Craig Lennox, Director of DIY Splashbacks tells us about colored & printed glass splashbacks.
How are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Craig Lennox: I think everyone has been getting a little stir crazy being trapped in the house so much, and of course, the impact that has had on their social lives has been huge. I managed about a week in the house during the first lockdown before it was too much and just threw myself into work which was oddly much better for my sanity!
About you, your career, how you founded DIY Splashbacks.
Craig Lennox: I founded DIY Splashbacks in 2008-2009 in the middle of the recession. It seemed to be a good time to offer DIY products as people’s budgets may have been a little bit tighter. We started with a very limited choice of products, but we have found more and more ways to innovate and have in no doubt helped lead the way in the glass splashback industry. DIY Splashbacks were the first to offer many new options for glass splashbacks which are now commonplace. Having one base product, in our case glass, forces your hand in a way to come up with new processes and techniques to keep ahead of the competition.
How does DIY Splashbacks innovate?
Craig Lennox: I don’t believe we have ever followed our competitors to see what they are doing to create new products. If only it worked both ways!
We decide what we would like to do next, then a lot of research to find out how we can do it- we have had many failures where processes just don’t work or are too complicated. Some are just a little too ahead of the curve, so we need to wait for the technology to become more affordable, but one day we will launch touchscreen glass splashbacks, for example, that are affordable. I would like our customers to be able to watch TV or follow a recipe while cooking one day. That is a product we managed to create a working prototype for 6-7 years ago, but displays are still too deep, and touch foils too unreliable.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Craig Lennox: Oddly, at first, they improved, but it was somewhat short-lived. With the help of the government furlough scheme, we have coped. It’s a lot more work and longer hours, but you do what you have to do to make sure there is a job to come back to for as many employees as possible. 75% of our workforce is currently on furlough, and we are hopeful that the economy will pick up soon as getting a day off at the weekend would be a nice treat. I think many people forget that while they are off furloughed for such long periods, there is someone there trying to do all their jobs as well as their own. Not ideal, but you just have to knuckle down and do what you have to do.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding HR, and what are the lessons learned?
Craig Lennox: Yes, we certainly did, hopefully not too many more, but it’s impossible to see how the pandemic will pan out. The main lesson we have probably learned is that HR processes are there for a reason. It shouldn’t be about the fear of mishandling an HR problem, but I believe it’s more a case of realizing that we are all people just trying to get by. If you have a difficult decision to make, the sooner you inform the employee, the better to give them time to find an alternative job if that is what may have to happen.
How did your customer relationship management evolve?
Craig Lennox: The DIY Splashbacks journey has been customer focussed from the start. The business started as I wanted this product but the only way to source it was directly from glass manufacturers who just did not want to liaise with the public. This was, of course, the opportunity for a business to bridge that gap and at the same time educate customers on how to measure and fit these products themselves. With my software development background, we then created a website that lets users get instant quotes, preview colors or designs, and order online. It may all sound very obvious now, and we have hundreds of competitors who use our exact model now, too, but in 2009 this just didn’t exist.
Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Craig Lennox: For customer service, no. We have tried various CRM tools but found they complicated matters. By going back to the basics, using our website and emails only, we are able to offer a much more personalized service. If we have a problem, order that job will sit in our main inbox with eyes on it every day until it is resolved. In a way, we are lucky that we are still an SME because this would, of course, not be possible if you are dealing with thousands of orders every day. For bespoke products, I believe smaller is better. When customers call me, I very often know their names and can walk over and see the exact stage of production their order is at.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Craig Lennox: Yes, we have a small showroom that has been closed due to local restrictions that we receive support for. We are also using the furlough scheme, and to be honest, without both these schemes, I think we would probably have had to close until the pandemic ended.
Any final comments?
Craig Lennox: From a business that has survived the pandemic due to the government help available, I would just like to say thank you to the British government for their support. Without it, as mentioned above, we just could not have remained open. We have thought and are looking forward to things continuing to pick up and hopefully get some staff back soon. We go again!
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