It’s tough – a tough time in human history. It’s a time of 3 P’s – Pandemic, Protest and Paralysis.
Let’s start with perhaps the biggest P to affect humans in modern times – the COVID-19 PANDEMIC. Name one business that hasn’t been affected by this plight. There are very few businesses that are safe from the impact of the virus – on their workforce, its customers and its operations. The effect of COVID-19 on Shergroup operations has been disruptive as it has for every business, but we were somewhat insulated by having created a global business offering various services – which has enabled us to stay online in our various locations.
Some years ago, our CEO took the decision to shut down Shergroup’s main corporate office and move central operations into a remote working model. In doing so she created a global group stretching from Orlando to Delhi.
As a result of that decision, Shergroup has navigated through this rotten period with what we hope is pragmatism – in that our community still needs our services, and these services could be delivered in the US and UK because we had an intact virtual corporate team with people on the ground.
In the UK we have continued to be online to deliver services for business debts, possession actions and enforcement, along with Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery. Whilst forfeiture is offline, we have been serving break notices for commercial landlords. We know that some businesses are paying their liabilities out of the UK Bounce Back Loan scheme. As we all know it is a strange time.
In the early stages of the lockdown, we made our own way in continuing to engage with Courts and due to our 20+ years of experience, we figured it out. We would like to record our thanks to the High Court Action Department in London for their support along with Reading District Registry who kept High Court Writs moving where possible. We have also found that the County Court system of transfer has continued to work, and Certificates of Judgment are being returned to us on a daily basis.
This in turn enables us to check the address on the Writ and see if it a business address which means we can continue with enforcement. By checking Google it’s easy to see the nature of the address, and if it’s a residential address the Certificate is held pending the lifting of restrictions. For the moment we cannot attend private houses even for business to business Writs of Control.
Statistics from the Ministry of Justice issued today for the first quarter of 2020 show a slight drop in claims and judgments (see https://bit.ly/2zcji0I ) but it will be the next quarter’s figures which will show the impact of the lockdown with debt recovery companies, utilities, solicitors and local government unable to issue claims.
Getting HMCTS back on track with court business after this pandemic is going to be difficult for anyone determined to stay with Warrants of Control, Possession or Delivery. If there was ever a time to consider changing process to transfer judgments and orders to the High Court for enforcement, it is now. High Court Enforcement Officers and their agents are ready and willing to take that overload and indeed here in Shergroup our own agents are keen to keep working – for all the reasons anyone does in this pandemic – which is to earn a living.
In the US we were asked to support a major healthcare provider, as an existing client, with a major security services ramp-up at the start of the lockdown in Florida. Covering 11 sites in Central Florida – we recruited over 100 new ON CALL officers during this period, secured PPE in the form of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer and fulfilled all the additional hours with a 98% fulfillment rate. We ramped up all our communication channels, both with our team and with our client. Daily briefings from our client ensured we received timely feedback on operations. We identified any performance issues, and we ensured we delivered on the stringent compliance requirements for a COVID related project. During the initial periods of this project there was little time to think about the bigger questions of the pandemic – it was a complete team effort to deliver the service. In doing we moved past two global security providers – being Securitas and Allied Universal to become the No 1 provider for our healthcare client.
The second P – that of PROTEST – shows the world can still be an ugly place. The cruelty shown by police officers in Minneapolis is an all too familiar story and people have had enough. Over the years Shergroup has enforced possession orders in the face of protests from various groups who are shining a light on a particular issue. In these projects we have worked with major UK constabularies including the Met Police who have been the pinnacle of professionalism when faced with protestors hurling bricks and abuse at them and us. Shergroup supports the need for strong community policing – and as in every industry there is a need to drive out the rogue operators.
On the issue of #blacklivesmatter it is our opinion that that the cruelty displayed by a rogue police officer and his colleagues, was unforgivable and the perpetrators must answer for their actions in a court of law. The only positive thing to come from this tragedy is that people around the world are showing solidarity to bring racism to an end, once and for all. In our own small way, we have worked to create a diverse team of people and we have achieved this with over 50% of our team being from a non-white ethnicity. We are also a woman-led business which is still unique in the worlds of security and enforcement. And we were the first company to celebrate gay enforcement officers – back in the day.
The third P – PARALYSIS – is something you and your organisation may be suffering at present. Our mental health and our business health are often intertwined. We need to make a living, and we need to work to keep our businesses afloat and to pay our bills. We encourage all our community to keep moving forward – and we are here to help where we can. Our Business Solutions Advisors are on hand to listen to your needs and process any business that you want to send our way. We have refused to be paralyzed by the virus and we hope we can pass on some of that optimism to you.
If you take anything from this opinion piece let it be this – you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best – and to borrow a phrase from our good friend, Ruth Gawthorpe, “work happens in brains not offices”. A positive from the pandemic maybe you realise your team can work just as well at home as they can in the office, and you can offer them a better work/life balance as a result. Your business does not need to be tied to the geography of one country and it is possible to serve a global market by stretching your wings.
We hope whatever your thinking you come out of this period with ideas for the future, cash to run your business and a team you can trust to work somewhere other than right under your nose.
Have faith – the world will get better. In the meantime, we are here to help if we can.