OneCom is planning to capitalise on its recent win as Vodafone Platinum Partner of the Year with acquisitions, increasing staff numbers and new premises on the agenda.
CEO Darren Ridge detailed a strategy combining buy-to-build and organic growth to develop the rising unified comms dealer. He revealed that OneCom was close to completing two acquisitions which should be announced in the next month.
However, Ridge added there was still potential for sales growth within the existing business. He said: ‘We’re actually on a recruitment drive at the moment with the aim of hiring another hundred people, while we are looking at expanding premises as we speak. Another office is opening in Telford and our existing sales team is expanding, so OneCom continues to grow at pace.’
The Vodafone Platinum Partner of the Year is an amalgamation of two separate companies – Premier Telecom and Business Phones Direct (BPD). Ridge was chief executive of the former and a director and major shareholder of the latter before they came together earlier this year, and he revealed that the rebrand made perfect sense for both companies.He said: ‘The two businesses have been running parallel to each other with the common denominator of me. The difference between the two companies was client base; BPD dealt primarily in the SOHO marketplace – 1-5s and mostly with a telephone account manager – whereas Premier Telecom was involved with SMEs through to large corporate. Our biggest corporate client has 5,000 mobiles with us.
‘Then the edges became a bit blurred between the two businesses as BPD signed up the YMCA and a few larger accounts. We decided that by bringing it all together under the brand of OneCom it would future-proof the company.’
Products and services
The dealer’s partnership with Vodafone [see box] appears to be an important factor in the decision to merge. Ridge explained the operator’s £1bn acquisition of Cable and Wireless Worldwide made it easier to join up products and services, while increasing the number of products available to sell. As a consequence of Vodafone’s purchase, OneCom set up a deal with Cable and Wireless Worldwide, which saw the unified comms operator buy minutes from the network and combine them with its own billing system to offer services for its own customers.
Ridge added: ‘We’ve got a blended portfolio of products. Obviously we were a mobile-centric business in the past, but the big growth for us now is selling additional products and services to our existing customer base.’
That customer base has grown over the last 12 months from 110,000 to 150,000, and Ridge added revenue had increased in the same period as ‘bill income from Vodafone alone reached £60m’. He also said the business had been separated into two distinct functions – ‘OneCom Business and OneCom Services’. The services arm is concerned with the hosted and managed solutions side of the company, and Ridge was hopeful this element would grow considerably over the next five years to deliver similar sales as the mobile operation. The Hampshire-based dealer can also boast a churn rate of under 7%.
Ridge said: ‘Our unique selling point is customer service. We have an ethos where we do everything in-house. We give dedicated account management and we make sure members of our customer service team are personally known. For the clients that we deal with we have a specialist piece of software called ‘Mobile Manager’ which we’ve developed, enabling us to give detailed information through a customer service portal. It is a really efficient tool for all our customers.’
OneCom leading the way in unified comms
OneCom scooped Vodafone’s Platinum Partner of the Year award last month after predecessor Premier Telecom emerged victorious two years in a row in 2011 and 2012. The dealer boasts a very strong relationship with the network, and OneCom CEO Darren Ridge confirmed that his company had ‘150,000 connections on Vodafone alone’.
Shortly before OneCom’s award success, Vodafone launched its new partner programme in which it announced its intention to offer partners training and support incentives to converge their products and services. Ridge said OneCom’s experience aided the programme’s development. He said: ‘We’ve been on the unified communications journey now for a couple of years so we’re ahead of the curve in that respect. So we helped them design the programme and been at the forefront of it. It’s all about joining up a product base and a product set.’
Ridge was also optimistic about Vodafone’s 4G proposition after its announcement earlier this month, stating that it opens up new opportunities for business. He added: ‘We’ve had a lot of requests come through from our corporate clients to talk about 4G and find out when it’s going to be available. We will launch some additional apps, products and services, so we’re quite excited.’