Jonathan Davies has made the classic entrepreneurial ’journey’. At 29, he saw a gap in the market and confidently backed his business ambition with his own cash and lots of hard work. He has created a leading UK career providing company with a growing £11 million turnover and has a Ferrari at his new home recently built in Pool.

But, material wealth, although welcome, has not been the business driver for Davies …

“A lot of people ’aspire to retire’, but I believe some form of interesting work is important to the inner psyche, and I also enjoy the challenge,“ says Davies, now 41, and operating as the forward-thinking development and strategic director of his corporate creation – The Training Room*.

The Training Room provides the accredited educational courses and industry-recognised qualifications that annually enable thousands of career-seeking candidates to achieve that interesting, enjoyable, and yet challenging work.

Davies’ entrepreneurial masterstroke was the provision of ’industry-ready’ professionals to new and emerging markets – initially, personal trainers for gyms and leisure complexes. The company now also trains beauty therapists and has just launched career courses for the catering and hospitality sector.

By 2016 Davies, believes the company will be training 10,000-plus students each year.

Davies began the company with his partner Hayley in 2006 from the archetypal ’spare room in their home.’   Now, this careers provider has 28 city-based UK academies and an expanding full-time staff base exceeding 150.

Students can be professionally trained within two months and gain industry-recognised related vocational qualifications that will set them off on new careers. But The Training Room brand-name doesn’t tell it all.“We focus very much on getting people into work. We are looking to help job seekers rather than people seeking training – a slightly different tack.“ The company personally secures 80% of students with work from its courses, explains Davies.

The Training Room is a full-service career provider from a candidate’s initial job interest through to professional employment. It also offers an industry-

leading fully FCA regulated finance credit scheme to help fund their learning.

“We aim to be leading edge in terms of the quality of person we produce – our students and our employees.“ Employee engagement is a key corporate objective.

The Training Room naturally focuses on students’ entry-level qualifications but also their overall professional approach. It is the only career provider with uniformed academy staff, and a student code of dress, punctuality and politeness. “We professionalise their new career from day one, and include several course aspects that other trainers don’t.“

Known high standards make it easier to place graduates with potential employers, among them long-standing business partners such as David Lloyd Leisure, Fitness First, Virgin Health, or LA Fitness.

Learning quickly and creative thinking are attributes of Davies – vital in his 1990s business operations role with easyJet. “We had seven planes when I started, 150 when I left. I just loved the challenge of doing different things every day. We had a ball in the early years, but then easyJet floated and things changed.

“I was 29, but could see the desk-job I would have in 10 year’s time.“

Davies left, took the skills and knowledge he had learned, and invested his easyJet share capital into a new venture – a gym – which quickly highlighted the need for professionally qualified personal trainers.

Cue the fast-growth easyJet lessons. “In 2006, we had two full-time employees, Hayley and me. We aimed high, made bold decisions, worked hard. We ran a low-cost operation outsourcing everything. In our first year we trained 200 people, now we train thousands.“

The company was also organised, and is even more so today following a £20m investment in 2013 by private equity house LDC to accelerate company growth (this has also brought in Andrew Powell as CEO to handle daily operations, allowing Davies to future-think).

New IT systems, the use of Salesforce customer relationship management, and unified communications with cloud services now enable staff to working flexibly and cost-efficiently.

The company’s 21st-century online marketing and sales operation means there are no meetings with new students until they attend their first training course.

“From day one all our marketing has been online, direct and professional,“ (most customers are Internet-savvy 18-25 year-olds). Today, this achieves 20-30,000 inbound leads per month.

Internally, competitive enrolment teams operate on a phone-appointment basis explaining and selling the £3,500 Training Room product to potential students (Davies admits the good fortune to launch when online payment was becoming the fashionable norm it is today).

Challenges? “When I launched we had five competitors. Last year we had 160.“ Hence, the move towards multi-sector diversity and USP enhancement.

The future? Davies has eyes on opportunities within financial services and cost-saving support for the NHS.

In effect, with beauty therapy, catering and various other expansion ideas afoot, Davies has become a serial entrepreneur within his own company.

*The Training Room won the 2014 Solent Deal Awards ’Management Team’ and ’Deal of the Year’ awards

2018-12-11T10:51:02+00:00