To say it was a baptism of fire was an understatement. We are a small business, and we know everyone really well. The well-being of the team means everything to me. When I took over as managing director in 2012, I had to make members of the team redundant within the first few months due to the global recession. It was extremely distressing, and I promised myself then that the company would never be in that position again. But the pandemic meant that I had to reverse that and make the decision to lose members of our work family. While this was to ensure our survival, it was just as heartbreaking. I do not think I got more than three hours of sleep a night between May and August.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Zoe Edmeades: We work very closely with our customers and are seen as an extension of their team. We have always had weekly progress meetings with each customer, which continued throughout lockdown even when projects were on hold. Like most companies, we worked remotely from the middle of March, and all contact with customers took place via Teams, which has been extremely successful. This is affirmed by our recent customer survey, where 96% cited support from their TSC account manager as one of the most valued benefits of working with us. I think many of our customer relationships are stronger than before since we went through lockdown together, albeit remotely. We were suddenly transported into each other’s homes with dogs barking, doorbells ringing, and children interrupting. It now feels strange if I get a call on my mobile as I’m so used to speaking face-to-face, even if it is via my laptop.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Zoe Edmeades: Yes. With projects being put on hold and supposedly imminent purchase orders not appearing. We had to stabilize our cashflow with the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. We were lucky to already bank with NatWest, and I have to say our account manager was amazing. He walked me through the whole process and provided us with the support we needed really quickly.
Your final thoughts?
Zoe Edmeades: The last 12 months have been a complete rollercoaster. However, thanks to the great people in my life, I am almost sane, still healthy, and ready for whatever the future holds. Bring it on!