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Building Trak Global’s Innovation Team in Manchester

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Andrew Brown-Allan is Group Marketing & Propositions Director at Trak Global Group, one of the world’s largest telematics companies, gathering and interpreting data from connected devices to help organisations manage driver and vehicle risk. With a head office in Crewe and an innovation hub in central Manchester, Trak Global has received countless awards since their inception and have grown to a team of 238 people, with exciting plans to expand internationally in Europe and the US.

We caught up with Andrew to find out about Trak Global’s path to success and how the team at Adam has helped the tech innovator grow their specialist teams.

Trak Global Help Customers Manage Risk Through Accurate Vehicle Data

“Trak Global are a telematics technology business, born in 2009,” Andrew explains, “we track driver behaviour and vehicle location through a black box device that we fit in the vehicle or through our mobile App. In simple terms, we then use this information to help our customers manage risk, whether that be driver risk or asset risk.”

Trak Global work with a range of clients, from insurers to rental companies, motor manufacturers to logistics firms and any other businesses who have fleet vehicles. Andrew expands, “companies are increasingly understanding their duty of care towards employees and are investing in technology to help them deliver their obligations. This is particularly apparent when it comes to driver behaviour. Companies are looking to protect their employees and their businesses, following last year’s changes in fine structure levied by the Health and Safety Executive. The fines are now far more punitive and are linked to company turnover. They are also the instrument of corporate manslaughter, which has been wielded a few times recently with notable cases towards the end of last year and the turn of this year.”

The Devils in the Detail

Trak Global use their telematics technology in two core areas, driver behaviour scoring and vehicle location tracking.

“To measure driver risk,” Andrew explains, “we take data straight from the vehicle and generate driver scores that enable our client, whether that’s a Fleet Manager, Managing Director, HR Director, Health & Safety Compliance Officer, Insurer or Broker, to fully understand that driver’s individual risk.”

“From a rental perspective” he continues, “we use telematics capability to track vehicle location and create a risk profile, to help rental firms nullify the risk of losing their prized assets, their vehicles. For example, if a rental company is renting out a top of the range vehicle and it hasn’t been returned on time by the customer, we can pin point exactly where that car is at any time. If the vehicle enters any UK port (which we’ve geo fenced across the UK), we send an alert to the company which notifies them, and flags whether the vehicle has been authorised to be taken out of the UK, or not. Based on this information, the customer can then alert border control to restrict the passage of that vehicle.”

“We’ve Demonstrated the Power of Our Data in the Wild”

Although telematics is a crucial component of the business, where Trak Global add real value is in the insight gleaned from the data their technology collects. They help clients create a scoring algorithm that predicts risk and enables them to make confident decisions on the back of that data.

Andrew expands, “one of the things that differentiates us is how we’ve demonstrated the power of this data in the wild. Rather than talk hypothetically about what’s possible with this technology, we’ve demonstrated it by creating our own direct to market brands. While most of our business is based on creating bespoke solutions for our clients, it’s all technology that’s proven under our own brands.”

Trak Global adopted this very approach in the young driver’s insurance market. Andrew adds, “we launched a company called Carrot in September 2012, which went on to be the 2nd largest provider of young driver insurance in the UK. Carrot also won the Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards 2015 for reducing accidents in young drivers by 42% compared to an identical group of drivers where telematics wasn’t being used. Our technology is genuinely having a meaningful impact on reducing accident frequency and fatalities.”Telematics has been deployed over the last six years in this area to help Trak Global’s clients understand young driver risk and establish how to differentiate safe vs unsafe young drivers.

Rapid Growth and International Aspirations

In 2015, Trak Global had 69 people on the pay roll. Two and a half years later they’ve grown to 238, with numerous awards to their name. “Clearly our appetite for recruitment has gone through the roof” says Andrew. The company aren’t stopping there however, “we’ve also launched products in Canada and Spain and we’re looking to crack the US market, so there is real international growth on the horizon.”

The company’s head office is based in Crewe but Andrew created a specialist in house digital agency, based in Manchester city centre called Trak Labs, designed to be an Innovation Hub. Here a team of 20 work on a range of exciting and challenging tech and marketing projects.

“We created Trak Labs for several reasons” Andrew says “our industry is complex which makes it difficult to outsource to an external agency. Given my background in the agency scene (for the best part of 20 years), it seemed logical to create our own agency capability in house and then use it to help our customers leverage the power of the technology products we create. It’s given us a hub in Manchester where the digital talent pool is much bigger, but it’s also a space where we can work on collaborative ventures with clients, start-up businesses, the University and tech incubators. It’s a creativity and innovation hub but it also acts as our own in-house marketing agency, working not just on our own businesses and brands but also those of our clients. We do much more than technology. Our team at Trak Labs helps customers through the product creation process and design and implement plans to launch products into the market.”

Andrew continues “From an employee point of view, Trak Labs offers our team great variety and the opportunity to get involved in lots of different projects. Working in house is often off putting for creatives, with the restriction of just working on one business, BUT at Trak Labs, we give people the opportunity to work on a wide range of briefs just as they would be in an external agency. Trak Labs work on our corporate businesses (Trak Global Group, Carrot, Appy Fleet) as well as working on campaigns and digital tools for clients such as Mercedes, VW or RSA. They also work on launching our products internationally. I think that’s what’s makes our version of in house much more attractive to candidates than what you may call a more ‘traditional’ in house role.”

Working with Adam to Build the Trak Labs Team

Adam have been working with Trak Global to help recruit the Trak Labs team for the past 18 months, working to fill 11 roles. “We needed specialist support to recruit people in the fields of UI, UX, App Developments, Online Portal Development and other digital specialists. That’s Adam’s specialist area” says Andrew.

He continues “Although they support us in these core areas, every now and then they also throw in some curve balls. Because they now know our business so well, they recommend people outside of our current briefs that could help us in other areas of the business and complement our team.I’ve worked with Adam for years and recruited from them frequently when I ran my own agency business in Manchester. I’ve worked with Leon Milns (Adam Founder) for a long time and he has a fantastic knowledge of what I’m after. We also work closely with Adam because they take a real interest in what we do and makes sure they finds people that are the right fit, which sounds like a no brainer, but seems to be a skill that’s lacking in other firms. They take time out to meet candidates and are bold enough to say, ‘I’ve met someone but I don’t think they are the right fit for you’. They are very selective, turning away candidates that are not suitable for our business.

Part of the reasoning behind opening Trak Labs in Manchester was because Trak Global felt they had exhausted the well of talent that exists in Crewe. “Relocating to Manchester would enable us to fish from a bigger pond” Andrew explained, “however one of the issues we’ve faced is, yes, it’s a deeper pond but there are a lot more people fishing in it. Whilst there are more candidates, there are also more opportunities for them in other companies. Finding the right people, and keeping them, has still been a challenge because there are so many opportunities for good tech people. They are constantly being courted by others as they’re in short supply generally.

Adam’s understanding of the local market is excellent. What they have become very good at is pitching our value as a prospective employer and our in-house agency model. They understand our business and what makes the ‘right’ candidate for us, not just who checks out well on paper but culturally who would fit and work well in my team. The qualitative assessment of a candidate is fantastic. They meet all candidates in person which is rare for a recruitment agency and they take great pride in understanding the customer, the client, the recruiting person and the candidate. They really understand what we do and why we are a good place to work, which is why they have been so successful for us. That’s what makes them very much part of our go to team when we need to recruit certain individuals.”

Driving Recruitment Through a Strong Employer Brand

Andrew explained how Trak Global have an advantage in the recruitment market as their niche is an exciting and interesting space, where employees can make a real impact. “Candidates find our business an appealing area. But doing whatever we can to put ourselves in pole position is very important. A strong employer brand is crucial and it’s only going to grow in importance as the market becomes more competitive.Salary has always been, and will always be, an extremely important factor in attracting people. People don’t just do it for the love. Once you’ve got that box ticked though it comes down to what else differentiates you. Our employee benefits package has been redeveloped to give us a competitive tool to help us recruit and retain the best people. It includes cycle to work schemes, child care vouchers, retail savings, lifestyle discounts platforms, health plans and private healthcare, plus 25 days a year holiday plus bank holidays.

Once someone is in our organisation they very quickly understand the culture and that is something we are working on demonstrating externally. I absolutely 100% see the value in a strong employer brand and that’s why we are putting in place the foundations to take Trak Global forward in this respect in the coming years. We’ve won many awards and we’ve now got ‘Best Company to Work For’ awards in our grasp. For a business with such fast growth we have very low turnover of staff, once employees are in, they enjoy their work and they like being part of what we do. As we grow and build our capability as a recruiter, (and we now have the people in place now to do that), we will be making sure we have an employer brand that really resonates to help us recruit the best people in the market