With over 20 years experience in the hard floor cleaning industry trialling over 500 different cleaning liquids, TileMaster created a suite of their own specialist floor cleaning products. With stockists across England, the new cleaning product range sits alongside their established machine sales and rental trading.
The business, which is based in Stockport, had a three-pronged market strategy – machine sales, B2B training and advice, and cleaning product distribution. But this was proving costly and the directors were looking to grow the business organically.
There were also issues around the amount of time being spent on pitching for new business, as well as the need for a better way of analysing potential leads.
Sarah Ludford, one of the Hub's growth specialists, worked with the company through a series of one-to-one meetings, discussing the best way to develop the business.
This involved looking at the sales mix and cash flow plans, as well assessing the productivity of the co-owners Alex Rimmer and Martin Castellani Shelley, and the firm’s other employees.
As Alex explains: “One of the most valuable things we have learned from working with Sarah is to make sure that we actually work on our business instead of in it.
“Sarah questioned how we were using our time and looked at how we went about trying to win business, particularly the hours spent on proposals for clients, and the impact this was having on our margins. We quickly identified better ways of working, we took reporting to a new level in understanding where the business was going and how profitable the product ranges were.”
Together they also identified the opportunity for growth through increased gross profit. The business is now working towards increasing sales demand through wholesale channels and production planning, using the sales and financial data intelligently to support sales conversations and ensure all activity is profitable.
Since starting to work with the Hub, the business’s turnover has increased by £125,000 and it is forecast to pass the £500k mark by the end of the year. The team has expanded by two employees and new machine and product users are coming on board all the time.
They have also created a network of business users who will ultimately fund their entry into the retail market, and they have been approached by Homebase about stocking their machines and cleaners for their own rental market.
Future plans include establishing a separate identity for the business’s professional and retail cleaner channels. The Hub’s access to finance specialists will be supporting the business around its manufacturing and capital needs, and the directors will be exploring the export potential of the business.
Alex continues: “As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to focus on every aspect of the business, and what the Hub has helped us do is identify potential new avenues, work more efficiently and be more open in our thinking.
And Sarah adds: “There is a huge demand for the TileMaster services and as a result, the business had so many possible opportunities laid out in front of it that it was naturally tempting for Alex and Martin to want to follow each one to see where it led.
“But their time is limited and the challenge was to set up a process to evaluate these opportunities and assess the risk versus the potential returns. That process is now in place, and they are already seeing the benefits of prioritising leads, as the business has continued to grow.”