“Fortus have become an integral part of my business – I needed a company that would deliver professional advice on our planning and investment" Marco Poli, Managing Director, PremComFind out more
PremCom makes a virtue of integrating with its clients’ processes – and it benefits by keeping its advisors close too.
At 22, and working from his mum’s house, Marco Poli began to build a print business on word-of-mouth recommendation. It worked: today he has a 30-strong team and a £3.5 million turnover. But now, Marco’s ready to take the firm to a whole new level.
“It’s in my nature to care about the customer, and I’ve grown the business purely on recommendation,” he says. “That’s worked really well. But I now feel we’re the best kept secret in our industry: we have all the infrastructure, but we haven’t put ourselves out there.”
Marco’s preparing to remedy that by appointing Premier Communications’ (PremCom) first sales director, along with a sales force of four people. It’s a big leap for the business, and he’s turning to Fortus to make sure he gets it right.
“Fortus are working with me to identify how much we’ll be investing in staff through their wages and infrastructure, and what kind of turnover they’ll need to bring in to contribute profit to the business,” he says. “That’s not the kind of thing you can work out yourself on the back of a ‘cigarette packet’ – although some businesspeople try.”
FROM INK TO INTEGRATION
While he still loves the trade, Marco’s long since moved beyond print. Today PremCom’s a multi-channel business. It uses the most advanced technology to integrate with the processes of its corporate clients, providing them with automated ways to stay in touch with their customers.
For over a decade, Fortus has been at his side at every step, supporting the process of making PremCom a limited company, and advising Marco on everything from tax planning to new investments in automation.
RETAINING A BIG CLIENT
Recently Fortus helped PremCom win a renewed contract from its biggest customer, with a price increase. Marco’s advisor Faryad Yousaf drew up a detailed breakdown of profit margin for each service line, which Marco adapted for presentation to the customer.
“Retendering’s always a nail-biting process”, says Marco: “You get very nervous, because you want the contract. But you know there’s a risk of making some fundamental mistakes that might only come to light years later.”
“I found it really refreshing that as soon as I mentioned something from the procurement documents, Fortus would tell me exactly what the client was looking for. Having this expertise on hand’s invaluable.”
More generally, Fortus has helped PremCom to restructure all its services, using a profit-based model: “They advised me there was too low a profit margin on certain service lines, and we were better off not doing the work. That realisation was so important.”
REWARDS FOR RESEARCH
Another lightbulb moment came when Fortus pointed out elements of PremCom’s innovative work that qualified for R&D tax relief. This reflected the company’s evolution from operating heavy printing presses to employing developers to create the software for unique digital services.
“In the past I’d just gone ahead and invested in the research and development. Realising there are professional incentives out there’s one of the key elements Fortus has helped me with,” says Marco.
WEATHERING A PANDEMIC
All the work done to future-proof the business paid off when Covid-19 struck. PremCom’s monthly income took a big hit, but with the help of the furlough scheme and a £250,000 business interruption loan secured by Fortus, the business proved resilient.
“Had we not done the work on investment and profitability with Fortus, I don’t know whether the business would have survived the pandemic,” Marco says frankly. “We wouldn’t have had the foresight to invest in the tech we have now.”
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE
With a particular focus on growth, Fortus are introducing Marco to a wider network of potential partners for key strategic alliances. “They offer access through strong relationships to people and companies I’d never have considered. They’ll provide a report and a recommendation for my decision.”
With the might of a new sales force behind him, Marco aims to grow turnover to £10m. He’s also thinking ahead about succession planning for his ultimate exit from the business.
He knows he can count on continuing support to achieve both ambitions: “Fortus have become an integral part of my business, which is exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t just want number-crunchers who’d do the accounts at the end of the year – I needed a company that would deliver professional advice on business planning and how we should be investing, which is exactly what Fortus do.
When you’re running a business, there’s so much going on. It’s invaluable to be able to pick up a phone and speak to the Fortus team, put things on their radar, and work with them to achieve what I need to do.”
“PremCom are a business I really enjoy working with. Marco’s very entrepreneurial, keen to grow, and a shrewd businessman. He also has the knack of being able to see into the future sometimes. That’s how he’s been able to keep the business streamlined through automation.
One of our projects involved looking at service lines. It was apparent the business was achieving a healthy turnover, but some parts of it weren’t revenue generating. We analysed each service line and agreed with Marco that any line making below a 20% margin would be discontinued.
Turnover dipped as a result, but the most important thing, which Marco loves, is that profits have risen tenfold. In place of labour-intensive and costly processes, the business has gone a step deeper into the digital side.
The projects we implemented with Marco in 2019 have served him well, as the business has coasted through Covid-19 relatively unscathed. Our plan’s now to help get the business to a turnover of around £10m, and support Marco with succession planning. Along the way, we’ll also work to introduce a proper management structure, so there’s no ultimate reliance on Marco being the man who does everything.”
“Having done the work on investment and profitability with Fortus, we’re moving the business forward in a positive manner"
Marco Poli Managing Director, PremCom