Paddling Your Own Canoe? Success Through Teamwork

Monday February 1, 2016

At RIFT, we know exactly what it means to take on a challenge. Every day, we work with individuals, partners and small business owners, helping them to tackle the obstacles in their path. More than anything, what it takes is teamwork, and we're thrilled that so many adventurous souls are continuing to welcome us into their line-ups.

Building a team whose members can rely on each other is so important in business. It's the heart of what we do at RIFT, and we wear it proudly on our sleeve. With RIFT's own 255% growth over the last four years earning us a Bronze award in the Megagrowth 50, that's something we practise as hard as we preach it.

It's not always easy to keep a growing team pulling together, but the rewards can be amazing - as demonstrated by our most recent independent benchmarking survey by the Institute of Customer Service. 94% of our employees say they'd recommend that friends or family join the RIFT team, while our customer satisfaction scores are among the highest in the UK. In fact, 85% of our clients stay with us year on year, and 87% would recommend us to others. Only customer service heavyweights John Lewis and Amazon are benchmarked this highly, so we're obviously pulling in the right direction.

If anyone really epitomises the determination and collaboration it takes to succeed against the odds, it's the men and women of the armed forces. We've always been particularly proud to support both serving and former MOD personnel, getting them the tax refunds their service and sacrifice have earned.

When Olly Clark, a Captain in the Royal Engineers, announced that he and his teammate, Dan Parsons, would be taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, we saw an immediate opportunity to roll our sleeves up and get involved. Olly and Dan both grew up locally. In fact, Olly attended the same school as my son, Bradley (RIFT's Commercial Director), so it was easy to feel that we had a dog in this fight.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge takes the form of a 3,000 nautical mile rowing race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. Olly and Dan have picked up the gauntlet to raise money for ABF: The Soldiers' Charity and Prostate Cancer UK.

They battled storms, sharks and sunstroke for two fantastic causes and on 31st Jan 23:23 they beat the existing pairs world record! They crossed the 3000 miles, described as “the toughest rowing race on earth” in an astounding 42 days, 17 hours and 59 minutes, smashing the existing record of 53 days, 9 hours, 30 minutes, and RIFT is honoured to have sponsored them.

We've been keeping up with their progress on their website, where you can still read about their adventures and use the tracker to follow the course they took. We've held our collective breath when a recent storm threatened to tear their two-man boat apart. We've winced with them when their rudder stock sheared off in the night and cheered Olly's characteristic ingenuity when he improvised a repair with a length of wire and duct tape.

From sleep deprivation-induced hallucinations to freak waves throwing them overboard, Dan and Olly have been doing everything they can to keep each other safe, sane and pulling toward a common goal. Whatever obstacle rears up in their path, Olly and Dan rise as a team to meet it - and if that's not the very definition of teamwork then I don't know what is!

Even knowing the determination, innovation and teamwork a life in the forces requires, we were amazed at the scale of the challenge Olly and Dan set themselves. With other high-profile sponsors like Sir Richard Branson behind them, it seems we weren't the only ones!

Captain Olly Clark, Royal Engineers said: “During our darkest times, we maintained morale by reading messages from our family and friends. We could not have completed this challenge without the constant support we’ve received - from our sponsors and friends before the challenge started and while we were in the middle of the Atlantic - we are forever in your debt.”

It wasn’t just about them, though, they raised over £80k for their chosen charities. It's been an inspiring experience following Olly and Dan's joint adventure, and it really underlines what's possible when you have a team whose members fully understand each other and the challenges they're facing.

The Soldiers' Charity is already an important part of RIFT's extended family. Each time an MOD employee claims a tax refund through us, we donate a portion of our fee to the charity. So far, we've donated over £100k, and that figure's only set to rise as we’re able to make more people aware of the money they're owed by HMRC, and help them get it back it in their pockets.

It's sink or swim out there, and the wrong attitude can quickly drag you to the bottom. With co-operation, motivation and the right mindset, though, you'll be trading those millstones for milestones in no time.

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