Family businesses are the backbone of the UK economy but the prevailing pandemic has affected family firms and non-family firms alike. However, resilience, passion and determination that are associated with many family firms and it is these qualities and values that help them to deal with the challenges they face.
Although some sectors have fared better than others, there is an air of optimism within the family business sector and our own 2020 Family Business Survey has shown that 24% of UK family firms are more optimistic about their prospects for the next 12 months compared to the same time in 2019 with a further 21% feeling the same as last year. Furthermore, only 10% of UK family firms expect to see little or no growth over the next three years and over 36% expect more growth of more than 10%.
Paul Andrews spoke to four family firms that are optimistic about the future.
As a leading independent garage door company, Doormatic are dedicated to providing excellent value on our high quality doors, offering something to suit all homes, tastes and requirements. Operating throughout the South East, they supply a range of quality garage doors across Surrey, Kent, Berkshire, Devon, Hampshire, West Sussex, London and Buckinghamshire.
Marc Sebo, owner of Doormatic said that they’ve seen a 40% increase in business since April due to Lockdown: “We’ve been incredibly lucky during the pandemic, with people spending more time at home and spending money on improvements.”
He went on to describe how it has impacted staff levels, saying “We’ve ordered a number of new vehicles and employed three more fitting staff. We’re also in the process of employing additional office and sales staff to help meet demand.”
But how do things look going forward? Marc Sebo is cautiously optimistic. “The prediction is that more people will continue to work from home so we think we’ll have a big growth in our business as well as home improvements in general.”
Fraser James Blinds are proud to be a leading supplier of bespoke, made-to-measure blinds, shutters, and awnings throughout the Leicester, Coventry, and Northampton areas. Fraser Tuttle, director of the business who have recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, said that they have seen a 20% year-on-year increase in business during Q2 and Q3 of 2020 due to COVID-19.
“We have seen a spike in customer interest in made-to-measure blinds and shutters since April, and this isn’t a surprise. With everyone spending more and more time at home, both working and relaxing, we’re starting to pay closer attention to the details that make our homes unique, such as window blinds. And of course, with many people struggling with glare in their makeshift home offices, finding the correct blinds to filter the light properly is essential,” explains Fraser.
When asked about how lockdown has impacted their staffing levels, Kimberly Tuttle, fellow director of Fraser James Blinds, said: “We were lucky enough to be able to keep all of our staff and have recently just purchased two new vehicles for our fleet. We are very happy with the way things are going and, despite the unfortunate circumstances, looking forward to the future.”
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Ipswich-based The Windscreen Company endured the COVID-19-enforced downturn to come back stronger than ever. The company experienced a 60% increase in leads in June compared to May, and with growth continuing, is now looking to expand into other UK markets and add to their successful team.
Barry Hegley, founder and director of The Windscreen Company, said: “We’re so relieved to have withstood the enforced downturn in business to come out the other side even stronger. During lockdown, we implemented stringent health and safety practices to protect staff and customers alike, allowing us to continue to provide crucial services whenever we were needed. This included servicing emergency service vehicles, too.”
Regarding the increase in leads post-lockdown, Barry said: “The height of the crisis was a difficult time for us, as it was for every business. In June, we saw a large uptick in leads, which filled us with confidence as we looked to bring our services to other areas of the country. Our growth is a testament to the resilience and unity of our team and I couldn’t be prouder. As we continue to grow, we’re looking forward to the future and adding to our brilliant team.”
Rollerdor, a provider of garage doors for customers around the country, have been enjoying a strong period post-lockdown. Like many businesses, the pandemic forced a slowdown in business, but the firm has seen leads increase in the past few months as people look to improve their homes.
Lucy Browne, owner of Rollerdor, said: “Lockdown was a tough period, and leads decreased during the peak of the pandemic. However, with the easing of lockdown came a significant increase in leads and business. As we’re an e-commerce business, we were able to bounce back quickly, and we continue to go from strength to strength as the weeks go by.”
As Paul Andrews, Founder and CEO at Family Business United adds, “Family businesses are resilient and it is great to see positive stories shining through what has been an incredibly difficult period for many family firms. The events of 2020 have provided an opportunity to focus on the business and reflect on its future strategic direction, often needing difficult decisions to be made. These family firms have made the most of the situation and embraced the opportunities that have come their way. Family firms have been through difficult times in the past and it is their resilience, drive, determination and desire to succeed that often shines through.”
“These entrepreneurial family firms offer a real beacon of hope to others and show that family firms have resolve and find a way to continue, and hopefully to thrive for many generations to come,” concludes Paul.