This isn’t my usual type of writing, it’s all about me and not how I can help you. I thought it important though that this information is somewhere on my website. I’d like people who are considering working with me to know a bit more about my background. What qualifies me to help you? Hopefully this will give you a flavour.
To summarise, in case you’re short of time, I have run my own successful business for the last 9 years. I started it from scratch and still run it today, although I’ve got it to a stage where I don’t need to be ‘in’ it day-to-day to allow me to concentrate on helping people like you. We were part of the SmallBiz100 in 2019 and runners up in the Wiltshire Business Awards in the same year. My business makes a healthy profit and employs up to 15 people (it’s very seasonal). Whilst running this business (Rays Ice Cream) I have started two others (I suppose 3, counting this one), a café which I sold on and a spray painting business which I have now left but which is still successfully run by my former business partner. Prior to working for myself I spent some time in a national franchised business and before that I trained and then cut my teeth in huge hospitality businesses. If you care about the detail, read on………
In 1999 I graduated from The University of Bath with a 2:1 in Chemistry but knew that a career in chemistry wouldn’t be for me. I was fortunate to be accepted onto the MSc in Management course, a version of the Bath MBa, but for people without the experience in industry. The course was phenomenal covering all aspects of business and gave me an excellent grounding in all areas.
I then went on to join Bass Leisure Retail (now Mitchells and Butlers) on their graduate training scheme. They’re a huge hospitality company, operating many brands that you’ll recognise – Browns, All Bar One, Toby Carvery, Harvester, O’Neills and many more. It was a really well planned induction into the world of the big corporate business. 3 month placements across many departments including procurement, HR, marketing, pricing, estates. The training culminated in 12mths shadowing a Regional Business Manager, he was one of the best in the business and still a great friend today.
This all led to me, age 22, becoming a Regional Business Manager in my own right. Leading teams of up to 16 general managers at a time, each of their businesses taking up to £1M annually. I was in the restaurant division, starting in All Bar One and spending some time in InnKeeper’s Fayre, Toby Carvery and Harvester. To say the role was full on would be an understatement, I was ultimately responsible for the sales and bottom line in these businesses. I was leading experienced business people to make the most out of their businesses, most of them were considerably older than I was. I was responsible for recruitment, performance management, organising training, customer service levels, food safety, health and safety standards and everything else, all whilst driving the bottom line. I managed an area through the sale of the businesses with all the employee relations issues that go along with that – consultation, redeployment, redundancy. I re-wrote the operations manual for Harvester for the first time in 13 years. I later went on to be a Brand Manager within M&B, responsible for all aspects of marketing for an upmarket pub/restaurant brand in roll out – I think we opened 20 new pubs in about 18 months!
I spent a couple of years in Pizza Hut, the Home Delivery side of the business. Again, I was in operations and by the end of my time with them was responsible for my own 20 ‘Huts’ as well as for 2 Trainee Area Managers, each of whom had 12 businesses of their own.
I left the big corporate world and joined a more local franchised food business as a Marketing Manager in their Head Office. They had about 25 franchisees nationally, the marketing side of the role was great – managing a small team and between us producing the bi-annual brochure, operating a call centre, maintaining a CRM, fulfilling all brochure requests, operating various sales funnels for customers at different stages in their journey with us, national press advertising, TV advertising and more. What I really loved though was my time out in the field with the franchisees, focussing on their more local marketing needs as well as helping them to improve their overall operation and profitability. This business was owned by two partners who worked in the business, I reported directly to them, it was my first insight into smaller business, albeit this one had a multi-million pound turnover. It was different, I was working for the owners, every decision affected them personally, not just their P&L but their own personal bank account – it really focusses the mind. I left this business whilst pregnant in 2010.
In August 2011, I opened Rays Ice Cream, an ice cream shop in Old Town, Swindon. I had always loved great ice cream, probably something to do with growing up in Pembrokeshire. I did some basic courses, took on the lease to a run down shop, had my husband decorate said shop and went for it. We made all of our own ice cream in the back of the shop and focussed on making a great product and on great service. One of the boring training lines I always deliver to my staff is that no one ever needs ice cream, there are plenty of other treats available, we’re not the car tyre place or the dentist where you have to go sometimes. So if people didn’t love us, and remember their visit fondly, why would they come back? We had to treat every customer well and that is what we strive to do.
Things have changed somewhat now. We built a kitchen inside an industrial unit which is where we make all of our ice cream now. We serve our ice cream at events and seasonal pop up shops. We also now supply our ice cream wholesale to local restaurants, food pubs both directly and via a distributor. I have a great team around me who, between them, manage the day to day business. It’s still my baby, I catch up with the managers regularly to ensure we’re all on the right track.
I have started 3 other unrelated businesses since 2011 too, one was sold, one I left but still operates successfully, and this one, My Business Buddy.
I have a passion for business, I love it, particularly the nitty gritty – looking at the detail to find ways to improve things and build profitability. Developing great teams to get on with the work so the owner can concentrate on the next thing, or improving the existing ones. I love helping small business owners to make the most of their business and to organise it in such a way that it’s working for them – whatever that might mean, the answer differs from person to person.
Interested in working with me? Or in finding out more about my services? Please have a look at my website, or book a FREE 20 minute chat with me.