As one of TWO’s most familiar faces, our National Sales Director Oliver Smith is responsible for not only bringing new customers into the business, but making sure they receive the exceptional level of service they should expect from our team.
Read on to discover how Oliver ended up joining the TWO family after building his own industry network for years, and what a ‘typical’ day looks like for him (not that there is any such thing, as you’ll soon find out…).
How did you fall into your role here at TWO Services, Oliver?
Like a lot of people, I studied something completely different while I was at school. When I was younger, I achieved qualifications in business administration, psychology, and sports.
At 18, I was eager to get into work, so I threw myself into a role as an apprentice working in the hospitality recruitment sector. I spent a brief while working to build technology apps for hospitality companies, but overall, I spent around 8 years in different sales management roles before learning of the opportunity that was coming up at TWO.
I met Barry, TWO’s Managing Director, in 2018 at a MasterChef event in Canary Wharf run by the Association of Catering Excellence (ACE). I’d already been a member of ACE for a long time, and was a regular on the networking scene – so it didn’t surprise me that, when I got chatting to Barry, I felt like I’d known him for a while. However, it turns out that there was a stronger connection between us than I first thought. We’re both West Ham season ticket holders, and for years I sat behind Barry in the stands without realising it was him! So, we bonded over that immediately. When he mentioned he was looking for someone to head up his sales division, I was keen to learn more – and that’s where it all began, really. It’s been four years and counting, and I couldn’t think of a better boss to work for.
What are you responsible for on a daily basis?
I look after 12 sales staff; some are based in the office, while others are sales surveyors who spend most of their time out in the field. I spend a lot of my time checking in with my team, which means attending briefings, carrying out 1-2-1s, setting staff and team objectives, and helping them deal with any queries or challenges that might have come up. I’ll accompany my surveyors to site, or head out on my own to price up a job if I need to. Plus, due to the nature of what I do, I’ll often need to liaise with different departments within the business on key accounts.
A lot of my days are spent catching up with clients, new and old. I’m always happy to jump on a Teams call to deliver a presentation or check in with an account contact, but I particularly enjoy being out and about and developing my client relationships face-to-face.
I’m probably on the road 3 to 4 days a week, either in the car or on the train. My work can take me anywhere, from central London to Essex, Luton, Surrey, Leeds, and beyond. Whether it’s a client lunch, a networking meeting, or a sales pitch, I’m in my element when I’m chatting to people about what we do here at TWO – and I’m fascinated to learn about their work and their lives, too.
I’ll often use the Ned Hotel as a base when I’m spending a lot of time in the city. It’s a truly remarkable building, and it’s got extra sentimental value for me, as my mum used to work there when she was younger.
What do you love the most about your role?
Definitely the networking aspect. I don’t feel like a salesperson – I feel like I’m a colleague to every business we work with.
I also love that I can bring the knowledge and contacts I acquired in my previous jobs into my role now. Even though I used to work on the recruitment side, often with chains rather than blue chip companies, I’m still in a similar network, and I still get to liaise with many people I’ve known for years. In fact, I’ve been working with some of the same faces for well over a decade. The catering business is a small world, so I know that building and maintaining relationships is vital, and that’s why I aim to speak to most of my clients at least once a week (and not always just about work).
I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily need to be passionate about selling, installing, or maintaining kitchen equipment, although of course, finding the right solutions for the people I work with is important to me. Ultimately, my job is to make sure we deliver the best possible service for our clients, some of whom have been on our books since 1986 – so getting great feedback is what drives me.
What’s the most challenging thing?
I like to think I’m quite good at managing my time, but I often wish there was more of it! We’ve found that the industry landscape has changed a lot in the last few years, particularly due to Covid, so it has been a challenge to keep up with the way things are going. There’s also a fairly fast turnaround on staff in our industry, even at senior level, so I’ll often need to reintroduce myself to our client contacts and build new relationships with new employees.
What would you like to achieve at TWO in the next 2 to 5 years?
Retaining our clients is always a top priority for TWO, and that isn’t going to change. That said, we are running a big growth campaign at the moment, and as a result, I have recently managed to land a significant long-term contract with a well-known caterer. I plan to focus on developing this new relationship while making sure my team and I continue to deliver a great experience to everyone who chooses TWO as their cleaning and/or maintenance partner.
Aside from this, personal growth is important to me. I am aiming to help my team develop themselves and their careers so we can all move forward together, at our very best.
What do you like to do outside of work? Are there any fun facts you’d like our followers to know about you?
Most people probably already know that I’m an avid golfer. I won the H&C News Golf Day last year (in 2022), which was run in association with Meiko – and I’m hoping to defend my title this summer! Away from the course, I’m quite a handy pool and snooker player.