• The Business Owner

Meet the Boss - Matt Blewett

Company Name: Shuttercraft Gloucestershire/Oxfordshire

Position: Owner director of a franchise

Industry: Shutters and blinds

What was your first job or role after education?

I left school in 1982 and when onto do an apprenticeship in carpentry and Joinery, qualified after 3 years with a city and guilds in advance carpentry and joinery certificate.

Could you describe your career path for the reader?

Since I left school in 1982, I have never been out of work. After I qualified in 1985, I worked in the construction industry for a further 4 years as a self-employed carpenter and Joiner. In 1990 I got involved in the blind industry, and work for a company that manufactured conservatory blinds. I started as an employed fitter and worked my way up to selling and installing blinds in an area in the south west and south wales. I ended up as a self- employed sales designer for 12 years. I then got ahead hunted by a conservatory manufacture selling high end timber conservatories in the south west area for 2 years, until I was asked to return to the blind manufacture.

Where I took on a roll as a regional sales manager, responsible for the south west sales team of 9 people, turning over a 2.3M in the region. In 2008 my roll changed again, due to the credit crunch, I was asked to be a senior Sales Designer for the same company for 12 months and returning a self-employed roll again for the next 3 years. This where I began looking for another opportunity to do something for myself and being my own boss. While working for the blind manufacture, shutters started to become product that customers were considering as an alternative window covering for their windows.

I approached a shutter supplier S-craft, as to become a trade partner in the Gloucestershire area. This became an opportunity to buy a franchise business in the shutters and never looked back. Over the last 9 years owning the franchise, I have grown to employing 4 people and acquiring a 2nd territory in Oxfordshire to a £500K turn over business.

What is your current role and what is your favourite part about it?

My Current role is business owner and director of a shutter franchise, where I carry out a day to day selling directly to the homeowner, a supply and installation service of very high-quality plantation shutters in the Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire areas. My favourite part of my day is meeting new customers and making their homes look amazing with newly fitted stylish shutters. Their reaction on seeing the shutters fitted on their windows speaks volumes, of that looks amazing, what a difference the shutters make on the room, it makes the room look bigger and I don’t feel like I am in a goldfish bowl.

Are you optimistic, realistic or pessimistic about 2021?

I am very optimistic and realistic about 2021. The market in shutters is still growing at a very good rate and I believe I will grow by an another 10% on what turnover we did last year. This a realistic growth in the current circumstances of the blind and shutter market. Last year we at Shuttercraft grew by 34% from the year previous and if we take all the opportunities that are given to us, the 10% growth is very achievable.

What is the most important task you carry out each day?

Wake up! It’s a new day and new opportunities are there to be taken. Make sure I have prepared for all the surveys you are going on for that day. Never make promises you cannot keep to a customer, be honest, be yourself always, no matter what you are trying to achieve. Most of all Sell! Sell!

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self about your career journey?

Believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you put your mind to, by working hard. Set yourself realistic goals that are achievable. I was told by very wise old man, my father! “The world is your oyster”, you do anything you want, as long as you work hard and set yourself achievable targets.

Have there been any positives about 2020 and lockdown for you?

The positives of 2020, if you are able to adapt your operation into how you cope with Covid-19, we used an online service to an amazing effect and taking orders online by using the customer guide to measuring service. This involved a video call with the customer, showing the customer how to measure their windows, using the website as to what product is best, what colours, style of shutter is best suited for their windows. If the windows were a more complicated design, we would give them an estimate and arrange for a site survey under the social distancing rules.

What causes you the most stress at work?

Not being able to deliver what I promised to the customer. I am not very good excepting failure in not giving great customer service from the day we make contact to delivery their shutters on time and fitting perfectly. I thrive on customers giving me great feedback and perfect satisfaction of our quality shutters and fitting service.

If you could instantly change one area or thing about your business, what would it be?

Being able to let go of the rains on areas of the business that take up most of my time, which would allow me to sell more, which what I am good at. I have now employed 2 new fitters, which one will become a survey and fitter. This will give me more time to grow the sales in both areas, by dividing the 2 areas into two halves to maximise the territories to either full potential.

What do you do to unwind?

I am a keen cyclist and try get on my bike 2 or 3 times a week. I love watching rugby and cricket. I also have a love for sailing, and have done it most of my life, either in a dingy or on a yacht We have just got a Dalmatian puppy called Lola, who keeps me on our toes and allows me to go on nice walks too.

If you could give a single piece of advice to a start-up entrepreneur what would that be? Make sure you do your research and know your market. Be very committed and believe in yourself that you can achieve your goals and ambitions. Be realistic in what targets and gaols you set yourself and stick to it. Never be afraid to except help and now your weakness. You work with your weakness to be your strengths in running a successful business. Surround yourself with the right people, who may even be better than you in aspects of your business, this could turn you into being more successful.