WHY DID TWO MEN DRIVE TO SWITZERLAND AT 10PM? – AN INTERVIEW WITH IDEAWORKS
If there is one thing I have learnt from working at Somerset Estates, is that it’s invaluable to ensure you work with the right partners. We want to work with those who, at their core, share our values and put the needs of their customers above all else.
So, when the opportunity came to share a coffee with Chris Jones, Managing Director and Stewart Keir, Marketing Director at Ideaworks, I couldn’t resist. We got chatting about what’s important to our businesses and how we make sure everyone in the company keeps and shares the values to ensure our clients get the service they deserve.
The first thing that really struck me was just how important it is to Ideaworks to always strive to ‘do the right thing’ and ‘make it easy’ – these core values are something they share with Somerset Estates. Stewart mentioned that: “these simple phrases give the power of responsibility to staff at all levels to ensure that we are always acting in our clients’ best interests to deliver amazing experiences‘’.
Simple values like these are often essential, particularly when you’re managing 143 people across multiple countries, like Ideaworks. This makes perfect sense for me at Somerset Estates, where our biggest assets lie in delivering a sustained personal and trusted service in managing luxury properties. Our clients expect nothing but the highest quality service, where nothing short of excellence will do.
I asked Chris what ‘make it easy’ meant to Ideaworks as a value and he explained that: “It applies to anything that you do, from creating a drawing for the electrical supplier, to ensuring that when a client gets a bill they are absolutely clear about what they are paying for.”
Chris and Stewart continually strive to set the bar ever higher in all that they do. Ranging from the quality of information they provide for design teams to the 24-hour aftercare support team looking after their clients’ ongoing needs for decades after completing an installation in their home – or any of the thousands of touch-points in between.
Chris cited the perfect example when something went wrong at a client’s property in Switzerland. On this occasion, there was an issue at Christmas. When clearing a rack room, one staff member unknowingly brushed steel filings into the core IT for the running of the home – the entire home. The on-site team quickly realised that something had gone wrong and the classic line of “stuff doesn’t work” was used. Two Ideaworks staff members sprung into action. They drove overnight in a pool car, taking turns at the wheel every few hours, to get there by the morning. Before the owner had risen out of bed to realise anything was wrong, the problem was fixed.
Their ideology is one I can resonate with. At Somerset Estates we are similarly passionate about providing our clients with an exceptional and personal service when maintaining their homes and properties. We had a similar Christmas nightmare at one of our client’s residencies. During a weekly and routine security check, I noticed the beginnings of a water leak near the property’s AV room. Acting quickly, our rapid response maintenance team were able to get to the site within the hour to investigate the cause of the leak and carry out emergency repair works before any major damage was caused in the property. Our team decided to perform more regular checks of the property over the festive season to ensure that there were no further problems.
As our Founding Director, Philippa Somerset says; “It’s important that clients feel valued, understood and have peace of mind that everything’s in order no matter what time of year it is.” It’s incredibly refreshing to hear that similar sentiments are reflected in the attitude of other companies too.
So, we all agreed that quality of service is vital. It counts for everything. Stewart commented that as a service industry: “Consistently ‘making it easy’ buys brand loyalty through our clients and the professional teams with whom we collaborate.”
Philippa agreed, saying; “The level of quality and client experience is pivotal for us. We too are a service and people industry. Clients want a reliable, seamless service. Every aspect of the chain needs to uphold core values.”
Stewart was clear when he said: “Our product is experiential. Ease of use, long-term reliability and safe, secure systems and aftercare support as well as the ability to evolve with changing technological demands, all contribute towards the quality of the experience.”
Somerset Estates chooses its partners carefully. As Philippa commented, working with the right partners is ‘fundamental’. Our partners reflect upon us, so we only want to be associated with those who share our values and commitment to clients. We are passionate about creating valuable relationships and growing together in the industry.
Stewart couldn’t have agreed more. “Successful projects depend on collaboration. Where collaborators share the same vision and purpose to provide an amazing experience for our collective clients, a successful outcome and a happy client is guaranteed. With Somerset Estates, we recognise a synergy where our values align to provide our clients with the very best experience possible’’.
Personally, I have noticed how involved Ideaworks becomes in all its projects, from ideation through to installation and wondered whether and how this elevated the end product.
Stewart said, “Since the end-to-end product is an experience, early engagement is essential. We like to take end-to-end responsibility for a fully integrated service. Our in-house teams of specialist designers/suppliers/installers cover disciplines from lighting and window shading to AV, IT, Integrated controls and aftercare. Being able to coordinate these disciplines in-house makes for a complete and cohesive experience for our clients. Taking responsibility for design, supply, installation, commissioning and aftercare leaves us with nowhere to hide and reinforces our focus to ‘do the right thing’.”
And Chris’ last words really captured what it’s like from the client perspective. “We think it’s very daunting, after all, they are building a home and at the time they engage with Ideaworks it’s a shell or a plot and the end-date can be 2-3 years away so they might not know what they want. However, there will always be the initial installation of background technologies that all clients need i.e. the lighting control and infrastructure backbone based on how they will use the property. Entertainment systems can come later and not be tackled until the use of each room is determined further down the line. The use of the house will change over time and it’s important to have implemented a solution that can be flexible to the changing needs of the family.”
When you choose to work with partners there are certain things that just jump out and make you realise you’re working with the right people. When we broached the question of client retention Chris made the firm point that, “We don’t lose clients. We have over 98% client retention,” and that he “has lost only one client in 22 years and at a later date they returned.” When we work with Ideaworks and complete a project together, we know that our clients are in very safe hands.
If you would like to speak to a member of the team from Ideaworks or Somerset Estates please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Rachel Milliams (Operations and Marketing)