Customer service

Customer service should be at the heart of every business, but particularly a small one. Having exceptional customer service that helps to support customers and makes them feel special can be a defining factor in whether someone decides to shop with you or not. There are some things that you won’t be able to compete with the big boys on, but customer service is an area you can ace!

The great thing about this is that it doesn’t have to cost you money. Time, patience and a willingness to really help your customer and make sure you’ve done your best is all that’s required. You don’t need a huge budget to do this.

But customer service shouldn’t be overlooked. It shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have’. Looking after your customers can be an incredible PR and marketing tool too. In today’s social media fuelled world, getting positive feedback matters, and it matters on your website too. Having someone leave a review and sing your praises can win you fans and give people that final nudge to help them feel reassured that you’re a good fit for them.

In this section of the blog, you’ll see lots of examples of great customer service and tips too, to help you outperform the competition.

Equestrian Creative NetworkAs you may know, I am a member of the Equestrian Creative Network, and have been since it began, actually, here’s my profile if you fancy a look. Headed by the lovely Liam Killen, ECN provides a place where creatives (so that’s marketers, photographers, PRs, magazines, copywriters, illustrators… the list goes on!) can showcase their skills. Equally, it provides a place where people looking for a particular service can come too. But now there’s something new…

How can the Equestrian Creative Network help me?

Well, it depends what you do as a job. If you’re looking for promote your services as a creative in the equestrian industry, it’s great for that, as it’s way more than just a listing. You can add your press releases, videos and more, as you’ll see here. I provide exclusive content and have done an ECN Live too. Using ECN also means that the press releases I choose to publish through the site get promoted on the Newswire and through ECN’s social media feeds… so that’s good.

If you need a graphic designer, or a PR person, or a web developer, or any other creative, then you can pop on over and use the search function. You can select where you want to look by country too.

And as a news outlet, or a magazine, or website, you can receive all the latest news straight into your inbox.

So what’s new on the Equestrian Creative Network?

The Equestrian Creative Network has just added a ‘request a quote’ feature that allows you to add your brief and give relevant professionals signed up to the service the chance to quote. Neat hey? As you’ll see, you can add your budget as well as more information, to help get quotes that are relevant to your needs. Here’s a link to the ‘request a quote’ page on ECN.

 

The Gin KitcheDo I have a treat for you this week!? If you love gin, this is a gem! In this ‘a few minutes with…’ I catch up with Chloe Bucknell from The Gin Kitchen… a mobile gin bar. I know. I spoil you…

Tell us about you and your background
We are two childhood friends, Chloe Bucknell and Evie Marsh, who found a joint love of horses and all things country at a young age. Even before we were old enough to drink gin, we were thinking about it. Our parents may have only allowed us to try the tonic, but we knew for years it would taste better with juniper berries and a few botanicals. From our first sip, we fell in love with the infused drinks and soon became ‘ginfatuated’!

Chloe has a background within the Events & Exhibition Industry whilst Evie has the Hospitality and Catering knowledge. Having visited many distilleries across the globe, combined with hundreds of hours spent serving behind pub bars and finally, sampling over 250 expressions, we decided to share our experience with everyone. With our love of the outdoors and gin collided, we found ourselves creating The Gin Kitchen.

The Gin KitchenWhat made you want to start a business?
We actually happened to be sat in a pub having a in tipple after a long day out horse riding when we came up with the idea of being the UK’s answer to stationary drinking. With gin fans increasing by the day all over the world, we thought it was only right we supported this concept by occupying the minds and hearts of gin drinkers. Even those who claim they don’t like the generic ‘gin’ drink, we have proven to change their mind with our vast and continuously growing collection. Gin has never been this good, and it might never be this good again! We want to encourage people to enjoy it whilst they can, by letting us put a drink of their choice firmly in their hand, at events all over the UK.

How is your The Gin Kitchen different?
Unlike other mobile bars, we offer a gin experience alongside their chosen G&T. We’re all about customer service, providing people with a high-class drink to enjoy whilst creating a new experience for the gin loving community. We have so many ideas that will all be revealed over the next 12 months but we guarantee there is a gin out there for everyone. We offer packages for ‘Tie-The-Knot’ kind of days to Corporate Brand Launches or Birthday parties, the range of events we cater for is endless! The Gin Kitchen provides you with a contemporary yet country mobile horse trailer bar, knowledgable and friendly staff but most importantly, high-quality G&T’s and Gin Fizz Cocktails throughout your event.

If you had to sum up The Gin Kitchen in five words, what would they be?
Unique, Fun, Creative, Dynamic, Gin-Lovers!

Do you have a motto or ethos?
“It’s never too early for Gin O’Clock”

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?
Challenge yourself and never give up on your dreams. We both had an idea that we turned into reality and it makes you extremely proud to see hard work paying off. Take the risk and believe in yourself but most importantly, enjoy it and have fun!

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively?
Our trusty Apple products! Our iPads turn into our till systems, our Macbooks into our Marketing tools and our iPhones for being sociable on the go.

Best thing about running a business?
We get to choose who we work with, lucky for us, we’re two great friends who know get to spend even more time together. Not only that, we have taken the risks and are proud of the rewarding outcome of what we are achieving. We’ve challenged one another but we’ve followed our passion and we both feel pride in building our own business for other people to enjoy.

Worst thing about running a business?
Besides drinking far too many gin samples… Hmm, I can’t think of any negatives that The Gin Kitchen has provided us!

Top business blog you follow
It might not be a blog but @theginguide has to be one of our favourites!

Top business achievement
Becoming 90% booked up through to the end of the year and seven 2018 bookings within our first eight weeks of launching The Gin Kitchen!

Where can people follow you or your business online?
www.theginkitchen.co.uk

 

Twitter – @GinKitchen
Instagram – @theginkitchen_trailer
Facebook – www.facebook.com/theginkitchentrailer

 

If you’d like to see a few more ‘a few minutes with’ blogs – why not check out Rosie Neave from Pheasant Plucker & Son here,  Athena Cauley-Yu from Meticulous Ink here or Anna Butler from Butler Stewart here?

How collaborations workI believe collaborations can be HUGE for business. But just to be clear and help you push forward with your own collab, I thought I’d address how collaborations work. But not before addressing what a collaboration is.

What is a collaboration?

A collaboration is when two or more people or companies work together to produce something. This dictionary definition puts it a little more eloquently. You hear of celebrities collaborating with brands, bloggers collaborating with each other, influencers working with companies, and brands working with other brands. It really is as simple as that. Sometimes companies pay for celebrities and influencers to work with them, and sometimes it’s free. It depends very much on what the collaboration entails. What is key, well, in my mind at least, is that EVERYONE wins from the collaboration. Everyone’s efforts are rewarded. Everyone’s time is repaid. And everyone works together to make it a success. Collaborations are great. They allow you as a brand or influencer to spread your reach and be introduced to other people who might be interested in you, your products and what you have to say. Well. This is if you choose well. But that’s a whole different topic.

How do collaborations work?

I’m confident in saying that there is no one size fits all. I see collaborations popping up all the time in various different forms. David Beckham collaborated with H&M on a collection and the relationship grew from there. Youtubers regularly collaborate by appearing on other Youtubers’ channels – such as Tanya Burr and Zoella – yep – they’re pals, but they collaborate on the platform – actually, Zoella has a whole section dedicated to collabs here. Ed Sheeran (ohhh… I love Ed) collaborated with Rudimental on Lay It All On Me, and because I really do love Ed Sheeran, I’m also going to mention when he collaborated with Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley) on the video for Lego House. So, both parties win. Both parties get exposure to a different audience.

These are slightly random examples, I’ll give you that, but it’s to illustrate the diversity and the scope. But you know what else you could do? You could guest blog for someone and let them guest blog for you. You could organise a competition with another brand and you could both ‘donate’ prizes and promote to both of your fan groups. You could work with an influencer or blogger on a product that you’d maybe share the profit from. See. The options are nearly endless. And in all cases pretty exciting.

So, are collaborations easy?

They can be, or they can take blood, sweat and tears to set up. Even when they’re ‘easy’ there’s often a lot of leg work involved… but does that mean they’re not work it? God no. If both parties are pulling in the same direction and both enthused about it, it can be HUGELY rewarding and deliver exceptional return on investment…

Meticulous Ink first caught my eye on… wait for it… a vlog I was watching by Tanya Burr! I know I’m not Tanya’s demographic (AT ALL!), but I like to watch vlogs to help improve my own skills, to see what works and what doesn’t… and Tanya’s definitely works! Anyway. On one of them Tanya had a letter from Meticulous Ink, who I think she said had done her Athena Cauley-Yu Meticulous Inkwedding stationery. The envelope and the lettering honestly blew me away. It was SO beautiful and so different. A little Harry Potter-esq. It was gorgeous. As a stationery junkie I had to find out more. Hell, I became absorbed in the world of Meticulous Ink and followed all their social media channels and drooled over their website and gorgeous stationery products for longer than I’d like to admit. I started talking about them to friends and family… and then I emailed Athena, the lady behind this amazing brand, to see if she’d like to participate in this blog. And she said yes. And I did a happy dance. And that’s not even an exaggeration. So here’s a few minutes with Athena Cauley-Yu. You’ll see from the pictures below, her stunning products and her story why I’m now more than a little obsessed.

Tell us about you and your background

Meticulous InkI grew up in North London and was raised by my mum, who would constantly leave subliminal encouragement in my vicinity as a child – things like self improvement books and fancy toy cars. My mum was very good in that way, and was always supportive in my desire to be creative. My first job was working on the phone in my father’s oriental take-away when I was 14 and I have worked ever since. At university I studied Arts & Media, as I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do, and it was a course full of variety. We got to choose classes from Fine Art, Digital Screen Arts, Photography, and Animation, then we’d whittle it down to just one subject to specialise in. I chose Fine Art Printing because nobody else used the enormous print studio at the university, so it was my own personal private studio! After university I worked at two private stationers in London before embarking on the great adventure of my own creative business.

What made you want to start a business?

The huge encouragement from my mum was definitely the basis for wanting to achieve and for believing in myself. My father also ran his own oriental restaurant and takeaway, which definitely added to my entrepreneurial side. I’ve always been extremely positive and optimistic, and when I was ready to leave London I knew it was the right moment to create something of my own. I know there are logical steps to completing and succeeding at anything in life, so I knew that I wanted to go all in and try to build something of my own. 

How is your business different?

Meticulous Ink is an utterly bespoke printer and stationer. This means in each of our projects we aim to create something unique and fitting to the occasion. We understand the importance of first impressions as well as lasting impressions, be it an elaborate wedding invitation or a subtle business card. Our aim is to make beautiful things that will make the recipient proud. Alongside our bespoke work we have a small store full of paper related goods, we wholesale our own brand stationery, plus I run Hand Lettering Workshops to spread the joy of writing.

What makes your products special?

All of our own brand stationery is printed on-site at our store and printworks in Bath. We like to live up to Meticulous Ink Invitationour name, so each and every printed item is individually checked by our small team to ensure it’s perfect in every way. It’s this tactile, hands-on approach that helps to get that Meticulous Ink feel in everything we make.

If you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?

Meticulous, utterly bespoke fine stationery.

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Our ethos is to create beautiful things that we are proud to put our name to.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Persistence is key to everything you do. You have to hustle constantly in every aspect and every part of the business. If you can be persistent then you will be successful.

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively 

We switched to Xero for our accounts last year. Although it is more work it gives me a much clearer idea of what the business looks like from the inside out on a daily basis.

Best thing about running a business?

Particularly having a creative business – being able to think of a product or design and then translating that into a physical reality. I get huge satisfaction from imagining a card design for example, and then being able to follow that from drawing it, to creating the plates, to the printing, up until it is on the shelf and a lovely customer purchases it.

Worst thing about running a business?

The constant stress. Being a business owner is the most stressful thing you will ever do; the hardest job you will ever have, but also the most satisfying and the most rewarding.

Top business blog you follow

I’ve recently begun following Fizzle which is really great. I like their tone of voice and the way they write. I’m also a big fan of watching the Ask Gary Vee show on YouTube – he’s really inspiring and so motivated! Plus I like Tim Ferris’s podcasts – he interviews incredible people, from athletes to huge business moguls.

Top business books you’ve read

The Success Principles – Jack Canfield

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael GerberMeticulous Ink Wax Seal

Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki

One thing we might not know about you

I have a black belt in Shotokan karate, which I got when I was 17.

Top business achievement

Our Collaboration with Mulberry, where I taught a series of calligraphy workshops at their flagship store in London, then at their store in Paris. It was fantastic.

Where can people follow you or your business online 

Website: www.meticulousink.com

instagram: http://www.instagram.com/meticulousink

Facebook: www.facebook.com/meticulousink/

Visit us in person! 134 Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BG

Emma WarrenEmma Warren is a lady you’ll hear me talk about a fair amount. She kindly provided a testimonial for my site a little while ago, but she’s best known as ‘Queen Bee’ at Hiho Silver. Well, I say best known, it depends on when you first encountered her! If you’ve been lucky enough to visit the luxury glamping shepherd’s hut Dimpsey, you’ll know her from there, or if you’ve met her British creamware brand Doris & Co you might know her from there… and if you came to the Farm Innovations Show she was a speaker on the Canopy and Stars panel too! She’s a lady of many talents. Here she tells us a bit more…

Tell us about you and your background?

Hi there, I’m Emma and I’m based on a small Blackdown Hills Farm in Somerset with my hubby and two boys.  I originally trained as a Management Accountant and worked in manufacturing, ending up as a Finance & Operations Director.  I left and started my own business in 2008, helping entrepreneurial businesses to grow.  Through that I met some really great companies and now am an owner of Hiho Silver and Doris & Co and run a small glamping business called Dimpsey Glamping.

Dimpsey

Inside Emma’s luxury glamping shepherd’s hut, Dimpsey

What made you want to start a business?

I generally worked in small divisions of very large companies – I really enjoyed the energy and vibrancy of them and the fact that I had the opportunity to learn lots about the whole business.  However, once I’d had children the long hours I was working made me think it was time for a change.  I’d had a hankering to work for myself for a while and decided to it was time to give it a go.  I still work really long hours, but I can be flexible and fit other things in as well.

How is your business different?

Oh tough question, because I think we all like to think we’re different from the competition – but I can say hand on heart that customer needs are always at the heart of everything we do.

What makes your products special?

The fact that we are passionate about what we do and I’d hope that shines through whenever someone deals with us – we love our products and we love to share that with people.  We work with our customers to see what they are wanting from us – and then we work really hard to deliver that in a consistent and on-brand way.

If you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?

Quirky, country, customer-led, trust, quality

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Only work with people you like!

Hiho Silver Cherry Roller

Hiho’s Cherry Roller, photographed by Jake Eastham

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Just do it – it’s never as bad as you imagine it to be…

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively 

I would be absolutely lost without my iPhone and calendar

Best thing about running a business?

Having an idea and making it happen and then seeing if it goes down well with customers.  It’s such a great privilege to be able to have such a close connection between rudder and boat (so to speak)

Worst thing about running a business?

The unpredictability and the need to always be on your toes!

Top business blog you follow

I am a big Seth Godin fan and I also really like to read Inc.com posts 

Top business book you’ve read

Purple Cow – Seth Godin – I could have chosen lots of books here but I really think Seth makes a lot of good points in this book.

One thing we might not know about you

I absolutely love singing!

Top business achievement

Hiho – launching the cherry roller and the Country Shows Journal – I love working on that with Rhea

Doris & Co Stern Stuff Mug

and Nathalie on the CSJ and the whole of the Hiho team have been involved with the cherry roller and its development.

Dimpsey – winning Gold in the Somerset Tourism Awards

Doris – securing the business

Where can people follow you or your business online?

Hihohttp://www.hihosilver.co.uk

Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/hihosilveruk

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/hihotweet

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/hiho.silver.jewellery/

Doris & Cohttp://www.dorisandco.co.uk

Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/dorisandco

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/dorisandco

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Dorisandcolimited/

Dimpseyhttp://www.dimpsey.co.uk

Instagram- http://www.instagram.com/dimpsey_glamping

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/dimpseyuk

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/dimpsey.uk/

Emily Mumford from Inkpot and Press is the focus of today’s ‘a few minutes with…’ Emily provides PR, marketing, social media and copywriting support to equestrian and artisan businesses. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Emily for a good while now and I wanted to share her with you!

Tell us about you and your backgroundEmily Mumford Inkpot & Press

I have a degree in English (Lit and Lang) and a Graduate Diploma in Law (I really didn’t know what I wanted to do!). After finishing my GDL I floundered for a month or so and then fell into a job at a beautiful privately owned Doddington Hall, near Lincoln working in their tiny cafe, I ended up developing and running a beautiful Country Clothing Store on the estate which I completely loved! 

While I was working in the store I received an email from Anna Buntine offering me the chance of an interview for what I thought would be my dream role at Bede Events Ltd as Assistant Event Director for 3 International FEI and 5 National BE events and I jumped at the chance – popped along for an interview and two weeks later rolled up at Shelford ready to start my new chapter! And what a chapter it was. I was with Bede for just less than 3 years and the opportunities and experiences I was lucky enough to have were phenomenal. I certainly wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without them! The respect I have for any event organiser in unending – the dedication, blood (literally, I have a huge scar on my hand as testament to that), sweat, tears (there were plenty) and hours it takes to do what they do is immeasurable.  However there was only so long that I could work silly long hours chasing someone else’s dream while running our busy tree surgery company (Springwood Tree Services Ltd), bringing up a beautiful boy (Finn, now aged 4 and 3/4s) and looking after my own horses so the time came to take the leap and here I am – one whole year on!

What made you want to start a business?

The obvious time came to leave Bede and our tree surgery business was doing pretty well which afforded me the opportunity to have a go at doing what I love – I couldn’t not take it really!

How is Inkpot & Press different?

My little business focusses on supporting small artisan, rural and equestrian companies on their journeys (although I do have one rather large amazing client who I am very proud of!)

What makes your service special?

I listen…

Emily Mumford Inkpot & PressIf you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?

Helping other people’s dreams come true 

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Carpe (the freaking) Diem

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Consistency is everything – remain consistent in the journey to your goals and the destination will be better than you ever imagined!

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively

Rhea and her blooming amazing business coaching brain… (and the fact she puts up with my neediness!)

Best thing about running a business?

The freedom in terms of time and decision making and the opportunities to work with people and businesses who ignite your passion. 

Worst thing about running a business?

The constant feeling of impending failure… (and never being able to switch off completely!)

Top business blog you follow

Sophie Callahan, Carrie Green and Gary Vaynerchuk – I can’t pick one…

Top business book you’ve read

She Means Business by Carrie Green – It made complete sense.

One thing we might not know about you

I technically died at 21 months old when I had an anaphylactic reaction to a piece of cheese that I had managed to get hold of… 

Top business achievement

There are a couple of very different ones: 

Being an integral part of the team who substantially increased the ticket sales at both Belton and Osberton International Horse Trials for two years running was a huge buzz!

Leading the team who achieved a turn over in excess of £85,000 in a tiny little Country Clothing Store’s first 9 months of trading was pretty cool too. 

Find Emily Mumford online here…

https://www.facebook.com/InkPotandPress/ – FB

@InkPotandPress– Twitter 

https://www.instagram.com/inkpotandpress/ – Instagram

www.inkpotandpress.co.uk 

I’ve been an admirer of Mackenzie & George for a very long time – not only the products but the
Mackenzie & Georgegorgeous branding too. And you know what else? The people behind the brand. Here I chat to Melanie, one part of Mackenzie & George, and chat about her business.

Tell us about you and your background

Mackenzie & George is run by my husband Chris and I.  Our story starts all the way back to 1974! Chris’ father, Bill, had a belt factory for over 40 years, producing ladies couture belts for department stores and brands like Harrods, John Lewis, Austin Reed, Jaeger and many more. In 2008, Chris had recently finished university, and with jobs few and far between in that economic climate, he started selling some of his fathers belts at Covent Garden Apple Market. Long story short – the selling really sparked an interest in the making, and so Chris started learning how to make the belts (although he has been in the factory on school holidays since a toddler, so knew some of the basics). I had recently lost my job around the same time (I’m from a music/marketing/events background), and started helping Chris, and together we looked at working with different natural and long wearing materials and incorporating traditional saddlery techniques we taught ourselves via YouTube! Eventually we started to do a few craft shows for his parents, with our own mini collection on the corner of the stand, until we took the plunge and set up our own business in 2012 – Burghley Horse Trials being our first ever Chris & Melanie - Mackenzie & Georgeevent. 

What made you want to start a business?

A combination of a terrible job market and seeing an opportunity that really bought the best of our strengths together.  Although most people would think we’re mad living and working together, we get to share all the triumphs and tribulations, and see each other at our very best (and worse!). 

How is Mackenzie & George different?

Attention to detail. Each process is thought out to the tiniest detail. For example, you won’t find a rough edge on any single part of our products – each and every sharp corner and edge is shaved off and hand buffed before being inked and sealed to give the smoothest – and most comfortable – feel and look.  It’s details often overlooked, but makes all the difference to final finish of a quality product.

What makes Mackenzie & George products special?

We pride ourselves on exemplary materials (vegetable and oak bark tanned saddle hide, solid brass hand polished buckles) that we worked hard on developing with small family run manufacturers that Chris has known for pretty much his whole life!  In addition, we take great care to ensure our products are practical, wearable and will last for many, many years (we even guarantee it!). 

If you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?

Honest Timeless Quality Handmade (with) Love  (I may have cheated!)

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Wearability that lasts. It’s what we consider when designing and testing designs and improving our techniques

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Get up early – it’s something we’re only learning now really; it’s amazing how much more you can get done with an extra couple of hours in the morning (an 8 week old baby is helping us keep to this!).

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively 

Shopify is amazing. We use it for our website and POS, and it is great having everything in one place, plus all the apps that integrate make it a really powerful tool.

Best thing about running a business?

Something different every day, and fully utilising every bit of grey matter! In one day, our roles can consist of fashion or graphic design, product and machine engineering, (sometimes quite complex) maths, copy writing, craftsmanship, accounting, sales, website design/backend, marketing and even painting/building stand props/workshops!

Worst thing about running a business?

Impossible to turn off. And no one to palm off jobs too. In our first few years we regularly worked 12- 18 hour days, and have gone to shows having been up (quite literally) all night finishing orders! Melanie - Mackenzie & George We’re a bit more on top of demand now, but desperately need an apprentice in the workshop.

One thing we might not know about you

At school, I was voted most likely to run my own business, but also most likely to end up in prison.  I’ve never quite worked out what the shared attribute I have that makes both those things likely, but glad I ended up doing the former! 

Where can people follow you or Mackenzie & George online 

Mackenzieandgeorge.com

http://www.instagram.com/mackenzieandgeorge

http://www.facebook.com/mackenzieandgeorge

Julia Andrews is Managing Director Kate Negus Saddlery. Kate Negus Saddlery specialises in bespoke British bridlework for horses participating in all sports, and has customers from grassroots through to professionals. The bespoke concept is particularly clever as very few horses fit the standard sizes, and Kate Negus Saddlerythis means that most people have to buy extra pieces to make the bridle fit. This means that in order to
get a ‘cheap’ bridle to fit, some people can spend more than a good quality British bridle that will last a very long time when cared for correctly. What’s more, Kate Negus offers every individual part, even down to a keeper, separately, so if your horse breaks something or a part gets lost, it can be replaced at minimal cost. I’m very proud to have worked with Kate Negus Saddlery for a number of years and seen many of the company’s innovative products go from design to sale.

Tell us about you and your background

I have been in retail all my working life. I started stacking shelves at the Co-op aged 14 1/2. Then I did an A Level training scheme at a department store, then 15 years at M&S as a selector then visual merchandising manager.

What made you want to start a business? 

Bought a bridle from Kate Negus and then I bought the business!

How is your business different?

The way we sell bridles is different to the vast majority as they are bespoke and off the shelf bridles so we can correctly fit any horse while the customer waits! We do this by having all components available at time of purchase, so with the measurements (or, at shows, the horse’s current bridle), we can put together a bespoke combination to get the perfect it. Our service is also pretty different and something that gets commented on a lot. We go above and beyond to ensure the customer gets the perfect fit for their horse and will talk people through every stage if that’s what they want. We want them to be delighted with their new purchase and then some!

What makes your products special?

The way we sell them, the service we offer and that they’re made in the UK. We’re also able to create complete one off products if needed with short lead times. We have some pretty innovative productsJulia Andrews- Kate Negus Saddlery too, like the Elastic Grackle, Five Point Breastplate and Beetle Grackle.

If you had to sum up your business in three words, what would they be?

Quality, value, service!

Do you have a motto or ethos?

Quality, value, service!

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Remind them that we are here for our customers. Without them we would not have a business!!

One thing that helps you run your business more effectively 

Rhea Freeman!! (Thank you!)

Best thing about running a business?

The harder I work the more I get out of it

Worst thing about running a business?

As a one man band it would be hard to maintain my service. Thank goodness for Hayley!

One thing we might not know about you

I have an A Level in needlework!!

Where can people follow you or your business online 

Website

Twitter

Facebook

It’s video time! In this video I’m talking all about how you can make something negative, positive – well, how you can take negative feedback generated by a faulty product and turn into a positive. How you can turn this into a great PR opportunity? Does it sound a bit far fetched? I don’t think so…

Is it really possible?

It honestly depends on a number of factors but I think in most cases it can be IF it’s handled properly. I say most cases because it obviously does depend on the ‘damage’ something has caused, this can be a variable and can mean that your task is incredibly difficult if not impossible. However, when I created this video I was thinking more about popular products that we buy that can leave us disappointed, something like clothing or footwear. I’m not talking dodgy seatbelts here. I’m looking at the kind of products that most people sell online.

Any other caveats?

Yes. The dodgy product needs to be unusual. If all your products are substandard you’re basically firefighting and you can’t win long term because everyone is going to be peed off with you because you’ve let them down.

But what about social media?

Yep. Social media has changed the game in this area. Previously people would call the company or email them first – or even take it back to the shop they bought it from – and would follow the correct complaints procedure. Now they take to social media. If you’re lucky they’ll send you a message, but they might just post that you’re Satan on your Facebook page and that they’re bitterly disappointed/the product is cheap and rubbish/they hate you. Before you become a keyboard warrior too, just take a breath. It can be really frustrating and it makes you wonder if you should bother trying to turn this negative into a positive but you should. Honestly. Even if they don’t respond how you’d like, your other customers will see that you’re trying – in some cases they might come to your defence (I’ve seen this happen before…). Acknowledge their message and suggest they DM you or email you with additional information to try and remove the discussion from public view. This has the obvious benefit but also allows you to ask them personal details that they shouldn’t disclose in public. Be nice to them. Try and help them. Obviously you must follow your company’s complaints procedure, but do it in a nice way. If you say you’ll get back to them by a date – DO – even if you have to say you’re still waiting. Keep them informed. Be honest. Be genuine. Be understanding. If you can, send them a goodwill gesture. You’ll be amazed at how these ‘haters’ can become your biggest cheerleaders if treated kindly and respectfully by someone who wants to help them.

Of course, no one should ever be happy with selling substandard products, but sometimes things slip through the net- I’ve had clothes shrink, boots split and all manner of things as I am sure you have. These things happen and people do generally understand. And if you’re nice to them, you might have got yourself a lifelong brand ambassador too.

If you liked this, you might like this blog here – all about turning a negative or fault products into a good PR opportunity.