As part of their celebrations to mark ten years of Alliance Tool Hire, Directors Maggie and Dave Jones reflect on their journey so far.
Ten years of growth
Our very first London Tool Hire depot opened in Canning Town in 2011 to capture the Olympic buzz, where we were lucky to have attracted an experienced management team. It was daunting at first – on our very first day we didn’t have a single hire! – but things quickly picked up after that.
Within four years, we had opened four branches across London, covering East, West, North and South. We continued with this progression and opened our branch in Ashford, Kent in 2016.
In 2019, we merged with South Coast Tool Hire to form Alliance Tool Hire! We knew this would be great for our customers; we can serve them across the South of England and increase investments in equipment and digital tools, all while retaining personalised, flexible service.
Being an independent means you do things differently. A person, not a computer, deals with queries; we know people get frustrated if they get passed around different departments. We do all the checks on invoices before they go out – it’s important to get things right the first time and to make life simpler for our customers. We can also quickly respond to customer requests. If they need kit we don’t have, we can decide to buy it there and then.
We still work on the basis that people buy from people – that’s our guiding light – so each account has its own point of contact. However, we want to give our customers choice, so we are investing in our website and app and are seeing orders steadily increase through those channels.
This approach has allowed us to develop loyal and strong customer relationships, mainly through word of mouth.
Equipment has become more technically advanced, and therefore expensive, over time. That means people are hiring more, particularly specialist tools. Not everything has changed though – we still hire a lot of tower lifts and drills, and for a long time the most popular hire item was a small mixer. We’ve got plenty of those! We remain committed to health and safety, and are now more likely to hire lifts than big ladders.
We know that the quality of our kit is essential in helping our customers to work effectively, so we are continually investing in top brands like Hilti to make their lives easier.
Having a settled and happy team is key. All our people are important to us. Not only do we take care of them, but we also value their input and their voice. That creates a real sense of togetherness and ensures we communicate well – which is essential to maintaining high levels of customer service.
In our business, customers often know what they want but not the exact tool, so they still need to ask for advice. Luckily, all our managers have decades of experience, so they can help every time.
Especially in an industry such as ours, it’s expected to hear people talk about going the extra mile, but we genuinely do, and 99% of the time we will be able to sort out whatever a customer needs. If a customer’s stuck and urgently needs something, be it in the middle of the night or at the weekend, then we don’t hesitate to help – it’s a 24/7 job. A generator was recently damaged on site at midday on a Saturday afternoon. Without hesitation, a member of our team travelled from Poole to Kent, made a tricky repair and stayed with them to ensure everything was okay before going home.
Regardless of what changes in the next ten years, we’ll always continue to go above and beyond.