WHEN the lockdown announcement came back in March, training company directors Steve Bates and Sarah Brooks saw their busy diaries empty and Steve found himself working from his Darton home instead of offices at The Business Village in Wilthorpe.
Steve, who runs Abbeydale Training with Sarah, recalls how all their course bookings were cancelled as, at the time, the company was delivering all its training packages in face-to-face sessions. Like many other business owners, they had to think hard and act swiftly to safeguard the business’s future and that’s just what they did.
Fast forward almost six months, and the future is looking bright for the training provider. Abbeydale Training has turned its attention to delivering online training and, while they are keen to reintroduce face-to-face training courses when the time is right, he is delighted with the opportunities that have opened up over the past few months. The company has delivered online training to staff at a healthcare company to enable them to build better relationships and talks with an existing client have meant that Steve and Sarah are now looking at the possibility of their online training being rolled out to a worldwide audience with delegates from as far afield as Melbourne and Bucharest.
Abbeydale counts the Houses of Parliament, Princes Foods, DLA Piper and top legal firms among its clients. “We have been working with the Houses of Parliament since 2011 delivering training on presentation skills, meeting facilitation and one-to-one coaching,” said Steve. Having majorly amended the company’s business model due to Covid, Steve and Sarah are excited about future plans including working with a leading local multi academy trust and extending their work with schools and education as well as increasing their work with commercial organisations.
As lockdown measures started to ease, they also had to make a decision whether to return to the business’s office unit at The Business Village or continue to work from home. Abbeydale moved into a small office at The Business Village in 2017, although they had worked with the team there prior to this, and they have twice moved within the site since then, both times to larger offices. Steve admits that they did think about the cost savings linked to home working but the benefits of being one of over 100 businesses based at The Business Village, formerly known as Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre, soon swayed him into returning to office working.
They were so convinced that this was the right thing to do, in fact, that the business is eagerly eyeing up a larger office in the new Phase 5 building which is nearing completion at the 6.5-acre site after record occupancy levels led to the expansion move. “The support I have had from the whole team at The Business Village, made it an easy decision in the end to return to office working,” said Steve. “I love networking whether it is with other tenants or down at the rugby club or in a more formal setting. Basically, I get paid for ‘callin’ which is great and the support that I get at The Business Village from everyone is sometimes intangible but it is an amazing help.
“Meeting and talking to people is the main way I secure new business and this setting is great for doing that.”
The Business Village chief executive Adrian Waite said: “The Business Village has had a long-standing business relationship with Steve that goes back two decades. The uncertainty caused by Covid has led some businesses to hold off on their expansion plans, but it is great to see Abbeydale embracing the challenges, and seeing our support as a key part of their business strategy, and a reason to be based at one of our sites.”
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The project is receiving up to £1,468.000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and is supported by Northern Powerhouse. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.