An established Tamworth small business owner is seeking expansion after the part ERDF funded Aston Programme for Small Business Growth has helped him see a new path.
Jeff Longley, Director, started Mr Electric, an electrical installation and repair company, in August 2008. Despite already having twenty years business experience, Jeff joined the programme as he wanted to develop himself as a leader and develop the company’s strategy to handle its growth.
Now the programme has completed Jeff’s plans for the company has significantly changed as he explains:
‘Before joining the programme, my exit plan was to sell in the next three years. Now my view has changed and I am more likely to expand and maybe purchase other companies rather than sell.’
‘I have been in business for the last twenty years and this is my third company I have taken from scratch to circa £1,000,000 annual turnover. I used to say that was the limit of my ability, anything past a million turnover was beyond me. Now I have just passed one million turnover and am looking to two million with no fear at all. I have no intention of stopping at two million either. I am looking forward to moving to a whole new level for me. ‘
Mr Electric carry out around 1,000 jobs a month from small domestic call outs to larger commercial contacts with clients such as Western Power, McDonalds and schools. Energy saving is a growing part of the company which involves working alongside designers and product manufacturers in installing and promoting their products.
Taking part in the five-month programme has helped Jeff plan for his company’s growth and he is already seeing a positive impact.
Jeff continues ‘We have increased sales by £350,000 this year. Lessons I have learnt on this course have helped with handling that growth. Looking and mapping correct procedures has been a tremendous help and is now part of our company. This just makes us so much more efficient and if things go wrong we know they will be put right by changing the procedure.’
‘As we are now handling growth in a controlled efficient manner, I now find people coming to me with bigger projects as they know we can handle them. The confidence I have gained through doing this course shows when talking to clients.’
‘I am also about to start handling calls for other franchisees within the group. This will be followed by other businesses. This opens up a whole new area of work for us; I can become more of a facilities company. I can also mentor the smaller tradesman who wants to grow.’
The programme combined a series of practical workshops, one-to-one mentoring and a peer network of other growing businesses. Jeff explains why he would not hesitate to recommend the programme to other small business:
‘You would not dream of being an electrician, plumber, dentist, doctor or any skilled job without training so why do you think you can grow your business without the tools and knowledge to handle that growth.’
‘All the learning I have carried out has made me a far better businessman. My company has gone from £400k to £1.1 million turnover and I feel we are only just starting the journey, rather than this being as far as I am capable of taking it.’
The Aston Programme for Small Business Growth was delivered by Aston Centre for Growth at Aston Business School and part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.