Phil was contacted by a mutual friend. During the very first meeting it became obvious that the business was run by a husband and wife team with tremendous design flare, but certainly very little experience of retail and routes to market. Time was being quickly eroded for the key personnel in the business with a combination of practical and admin tasks. Staff did not have a clear brief, pricing was not well documented and stock in hand did not reflect seasonal changes or indeed necessarily the enquiries in the business. It had more to do with a likeable sales agent pitching up with some interesting new products. Cash flow was less than ideal and the overheads ever increasing. My brief was to bring some structure to the business assist with added income streams improve margins and get some clear concise job responsibilities in place, bringing the motivation and direction to staff.
The brief was for Phil, over a 2 year period, and looking back now can best be described as a turn around strategy for a small niche business. Very quickly an excellent relationship was formed with the owners of the business. The first few meetings focussed on understanding the business and trying to get some empathy of how the present costs structure was being absorbed. In parallel we looked at the times the business was open, re-appraised window displays and point of sale, examined closely the current customer base and considered carefully the seasonality of the business. This led directly to a series of open evenings as the business was located in an affluent area of Essex where many, many customers worked in the city and would not accompany their wives unless it was an out of hours opening. Open evenings were themed to reflect seasonality, some exquisite teak garden furniture was sourced with parasols and all manner of fabrics for cushions and drapes. This outside living theme immediately secured additional business from a wide variety of clients and was enormously successful in securing contracts in connection with swimming pools outside gyms and more.
A partnership was secured with a local high end hifi specialist, the design and decor and furniture to support home cinema very quickly became core business.
In pursuits of additional income streams on the trade side many of the beautiful bespoke cornices were found to be suitable for chopping into 1 meter lengths and putting in a plastic bag with a bar code. In this form they became a DIY product and I got them listed with the likes of B&Q and other multiple out of town DIY stores. The profitability of the business and therefore the turnover increased exponentially and suffice to say business was prepared so as to be a very attractive business for sale. Over the considerable time involved with this project. Tasks included, but were not limited to heading negotiations with suppliers. Achieving better costs and annual rebates, the recruitment and interviewing of staff, meetings with banks and accountants and a weekly close relationship with retail staff assisting with everything from person to person sales techniques, time management and back room admin with invoicing. Improvements were huge.