Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Award-Winning Bog Rolls With Attitude (and profit)

I wrote this cameo of Ollie and Dave's Source Supplies and they went and won the the award for Business of The Year at The Toast Of Surrey  

Everyone loves a story about the underdog; it is part of the whole small business and entrepreneurship ethos. The stereotypical Branson-esque story goes: find a dull industry and go in and shake it up by delivering a service that the customers want. Branson has done it in air and rail travel. More modestly, enter Ollie Rastall and David Piper at Source Supplies.

Rastall and Piper have quite literally attacked the cleaning supplies industry. They sell the stuff that every place needs: toilet paper, cleaning chemicals "for all your washroom and janitorial requirements". Sounds dull to me but as the saying goes, "where there's muck there's brass".

In their own way, Rastall and Piper have grabbed this industry by the throat. Competing head-on with well-established national and regional players they have put the fun into the industry. Their website is light, bright and breezy: the guys are passionate about the business. More importantly, they are passionate about blowing away their customers with what can only be described as legendary or remarkable service. By that I mean service worth remarking about.

Taking a leaf out of the books of well-known entrepreneurs who have put the fun into a tired industry and adding a bit of craziness to boot, they remind me of a combination of Innocent, Ben and Jerry's, and Branson.

Nice guys, Nice business.

With rapid growth over the past two years, how have David and his team achieved this "zero to hero" story. Dave says that they have been "capitalising on the lack of flexibility and customer service that the larger, national competitors offer". How long will that last?

The easy bit is sourcing what are essentially stock goods but their difference does appear to be in the service. In what is a highly price-sensitive industry, the boys insist on delivery with a big, big smile. And on time (or early). And with the actual things you ordered. And cup cakes. And chocolate brownies. And a Christmas party. And a barbeque. These are not gimmicks but a way of separating themselves from the competition. Neat.

With a small team of drivers who are trained to deliver not just cleaning supplies but a fantastic customer experience, David stands by the small business mentality "so many small companies model themselves on the larger businesses. There is a gap in the market for suppliers to be much more attentive when it comes to customer service". I think everyone could learn a thing or two from these guys who are not just talking the talk.

Watch this space!

In fact watch the guys at 2:17 mins on the video...

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