With a past career serving in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, former infantryman PJ Farr knows the importance of moving quickly on a well-thought out plan.
He set up dealer Countrywide Telecoms in January this year with just £1,100 after leaving the army. The business has seen rapid growth, landing a number of contracts in the insurance and transport industries. The company connects with EE, Orange, T-Mobile, O2 and Vodafone and offers mobile, broadband, fixed line and hosting services, largely targeting SOHOs and the transport industry.
In its first six months, the Guildford-based company, which Farr runs with a sales team of two, has already built a solid base of customers, including an insurance firm which has signed a deal worth £20,000 in turnover.
Farr puts a lot of his success down to his army training. He explained: ‘I picked up so many skills in my four years in the army that have helped me run the business. My experiences in the army give me so many talking points with potential customers. People are really interested and it breaks the ice.’
Farr worked as a sales advisor for Carphone Warehouse before joining the army and used his previous experience to set up the business. He said the first three months were a struggle, particularly with back office demands. Things improved after the company signed up with distributor Micro-P and its online partner programme Conect. Farr said the deal was a ‘gamechanger’ for the company. He said: ‘It means we don’t waste time messing with paper work, the portal cuts administrative time massively which gives us more time to be out talking to potential clients.’
He added: ‘Like me, Micro-P is new in the industry and they have been really fantastic. We have a brilliant account manager. I think they saw I was different, not your typical sales guy, and they decided to take a chance on me.’
Micro-P’s gamble appears to be paying off. Farr said: ‘This quarter we won a very large contract with a £20,000 turnover with an insurance company. That got us kick started and now we are going from strength to strength.’
Road to success
Countrywide is also targeting the transport industry, recently picking up a deal with an Andover-based haulage firm to supply mobile, broadband and fixed line services.
The company is also making further in-roads with growing demand for 4G services. Farr said: ‘We’ve had a fantastic few months winning a number of contracts to supply EE 4G Wi-Fi deals to small taxi firms and coach companies wanting to supply Wi-Fi to their customers. We’ve seen a gap in the market and this is a real opportunity for us to become specialists in that area.’
Countrywide is also attracting SOHOs with competitive mobile and fixed line deals which Farr said cut customers’ bills by an average of 36%.
He said: ‘We want to work with all the forgotten little people that the big guys aren’t interested in. Some of these people don’t even have business deals with their network. They have been really neglected by their provider. So if we can save them in some cases up to 46% then they tell the shop next door or tell their friends, and so we are getting a lot of local business through word of mouth.’
Farr said being a small business gives Countrywide the edge in the SOHO market. ‘Like them, I am a local lad running a small business who understands their business needs and I give them a great service. We always go out to customers. We never ask them to come to us. Last week I delivered a phone to a farmer working in the middle of a field near Guildford.’
Farr’s former regiment was known as the Tigers. His time as a dealer shows he is well on his way to earning his stripes.