UK Coaching: Creating a “Sense of Place”

“We have downsized from 12,000 to 5,000 square feet, but as all the space has been used to the maximum, it works perfectly and almost feels like we have more space.”

With office-based working hanging by a thread for many businesses, why would an organisation invest time and money into brand new offices?

For UK Coaching, the answer was simple: to support and inspire their clients and staff.

UK Coaching’s problem

Our environment has a big impact on the way we feel and behave. When we feel at ease, safe, and energised, we are better thinkers, better communicators, and more connected to the world and the people around us.

UK Coaching is the UK’s leading charitable organisation for sports and physical activity coaches and has been running for over 30 years and employs more than 80 people. They represent, support and inspire coaches to bring great coaching to the lives of millions, building healthier and happier communities in the process.

Although based in Leeds, the organisation works with coaches all over the UK who are improving a person’s experience of sport and physical activity by providing specialised support and guidance aligned to their individual needs and aspirations.

So, when we consider that the team at UK Coaching are responsible for inspiring and nurturing people so that they can inspire others in their communities, surely their working environment should support them in their mission?

Unfortunately, their workplace was anything but inspiring.

“In our old offices, which were old fashioned and gloomy, we were three separate companies operating in three separate areas. This made collaboration difficult. We wanted to be one team so that we could bring all our services for the coach together.”

Neil Ashton, COO UK Coaching

UK Coaching was also facing the challenge of bringing their team back to the office after months of remote working throughout the pandemic, as well as providing a more agile and digital workplace that suited the business today.

“We wanted to create a unique working environment that aided collaboration within the business, and allowed enhanced agile work practices, while also future proofing the space. The project would also allow a change in the culture by creating a smarter and more digital workplace that was a great place to work and a more inclusive environment.

“It was important for us to create a ‘sense of place’ and improve the wellbeing of our team, and a workplace that assists in the attraction and retention of talent and makes us stand out from the competition. We needed to provide flexibility for staff to work individually, collaboratively, and innovatively, but also provide privacy when needed.”

Neil Ashton, COO UK Coaching

Enter RA Real Estate

UK Coaching’s project had three key elements:

  1. To find new premises that would facilitate this adventurous project
  2. A solid brief for the desired fit out
  3. To exit the existing property.

To kick things off, UK Coaching appointed Richard Ashmore of RA Real Estate, a commercial property expert in Leeds and the surrounding areas, who helped them to find new premises and develop a full technical brief and tender document for the fitout.

Next on the to-do list in September 2020 was the tender process, i.e., inviting design and build contractors to submit proposals for the project, and that is when they met the team at Absolute Interiors.

Absolute Interiors

Absolute Interiors, a design and build contractor, can fit out any commercial space but many of their projects involve offices, restaurants, and bars. In the current climate, they are working with businesses throughout the UK helping them to create a positive return to the office for their staff.

“We are there to bring our client’s vision to life and facilitate where they want to take to their business. We pride ourselves on our design choices being grounded in research and statistics, not just on aesthetics. For UK Coaching, one of the big challenges was moving the business from 12,000 square feet spread over 5 levels – which was not suited to collaborative working – to 5,000 square feet of flexible co-working space. It was also vital that we gave them a space that represented the brand, somewhere they could be proud of inviting clients, partners, and even family and friends.”

“Without doubt Absolute were the best to present. Not only had they matched the brief perfectly, but they ran the presentation more as a consultation engaging us from the start. The team all presented, and they all came across as knowledgeable, realistic, yet adventurous in terms of what we could achieve on a relatively small budget. Their imagination knocked us out the park.”

Neil Ashton, COO UK Coaching

Financing the project with Bluestone Leasing

When it comes to paying for an ambitious project like UK Coaching’s, while paying upfront in cash is an option, more and more businesses are choosing to be more creative in their approach. As one of our partner companies, Absolute discussed the lease financing option with UK Coaching during the initial proposal stage.

“We always mention the option to finance with Bluestone Leasing at the beginning of the process so that the client is fully aware of their options and can make the best decision for their current budget and future plans.”

UK Coaching decided to consolidate the costs and spread the payments over time via a finance lease.

In the midst of a pandemic, the option to finance over a number of years was preferable as it enabled us to release cashflow and therefore provide more support to more coaches during this difficult time.”

Neil Ashton, COO UK Coaching

Absolute Interiors introduced UK Coaching to Patrick Iyoyin at Bluestone Leasing who was able to arrange a finance deal that enabled UK Coaching to get the workspace they needed while still retaining their cash so they could continue to support to coaches in the UK.

“Our aim throughout was to tailor a bespoke finance solution around the specific needs and requirements of UK Coaching. This meant we utilised a banking facility that was flexible to allow for various fitout and furniture assets, but also IT equipment for their digital upgrade.”

Patrick Iyoyin, Regional Account Manager, Bluestone Leasing

“Bluestone Leasing’s service was good and the commercial rates were competitive, and we would use them to finance further assets in the future.”

Neil Ashton, COO UK Coaching

UK Coaching’s new offices and the future

The project was finished in March 2021, and while COVID restrictions delayed the team’s ability to make full use of their new space, the results have certainly been worth the wait. The organisation now has an innovative, unique, and agile working environment that includes:

  • A central break out space
  • Amphitheatre for pitching to an audience/presentations
  • Social areas for breaks and evening entertainment
  • Sound barriers above desks for staff who spend a lot of time on the phone
  • More private ‘snugs’ for project work or collaboration.

“What Absolute have achieved with the budget is amazing, the added value, the trimmings and the extra details are incredible. We really enjoy the space which is near the city centre amenities and transport links. It is conducive to collaborative work in a digitally minded world, but possibly the most significant achievement made possible by the fit out has been giving people a sense of hope and optimism after an isolating period.

“Just like our new offices, UK Coaching’s future is bright and dynamic. To all intents and purposes, we are a new and dynamic organisation, here for the coach. We will represent coaches as a collective, support their learning and development to inspire their participants and communities to be active.”

Mark Gannon, CEO UK Coaching

The Rise, Fall, and Return of the Subscription Model

At 9 months of age I was already toddling. I was taking regular breaks and using plenty of furniture to steady myself, but I was up and mobile. Unfortunately, one of my laps of the lounge culminated in me sitting on top of the VCR. I was sans-nappy, and decided that was the moment to, shall we say, relax. This led to an awkward telephone conversation with a woman at Radio Rentals who laughed – quite mercilessly – at my mum’s reason for needing a replacement.

Why am I telling you this charming family anecdote? While researching this article (that was going to be called, ‘The rise of the subscription model’), I found lots of blogs that suggested the idea of subscribing to a service was an emerging trend. Someone born in the digital age might assume that the subscription model is a relatively new concept made successful by the likes of Netflix, Spotify, Birch Box, or Hello Fresh.

But, because they have gleefully told that story at numerous family gatherings, I knew that my parents were making monthly payments for their VCR and TV back in the 1980s. Sure enough, a little research confirmed that paying a regular fee in return for services or products has been around a lot longer than many people realise.   

The birth of the subscription model

The earliest description of paying for a service in instalments (that I found) dates back to the 1500s when European cartographers were publishing maps of previously undocumented land that was being discovered, occupied, and conquered. The aristocracy and academics were buying these maps, but always in the knowledge that updated editions would be forthcoming as exploration continued. The map publishers asked customers to subscribe to future versions of their maps, and the ongoing payments funded their ongoing explorations and map production.

The most well-known example of an early subscription model is the newspaper and magazine industry which, as far back as the 17th century, was encouraging customers to subscribe to regular publications to cover overheads and delivery costs. Over the years several different types of subscription models have emerged.

Today, for a monthly fee, you can receive a box delivered to your home full of just about any product from socks and make-up to chocolate and your evening meals. Some are mysteries that have been curated especially for you by an ‘expert’, or for a monthly or annual fee you can access exclusive content or events. We can have the latest gym equipment, vehicles, mobile phones, software, and technology, as there are very few items that we need to own to use.

The pursuit of ownership

While paying as we go has been part of our society for so long, we can’t get away from the fact that, in the UK, renting or leasing has been regarded as inferior to ownership. A possible reason for this is that as technology became more affordable, renting/leasing became less common and gradually took on negative connotations; only someone who could not afford to buy something outright would need to spread the cost in that way. Combined with our national perception of property ownership as a symbol of success (not a universal attitude by any stretch), and the concept of renting/leasing became tainted.

However, skip a few frames to today, and our buying habits and attitudes are changing at a faster rate than ever before, more so than many of us realise. We don’t ‘go shopping’ anymore – we ‘are shopping’ at all times. We can make a purchase at any time of day or night, from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. If we cannot afford to pay for it all in one go then and there, we expect to be able to pay in instalments. Maybe we can’t afford £300 or £3,000 today, but £50 or £500 per month for the next 6 months? More than doable.

The rate at which technology moves on, and the fact that we are being marketed to from every direction all day and night, are also major influences on our buying habits. When we buy a product, in a matter of months, a new improved version will be released. We buy products not as long-term investments, but in the knowledge that in a few months or years we will want to upgrade or try something new. There is little point investing in assets that are going to depreciate in value or become obsolete, so paying a large chunk of cash to own something has become less attractive.

The past, present, and future of finance is flexible

It seems that negativity towards leasing in general is fading, but there is a stubborn perception in several industries that suggesting finance to customers will cause offence in some way, i.e., that they will imply they cannot afford to pay in cash. In reality, this is a rather outdated view, as choosing to pay via a subscription model or a finance lease often has nothing to do with affordability.

Customers want convenience and flexibility. They expect to be able to shop and pay in the way that is most convenient to them. They might shop online, on the high street, in the markets, or a combination of all three. They might pay upfront in cash, or they might decide to take out a flexible subscription, or to pay in instalments via a finance deal.  

Service providers that do not recognise the need for greater flexibility are running the risk of lagging behind their competitors. Offering more flexible finance arrangements creates a longer-term relationship with a customer beyond a single transaction, increasing customer lifetime value. This type of arrangement has been working since the cartographers of the 1500s found a way to fund their exploration of the world. It has been enabling individuals, families, and businesses to access the technology they need to thrive, whether that technology is a mobile phone, a VCR or 500 state-of-the-art laptops for their employees.

The subscription model, leasing, and renting technology are not new ideas, and it’s likely that they will continue to benefit both customer and service provider for many years to come.

If you are a business owner wanting to offer your customers more flexible payment options such as a finance arrangement, click here to get in touch.

Introducing Our Latest Recruits

It’s been a busy few weeks here at Bluestone Leasing getting our five newest members of staff settled in and up to speed with everything we offer.

Here’s a little bit about each of them:

Caroline Ford

Caroline Ford

Caroline, aka Caz, Caro or Fordie, so take your pick

I have been in sales for 9 years, my previous job was selling currency and passports to Governors and Finance Ministers throughout Africa and Asia and occasionally the Caribbean so I have been lucky enough to see a lot of the world.

I have really enjoyed my first two weeks, and the investment the company has put into me and the support the rest of the business has given me only makes me want to succeed tenfold. It feels like a family at Bluestone and everyone always has each others back which is very important to me.

I lived in Australia for 2 years, in Broome, at 25 where I pretty much took it easy, getting drunk, waking up on the beach and having a crazy life. During this time, I trained to be a personal trainer and Body Combat instructor which I still do in the evenings when I am home which I really need to keep up as I am a massive foodie.

My hobbies are going to the opera/ballet/classical concerts as my degree is in Music, French and Italian but my favourite bands are ACDC and Audioslave. I am also big on trekking and raising money for charity – In 2009 I did Machu Pichu and in 2012 I trekked to the base camp of Everest raising money for Breast and Prostate Cancer. It was very tough but I would love to do it again. Travelling gives me a great sense of cultural understanding and there’s just so much to see and learn.

Erica Dickens

Erica Dickens

Hello. My name is Erica Dickens and I am going to be working in the finance team as a Management Accountant.

Previously I have work at Locarla Community Partnerships, they provide services for the NHS. I have also worked for JD Sports and Yorkshire Post Newspapers. 

My initial thoughts on Bluestone  are very positive, I feel there is a wealth of knowledge and experience here which I am looking forward to learning from. 

I got married in Vegas 13 years ago and spend most my weekends doing fun stuff with my two children.

Georgie Leah Deeprose

Georgie Leah Deeprose

I previously worked at an accountancy firm called Cameron Alexander Accountants in Barnsley, which was my first job after leaving school.

My role here is as a Trainee Accounts Junior.

My initial thoughts of Bluestone are really positive, everyone is really friendly and helpful which has helped me settle in quickly. 

I like to go swimming and socialising with friends and family.

I used to do Irish Dancing which I regret giving up as I have now forgotten all my dances!

Louis Taylor

Louis Taylor

I previously worked for a company called Direct Work Force, they’re a recruitment agency specialising in the industrial and driving sectors. I was the branch business development executive meaning that all new client wins and new business was my responsibility. Due to the high amount of competition in industrial recruitment, I spent a lot of my time knocking on doors and trying to get in front of a decision maker which resulted in some interesting responses!

My initial thoughts of Bluestone couldn’t be more positive, everyone is extremely helpful and supportive which has really helped me settle in. I have never worked for a company where everybody is so close including the directors. I think it’s brilliant.

My role as a BRE is to win new business! Supporting the General Assets Division and expanding the team which I am really look forward to. Right now I am concentrating on learning my role inside out and starting to win some new business.

My hobbies are pretty normal – I go to the gym 5 times a week and socialise with my mates as regularly as possible. Another hobby of mine is tattoos although having a girlfriend who is a tattoo artist keeps that affordable!

Andrew Plues

Andrew Plues

Andy or Andrew, dependant on the formality.

I have worked in insurance and most recently the recruitment industry, where I have learnt a great deal of transferable skills.

I am married and have a 4-year-old son called Jack who is the apple of my eye! My family is extremely important to me and is my motivation to succeed.

I have a wide variety of hobbies, martial arts being my main passion outside of being a father. I have trained since I was 7 years old, hold a 1st degree black belt in Karate and now train in mixed martial arts in which I have just achieved my Orange belt (3 grades above beginner). I also have a passion for a wide range of music and watch motorcycle racing as often as time allows. My favourite rider would be the legend that is Valentino Rossi.

My first impressions of bluestone are great, all the staff are professional and knowledgeable whilst also being friendly and willing to help when they can. I like the fact that nobody is just a number and everybody is known by name.

I don’t have many dislikes, although fake people bug me.

I love speaking to different types of people and building rapport and I am very excited about getting into my role at Bluestone Leasing.


If you have any questions for our new starters they would love to hear from you, give them a call on 01924 248800 or email info@bluestoneleasing.com.

BSL Services

 

The Bluestone Approach

At Bluestone Leasing we take pride in our close relationships with you, our partners.

By taking the time to get to know you with face to face meetings and regular industry updates you can be assured that we will work to find the right solution for your client.

When you introduce us to your customers we look to gain a full understanding of their projects and business. This understanding of how your customers businesses are modelled helps us to structure a finance facility that is as tax efficient as possible.

As there are a number of different finance agreements that your customer can choose from it’s not as simple as sending them an email and looking at their website to find the best solution, a face to face meeting allows us to ascertain the information we can not gather without speaking with them.

Our aim at Bluestone Leasing is to deliver the best value for our partners, including:

Our Way

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If you have any questions or would like to discuss a specific project give our team a call today on 01924 248800.

Case Study – RAF Halton Refurbish

RAF Halton have provided invaluable training to new recruits since 1918 and Bluestone Leasing were delighted to get involved in the project to refurbish their IT and classroom facilities.

This project was another fantastic example of how we can include software charges into the overall finance package keeping all costs combined into one regular payment.

Casestudy RAF Halton refurbish

Finance For Your Classroom Technology

Bluestone Leasing can provide funding for all of your classroom technology requirements.

Our education finance option for the digital classroom can include all project costs funded on our fully compliant (IAS17) operating lease facility. Your dedicated account manager at Bluestone Leasing will provide you with transparent and ethical documentation as well as expert advice throughout the process. This allows you to create a fully integrated learning environment whilst keeping control of your finances with fixed and regular payments.

You might not know that, as well as financing the hardware and audio visual equipment for your classroom, your finance agreement can also include services, installation, training costs and software costs*

With access to over 40 specialist funders (the largest panel in the UK) and a dedicated technology team to guide you through the process we are confident you will find the ideal finance options for your classroom technology needs.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss a specific project please get in touch with our technology team on 01924 248811.

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*these need to form part of an overall project.

Give Yourself The Edge

If you offer commercial agency and property management services, attracting tenants and buyers just got easier.

Offering a purchaser the option to spread the entire cost of their fit out over time or giving a landlord a powerful alternative to cash contributions for tenant fit out costs could give your business the edge you need.

finance, property, agent, cash