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Onswitch is a successful consultancy that offers training, market intelligence and project management to vets and suppliers.

Having previously worked as a veterinary surgeon and subsequently for a large FMCG company, Alison Lambert decided in 2001 that she wanted to start her own business, partly out of a desire to work for herself and partly out of sheer financial necessity.

Since she had experienced both the practice and business side of the veterinary industry, she combined these two areas of expertise and launched Onswitch.

Using Bertha, the Onswitch Training Bus, the team travels around the country providing a wide range of training, from marketing to telephone skills.

There are around 4,600 veterinary practices in the UK, and Onswitch targets approximately 20% of this market. The business is based in Grantham and employs around 15 people.

Earlier in the year, Onswitch reached the final of the FSB Worldpay UK Business Awards 2013 in the category of ‘Business Innovation’ for their Bertha bus.


The challenge:

As a business that invoices by project, Onswitch needed to find a way to sustain a healthy income flow.

However, this was often hampered by the fact that many clients took a long time to pay.

This situation constantly created a challenging cash position, so Alison was keen to do something to improve the company’s cash flow.


Turning point:

Launching Bertha and introducing a card payment facility proved to be exactly the change that Onswitch needed.

Being able to take card payments over the phone at the time of making the booking has massively increased our cash flow, and smoothed out the peaks and troughs.

“The company is in a totally different position now – at one point we were owed £200k; currently our outstanding payments stand at £30k”, said Alison.

Onswitch’s transactions are now a mixture of card and direct debits, so the instant card payments help to keep money coming in when waiting for debit payments for larger projects.

This is particularly helpful for a company like Onswitch that spends a lot of time on the road travelling to customers, and therefore has limited time to focus on the admin and chasing late payments.

Before accepting cards, the business struggled in terms of cash flow. Now, its turnover has reached almost £840,000.


Simple but effective:

Onswitch began using a card payment facility two years ago when Bertha was launched.

Alison found out about Worldpay, through the Federation of Small Businesses magazine, First Voice.

“It was very easy to set up our account with Worldpay, and we’ve never had any problems with them.”

“It’s not complicated but the impact is considerable – wouldn’t it be great if everything in business was like that?” commented Alison.

As for the future, Onswitch is always looking at new ways to flourish and grow, including improving its ecommerce offering.


We’re reviewing our business model and looking into the possibility of introducing a more sophisticated and integrated payment system on our website through Worldpay.