The Business Owner: Richard Lancaster, Lustalux
The Preston-based business owner talks about his frustrations with red tape, and how he embraces social media
Founder: Richard Lancaster
Proposition: Window film, graphics and signage
How is your business different from what’s already out there?
We do our best to respond quickly to all enquiries from survey/quote through to finished job. A common complaint about our industry is slow response and often a lack of response. Our aim is to buck the trend and to become renowned for prompt yet realistic lead times.
How did you finance your business?
Apart from traditional bank finance in the early days, the business has been largely self-financing. We have always been a believer of re-investing profits back into the business to give us an edge against our competitors.
What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?
Staff development as they are the future of the business and my pension providers. We invest heavily into training not only to meet customer requirements but also to empower staff in the running of the business.
What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?
Over the top health and safety rules and unrealistic expectations of timescales. Unfortunately, too many health and safety regulations are designed to cover all bases rather than geared to the trade in question.
This eats up valuable time when we arrive on site especially when we are informed that there will be a two-hour induction in order to complete an hours’ work.
What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?
A good online profile, social media and happy customers who spread the word about us. We have constantly invested in pay-per-click marketing since its inception. This allows us to target both the customer profile we want to attract right down to where they are located. We also embrace most forms of social media as a matter of course, including content marketing.
Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?
Of course, if you have an exportable product or service however we are strictly UK for now.
Describe your company’s culture in three words:
Image, service, results.
What would you like the government to do for small business?
Reduce red tape. I would introduce a “common sense charter” where individuals are more accountable for their actions taking some of the responsibility away from companies.
Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?
John Hannan, founder of Hannan Blinds. I have known John for many years and have observed him building up a company by providing excellent customer service with a smile. He later sold the company which still bears his name yet he is still enjoying working in his late sixties.
Where do you want the business to be in three years?
Still growing, still diverse, still exciting. Personally I want to have less involvement in the day to day running of Lustalux yet still retain an influence.
What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?
Motivate your staff.