Clive Organ is the sales and marketing director of shower enclosure manufacturer Lakes Bathrooms. As part of the board, Clive has driven the company to year-on-year growth for the past nine years in the face of many changes in the bathroom market.
Swimming against the tide
Posted 14th Oct 2013
For many companies the recession has sadly been deep enough to pull them under, but thankfully a few businesses aren't just staying afloat, they're swimming against the tide.
Annual statistics from the BMA suggest that the bathroom market shrank by 9%, however, according to Bank of England governor Mark Carney, a “renewed recovery is taking hold” – albeit with a measured pace that mean interest rates will stay low until the unemployment rate declines to 7%.
Relaxation in planning regulation and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme have helped the property-building market to re-inflate, and low interest rates means those with equity are encouraged to invest in home improvement rather than hold it on deposit. All helpful factors for those in the bathroom market, however, for any ambitious firm the real aim is to boost growth beyond the pace of the general market.
So how do some thrive while others struggle to survive? The answer is perhaps disappointingly simple; it's about offering better value than your competitors and positively promoting the fact. Not only that, but while others may pull in their horns, those stealing a march will continue to invest in new products and improved services, for example. Indeed, the recession has sparked a major overhaul for many mainstream retailers and customer service has been the victor in the tougher market.
Offering better value sounds simple, but it's tough to do without pinching margins – and compromising on profit isn't the best way to run a successful business. The concept is elegantly captured in the book Blue Ocean Strategy, which advocates 'value innovation' or the simultaneous pursuit of greater buyer value and lower costs.
The key to success is considering carefully what the customer values most – what matters to them, what they will pay for, or pay more for. The first step is standing in your customer's shoes and truly embracing what's best for them. Then, with that focus, operate your business to meet it, while casting aside any activity and cost that doesn't fulfil that imperative.