Why I chose to expand the Company during the Recession

As the UK recovers from a debilitating recession, guest blogger Kicki Carlsson, CEO and Founder of Dröm UK, reveals why she chose to expand the Company in difficult economic times:

Whilst a number of other businesses tightened their belts and nervously saved their money, Dröm UK refurbished their 4000 sq ft Surrey showroom with a luxury range of bespoke saunas, steam rooms, feature showers and spa areas.

The reasoning behind this was simple.  It is all too easy to start to worry and even begin to lose confidence in yourself, your company or your products.  Stay focussed, believe in your ability and never react to other people’s loss of confidence in a negative way.  A downturn in the  economy forces people to take a good hard look at their assets and outgoings.  Luxuries such as expensive spa days and gym memberships are put on hold.   Instead of moving, a lot of people look to refurbish their homes, with bathrooms being high on the list of renovations as future resale values could bring up to 80-100% return on investment. So we decided to focus on the products that gave us the best return with the least risk and concentrated on showing the market how you could invest in bringing the expensive gym wellbeing experience into your own home at an affordable cost to enjoy for years to come.

Wellbeing is very important during the stress of a recession, or any difficult period.  Everyone wants to feel better, and the health benefits of water and hot and cold treatments are well documented in a variety of newspapers and magazines, and have been enjoyed since Ancient Greek and Roman times (see our previous blogs on Warmth and Water:  The basis for life).

We did however have to adapt the product range we had to offer and reluctantly stopped selling some of our lower profit making items.  We also felt that we had to show our customers the type of quality products we offer – just viewing our images in a brochure was not enough.  We had to entice them in to the Showroom to feel, touch and experience for themselves.  It is important to maintain the trust and confidence of our market, and especially the high end sector, who are getting more careful with which suppliers they use for their projects.   They need to know that their chosen company has confidence in itself and will be around in the future for maintenance and warranty work if required.   It is important to prove that you believe in yourself.

So we took the risk and invested. We rebranded and unveiled a new website too. We very quickly saw results from this as more architects and clients visited the showroom and the feedback from this has been excellent, resulting in a greatly increased order book.

A decision to diversify slightly to maximise on all potential sales opportunities was taken. As well as offering a consultancy service to architects and clients we also decided to focus more on our after sales service. Don’t forget the importance of this. Customers appreciate a company that is willing to take responsibility for their products and to ensure that they stay in optimum working order over the years to come. Our Service department is now thriving as our clients ensure their saunas and steam rooms are regularly maintained and serviced, thus keeping their investment alive.

My advice to work through the difficult times would therefore be:

  • Don’t get carried away by everyone else’s doom and gloom!   Things may not happen as quickly as they used to so patience and hard work is essential.
  • Even though the risks are obviously higher, stick with your beliefs and have faith in your abilities.   Never underestimate determination!

Some important points to remember are:

  • Products – source good quality, innovative, unusual products.   Have a curious mind and a passion for what you’re selling.   Customers need to have confidence in the quality of the product they are buying in difficult times (and the good times too!) and your enthusiasm and complete faith in what you are offering will help to reassure them.
  • Customer Service – This is obviously of the utmost importance.   Give the customer the best service possible at all times and always remember to LISTEN to their wants and needs.
  • Employees – it can sometimes be very easy to blame employees for difficult workplace situations in the depths of an economic recession.   Look after them and value them, in good times and bad, as they are your support and often your inspiration.

 

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