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Behind the Scenes at Quadrant with London Director, Andy Travers

First off, what was your route into surveying?

My career actually started in the Royal Engineers. I did an apprenticeship as a construction materials technician and combat engineer. This was a fascinating introduction to the construction industry and the skills I learnt then, I still use today.

I then went into project management and shortly afterwards crossed over to Building Control. I spent over a decade at my first Approved Inspector and gained a huge amount of experience during that time.

Opening the London office for Quadrant in 2015 was a very exciting time and I’m very proud of what my team has achieved over the last 6 years in terms of technical expertise, and the huge range of clients and projects we now work on.

Since you joined in 2014, Quadrant has opened 10 new offices; how has the administration side of things kept pace?

It’s been a lot of hard work! As the business has grown, all the processes and procedures have had to develop in line with that expansion. There is a lot of attention to detail that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that our service delivery is of a standard that people expect from Quadrant and to ensure full compliance with our industry guidelines.

Underpinning these high standards are the Quality Assurance system and our own bespoke database project management IT software. These two elements go hand in hand and there is an ongoing process of continuing development and improvement. It’s essential to have rigorous systems, which at the same time are streamlined enough and inherently easy to use, to ensure we can keep up with the pace of projects progressing through the system whilst ensuring a high level of compliance.

Most important of course, are the people in the support teams! Regionally, our office admin hubs have a local connection to our clients and then there is the central support staff in finance, HR and QA. Without all this backup, the surveyors just couldn’t deliver the highly professional service that they do. 

How has the way of managing project information changed for surveyors?

We have a great IT development team who have been with the company from the start, so the system organically changes all the time. We use our own on-site app which allows us to take photos and record site notes directly into our system, saving time and improving the quality of our data input. Automation of client communication is next on the agenda, improving our performance in line with the Building Control Performance Standards whilst maintaining good in-person relationships with our clients.

Do you think the changes we’ve seen in working practices during COVID are here to stay?

We have practiced flexible working for some time and we have the tech and tech support to work from anywhere on a completely digital system; in reality I suspect the future will be a hybrid approach. Workloads and geographical coverage can be very variable, so we need to allow our teams to react to that in the most efficient way.

It was amazing how well the company adapted so quickly to the COVID crisis, maintaining our service delivery throughout the lockdowns; again a real credit to the whole team!

Now though, we are really looking forward to spending more face-to-face time with each other in the offices, sharing good practice and technical knowledge -and of course enjoying the social side of things.

It’s generally acknowledged that there’s a shortage of surveyors in the industry. How big a challenge is this?

Yes, Building Control surveying is a demanding job with a lot of responsibility and there is a shortage of qualified surveyors across the country. We have very good staff retention at Quadrant which has helped us to grow, but recruitment is constantly on the agenda and we are lucky to have a really good HR team. Training in-house and providing support to staff in the early stages of their career is another important way to get the right people, although it is quite resource heavy, due to the level of supervision needed and the time it takes to gain the competences required. It is really pleasing that we currently have Kirsty, who was a member of the admin support team, now training to become a surveyor through an accredited degree apprenticeship scheme.

Talking of growing your own   – we hear you have an allotment – are your spuds in?  Any tips for novice veg growers?

Yes, that’s correct. It’s a quiet space to escape the hectic pace of life in London, a beautiful walled allotment in one of the Royal Parks. Spuds are in and doing nicely and, thanks to lockdowns, we’ve spent so much time down there that things have never looked so spick and span. Top tip is that gardening is not to be rushed; don’t expect instant results, just let nature do its thing. Nothing cheers me up more than looking forward to asparagus season!

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