One, who lives by his motto that top customer service and having close client contact will help your business to thrive, is London entrepreneur Carl Thomson.
Thomson left school at 16 to become an apprentice electrician before starting his own electrical contracting company, Moyne London, in 1998, at the age of 25. His idea was simple; retrofit part of Wembley Stadium for a marginal fee and accept projects other electricians didn’t want or couldn’t do.
A decade later, his company has secured contracts with some top names such as the NHS (Moorfields Eye Hospital), Wembley Stadium and Barclays Capital, and has a steady turnover of £2.5m per year.
“It’s all about providing the right service and deepening ties with your clients,” Thomson says. “A lot of our contracts come from word-of-mouth or personal recommendations. In the construction industry, many companies don’t like change. This means it’s difficult to convince new businesses to use us. But when we do, we make sure that our clients are king.”
Another successful businessman is Bernard Burns from Cathedral Works Organisation (CWO) in Chichester. His company was recently commissioned to restore The Monument, the Deveroux Tower and the Tower of London by the City of London Corporation.
“Much of our work over the years comes from planning. It is also pre-funded before it comes into operation. But the reason why we’re successful is because we’ve diversified from stonemasonry to new builds and conservation and restoration,” comments Burns.
Burns has seen his turnover increase by approximately 90 per cent from £5m in 2006 to £9.4m in 2009.“Diversification and having good loyal clients is key. Our clients trust us and reward us with new contracts – 30 per cent of our work is done on a collaborative basis,” Burns continues.
Burns shares Thomson’s sentiment that keeping close ties with clients will bring in new trade, and both are humble that their business has done well during the downturn. “You need to work hard and don’t ever think you’ve ‘made it’. Get in at 8am, do a hard day’s work and finish at 6pm, and appreciate the good things such as being able to pay the bills on time when they come in,” Thomson says.
“It’s honesty and passion for your job that will see you well,” continues Burns. “It is also important that you invest in training; you need to give your staff opportunities to strive to be the best they can be.”
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