This week it’s the first in a new feature – Entrepreneur Interviews. I’m going to be interviewing business owners across London finding out what it’s like to run a business, what the challenges are and what advice they’ve got for you.
This week it’s Carlton Brown from Just Washroom Services. They manage and maintain over 600 bathrooms in London and the South East. Not the sexiest business perhaps. But they’ve managed to grown a large and very profitable company in an industry that was previously dominated by much larger players.
They put it all down to careful planning and a genuine commitment to their customers.
Tell us who you are and what you do?
Hi, I’m Carlton Brown. I’m the co-founder and joint Managing Director of Just Washroom Services. I’m responsible for the strategic aspects and the sales and marketing functions within the business.
Why did you start the Business?
We wanted to start the business because we felt there was a gap in the market. We thought people were receiving a poor standard of service and we could do a lot better ourselves.
We did a lot of market research and understood what customers were really looking for first. We felt that the major competitors were focusing on margin and driving productivity gains whilst forgetting about the customer.
So what did you do that was different?
We addressed all the frustrations that people said they had with their current suppliers. It’s very simple to use words such as customer service, customer focus and reliability, but making them a reality is much harder.
For us putting the customer first isn’t just a cliché, it’s real and relevant.
What’s the thing that you’re business has done that you’re most proud of?
We’ve grown our client base significantly over the past year. I put it down to having excellent people. We’re very proud of our team and all their efforts.
We’ve also been recognised for our success with several big business awards. We were finalists in the London Business Awards for business of the year 2010 and excellence in marketing 2008. Last year we won the London Business Award for Growth. That was a great experience.
We’ve also been nominated as finalists for 4 more awards this year. So fingers crossed!
What part does Social Media play in your business?
Social media plays an integral role within our business. We use online forums and networking sites such as LinkedIn to generate sales leads. I think LinkedIn is the first place you should start if you’re doing B2B marketing online.
What advice would you give to people thinking of starting their own businesses?
Plan your business well. Ensure that you have a full understanding of all the key component parts such as marketing, financials and people. And understand the trading implications on your cash flow.
If you don’t have expertise in a particular area – seek help and support. It’s critical for your business.
Other than that: research your market sector, develop a unique selling proposition and innovate within your sector to make sure you’re differentiated from your competitors.
That’s great advice Carlton. Thanks for sharing with us
No problem, glad I could help out.
You can check out Carlton’s website here (perhaps you’re not happy with the guys who do your washrooms and you’re looking to switch suppliers? If so I’d definitely give Carlton and his team a call)
More entrepreneur interviews coming soon.