60 Seconds with... Grass Roots' Des McLaughlin

Following the news that Grass Roots Meetings & Events will close its Marlow office, C&IT catches up with divisional director Des McLaughlin to discuss staff retention and future growth.

Grass Roots' Des Mclaughlin
Grass Roots' Des Mclaughlin

Around 40 Grass Roots staff are expected to move following the Marlow office closure – how have you maintained a positive office environment during the restructure?

Though a small number of people took redundancy following the Marlow office closure, it hasn't been too significant. Most people have really embraced the changes and we’re pleased to stay we’ve retained all of our key staff.

To make things easier we’ve introduced flexible hours and the option to work from home for people who are travelling a long way to get to the offices. We do a lot to engage our staff, including bonus schemes and reviews and career development. We’re regularly featured in The Times top 100 companies to work for. We have some really great, extremely experienced employees. If we’ve got a danger around staffing, it would be other companies offering them positions.  

Grass Roots' profits have grown in the past year – do you attribute this to the restructure?

Improvements to profits across meetings and events can be partly attributed to the restructure and centralising the business.

But some of it has come from us having a clearer focus of what’s profitable and what’s not. For example, we realised we’d been spending too much time tendering for business without relationships. Grass Roots is a known name in the industry and we regularly get asked to tender for business. But if you’re asked to tender and you don’t have a direct relationship with the client, it’s easy to misunderstand what they’re really looking for, even with plenty of experience. It’s harder to progress relationships under these circumstances, and this is something we’ve been working on.

What are the current challenges for the business and forecasts for the future?

The event management market is tough because there’s so much competition. It’s more difficult to pitch for events than ever before and it’s hard for events companies to consistently deliver strong profit growth- it tends to be travel management companies that are making more money.

Clients look for ‘more for less’ and we have been taking on more than ever before. But we have a strong base of clients who we’ve developed good relationships with. They value a professional service and won’t switch agencies because of price, it’s about long-term relationships. Following a healthy profit increase, we expect business to continue in the same vein, with further staff appointments, client wins and possible acquisitions on the horizons. 

More:

Grass Roots records 17% increase in pre-tax profit

Grass Roots to close Marlow office as profits improve

Top 50 Agencies: Grass Roots Meetings & Events

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