Smiley Booth are specialists in the manufacture and provision of photo booths for both private and corporate events as well as festivals. Directors Lee and Kate Johnson, take Bdaily behind the business.
What key challenges has your company faced?
Creating a new buying habit for the general public. When we started there weren’t any businesses in the UK providing this service and educating the market place required a huge amount of hard work, often unpaid or just breaking even. Now the market place is more aware of the service the challenge has been in distinguishing ourselves as the best photo booth company in the UK and building our franchise network. Lee and Kate would run the business outside their careers, Kate in marketing and Lee in corporate banking. This combined with a new born baby proved that time was our biggest challenge. Fortunately the growth of the business has resulted in Lee taking the leap of leaving corporate banking and running the business full time. A frightening prospect considering 12 years of banking!
What is your biggest achievement over the past 12 months?
We trebled our turnover in 2011 compared to 2010 and are set to do the same again this year. We have also launched our franchise model which is being actively sold around the UK. In addition we have also been nominated for a number of awards in the wedding industry as well as business award recognitions through Local Business Accelerators and Venus business Women awards.
What is your biggest focus for the coming year?
Establishing Smiley Booth as THE event photo booth provider through our ever growing franchise network. Also promoting our franchises as a great second income or lifestyle business.
If you had to choose one top piece of advice for someone just starting out in business, or is currently operating within your industry sector, what would it be?
Get your back office administration as slick and easy to manage as possible. Where we win and shine above our competition is in our ability to treat everyone as individuals and personalise our service. We can be dealing with upto 2000 individuals within our database at any point, but with the advent of cloud based technology and social media its very easy for us to communicate and connect directly with customers and opportunities. Understand your customers, communicate clearly and know your numbers!
Can you share with us your view of the current landscape of business, in this region or generally and where your organisation sits within it?
The recession has certainly caused some retraction in corporate investment into hospitality events over the last few years. Our view is that being in business means you have a responsibility to react and respond to the market. We sourced opportunities through the reasonably robust wedding market which saw over 250k weddings last year. The corporate market is now starting to come back. We are also developing new technology to expand our product range as we believe innovation has kept us reasonably recession proof and continued investment in this area will continue to help us build our business.