Husband and wife duo Gary Adam and Angela Pile explain what the future holds for their gifting service business, and how they have hopped from one successful company to another.
A brief description of the business?
Gary: Recognise & Reward is a service solution business that takes the pain point away for companies when they want to acknowledge their staff or clients.
Gifting is part of the recognition matrix and we provide sourcing of items and delivery that means clients don't have to do this themselves.
Where is your business based and how big is your team?
We're based in Remuera. We moved back to Auckland, from Christchurch, after the earthquake in 2011.
We have three full-time workers, nine to 10 casual staff at the moment, and also outsource with a warehouse logistics company called Supply Chain Solutions.
The concept came about in August 2014 and we worked with our first customers within three months - at Christmas time.
While we started gifting in late 2014, it was really the middle of 2015 that it really started going.
How exactly does your product and service business work?
Angela: We purchase everything first - we buy wholesale - and then gift wrap and creatively present items before we send them out. We source the product, gift wrap it, include a personalised handwritten card and courier it to clients.
What inspired you to start this kind of business?
Gary: We both came from corporate roles where we had been in senior sales and business development positions, so we knew the value of retaining clients.
We also had our own retail start-up during the global financial crisis which we took to a $2.8 million dollar business in two and a half years. From that we learnt, first hand, the absolute need to treat all clients like gold.
We saw a niche in the market where no one was addressing companies' known need to acknowledge their clientele, but was time and personnel constrained. So, we became an out-sourced resource costing companies less in terms of time and having to be creative.
How much competition do you face in the market?
We're a business to business service and no one currently has the scope of product range that we have.
Effectively we account manage business clients for all their gift needs, from brands like Royal Doulton, to active wear, to company branded products such as uniforms, pens, etc, so we don't see any direct competition for the scope of service we provide.
Angela: At present there is no one offering the range of product - over 900 items - and services from the same company.
You lost your former business in the Christchurch earthquakes, how has that impacted or influenced this business?
Gary: We grew that business to what would have been an annual turnover of $3 million before we were cut short of a full trading year - by seven weeks - due to the February 2011 earthquake which wrote off the premise and effectively stopped our business.
From a business perspective, it reinforced that everything we did was always with a view to customer engagement and satisfaction. From a personal perspective, you realise how vulnerable your life and business can be, and every day and experiences need to be embraced and enjoyed. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Why did you start a new business instead of rebuilding the old, successful one?
Unfortunately post earthquake, the franchiser decided to take our business off of us (the opportunity of the remaining 12 years of our franchise agreement).
A lengthy and expensive legal process made us decide that our next business venture we would be in control of and build it for ourselves.
Who are some of your biggest corporate clients?
Gary: Spark, Opus Consulting, Hobson Wealth, Ray White, LJ Hooker, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Mike Greer Homes, SkyCity.
Ninety eight per cent of our clients are business clients, but we also have one-off clients. A lot of our revenue comes from face-to-face discussions we have with clients. We get only about 5 per cent of transactions through our website.
Most of our clients are really busy and they say, 'Look, I don't have time to go on your website and I don't quite know what I'm looking for, I've got this need, what would you suggest?', and we relay options back to them.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
The challenge is also the opportunity - dealing with the growth.
The growth opportunity is significant, and we are conscious that we need to grow in a way that does not compromise the end service we provide.
Refining and building that growth strategy will be priority in the New Year.
What are your business goals for the next five to 10 years?
Angela: We're looking at either a partnership or franchise model for around the country, and looking to expand into event management as well.
For example, companies will be able to come to us and we'll do everything they need from managing the event, supplying the wines and branded product - and all of those things.
Gary: In terms of expanding into other countries, we want to largely tap into the New Zealand market as much as we can before we taking it overseas. Australia is on the radar, but it's not a priority for us.
What advice do you give to others wanting to start a business?
Angela: Don't be afraid to do it. Starting a business is scary when you start off, and even now there's times where you think, 'Oh god, what are we doing', but you've just got to take the leap of faith and do it.
Gary: Try things. They're not all going to work, but you've got to try things. In saying that, if it's not working you've got to cut your losses early.
If you're a new business, you've got to put in the hard yards.