Direct Entry Solutions – the story so far

Direct Entry Solutions (D.E.S) is a delivery service for printed mail and parcels. SME caught up with Phil Coleman, chief executive of the company, to find out more…

Tell me about your company – where did the idea come from?

After attempting several business ventures at a fairly young age, I found myself back in the UK after travelling, with boundless energy, lots of ideas but seeing very few opportunities in the graphics and creative field where I could see my ‘unborn’ career heading. It was quite a bleak time economically- 1994 and the country had still not recovered from an earlier recession and unemployment crisis.

I had already realised at a very young age that I would run my own business one day, however age and several experiences that set back my confidence enormously meant that a job search was more appropriate at the time.

I accepted a job at my local newspaper in Richmond Upon Thames, selling advertising space in the paper’s 7 different titles. The job was very hard but I managed to do very well,whilst also working evenings for a telemarketing firm.

After two years working up the ranks in the advertising dept. and whilst talking to local businesses I learnt of sales related jobs that were available at a new mailing company, also based in Richmond. The package and salary was far better than I could ever achieve at the newspaper and I was beginning to find sales and relationship building in business both straightforward and very satisfying.

I started working for the privately owned international mailing company in late 1996 and immediately took to the role. I could not believe the value that the company was able to provide at first, given the de regulation of international mail and the ex Royal Mail monopoly that had been in place. I worked tremendously hard and during my first year won just over 90 new business accounts from face-to-face meetings that took place all over the UK.

I spent nearly four very good years at this company and then unfortunately some more challenging times which lead me to thinking about what extra services could be offered, particularly to marketing and advertising agencies.

From working with large and world renowned brands on some challenging global marketing campaigns I realised that I was developing a wealth of knowledge, and genuine interest in the workings and mechanisms of worldwide domestic Post Offices, and the services they offered. Each Post Office in the world was different and so were their services, yet nobody seemed to have attempted to group this information together and truly attempt to offer ‘direct entry’ or ‘direct injection’ expertise within the marketplace.

After months of hesitation I decided to make the leap.

I set myself up as a consultant and went from cold calling marketing agencies to working with some of the world’s largest brands such as Xerox, Sony Playstation and Rolex within a very short period of time. I focused heavily on my USPs and ability to offer niche services.

After three years of working as sole trader, and accumulating a wide portfolio of clients, I formed D.E.S. in order to be able to grow and expand at a company level. This was an excellent move, but still at 27 years of age and competing with the world’s leading Postal Operators such as TNT, Royal Mail, and Deutsche Post – not a step that I took lightly at all.

Could you tell me a bit about your product/services range?

Yes we offer four main products. These are split by two material types being the Printed Matter material and E Commerce packets and parcels that we distribute.

Printed Matter material is the invoices, direct mail shots and magazines that we send overseas specifically for wholesale companies, i.e. companies who do not own the mailings. Even though this market has declined we have grown this area of our business over 100% in the last 6 months. Here we offer standard and Registered mail products, meaning that Registered is semi-tracked and standard is not at all.

For e commerce customers we offer Tracked and Express mailing services for parcels and items up to 30kg. We have built our own software system called PacketPort which allows us and our customers to track parcels until their final delivery. This area of the business has grown by over 320% in the last 12 months.

Who are your biggest competitors?

The Royal Mail, DHL and La Poste’s Asendia to name a few. Its difficult for me to say what differentiates us, without feeling too nervous!! I have watched carefully, studied and learnt from all of these companies over the past two decades. I often wonder if any individuals at our competition’s senior level have even noticed D.E.S.