Rock and Rapid at a glance
Keith CrockfordVisit their site
Travel and Tourism
Devon, United Kingdom
How it all began
When Keith Crockford started Rock and Rapid Adventures in 2007, it wasn't to make loads of money. He did it to have the freedom to travel when and where he pleased, and to give people life-altering experiences. Starting out, Rock and Rapid served only school groups, taking groups of 15- to 18-year-olds on local adventures in North Devon and on expeditions overseas. It was the change Keith saw in those students that made his job worthwhile.
In its early days, Rock and Rapid consisted of three employees, who often worked 18-hour days out of an office in a cottage. Keith had plans to buy the cottage because of its on-site accommodation, which would have been ideal in housing the students they were traveling with. Unable to buy the cottage himself, Keith turned to his retired friend Gordon, a former small business owner, who agreed to buy the cottage and bought 50 percent of Rock and Rapid to maintain interest.
"They go away still as children, but come back as young adults by having that freedom and independence that we give them." — Keith Crockford, Managing Director, Rock and Rapid Adventures
Making it work
Partnering with an experienced business owner gave Keith the education he needed to run Rock and Rapid. Gordon acted as Keith’s mentor, and they formed a close friendship over the years; Gordon eventually became godfather to two of Keith’s children. Sadly, Gordon passed away unexpectedly in 2013. As a tribute to Gordon’s contribution to his own dreams, Keith wanted to bring life to all of their business plans for Rock and Rapid.
But there were challenges. The seasonality of the industry (and the struggle of keeping staff on full-time) caused a cycle of ups and downs for Rock and Rapid: marketing and word-of-mouth would bring in customers who would participate in excursions, but between excursions there was no revenue to run the business.See how Infusionsoft played a role →
While the staff was away from the office leading excursions, it was impossible to respond to the emails that came in. The company needed a system that would manage and automate marketing so staff could focus on leading trips.
Modernizing the business with technology
Investing in marketing automation software changed the way Keith looked at his business, particularly how he marketed to and stayed in touch with customers. It introduced him to the idea of list building and allowed him to see the value of keeping in touch with every customer or potential customer—something he now does automatically.
Rock and Rapid uses technology to establish a relationship with customers, and ensure they know and trust the company. It allows them to provide the high level of customer service they feel is missing from many adventure companies (and helps them differentiate Rock and Rapid from the competition). Technology also makes it possible to limit staffing costs and automate internal tasks, making day-to-day operations that much easier.
Because Rock and Rapid utilizes technology to run their business, employees are able to spend more time with their families. Keith is confident that if he steps away from the office to take his kids to daycare, or to take his family on a two-week vacation camping in the French Alps, Rock and Rapid will still be up and running. All he has to do is grab his iPad to check how many customers he’s engaged with in a day. Technology allows him to live the life he wants, while running a business he is passionate about.
Technology provided Keith with the platform he needed to build a stable, scalable company. Rock and Rapid has evolved to offer a variety of expeditions to accommodate just about anyone—from school groups hosting day trips to corporate offices conducting team builders. They offer local adventures like canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, and coasteering, as well as a variety of overseas expeditions in 21 countries. Rock and Rapid now has a separate brand, The Bucket List Company, to accommodate adults looking to cross adventures off their bucket lists—offering excursions like trekking the Great Wall of China and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Where are they going?
Now that Rock and Rapid has a solid business foundation, Keith plans to use the staff and the technology he has to scale the business—rather than investing in additional staff. The company is using sales and marketing software to handle more customers, and automating processes that will allow them to do more with the resources available.
One thing that will remain constant in Rock and Rapid is the satisfaction Keith and his team get from their job. They love knowing that they’re changing lives—whether it’s seeing a woman push herself to the top of Kilimanjaro or helping a troubled kid find direction in his life. They’re helping people achieve a better version of themselves, and that’s a key reason for why they do what they do.