Tag Archives: growth

Where there’s magic there’s margin

At the Food For Thought workshop in February one of the high points was the presentation by Charles Baughan, MD of Westaway Sausages. He gave an energising and inspirational talk which left everyone in the room wanting to hear more.

He began by sharing some of his own survival tips for small business:

As Westaway’s has grown the customer base has become more diverse; now they sell to retail, wholesale, and food service customers both in the UK and abroad. Charles talked us through a comparison of the different channels and markets and discussed the reasons for pursuing this strategy.

It was evident from this that the broad range of customers offered a chance to spread risk and also smooth any short term fluctuations in sales volumes.

However the advice was quite clear: “Sometimes it is better to spend time and effort choosing your customers instead of reacting to every opportunity”, something that supported the business planning discussion from earlier in the day.

Questions that would help work out whether an opportunity was the right one for your business included:

Can they pay their bills?
Do you like them?
Are they high maintenance?
Is their business strategically right for you? (Not just about profit!)
Is the market expanding?
Why are you the best choice for them? Are you cheaper? Better? Faster?

From my point of view this final question is fundamental; success is not just about why “they” are the right customer for you but also why you’re the right supplier for them. That’s where the magic comes in – if you can supply something that fits the customers needs better than the competitors you can make the margin.

The message to take away was clear: make a plan, aspire to great things and then get out there and succeed.

You can find more details of what was discussed at the workshop here

Food For Thought: “Excellent: Very informative, covering business, marketing, finance and funding”

Last Tuesday was the big day for my “Food For Thought” workshop. Despite the ominous weather forecasts the snow held off long enough for the event to go fantastically.

The presentations centred around the need to ensure that new sales are the right sales to make profits – making sure that the businesses there are growing profitably, not being busy fools!

We started off with my favourite presentation topic – making sure that you have an up to date business plan that identifies what you need to do to reach your personal and business goals.

Despite the fact that we had some micro businesses and some full on large businesses everybody identified their own goals for 2018 and further afield.

We were lucky enough to have a presentation from Charles Baughan, the MD of the award winning sausage maker Westaway Sausages. Charles is an engaging and enthusiastic speaker and his romp through his top tips for success in the food industry left the group inspired to put their plans into action, and with good advice for doing so.

Next up was Hayley Reynolds, the founder of food industry specialists RAW PR & Marketing. Recently Hayley has worked with some of Devon’s most successful brands and she gave us a masterclass in getting good returns from PR efforts. By understanding the business’ target customers and the needs of the journalists and publications who can reach them she has had some fantastic (and cost effective) results.

Before lunch Janet Herniman, a North Devon based grant funding adviser gave us an entertaining overview of the current grant landscape. More importantly, as a result of her current work, Janet is able to give application tips from both the applicant and the grant assessor’s point of view. As she pointed out, there is a lot of hard work required to put together a successful application but given the sums of money potentially available (up to 40% of your projected spend) it is time well spent.

The morning was rounded off with a networking lunch, and time for the businesses present to assemble their notes from the day into their own personalised action plan. The feedback from the attendees was that they had thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it inspiring and aspirational.

So, now I need to build on this success: another workshop, new speakers, and maybe a different location!