“There were 40 staff when I joined and I sacked 20 of them,” says Bigos, who took over the boat-come-bus tourist attraction in 2001. “I then reorganised the management structure and appointed one person in charge of each department.”
“The person heading up the company before me was a professor of microbiology at Cardiff University. He was an innovator, not a manager. If the business was going to survive, it needed someone with business savvy at the helm,” says Bigos, who got his entrepreneurial nous from studying an MBA at the University of Surrey’s School of Management.
Next, he rejigged the company’s pricing structure. “The London Duck Tour is an experience, not a method of transport,” he explains. “So instead of pricing ourselves against sightseeing bus tours, I figured we ought to price ourselves against theatre tickets.”
Accordingly, Bigos renamed all the vessels after Shakespeare characters and started advertising in theatre programmes.
The new strategy is clearly working. Turnover jumped from £650,000 in 2001 to £1.85m last year, with profits of £130,000.