"Im not frightened of saying it how it is family businesses often need external support to help them focus and grow. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness"
Kate Branagan, Branagan's Flooring
A south Manchester family firm has seen its turnover increase by 40% and created eight jobs in 12 months, thanks to an appointment with a Business Doctor.
Branagan Flooring was established as a one-man-band by Richard Branagan in 1998 as a continuation of his father's business which had been trading for over 30 years. The Sharston-based company – now run by Branagan and his wife Kate - employs 25 and has seen turnover leap from £1.2 million to £2 million in just 12 months. It is now on track to reach £2.5 million by the end of the next financial year.
The remarkable growth was achieved after the pair turned to consultant Kevin Cook, from SME growth advisors Business Doctors, when they failed to get the support they needed from their bank.
The company, based on Sharston Industrial Estate, provides flooring services for domestic and commercial customers, including care homes, hospitals, primary schools, museums and food preparation facilities
Company director Kate said: “We were looking for finance because cash flow was a nightmare but the banks were not helpful at all. We met Kevin through a local networking group, and with his expertise and knowledge he helped us to make some simple changes that had a huge impact.”
A strategic review allowed the Branagans to identify the problems they were facing and then produce a 12 month action plan to address them.
Kevin said: “When I first met them, Richard was on his knees seven days a week fitting flooring, and Kate was spending a huge amount of the day on credit control.
“They were trapped in a very common situation of being incredibly busy but not making a lot of profit from individual jobs. We talked about the type of work they had coming in and looked at the type of profit margins they should be aiming for, then identified the types of jobs that they should say no to and the ones that they should be pursuing.”
Kate said: “In the building trade, you have three tiers of contractors – tier ones are the huge operators, tier threes are the small local firms. We were the little ones at the bottom, and we were winning a lot of business but it wasn’t helping us to grow. Thanks to Kevin’s insight, our contract values are now a lot bigger. Before he got involved, a £40,000 job would have been unimaginable for us. Now it’s standard.”
The impact has been huge: as well as increasing turnover and profits, Branagan Flooring now employs eight more people, freeing Richard and Kate to spend more time growing the business.
“We now have a full-time quantity surveyor, a full-time estimator and I have an office manager,” said Kate. “Instead of laying flooring seven days a week, Richard now spends just three days a week on the practical side and is able to focus on looking after customers and quoting for new big projects.
“And now I have a full-time office manager, I genuinely wonder how I ever managed to do everything myself.”
And despite the major changes to profitability, Kate insists that they didn’t have to make any big alterations to the way the business is run.
“Other than things getting a lot easier, I couldn’t actually tell you what changed,” she said . “Kevin is very good at working with family businesses - he can see how people work for each other and against each other and come up with ideas that we both agree with. It’s good to have someone on the outside looking in, because you can get too bogged down in the day-to-day.
“I’m not frightened of saying it how it is – family businesses often need external support to help them focus and grow. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness"