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beech1948

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Its been a while since this thread has been updated. Here is a summary of what is happening from my business perspective re driving and Ev's.

The business has survived.....just about. Covid-19 has come close to breaking us. The issue is as always cash flow, bloody banks, slow payers etc etc. I have a Tesla model 3 on trial and will let you all know how it goes.

We have moved into a triage approach based on level 1...about to kill off my business; level 2....functioning for 2 weeks but likely to go into breakdown; Level 3....minor updates.

We have become quite good at categorising these levels of pain for customers and very good at deflecting and showing clients how to cope. Technician travel is down 40%. We have hired 2 extra desk based technicians who are just about up to speed this week. Its interesting to see travel budgets change to staff hiring budgets.

83% of customers are now introducing remote service calls into their permitted network interconnects. Its slower than I wanted but going OK. Worst customer is UK Gov'mt who are slower than molasses in January as well as poor at understanding and execution. So getting there.

We have set up a NOC style secure centre in a new office in a remote industrial estate in Manchester. NOC stands for Network Operating Centre and ours has become somewhat similar since we are also introducing remote alerts from clients. Ours is called an AIOC or "ache"....gotta love Three Letter Acronyms.

Sales force is down by two people as we do not need as many sales people to keep selling. Marketing has made a big thing about our new facility so we have increased our customer base by 3 and are hoping to keep this up for a few years.

After 6 months of breakneck work, a little useful panic and some very committed people we have kept our profits at 8% below previous levels, cash expenditures have rocketed up but will abate by year end as the new investments come on line.

What's next. Well holidays are so buggered up now that we will just have time at home and collapse into an arm chair. We need to start to set next years budgets and plan any changes to coincide with Aprils new budgets. We are looking to start a significant change to staff roles, retrain Technicians, automate billing more and reduce admin staff.

Generally become leaner and more responsive. A few of our major clients have proved alert to having one of our staff based on their sites but able to also go out to other regional clients. So further cuts in overheads are likely.

I'm just about done in now. 6 months of 14 to 16 hour days has taken a toll and I do not have a lot of energy left. I'm getting irritable and bad tempered a bit a sure sign that things need to slow down. So time to start succession and ownership planning and ready to execute by April next year.

Rule of Six has been interesting. We have four doors from external to internal. So several "bubbles" are possible. We have about 36 people who now work from the office again in bubbles with some ODD means of communication. A lot of email between each employee whereas we used to just pop round to the nearby cubical and talk it through. Teams have created signs which they hold up to perspex partitions eg Tea is ready, Who took my parking spot, Sarah and Andy are rowing again ? etc etc. Quite funny in a tech company.

Hope you are all well, surviving the Covid-19, Rule of Six, Testing and the NHS struggles. I have written to my MP about paying those who were in the front line of the NHS and at risk of death a large and well earned pay rise. Maybe you would consider doing the same.
 

Droogs

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So are you having the EV or is it being given to a tech to see how travel costs compare to similar ICE?
Glad the idea to consolidate into a centralised system has started working for you
 

Rorschach

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This is both heartening and sad to read. I am glad your business has survived and work in continuing but I feel sad for those who are have been lost and will be lost as you continue to re-structure. This is a bad sign of things to come as the pain hits.

Not surprised the government is the worst to deal with, people who work on government tend to be those that wouldn't survive in the real world.

I can't agree with your idea of an NHS pay rise either, this situation for me has highlighted just how bloated and poorly organised it is, reform is badly needed.
 

frank horton

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Battery tech will change but not for a long time unless the inventor is magnamus enough to give the tech away.......
well that won't happen as the likes of Shell and BP will put a stop to that.....if they can.....
and who knows waht clever tech they have salted away already.....?..
I dont really want to replace my VW Kombi but an electric one would make complete sence.......
but not at 50 grand...
I wanted a forklift for home use, was advised to buy an electric one with dead batteries.......
it's only another £1000 - 1500 to replace them, fair enough but what about the other junk you need that will go wrong....
like HD chargers and the electronic control gear hidden underneath......
Diesel will out last me and besides to crack petrol there something like 60-70% Diesel from the same process.....
and Diesel is still easy tto fix.....wont be here in 50 years to find out what mess the govenment willhave left us in....
 

MusicMan

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Thanks for your detailed update, Beech1948. I was wondering how you and your company were getting on. Congratulations on (a) adapting and surviving and (b) increasing your customer base by 3 - that's impressive. Travel budgets changing to staff hire budgets is surely a positive and useful trend. I hope you can work out how to step back a bit soon.

I'm enjoying my Nissan Leaf on its rare outings, less than 1000 miles since I got it in March! I charge it about every two weeks. And I am busier than before, in that I've been hauled out of retirement to be part time (about a day a week) chief science adviser for a startup whose founder has moved on. The commute (to Oxford) would be minimal, but in fact I haven't been there yet. 100% of the work is online, and it is proving much more productive than if I travelled there a day a week. The science team have access to me almost any time, rather than on a single day trip of which two hours would be spent driving. It's proving far more productive.
 

beech1948

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So are you having the EV or is it being given to a tech to see how travel costs compare to similar ICE?
Glad the idea to consolidate into a centralised system has started working for you
Its a bit of a funny deal. Caused I think because all car sales are 80% less than last year. I have it on a 6 month lease. Its an ex demonstrator, ex dealer company car with 19,000 miles on the clock. The lease is Ok and not too expensive.

The car has gone to one of our best technicians who is thrilled. He is going to keep a diary of the things which bother me, mileage, charge times, charge restrictions, costs, and of course reliability.
 

Droogs

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As part of the test are you allowing access to the Tesla supercharging network or are you/will you have a period of using only not Tesla charging possibilities and seeing how feasable that is in regard to the getting to sites if you had a fleet of non tesla cars such as the say the ne MG estate that is coming out or similar.

I really am interested in your results, given you are not a wholehearted leccy car fan
 

beech1948

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Thanks for your detailed update, Beech1948. I was wondering how you and your company were getting on. Congratulations on (a) adapting and surviving and (b) increasing your customer base by 3 - that's impressive. Travel budgets changing to staff hire budgets is surely a positive and useful trend. I hope you can work out how to step back a bit soon.

in fact I haven't been there yet. 100% of the work is online, and it is proving much more productive than if I travelled there a day a week. It's proving far more productive.
I'm going to have to step back soon as 7 day weeks at 14-16 hrs a day just are too much at my age. I have been surprised that I have kept going. Will try a two week holiday in October.

Like you we have found that the people still working from home are very productive and have also been very willing to occasionally come in to the office and pitch in if needed. My long work hours have perhaps demonstrated how close we came to not surviving. Though also possibly not.

What we have adopted almost secretly is an attitude that means if people need to work from home they can or from a public space or even come into the office. A local handyman built some perspex screens for us for between desks/bubbles, a local bakery delivers daily (not Sunday) and we seem to still be having some fun within the teams.

I would be interested to hear what you use for video conferencing as we have some reservations about Zoom. Surprising how quickly people create and operate new cultural norms for things like Zoom.
 

beech1948

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As part of the test are you allowing access to the Tesla supercharging network or are you/will you have a period of using only not Tesla charging possibilities and seeing how feasable that is in regard to the getting to sites if you had a fleet of non tesla cars such as the say the ne MG estate that is coming out or similar.

I really am interested in your results, given you are not a wholehearted leccy car fan
Yes to the Tesla charging network as it is the best developed along our lines of travel. My technician will fund it via his credit card and make weekly claims for reimbursement so we can track costs. After this next 6 months are over we will consider doing a "non charging network" test depending on how the costs come out.
 

beech1948

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@beech1948 If your IT systems are windows/Office based for admin have you considered just using skype or even MS teams

Droogs,

Admin is MS based. Development and Technicians are UNIX based. Our IT is provided by an external group to a small 3 person internal team. So far we have not had too many inter OS problems....yet. It just seems that for Admin the relative richness of programs available works well and of course most clients are MS based as well. Unix development for us is very quick as we have designed and use a number of tools to aid this and we have become competent at cross compilation on the few times we need it. As the owners of the software we can spec what it should run on.
 

Spectric

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The solution is not to ditch the internal combustion engine, instead use the engine to generate electrical power to drive motors in the wheel hubs and a battery for energy storage. An internal combustion engine can be made extremely clean if it only runs within a very narrow rpm range.

If you think really long term do you actually think people will all be driving their own vehicles, no they will be using public transport such as electric trams because that is a cleaner and more efficient use of resources, you won't have vehicles sitting on drives and car parks doing nothing all day whilst people are at work or at home.
 

Rorschach

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@Spectric Public transport? Not a viable solution, doesn't work very well now does it?. The only way that removal of personal transport will be possible is by the use of self driving electric taxis.

Also your internal combustion idea is flawed, the added weight of a battery will more than outweigh any efficiency savings.
 

MusicMan

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I would be interested to hear what you use for video conferencing as we have some reservations about Zoom. Surprising how quickly people create and operate new cultural norms for things like Zoom.
My main job uses Google Meets. That's partly because the whole company IT (about 32 people) is based around Google: gmail, docs, calendar, notebooks and meets. They do integrate well together, though I don't like the interfaces and facilities as much as others. The audio is not brilliant but OK if everyone carefully mutes when not speaking. It does work very well from phones/tablets also. Last week one of the members joined from a car using a phone and it was surprisingly good.

I also use Zoom a lot for committee meetings that I am on, used for between 5 and 50 people. I also take Tai Chi classes on Zoom. The audio is the best of the various systems I've used. There are also the best options for fine tuning in various ways, eg noise reduction, and I prefer the video options too, e.g. easier to see the total group. Organisations do have reservations about the security of Zoom, which of course would be important for your business. I am not sure whether this is still the case or whether that has been fixed (it was to do with a way in which a stranger could join into a Zoom meeting).

I use Microsoft Teams a bit; this seems to be favoured where there are security concerns, but I haven't used it as much as the other two so can't really compare the usability. I think it is pretty good for large groups, and universities tend to use it for this and the security issue.

With all systems it is pretty important to use headphones/earbuds/headsets to prevent feedback from a speaker to the microphone. Zoom copes fairly well in suppressing this but the others are less good.

And of course good bandwidth is essential.

It's true what you say about cultural norms. When the video stuff started, people would log on fifteen minutes early to ensure that everything was OK. Now in my company everyone logs in a few seconds before the exact time. 30 people x 15 minutes is a person-day's amount of work! Also, since interruptions are obviously disruptive on video links (Zoom immediately flips to the interruptor, though Google is a bit better behaved) people soon learn not to do it. This makes a difference, as people actually listen till the speaker has stopped, making both more courteous and more effective communication.
 
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