Like most entrepreneurs, Jerry Brand is not afraid of hard work, but he also knows when to stop and enjoy life. After selling his first business for £1.8m in 1996, he retired to the countryside to help bring up his children for the next eight years.
That first business was Russell & Brand, a catering, cleaning and security services company that grew so quickly it won a PricewaterhouseCoopers/Independent award for being the second-fastest-growing privately-owned business in 1995. Brand is now having another go, and in May 2004, he set up Host Contract Management, a contract catering business operating in industry, schools and care homes.
Brand says it is important that any business leader who wants to recruit and retain a high performing, motivated workforce should remember that their staff have lives too.
"Most people have to earn money to live, but you also have to understand that people need to enjoy their jobs," he says.
Having learned a lot about how to get the most out of a workforce from running Russell & Brand, he is determined to put those lessons to good use.
"I am using a lot of those experiences and putting them back into Host," he says. "In particular, continuous development, individual development programmes and the importance of team working."
Because 95 per cent of the workforce operates on-site at client premises, the company is decentralised and Brand has organised it along regional business management areas. Each area has a regional business manager and a certain degree of autonomy from other area units. Each also has its own share-option and profit-share schemes, as "this leads to financial motivation and loyalty", says Brand.
Brand is keen for each regional business manager and their unit to feel empowered to drive the business forward as a team.
"The traditional business model is triangular with the boss at the top, then going down through management to employees. It is the other way round for us. The operators (catering staff) are the most important people in the company and are championed by the business. They are at the top."
For this reason, there is only one office for the marketing, e-business and accounting staff. Everyone else works on-site and Brand has invested in virtual private network technology so that area managers can access the main data centre from wherever they are working.
"It is far better for people to be based on-site, rather than in an offic