“I came into the business last year after a leap of faith from a nicely paid corporate job. I’d tried and failed with previous start-up businesses (personal training and a car valet idea) but in hindsight I didn’t have the EC to call upon and help me.
By opening a few doors for my good friend and now co-owner of Source Supplies, I was able to make an impact on the company without being officially part of it. The opportunity to turn this into my job and passion presented itself: the lure of fulfilling my entrepreneurial streak was too much.
“When I arrived the business had no sales pipeline, no database, no strategy, no active website, a weak brand identity and ultimately no direction.
Dave, my business partner, and I sat down and worked out what I needed to bring in to make it work. I lived on £500 a month (living in Canary Wharf!) for the first six months as a trial period, for both parties. Without an ounce of industry experience I started from scratch with a phone and Google and built up an Excel spreadsheet of leads signing 17 new customers in 17 weeks. We still have all of those customers and they order every month, without fail.
“Joining the EC came at the perfect time for me as I was desperate for new sales and marketing ideas, guidance, support and inspiration. Pearls of wisdom from Nige were the foundations that propped up my confidence in myself and in our business and EC gave me the kick-up-the-backside needed to ensure I remain on the ball.
Develop a brand…
“My objective wasn’t just to grow the business but to rebrand it and establish our core competencies. We found two chaps who were in their final year of a marketing and branding degree who worked for beer money and even entered our remit as part of their finals coursework. They helped us create our strong logo but also develop a brand that reflected our personality and commitment to customer service. This was also reflected in our new website, social media and marketing tools.
“Sales were increasing week on week as a result of consistently introducing ourselves to contract cleaners within a specific radius of our warehouse. We knew that our conversation rates of face to face meetings were around 90% so this was the objective of all the leads I had collated. We had a fruitful run of securing the business of 19 contract cleaners in 19 weeks and we’re pleased to say that all of those customers are still using Source Supplies.
“This enabled us to increase our turnover from circa £17.5k per month to £44.5k in ten months.
Importantly, our margins also improved from 24% to 28%. This growth enabled us to purchase two more vans, hiring another full time driver and moving into our own warehouse with two offices, leaving our humble shipping containers and my bedroom/office behind (I also relocated from London to Hampshire to be nearer the business).
“As a direct result of the EC I launched our social media activity which immediately resulted in several new customers with whom we have very strong bonds as we’re constantly in touch via Twitter or Facebook. I knew a CRM system was essential so I uploaded all our leads which has enabled me to communicate to our customers regularly and easily.
Absorbing as much advice from Nigel and the team as possible, we gradually ticked off a long list of things to do. Gathering testimonials has become standard procedure; we have a file full of professional photos and our website includes many of Nigel’s recommended features. We also now work to deadlines which have massively improved productivity.
Local business awards…
“We invested all our profits in stock and infrastructure. We’re now in a position to double our turnover without having to invest in any other fixed costs which will help us in our quest towards a million pound a year business.
“We’ve also entered local business awards, instigated joint venture and partnership opportunities, started a localised small networking group, employed two new staff, launched a VIP service and developed a new division that will create residual income.Also, as a result of Nigel’s recommended reading list, I have enjoyed several books that have directly helped with our business strategy and have inspired me to write one of my own.”