RTC North – a client’s perspective, Steve Vasey, CEO, Cornerstone Supported Housing

Our involvement with RTC began in late 2017 following receiving funding from the Big Potential programme.

After experiencing poor customer service from a specialist provider we have worked with in the past, we were really positively surprised to find out that RTC’s approach was the polar opposite.

Our RTC consultant - tasked with the job of dovetailing our services together and increasing profitability - was Alan Whittaker. Alan started by stripping our three strands (housing division, joinery workshop and a training arm) of services back to their barest form, then rebuilding them, with suitable processes to make all three more efficient with an emphasis on making our workshop more profitable.

We expected that this was going to cause a degree of apprehension and some resistance from staff, who had been carrying out their work with reasonable success despite limited resources and processes in place for several years.

Alan set out his stall of what he wanted to see us achieve, acknowledged staff’s feelings but continued with his task.

Over the coming weeks it didn’t take long for staff to start and see the benefits of not only the changes, but Alan’s input and I feel this was the tipping point that really accelerated the whole process.

  • Our first job was to look at the furniture we made, and how we could standardise the parts needed to build them allowing us a wider range of standardised stock to build our furniture.
  • The next breakthrough was stock itself. Historically we held a few fully assembled pieces of furniture as stock which proved bulky and took up much needed workshop space, however now with our standardised parts we have built racking to store furniture parts.
  • Despite a large part of our revenue coming from training, we had very poor visual management around the workshop. When Alan pointed it out it became apparent how difficult and off putting it must be for a trainee looking for tools or materials without visual prompts. Alan also helped us create a standard operating procedure for the manufacturing of furniture, this made the learning experience easier for the trainee with less trainer involvement, it also empowered the trainee to work alone.
  • We worked with Alan to introduce KPI’s across all three services, this had the knock-on effect of creating more staff cohesion with all services having goals, most of which were identified as common. The communication has been invaluable, all three services now interact and support one another helping overall sustainable growth.

In Conclusion, our involvement with Alan and RTC would best be described as a journey. At times it was difficult, always challenging with lots of valuable self-reflection. The effort put in by Alan and his team was astonishing, they drove from the off and we were really challenged to deliver. This is what I asked for in the initial brief, and that was exactly what we got.

I would recommend this service to any organisation who would like more direction or a facilitator to help them step back from everyday delivery to see what is really going on, or perhaps explore their potential and subsequent sustainability. It may not always be an easy journey but it is certainly worthwhile. It is also fair to say that we felt supported and valued throughout the journey making the process feel so much more achievable.

Today we a have a fully functional workshop linked directly into our other services. The input from RTC helped us achieve significant funding from the Virgin money foundation to appoint a workshop manager for the next two years. We are on target to achieve a 30% increase in workshop turnover, more importantly thanks to Alan we have the processes in place to more than meet demand.


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