Learn how the support of the Durham Business Opportunities Programme* (DBOP) helped Shildon based Birds Taxis Limited grow as they took on more staff, became a limited company, won new contracts, most recently with the NHS providing transport for patients to receive their COVID vaccinations.
Bird’s Taxis Limited is a small family-run business founded in the early 1980s by one of the current Directors Andrew Bird’s grandfather Alfred Bird. Over the last 40 years, the company has been through a number of changes and following the appointment of new directors and became a Limited company in December 2016.
The Shildon based transport providers were looking to make some changes to working practices in response to new legislative requirements of suppliers and customers. Facing a potential 13 weeks of downtime each year as a result of some of their main contractors due to term times and changing contract criteria and tender process, the company wanted to expand into different sectors and secure new contracts for its existing transport services. That’s when the team at Bird’s discovered the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) via NEPO, the regional public sector procurement portal.
The DBOP programme helps County Durham businesses spot opportunities for sustainable growth. As part of this programme DBOP run a number of sector specific support programmes focussed on sectors with high growth potential. The programme includes one-to-one support in addition to professional workshops delivered by industry experts to help businesses take advantage of opportunities.
DBOP Business Opportunities Officer Lisa Wall undertook a business needs analysis with the company to identify opportunities. Following this analysis, the company accessed the DBOP Routes to Contract Success sector specific support programme, which helped them discover potential new leads from suppliers and customers.
The company, like many other businesses that accessed this support, found the programme highly beneficial a company spokesperson said “The DBOP Routes to Contract Success programme opened up a lot of doors for us, it brought us up-to-speed with industry changes, explored new public and private sector contract opportunities and expanded our skillsets when it came to submitting tender applications. In an ever-changing marketplace, the support really did help us to grow the business through diversifying into new markets, which has proven to be of critical importance, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Being involved in DBOP has resulted in new business from existing and new suppliers and customers. The company secured a new contract which would substantially add to their income in the first year, which has safeguarded jobs and allowed the business to grow and develop further. In addition, the company has extended a contract with an existing customer, employed extra staff and won a 12-month NHS Tender in August 2020, which is keeping the team very busy at the moment delivering the contract.
Alongside this the company has put in place health and safety, safeguarding and working policies to meet the criteria set by suppliers and customers in relation to vehicles and the workforce. In addition, Lisa was on hand to signpost Birds to the Durham Employment and Skills service, to access support with recruiting and training new staff.
This support included access to funding contributions that have saved the company around £2,000 in training three new drivers. The additional team members have allowed for more flexible work patterns to be introduced for all drivers, as well as increasing the company’s capacity to take on more work.
Lisa also introduced the Bird’s Taxis to a number of other support programmes, including County Durham Digital Drive. This support helped them take advantage of social media platforms, which would raise its profile and offer another route for new suppliers and customers to access their services. Birds added: “Lisa is in regular contact with us and always pushing us forward to the next stage of our development. She fully understands the needs of micro and small businesses and the challenges we face.”
“It really has been a revelation to find the DBOP programme. The support we received has helped us to transform our business we have won a number of high profile contracts, found excellent networking opportunities and accessed grants to move our business forward creating, safeguarding and securing jobs in what has been an extremely difficult period. Everyone we worked with made us feel valued, irrespective of the size of our business and we are looking forward to a positive future.”
DBOP Business Engagement Officer Lisa Wall concluded “Our sector specific support programmes help businesses seize opportunities in sectors we have identified as having high growth potential. Birds are an excellent example what can be achieved when businesses take advantage of the support on offer. I look forward to working with the team at Bird’s and supporting their business as it develops.”
*The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year programme for SMEs running up until November 2022, helping County Durham businesses spot opportunities for sustainable growth. It is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Business Durham, the business support service for Durham County Council, helping to deliver more and better jobs and a strong competitive economy.