The fast-growth windows and doors business has done it all with a focus on quality, customer service and staff retention.
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Adrian Barraclough, founder of Yorkshire based company Quickslide, has grown his business into a multi-million pound outfit employing hundreds of people. He explains how to build a business organically and why businesses shouldn't rely on support from the government.
What's your business?
We are a factory which manufactures a niche type of windows and doors to supply to retail window businesses.
What's the big idea behind it?
The idea for what we do came because even though the market was saturated with a lot of the ‘same’ products, it was crying out for a business that did things differently.
How have you grown over the years?
From being an intimate group of about 25 staff at start up over a decade ago, we now employ nearly 200 with a turnover approaching £15m. Much of this growth is organic. I believe in having a right fit with our clients, therefore we don’t chase work that isn’t right for us, in fact I encourage any business not to be afraid of turning work away.
That way, you end up with the right fit of clients and our energy is expended on increasing what we supply to our clients and supplying them more products rather than trying to find new clients.
Our market sector is always open to new entrants, but they need to offer something innovative otherwise they’ll just become another player.
Exhibitions and awards are good ways to build exposure
Have you encountered any bumps in the road along the way?
Every business and industry has major bumps, these can be political, competitor based, economic or for many other reasons. We can prepare for them the best way possible and one of my moto’s is that it’s very hard to predict the future so why not try and effect it instead.
Much of what I do and promote is that we should always lead the way on innovation and always do things that far exceeds our client’s expectations.
How do you let people know about your business?
Marketing the business can be done in such a huge myriad of ways, from direct call to action or soft subtle awareness. One thing we do is constantly ensure our audience know what we’re about and what we’re doing.
Winning regular awards for both product and business is great as it’s far more credible than a huge front page advert shouting 6 windows for £995. Business promotion can be a deep subject, because perception is reality.
What's makes business difficult and what makes it easy?
There are many hard things about running the business. You have a duty to your staff, your suppliers, and your clients. Having a business gives you an amazing opportunity to express yourself through what you do. Every day and action has a purpose.
What would you change about business taxes?
One thing I’d seriously like to change about my business is government support. As a large employer, we contribute quite a lot to the economy that is restrained by VAT.
Every year we have 3 months where the market is quiet and if there could be a VAT subsidy during this time, it would allow more people to improve their homes, more people employed and the increase in trade would far outway the loss on VAT.
What is your biggest mistake?
My biggest mistake is not learning from my mistakes earlier. The only way we learn is to fail, then rework. I still make many mistakes now and when I do I think, “great, I’ve just learned something”.
What's your USP?
My business is unique in a mass industry - it’s different because we constantly evolve in order to fall in line with the needs of our clients. Supplying a set product is dangerous and I truly promote that we need to build flexibility into our services.
The secret to a good HR policy is knowing that everyone is different
How do you recruit and retain good people?
Staff and loyalty thereof are critical. It’s critical to understand that no two people are the same and therefore cannot be motivated the same. Some desire empowerment and embrace it, others like to be instructed what to do. It’s my job to ensure we give all the best environment to perform.
People work well with purpose and accomplishment. There is no set incentive other than establish what the individuals want - more often than not they won’t know so it’s up to me to establish it.
How do you rate government support for growing businesses?
Government support in this country is absolutely atrocious. They simply take and never support.
My businesses have probably paid upward of £25,000,000 in taxes to this government, employed many people, and contributed positively to the local and national economy, I’ve not had one visit or even letter from our government to support me or even suggest I’m used as a mentor to support other businesses.
I believe that small businesses run our country and gain no recognition whatsoever.
What are your top three tips for people starting a business today?