A motor vehicle finance company is gearing up for significant growth after a Covid-hit year saw scale-up plans put on hold.
Q Finance, which is based at Salvus House in Durham, is in the process of more than doubling its workforce after securing a string of high-profile dealers.
The company, which was founded by managing director Mark Batey in 2013, is a finance brokerage firm, working in partnership with several national funding bodies which provide finance packages to individuals who are buying vehicles through dealerships up and down the country.
Over the past few months Mark and his sales director John Deacon have accessed available funding and business support programmes, facilitated by introductions from Business Durham, which have helped put the firm in the driving seat for plans which will see the workforce increase from five full time employees to around 14.
These include the Digital Drive County Durham programme, which is managed by Business Durham. Q Finance received substantial support from the team to purchase new equipment including laptops, PCs, software and IT infrastructure and support.
The team was also helped through the Kickstart programme, with the support of Durham County Council’s Employability Team.
Mark said: “It’s been a real rollercoaster of a year for us. Last year when lockdown hit, we were 97 per cent down. It was such a tough time and it forced to look at our business model and what we could do to get through the pandemic.
“John’s appointment was critical for the business. I had worked with John previously and really wanted him to join the business as I knew his credibility and kudos within the industry would be vital if we were to attract some of the big funders to work with us.
“At this point the market really was on its knees, but I managed to convince John to join Q Finance and together we developed a proposal to take to the funding organisations, which thankfully worked.
“With John’s appointment I knew we needed to invest in new equipment so I spoke to Digital Drive County Durham who were extremely helpful, explaining what we could get support for and how to make our application.
“Without that help, and the investment we secured through the Digital Drive County Durham programme, we would not have been able to purchase such high-quality equipment.”
Andrea McGuigan, Programme Manager for Digital Drive county Durham added: “It’s fantastic to have been able to support Q Finance through Digital Drive County Durham. We are delighted that the company chose Salvus House as their business location and we are keen to make sure that companies like them have the support they need to help them deliver their services and develop new business opportunities.”
Q Finance, which last year relocated from Queen’s Meadow in Hartlepool to Salvus House, now counts some of the country’s most established lenders as its partners, including Alphera, Borderway, Close Brothers, Blue, Oodle, Marsh, Paragaon, Auto Money, JBR, Secure Trust Bank, Moneybarn, Shawbrook and Norton.
The company acts as a brokerage, providing support to people looking to buy a car to match them with the best finance package based on their individual circumstances.
As part of their plans for growth, Mark and John are currently in the process of creating an online sales team, who will focus on the consumer side of the market rather than the dealers. The move will enable Q Finance to sell the vehicles they have access to – which can be up to 5,000 at any given time – on behalf of the dealers, generating a commission on every sale secured.
And John is keen to point out that the support they’ve received from Business Durham has also been instrumental in the company riding through the challenges which the coronavirus pandemic presented and putting them in a position to move forward with growth plans.
He said: “From the start we have been so impressed with Business Durham. When we spoke with Judith Crow about moving to Salvus House, it was clear she was genuinely interested in us as a business, not just the revenue we could bring by becoming a tenant.
“As soon as we moved in, she spoke with us about our plans and began introducing us to the right people, the organisations who could support us with our plans for growth.
“Judith and the Business Durham team have helped us so much. Thanks to them we have been able to access support from CDC Enterprise Agency, we have successfully secured two employees through the Kickstart programme and have accessed funding through the Digital Drive programme, which enabled us to purchase new equipment for our staff.
“We love it at Salvus House, not just because of the facilities and location but because we feel part of something and feel like Judith and the team genuinely care about us.”
Judith Crow, Property Area Manager at Business Durham, said: “We value every business that moves into Salvus House and pride ourselves on the relationships we have with all of our tenants – we’re not just their landlord, we’re a point of contact for them if they need advice or want support in a particular area of their business.
“Q Finance have been a real breath of fresh air since moving in and I’m delighted that with our support they are on track to double their headcount and are rapidly expanding their national portfolio.
“After what’s been an incredibly tough year for Mark, John and the team, as it has been for so many businesses, we will continue to do everything we can to support them on this next stage of their journey.”
Sarah Slaven, Managing Director at Business Durham, added: “Q Finance highlights perfectly how Business Durham can help employers in the area.
“It’s not just about attracting businesses into County Durham, it’s about what we can do to support them with their plans for growth. After a torrid time during the pandemic, Mark and John have completely turned things around – thanks to a lot of hard work and commitment alongside the support they’ve accessed through Business Durham and our partners, they are now in a position to undertake a recruitment drive which will more than double their headcount and put them on track to achieve their ambitious expansion forecasts.”