Woods Business Services continues to deliver impressively consistent results thanks to a pragmatic approach that is all about playing to the strengths of the business and ensuring that they remain as lean as possible.
For Jon Banger, director of Woods Business Services, 2017 is a special year as it marks his 30th anniversary in the business. Having joined when it was just a retail outlet in Bath, he’s worked his way up through the ranks and now runs the successful B2B arm of the business from dedicated premises in Chippenham. “I definitely didn’t think I would still be here in 2017 when I started back in 1987!” says Jon. “When I joined the business focused solely on its shop in Bath but then, three or four years later, as business changed, the owners took the plunge and opened a commercial arm. We originally operated from offices above the shop but our success meant we had to find a base with warehouse space – and the rest is history!” Fast forward to today and the commercial arm of the business operates independently from the retail shop (which is still going strong in Bath) and is run by Jon and his team, with great success. “Because I came up through the ranks – from standing behind the till to now running it – looking after operations, sales, marketing and anything else that has to be done, it gives me a great insight into what’s needed to succeed,” Jon explains. “In a small business you need to be close to everything that’s going on and I do enjoy being so hands-on and working closely with the brilliant team we have here; they work hard to achieve what we do and bring the success that we’ve enjoyed over the years.”
When asked why the business can deliver such consistently strong performance, year after year, Jon says much of it is down to keeping the business lean and efficient.
“In 2016, we achieved a turnover of £1.5m with just 10 staff. We’re in business to make a profit so we’re set up to be as streamlined as possible in order to eke that profit out. that’s not us being greedy – it’s about ensuring we work efficiently. It means, for example, that we’re very focused on online ordering – it accounts for 50% of business and that figure is growing – and we’ve worked hard to ensure we have the right back office system that co-ordinates with our ecommerce offering. Our webstore dovetails into our back office very effectively and simply which allows us to proactively target customers who aren’t buying online and encourage them to do so. All of our new business is steered online too as it reduces noise and traffic coming through the office.
We switched to Prima from Progress two-and-a-half years ago and now, to be honest, we can’t imagine how we operated without them! Their solution boosts efficiencies from a purchasing perspective and the fact it’s developing fast allows us to be constantly adding new features and further automation.” Jon does add, however, that he hasn’t automated everything. “We do retain manual intervention when it suits us. For example, our purchasing isn’t automated so that we can try and cut logistics’ costs.”