In our latest edition of success stories, we spoke to Brenden Carr – owner of a family run business. Caztec help deal with domestic and commercial electrical problems. Brenden discusses the changes to marketing yourself as a business owner, over twenty years, to the advantages of running a family business.
When and why did you start your own business?
My career started as a young lad watching my father who was also an electrician. As most children do, I looked up to my father and admired what he did to provide for the family. Therefore, growing up as a teenager, I continued to learn and absorb all the little things he did hoping that I could do the odd DIY job myself. Once I landed my first job, it was a boring dead-end job and I soon realised I should have followed in my father’s footsteps.
What inspired your to start you own business over your previous role?
Therefore, the dream was simple, I would take the skills I had learnt in my teenage years and with a few business cards and a lot of confidence from friends who needed the odd job done, I set off on my way to starting Caztec. I had done the calculations before setting off and realised that I could earn at least 30% more than my previous role. To me it was a no brainer. I had the expertise from my father and I enjoyed the electrical trade which was also a major contributing factor.
What were and are some of the biggest challenges that you face, and how do they vary over time?
We have all faced challenges in life, whether that is in work or personal. Throughout my 30 years of work as an electrician I have encountered many problems. One of the major ones, was when I first started. The work from friends soon started to fade away and they all expected “mate’s rates” as well, which made it difficult for me to sustain my wages as well as looking to hire an apprentice. This is when I realised that I was now more than just a local electrician, I was marketing, HR and sales too. I learnt a valuable lesson from that, which was that leads are the most important thing to a business, because without them who would you sell to.
What is the most prominent lesson you have learnt from starting your own business?
One of the most prominent lessons I have learnt is that the service you provide to customers is just as important as the high-quality job you fit or repair. People appreciate this and build relationships with your company or you as an individual if you are prepared to take the time and be honest with them about what they need. Instead of some companies who create problems in order to charge higher prices and are therefore ripping vulnerable people off.
What are some of the pros and cons of running a family run business?
I love working with the family because they know what to expect and you have that trust and sense of community that larger companies may not have. People often respond well when they hear that my two sons work for the company. It builds a sense of trust. Obviously, we sometimes argue as every family does, but I would not change my decision to hire the boys and have them learn the trade off me as I did off my father. In a sense this has become part of our brand and USP.
Did you have a pivotal point in your business owner career, where it was either make or break?
There will always be people in business who are ready to cut corners to achieve success. In my industry, an example of this would be a false electrical test report being filed which is supposed to be displayed in a test certificate and is a legal requirement. Something as important as electrical testing services need to be carried out by professionals, and this is one of the ways I built up relationships with customers. They knew we were a trusted and professional company who would offer the proper service required. Through this we would often get good feedback and referrals to other clients. This is a key strategy I used to build the client base as well as others. But never underestimate the power of word of mouth, it can have a pivotal impact on a company, as it did with Caztec in its early days. Nevertheless, I did face serious problems, but none where I thought I might lose the company. I took the slow and safe approach.
What are your top tips for marketing your business?
The marketing tips I would recommend nowadays are far different than say 20 years ago. For example, back in the 1990s you might have used posters, local ads in the newspaper, word of mouth. Compare that to 2017, people now use TV adverts, Radio, Google. Advertising now is mostly done all through technology, it is rare if you find people advertising in papers or using posters. If you’re starting a business now do your research on how best to generate leads in your industry, it could be through your website or if you have a big marketing budget it might be through adverts on TV/Radio.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own business?
For anyone starting a business, I would suggest doing your research about a number of things. Consider the niche you’re going into, if it is too broad or it too small. If it is too broad you will just become a store that sells everything and not really have a reputation for anything. If the niche is too small you won’t attract enough customers and which will lead to a small number of sales. Also, consider your competition, don’t go after something that has major competitors. Both are just a small percentage of things you should research before jumping into a big decision. Nevertheless, if you have the expertise, money and research behind you, there is no reason why your dream can’t be like mine, a success.