SERVICE EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2001: Overall winner - CragRats and winner, Business to Business

SERVICE EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2001: Overall winner - CragRats and winner, Business to Business - There was only one serious contender for the over-all winner of this year's awards. The judges were unanimous in choosing CragRats for the sheer dynamism, exubera

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

There was only one serious contender for the over-all winner of this year's awards. The judges were unanimous in choosing CragRats for the sheer dynamism, exuberance, vitality and commitment it demonstrates for all its customers.

CragRats is a true business one-off. Set up by teachers David Bradley and Mark Greenop 10 years ago, it created its own market - using theatre as a presentation tool. It forms teams of actors who develop a script for their client, rehearse intensively (retiring to sleep in bunk beds at CragRats' base, a former woollen mill in Holmfirth, Yorkshire) and then go out on the road to perform to their client's audiences.

Customers range from schools to training agencies to government agencies and - not least - some of the country's largest companies. CragRats provides presentations and workshops, both standard and bespoke, with brands that have been developed for different audiences. It also has a rather fancy line in corporate catering.

What makes CragRats stand out from other organisations is the extent to which the values drive everything. Bradley and Greenop started with a set of philosophies, and then defined the business they wanted to run.

As they explain: 'With a set of values that all in the company can believe in, support and, most importantly, live, we can operate successfully in whatever business environment we choose.'

And this has enabled CragRats to create a powerful culture of commitment, empowerment and dedication to serving its customers without having to resort to many of the formal systems and measurements that others depend on. Not that its teams don't collect feedback that will be of use to its customers: every member of every audience is encouraged to fill in a questionnaire at the end of the show.

There have been many tangible achievements in the past 12 months: CragRats won its first international assignment with American Express in Dubai; it was re-appointed to BT's nationwide FutureTalk programme, and it embarked on new projects to confront prejudice among young people and to tackle the problem of teenage pregnancy through school workshops.

But it is the thousands of tributes from clients and stories of going the extra mile that are most telling.

When CragRats was contracted to put on a show for 1,000 Cadbury's employees at the NEC in Birmingham, the client was daunted by the prospect of shipping them all there. CragRats stepped in to organise the logistics. When a project manager fell ill during a bi-lingual tour in North Wales, a replacement was recruited and rehearsed within 24 hours. As Carl Carter, BT's FutureTalk manager put it: 'Whatever the size or the complexity of the task, they will rise to the challenge and deliver to consistently high standards.'

The organisation also has an outstanding approach to engaging people.

Above all, CragRats seeks to get the best out of everybody. The general manager joined the company as a plasterer. The personnel manager joined as a cook. When the chips are down, everybody in the company piles in, whether it is filling envelopes to meet a mailshot deadline or slapping on the greasepaint to put on a special show.

The result is a working environment that provides true fulfilment. In the words of Jill Martin, the personnel manager: 'CragRats means life is never predictable, routine or boring. I feel my aspirations have been met and developed beyond all expectations in the five years I have worked here.'

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