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Success against the tide

Oct 06, 2014
A profile of EMS as it thrives in London’s international moving metropolis. By Steve Jordan

It was nine years ago that Ronan Woodhouse and Nick Stevens decided to branch out from their secure jobs at one of the UK’s leading international moving companies to go it alone. Since then, through the recession, and during difficult industry trading conditions, Elite Moving Systems (EMS) has thrived to become a major force in the global international moving industry.


The company is located in Park Royal, which has become the ancestral home of the London international moving trade.  EMS has succeeded on a diet of hard work, innovation and genuine interest in customers and the adventures of which they are part. Time has proven this to be an outstandingly successful decision.


Why did Ronan and Nick take the risk?  “It just seemed that the circumstances were right and we felt we had the knowledge and ability to do things better,” said Ronan. 


Of course, in 2005 the world was a totally different place: optimism abounded.  Nobody predicted the global recession that followed yet, despite the worst downturn in living memory, EMS grew from humble beginnings, into a successful organisation respected worldwide by its corporate clients and global relocation company principals. 


Since its inception, EMS has been located in Park Royal.  It’s been in its present location for five years.  Davina Green was the company’s first co-ordinator and is now part of a 32 strong team. “The transformation has been amazing over the years, it’s a privilege it be part of the growth and success of EMS,” said Davina.


Fin Reidy, Logistics Manager, employs his own quality management system to ensure the quality of all crew services provided to clients is of the very highest standards and are meeting the company’s objective of 95% quality and above.


Nick explained that the company has built a strong global partnership network that is much more than just a series of agent-to-agent relationships.  “We have very close relationships with our partners overseas,” he said.  “We work with them as both origin and destination agents and perform many third-country moves through the network. The whole process is controlled through service level agreements and we monitor each partner’s performance very closely through continuous customer satisfaction feedback.”


The EMS philosophy

The EMS business philosophy is simple: recruit the best talent, support them, nurture their talent, reward them when they do well, and do everything possible to keep them.  “We have very committed, enthusiastic, hard-working people who are very good at their jobs,” said Ronan. “We value them, and do everything we can to make sure that they are aware of the important role they each play in the company.”


But there is much more to people than just their working lives.  People have families, homes and ambitions.  They want work to be successful, but they also need it to fit with their lifestyle and be fun as well. By addressing this, EMS has created the right environment for talent to be content and flourish.  “We invest in their welfare by being flexible to staff to ensure they get their work and home life balance right,” said Ronan. The company also holds regular staff nights out and ad hoc events to bring people together and create the palpable family feel of the business.


Behind all of this is Ronan and Nick’s experience. As with many people who have been successful in the industry, Ronan started as a co-ordinator so, having come through at every level himself he appreciates the value of people, can empathise with them, and knows what to do to make their lives easier. It’s that fundamental understanding of the processes, demands and requirements of the work that allows him to guide and encourage his people towards personal and professional excellence.


Nick Stevens has been with EMS from the outset.  Nick said that when the opportunity came along to go with Ronan and embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity it was too good to turn down. Time has proven that this was indeed a very fortunate decision.


Lisa Jeffries is the Sales Director at EMS and has now been with the company for over four years. Prior to joining EMS Lisa had been with another industry company but could not resist the lure of EMS. “There was a period a number of years ago where I consistently came up against EMS and they seemed to appear everywhere; they were gaining an outstanding reputation and this was initially what attracted my interest,” she said. “It’s the best decision I have ever made and I have never been part of such an enthusiastic and forward looking organisation.”



What makes EMS special?

Having excellent staff is important, but what is it that those professionals do that makes a difference and allows the company to prosper where many others have failed?


Personal service is the key.  Using all the experience and training to help people, be genuinely interested in them, to share their adventure sincerely and openly, and to make sure that the service provided is tailored specifically to exactly what each customer wants, not just what the company has to offer.


At the heart of the company is a bespoke management system designed and implemented by Barry Gilbert, the company’s Project Manager. “It’s unique, easy to use, and simple to adapt to meet the demands of individual accounts.  The company rejected the proprietary systems because we recognised that by developing our own bespoke system we can deliver client changes swiftly and efficiently,” said Barry. 

Having a simple control system also ensures continuity for customers.  If one member of staff is out of the office, another colleague can pick up exactly where they left off.


As well as all the business administration systems, the system manages customer and supplier feedback - which drives quality.  All suppliers are marked and scored and judged to keep them all on their toes and foster an atmosphere of constant improvement.  Each client is asked to provide customer satisfaction feedback with the data being fed into the system.   


 “We strive to maintain 95% customer satisfaction,” said Lisa Jeffries.  “Currently we are getting 96.6%, which we are pleased with but, we are always striving to improve on this. Our whole set up here is designed to secure repeat business.  We always want to do a great job.”


The future

The company’s business is exclusively corporate.  It sees itself as a London-based specialist supplier of moving services worldwide.  It’s come a long way in just nine years.  Asked about the plan for the future Ronan said, “Our focus is to continue doing what we do best from our London base. We just want to consolidate our position as the corporate mover of choice in London.”


As part of its programme of continuous improvement EMS achieved BS 8564, the UK Standard for overseas moving, and has recently become a member of FIDI having passed its FIDI FAIM audit2 with zero non-compliances.


Whatever the decision, what’s certain is that EMS will not be standing still. As other companies have remained static, EMS has driven on.  It has achieved its success by innovating, experimenting, listening to people and capitalising on all its talent, whether in the Board room, office or warehouse. It isn’t stopping now.

Photos: Left to right: Ronan Woodhouse, Nick Stevens and Lisa Jeffries.


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