Retreats are really important for us as we are a remote working company and this was the second one we had been on. It is a great opportunity to get to know the team a little better and of course get some valuable time together to complete some tasks. On the agenda for this retreat was to look at our WordPress maintenance plans.
We all arrived in the delightful little village of Clifford Chambers, just after lunch. The village itself is very quiet and very much reminds me of France, especially with all the hot weather we have had recently.
Day 1 – Arrival and Highrise Digital strategy
First stop after settling in, having a look around and getting bags unloaded was to head to the local Waitrose and get some supplies. The supermarket is only a short walk away but as you would have a lot of supplies we took the car.
Lunch was next as we had a very hungry gang! Sandwiches and salad along with some olives and dips was well prepared by our resident chef Jonathan! We all pitched in getting lunch ready.
After lunch was finished and everything in the dishwasher (was great to have a dishwasher in the accommodation), we set out to spend the rest of day looking at Highrise Digital’s core values and a presenting to the team a little bit about the future of the company and our plans.
With all the lovely weather it was BBQ time for our evening meal. I brought along some coal and the cottage had a lovely outside garden area where we BBQ’d some burgers (both vegan and beef), sausages (again both vegan and pork) as well as some corn and sweet peppers all finished off with some salad and bread. We managed to get rained on towards the end but it didn’t spoil what was great food and superb company.
After our evening meal we decided to head out around the local village on a little walk, to get out of the house and get some fresh air. We met some of the locals and also some horses.
Day 2 – maintenance plans offering and processes
First thing was a morning run around the fields and the local area. I managed 4.4 miles solo which was a great start to the day.
One of the key goals we wanted to get out of the time was to look one of our core offerings which is maintaining people’s WordPress websites. We spent considerable time doing a great exercise with post-it notes and large paper in order to thrash out how we currently carry out maintenance and how we could improve both the process and the offering.
We had to move some pictures in order to get some wall space so that we could map things out. Different coloured post-it notes meant different things. It was actually really fun and valuable and allowed us to find the issues with the current setup of our maintenance plans and offer suggestions for improvement.
Hand-made Pizza’s in a wood-fired oven
Jonathan brought along his Uuni pizza oven and we purchased flour and yeast to make our very own pizza’s.
We enjoyed shaping the bases after the dough had been proved and then adding our own toppings before adding them into the oven. It was really good fun and the pizza’s were absolutely delicious – second perhaps only to the pizzas I have had in Italy. The oven is a great little gizmo.
After a long day planning we decided that as it is rare to get together we would carry on into the evening and get a takeaway. We first headed for a walk to Waitrose to get some much needed liquid refreshment.
On the way there and back we planned our meal and ordered from a local Indian restaurant for delivery to the cottage via the Just Eat app.
Day 3 – marketing planning
We had to be out of the cottage at 12:00 and therefore we didn’t have as long as we would like to work on marketing, but we did our best.
As with the previous day I stated the day with a morning run. This time Keith joined me and we ran quite a way actually around the countryside through Preston on Sour. A very enjoyable start to the day.
After the run we did a session on our marketing messages and worked on some of the benefits we bring to clients from our services, again working together to thrash out some ideas. I think marketing is one of the toughest parts of trying to grow a business.
So that was that, Highrise Digital retreat number 2 came to a close. To celebrate(!) we had a selfie outside the cottage.
I am already looking forward to our next one and thanks to Jonathan, Hannah and Keith for being brilliant to spend time with.