Kitchen and Bathroom News
writes about Harris Bathrooms
– a new bathroom showroom in
Having had 15 years of experience in the bathroom and tile industry working for various bathroom showrooms in Southampton, the doors of opportunity opened for Ryan when his wife drove past the empty premises andthinking it was suitable for a bathroom showroom, found it on the estate agent’s website and showed it to Ryan. He says: “it was just around the corner from where we lived and it was ticking all the boxes, really.” The landlord had started to build flats behind the showroom but said if Ryan could organise the lease within four weeks, he could rent the premises. He confesses: “Things happened very,very quickly. It kind of rollercoasted.”
Combining his personal savings with a Government Start-up loan, fronted by entrepreneur James Caan from Dragon’s Den, Ryan raised the finance for the business. He explains how he went about it: “What they wanted from us was a realistic business plan and a cash flow projection for the next three years, which we did based on the running costs, staff and set-up costs. Then it went to a panel of four people who analysed everything and made sure it all added up.” He continues: “They were very positive about the idea, approved our business plan and backed us very quickly.”
Derelict to dazzling
But it wasn’t all that easy, as the retail premises had been left empty for a year and a half, and was quite rundown. Ryan explains: “For a start there was standing water when you came through the door. The floor was rotten; the joists were gone, because all the drains were blocked. It was all overgrown at the front of the shop. The walls were in a terrible state. The ceiling tiles were all missing.”
Ryan was equally canny about choosing suppliers for his bathroom showroom, which targets the mid-market consumer who has a budget of around £5,000-£10,000. He selected Mark Two Distribution as a main supplier, as it not only provided him with both the Hudson Reed and Ultra Finishing brands, but offered him display support. Ryan explains: “When I had a meeting with Mark Two they were very supportive and very proactive in getting in here. The deal they gave me was very attractive in terms of displays and on-going terms as well. So I wanted to work, very much, with them and to spec their quality range of products .
His bathroom brands also include many ranges of quality bathroom furniture suppliers, taps, shower enclosures and a fine selection of tiles.
Social Media and Marketing
Using social media and he has already looked to drive sales through social media, even including a QR Code (Quick Response) Code on the outside of the building.
Potential customers can scan the code, particularly useful if out of hours, and they will be directed to the bathroom showroom’s website. Ryan says: “I love all social media. We regularly update Facebook with what we’re doing in the bathrooms showroom, there’s progress photos on there – there’s product photos and I’ve been using Twitter as well. I want to get more on Youtube too.”
And social media will certainly be important for the company, as it plans to target customers beyond its immediate neighbourhood. Ryan proposes to supply, design and fit bathrooms for Hampshire. He adds: “I’ll serve anywhere in Hampshire, probably a 60-mile radius. I’ll help all clients in Hampshire, both retail and trade – I will go there.”
And his strategic marketing decisions seem to have already paid off, as Ryan says: “It was a good start when we opened up. We had a good number of people in and good quality enquiries…and a good number of visits to customers’ homes to measure up for a new bathroom project.”
In fact, he cites the initial day of opening as the stand-out moment of starting his business. He proudly explains a number of people said they had been waiting for the showroom to open. And he adds: “There’s beena couple of nice comments from people who have said we have lifted the area, (West End Road in Southampton) because it was a real eyesore. That was nice to have local residents say you have uplifted the area and it looks so good.”
All of which saw Ryan exceeding his initial sales projections for his showroom. He adds: “I have doubled what I thought I was going to do in terms of cashflow projections and what figures we were going to do each month.”
Expanding sales empire
Even though the doors to the bathroom showroom have only just opened, Ryan is already looking to enlarge his premises. “I do want to expand the bathroom showroom, that’s the thought for later this year. I want to show more products. And already Ryan can see himself opening a second bathroom showroom in Hampshire – although hasn’t he got enough to do with a new bathroom company, He admits it is a longer-term vision, but concludes “see how it goes for the next few years and that would be my next plan.”
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