... was during the setting-up of the business, when I devised the members' service agreement, the contract we have with all our member-hauliers. Everything is laid down, from payment terms to what they do on delivery. It's the rules of membership.
It's my best decision because, right from the start, absolutely everything was crystal-clear. I didn't mismanage their expectations, and vice versa. We all knew what was expected of each other.
Another good decision was in drawing up the business plan. As with all new businesses, cashflow was the coup de grace, and I decided to introduce seven-day payment terms for those who wanted to become a member of Pall-Ex. It certainly carried the business through the early years. We were cash-generative and able to buy land and purpose-build without gearing the balance sheet up with onerous debt.
My third good decision was to write our IT systems in-house. It's a responsibility and it meant a lot more heads to employ, but no-one knows your business like you.
... was probably bringing marketing in-house. I now believe it's one aspect of a business that should be outsourced, because it requires innovative thought on a frequent basis. And by the nature of the beast, the people you employ become comfortable in their roles, shall we say.
Most of my bad business decisions have been based around people and bad people management. The advice I would give is to choose your people wisely. Don't rush into it. Certainly, the best people that I've ended up with have taken a lot of time and effort to find. It's important when recruiting to get to know them, because it isn't so much an issue of whether they can they do the job; it's 'do they fit in with the culture and ethos of the business?'
When recruiting, give a clear brief of what you're expecting of a person right from the outset, and have fixed views about where you want that person to be in three years' time. Pall-Ex has a great management team that I've invested in, and we're now all singing from the same hymn-sheet.