Peter Shone, managing director of JPCS, shares the secrets of success with Greater Manchester Business Week.
As featured in the Thursday 27th September 2012 issue of the Greater Manchester Business Week, page 38 – “Secret of My Success” weekly column
Do you have a business motto which guides the way you do business?
Lead by example, always treating people right, whilst expecting performance.
Which individual has inspired you in your business life and why?
My father and my first boss. My father is always very interested in people and in how things work in business – this has been a major contributor to his success. He has always encouraged me to run my own company and his continued sound advice and support are invaluable to me.
My first boss was also an inspiration to me as he taught me the highways game, specific industry skills, a trade, if you like. He had a great entrepreneurial spirit and his approach to business was rooted in self belief and a can do attitude. I’ve learn a lot from them both.
Which phone do you use and why?
I have an i-Phone as it allows me to catch up on emails when I am not in the office. It also allows me to use “face time”, which like Skype, enables virtual “face to face” meetings with colleagues in our satellite offices.
Do you use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and with what success?
Yes, LinkedIn for business contacts, a little bit of Facebook for keeping in touch with family and friends, and we have an active corporate account on Twitter [@jpcs_limited]. I was a little sceptical about social media at first, as it can be challenging to measure investment in it. However, since I have started using it regularly, I have made contact with people I had lost touch with, and I believe some good opportunities will flourish from that. Communication is incredibly important in our business and social media has become another way in which we can have open, two-way conversations with our customers and stakeholders. Despite that, I still believe that face to face communication and a personal touch is the most important thing in developing relationships.
What is the most inspirational book you have read?
CEO Tools, by Kraig Kramers. When I first read it, I had been managing director for a short time and everything I was striving for was clearly articulated in this book, with a very positive optimism. The book was instrumental as a personal growth and developmental tool, as well as providing a theoretical basis for strategic know-how. It doesn’t have all the answers, but it’s a good place to start.
What item do you always have on you?
My watch. I believe punctuality, organisation skills and the ability to manage time productively are all crucial in running a successful business.
Where do you go if you’ve got a big deal to do?
I don’t like the term “big deal”. Of course, generating cash is important in order to keep the business profitable. But it’s our customers that sustain us, and for me, business is about continually working on and nurturing relationships, whilst developing and learning with our people, working hard and putting the time in to deliver a quality result every time. With all these ingredients, the “deals” will happen naturally. When I need thinking space, I often go running, making sure I take my phone with me to call colleagues from on top of the hill!
Do you prefer to dress up or down for business?
I prefer to be practical – so a yellow jacket when on site with our operatives, a tie when meeting corporate clients, and casual when enjoying a curry with colleagues. The only rule is to be smart and clean at all times.
How do you make contacts that are useful to business?
Every meeting or encounter is an opportunity to make useful contacts, so being ready to talk business in the most unlikely places. I once visited a nearby stables with my daughter, and they became one of our valued clients! Listening to people, proactively keeping in touch, and building good relationships with all our stakeholders is also important, as well as being active and agile within the markets we work in, so people get to know who we are and what how we can help them.
Tell us one tip which would be invaluable in life or in business?
Listening to your stakeholders: engaging with the people you come into contact with is vital for success. Over the last 18 years, we have worked around hundreds of thousands of homes, which has given us a good idea of what peoples’ needs are and enabled us to adapt and develop new products and services accordingly. This goes right back to my earliest experiences of going out with a gang to work on pavements: if you stand on the road wearing a “yellow jacket”, people will come out of their homes and give you the sort of end-user feedback that money can’t buy.
What is your proudest achievement in business?
Bringing together the extraordinary talent that is in our business right now.
About Peter Shone
Peter started working in the highways industry as an apprentice when he was just 18 years old. He was a labourer in a pavement gang and whilst working on the ground realised the products and systems used were out-dated and very limited. He spotted an opportunity to develop new methods and a higher level of service. As Peter started introducing these he moved up the ranks of the company, eventually heading up a footway operation in 1993. JPCS was born. Starting as operations director, where he gained strong experience for 10 years, and then becoming managing director in 2004, Peter has grown the firm from a business with 15 people and a turnover of £1.5million, to an employer of 125 staff with a turnover of £10 million.