First Group

FirstGroup is the world’s leading transport operator with revenues of £6 billion per year and employing 136,000 people throughout the UK and North America.

In the UK, FirstGroup is the country’s largest bus operator running more than 1 in 5 of all local bus services. A fleet of 9000 buses carries more than 3 million passengers a day.

We have worked with the Engineering Function within FirstGroup UK Bus to help them deliver a fundamental shift in culture and performance which is needed to meet the organisation’s ambitious growth plans and financial targets. The fundamental shift in performance was characterised by a set of engineering KPI’s that set tough targets around bus running costs and reliability.

The business identified one of the key elements to success in delivering a fundamental shift in culture and performance was the skills and capability of their key managers to lead the changes required, and engaged Developing People Ltd to support their managers to develop the necessary new skills and behaviours.

To achieve this, we prepared and delivered a development programme for all levels of Engineering Management from Supervisor to Engineering Director. The programme consisted of the following features:

  • A mix of management development training modules that covered topics such as: personal effectiveness, employee engagement, managing performance, workshop planning and engineering problem solving.
  • Business specific case studies using real data from the business (such as bus breakdown data, service times etc) were prepared to enable the participants to apply their learning to solve real business problems.
  • Practical management and leadership tools that they could use to improve their own performance and the performance of their teams back in the workplace.
  • Coaching sessions for senior managers to help them lead the changes in the areas they were responsible for and to resolve any specific issues that arose.
  • Measurement of the participants’ as well as the organisation’s performance before and after the programme.

What was the impact of our work?

  • Reduced operating costs per vehicle. The payback on the investment made by the business was less than 12 months. In addition, the business gained a significant recurring annual cost saving.
  • An improvement in reliability of the bus fleet by 50%.

“The training and development programs have had a real impact on the business, helping us to rapidly improve vehicle reliability as well as reduce costs”

Geoff Parsons, Engineering Director