Opendoorz member, Rob Allaway – MD at DevComms, reveals how his business has benefitted from being part of Oxfordshire’s foremost professional business network.
If you judge the value of networking purely on the £££ of business you receive, you are missing the point and probably not Opendoorz member material. There, we’ve said it. We are selective in who we allow into our professional business network and not just on the calibre of business person. Yes, you do have to be a business owner or director, but there is also another more intangible criteria which is all about mindset and attitude.
Being part of one of the 7 Oxfordshire Opendoorz groups means being part of a business community where business passed is only one of the benefits.
So, what else can you expect from an Opendoorz membership? Well, we asked Opendoorz member, Rob Allaway, to share his experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
“I’m the Managing Director at DevComms. We are specialists at political and stakeholder engagement working exclusively in the property and planning sector. We take complex planning and development projects for developers and landowners, including FTSE 100 firms and help them deliver their strategic development programmes and achieve their growth targets. Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved in several hundred projects ranging from care homes to top-flight sports stadia.”
When did you join Opendoorz and what prompted you?
“I’ve been part of the Opendoorz family since October 2019. I’m a member of the Oxford group, but one of the great things about Opendoorz is that you can visit any of the other groups. So, I’m part of a large community of high-calibre business owners and directors. That in itself is compelling reason enough to join – however, for me, I enjoy working in a collaborative way and developing strong relationships and Opendoorz definitely ticks those boxes.”
What have the main benefits of membership been for you?
“I joined Opendoorz not too long before the pandemic hit and the business was well-established but we were looking for growth. Through the collective wisdom and expertise in Opendoorz, I was able to access a wide range of support – including marketing, business coaching, tech and accountancy – that enabled us to inject a bit of mojo into DevComms and get the business moving in the right direction.
Then when the pandemic hit, Opendoorz kept us connected during a hard time for our business. We all joined together over Zoom and there was a strong sense of moral support as well as practical advice. Being part of Opendoorz definitely helped us through the pandemic and then propel us out of the other side. We got back to our-pre-pandemic levels in January 2021 and since then have doubled our rate of turnover.”
What about unexpected benefits of membership?
“I’ve been working in the property and planning field for more than 25 years and running DevComms for a good number of years also. Although I’ve never sat on my laurels and always sought out personal development, I’ve been blown away by how much I’ve learnt and developed as professional since joining Opendoorz.
The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) sessions have been brilliant. Every meeting there is an insightful CPD covering such a diverse range of subjects – everything from communication to employment law. I’ve learnt a lot from these sessions.
The regular showcase presentations members give during the twice monthly meetings have also really helped me hone and improve my pitching and presentation style. You get really good feedback from the group which helps you focus on how to improve.
The discussion both during group meetings and in the insight or one-to-one meetings are always of the highest calibre. We share experiences, knowledge and expertise openly and freely which is a pretty inspiring environment to be in.”
How has being part of Opendoorz helped your business grow?
“We’ve been able to access a wide range of support from fellow Opendoorz members to help DevComms grow and develop. Through the relationships we’ve built we’ve been able to access trusted support in the areas of coaching, web development, accountancy, digital marketing, video production, HR, pensions, commercial conveyancing and smart office tech.
The key to all of that though, is the ‘trusted’ part. I can approach any of my fellow Opendoorz members and know that we share a set of values and are all invested in the same community. That makes a huge difference in the confidence I have in their advice.”
How about financial benefits?
So far, we’ve definitely given more work and referrals than we’ve received. That’s partly because we’ve been pushing to get DevComms moving and investing in the business. However, a really interesting feature of our Opendoorz membership has been our profitability. Since joining our gross profit has been steadily improving and we can directly attribute 35% of our current gross profit to activities with Opendoorz members. That shows the quality and calibre of the introductions and referrals we receive.”
What does the future look like for DevComms?
“We’ve got ambitious growth plans for the next year or so. Our Opendoorz membership is a key part of our strategy for achieving that. We will continue to learn from the best business minds in Oxfordshire, develop strong relationships to further grow our referrals and utilise the support readily available within the groups.”
Opendoorz has 7 groups across Oxfordshire and holds monthly guest events. If you’d like to find out more about the leading professional networking group for Oxfordshire’s business leaders, why not come along? We’d love to welcome you.