Monday, 23 November 2020

Let's Get Down to Business: Ian Reid, Reids of Henley

Let's Get Down to Business: Ian Reid, Reids of Henley

IAN REID is the proprietor of Reids of Henley, the dry cleaners in Reading Road, Henley. He is the third generation of his family in the business. He lives near Brackley and has commuted to Henley every day since the business opened in 1992. He has two sisters who own and run dry cleaning businesses in Brackley and Banbury. In 2017, Ian opened another shop in Marlow. A father of three, he’s a rugby fan and a motor sport enthusiast and only recently gave up, somewhat reluctantly, his own racing car.

Describe your business

We are a specialist dry cleaners and launderers offering high-quality garment care covering everything from everyday shirts to bespoke wedding dresses. We run a collection and delivery service and offer a personal valet service. All the cleaning and laundry is done at our premises in Henley.

How many people does it employ?

Including me, there are 15 of us.

What did you do before you started this business?

This is all I’ve ever done since leaving school at 18. As a boy, I worked in my parents’ business on Saturdays and in the school holidays. When I left school I had to choose between going to university to become an accountant or joining the business. At the time my parents were running a business in Brackley and were servicing customers in Henley by van. The premises where we are now became available and they decided to open the business there and I chose not to become an accountant.

When did the business begin?

My grandfather started it in 1945.

What was your objective in joining the business?

I wanted to be the master of my own destiny. I relish a challenge and work well under stress.

Who or what influenced you?

Being in the business, both my parents and grandparents were a powerful influence.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

My dad, who sadly passed away in 2007.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

When I started I didn’t pay enough attention to what the market was telling me. I soon realised I had to deliver what people expected and now run my business as if I were my customer.

How is your business doing?

Bang on the same as last year. It has plateaued over the last three years but we’re holding steady in the current climate.

Do you compare figures on a regular basis?

Weekly... I watch it like a hawk. I can forecast very accurately.

How do you market your business/service?

Social media. We use Aspen Weatherburn, who updates our website regularly and posts five times a week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also our reputation is vital in ensuring we keep our customers.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Flexibility where my time is concerned. I used to work six or seven days a week with 14-hour days. Now I make sure I’m able to reduce my own workload so I can attend things like parents evenings.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Meeting the expectations and demands of our customers and staff, which are forever changing.

Where is your business headed?

We are moving towards being more eco-friendly while maintaining quality. People are more concerned about the environment these days. We recently invested £100,000 in new machinery and we are massively reducing our use of single-use plastic.

How important is online?

Very. People go online to arrange collection and delivery.

Do you have a five-year plan?

Yes. To either open a third store or focus more effort on expanding our collection and delivery service.

Do you set goals at the start of a new financial year?

Yes. To at least stay the same as the previous year.

What’s the secret of your success?

Pure hard work. Dedication, listening to the public and delivering quality on a consistent basis.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

To listen to what the customers want.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

Other than don’t? Set it up as if you were the customer.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

I missed out on watching my children growing up because I was working six days a week, which I now regret. I stopped doing that when my 16-year-old son Tom was seven and started playing football. I also have two daughters, Lottie, 13, and Maisie, eight.

How organised are you?

Terribly. Thankfully, I have very good staff.

How do you dress for work each day?

A pair of jeans and a shirt that is always immaculately pressed of course.

What can’t you be without every day?

Coffee, plus I couldn’t possibly be without my team. Many of them have been with me for more than 15 years.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

I’ve not gone out for lunch in 27 years. It’s usually a sandwich while I’m working on the press.

Do you continue to study?

No. I make it up as I go along!

What do you read?

With the business and three children, I simply don’t have the time.

How are you planning for retirement?

Since my wife and I separated last year I have no idea!

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