Hiring

Asif Hamid knows a thing or two about growth.

His business – Birkenhead-based The Contact Company – has grown continuously for 15 years and just achieved record turnover of £41 million.

The Contact Company is an outsourced customer contact provider and today employs 2,500 people. Among them are a central analysis and insight team, which works both internally within the business and externally with clients to help drive business recommendations and outcomes through data visualisation.

Hamid, who is also the chair of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, has two main rules when it comes to growth.

“When it’s the downturn you’ve got to invest,” he says. “A lot of businesses cut back.”

His second rule relates to money. “We’ve always chased success, not money,” he explains. “Money has come alongside it.”

Bootstrapped

Hamid started the business 15 years ago and remains the 100% shareholder.

“I wish I’d started the business earlier,” admits the serial entrepreneur. “Corporate life taught me about processes and procedures. A lot of business is about working on gut instinct.

“Managing growth is the hardest thing in business. Cutting a business down once you’ve made losses is easier to do than manage growth.”

TCC’s clients include River Island, Argos, Atos and nearby Liverpool Football Club.

“When lockdown happened on March 23, 2020 you put your head in your hands and think ‘where are we going to be in 12 months’ time?’ We could never plan where the growth was going to come from,” says Hamid.

“Lockdown created opportunities for us online. Our clients are predominately retailers.

“All our business has been from word of mouth. We haven’t had a sales team. Managing your relationship with clients is key. We have long-term relationships. Sometimes you have to speculate and invest to accumulate.”

Ask for help

Hamid believes founders should ask for help if they need it. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people,” he says. “The best advice I’ve received has been from other business people by reaching out.

“As you grow a business don’t forget the roots of it. We employ 2,500 people and some of the best ideas come from people you work with and we sometimes lose sight of that.

“Don’t be afraid to change. We go through transformational change every six months. We now have 750 people working from home remotely. Would we have done that before COVID? Never. We never expected it. 

“Surround yourself with successful people. Understand your own capabilities. I’ve had the same management team for the last 10-15 years and I build on that.”

Delivering a memorable presentation

So what is Hamid’s top tip for growth? “You’ve got to know what success is and it might not be just growth. When you bring in a management team you’ve got to make sure they share the same vision and mission.

“Stick with what you know. Don’t divert too much from your core competencies because you’ll take your eye off your business.”