It’s a new business that started up during a pandemic – but driver recruitment agency Skipper Recruit has moved up through the gears and is going from strength to strength.
Set up by Danny Skipper along with two business partners in June 2020, the agency specialises in supplying permanent or temporary heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers across sectors, from general haulage and logistics to more specialised classes. One of the great strengths of the business is that Danny was an HGV driver himself for 14 years – meaning he really understands the job itself.
“Because I know the industry so well, I know what makes a good driver and I know what clients are looking for too,” Danny says. “I vet new drivers carefully and I make sure I understand my clients and what they need. I like to think that really makes a difference.”
Based in Norwich and covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and the Midlands, the agency now has 30 to 50 drivers out every day with a client list that includes national retail chains and some of the largest distribution businesses in the UK, as well as local clients.
One factor that has helped the business grow through its early phases is the finance facility in place with Aldermore. Invoice Finance helps to ensure that the business has access to cash even if their clients have not yet paid – helping cash flow and liquidity.
“The financing we have in place has been invaluable,” Danny remarks. “It’s enabled us to operate smoothly and run the business with confidence. Our facility has grown as we’ve hit our targets, it’s helped us expand too. The team at Aldermore have been incredibly responsive and helpful all the way through.”
The business decided to opt for Bad Debt Protection alongside the Invoice Finance facility, which provides Skipper Recruit with added protection in the event that a customer can’t pay an invoice.
“Taking Bad Debt Protection was a no-brainer. It doesn’t cost much and just gives us peace of mind that, if for some reason a client doesn’t pay, we’re covered.”
Starting a new business in challenging economic times certainly might sound ambitious with many businesses impacted by Covid-19 and with Brexit to get used to.
Have these factors made a significant difference to Danny and his team?
“Covid has had an impact to some extent because it means you can’t meet clients face to face to agree a deal, which is when I think I come into my element!” Danny says. “As far as Brexit goes, it’s probably too early to say. There are fewer drivers from the EU around now than there were ten years ago but that’s for multiple reasons. Goods still need to be moved and drivers are needed to drive them – the demand is still there.”
Looking forward, as well as expanding the driver recruitment operation by opening further offices, Danny has plans to branch into recruitment for the construction industry too. “It’s a growth industry and one we want to target. But we’re not going to rush that. We’ll need to bring people on board with experience and knowledge of the sector first. Our financing facility with Aldermore should help us manage the expansion.”
And what would Danny’s tip be to anyone else contemplating starting a new business of their own? He has some clear advice:
“Be prepared for long hours and lots of hard work! Listen to other people and get as much advice as you can, then apply your take on it. Be careful as well – don’t take on more than you can deal with. But if you know your industry and have the right support, there’s so much you can do.”
Hugo Hanlan, relationship manager at Aldermore said: “We’ve been delighted to work with Skipper Recruit and see it grow through its early stages. The business works to clear targets and has developed its understanding of the working capital it needs for further growth. It’s well-positioned for the future and we’re pleased to be able to support it.”