Tony presenting a bed to Tia Taggart as part of the company’s support for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital
From working on super yachts in the Mediterranean to managing a hugely successful retail bed business, joiner Tony Smith applies the same attention to detail to whatever he is doing, and it is paying huge returns for his Wythenshawe company.
What does the company do?
Kidsfuntime Beds makes dream beds for children. What started as a fun garage project for my step-daughter has become a highly successful business, selling almost 100 beds nationwide every week.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As the owner of a small but rapidly growing business I am involved in every aspect of its day to day running, but I have a great team and I am learning to delegate !
We have managers and team leaders in place now and it’s important to make sure that they are happy and confident in their roles. Equality and respect is very important to me and I like to know that everyone in the business is treated fairly and is happy. I believe that’s the key to successful delegation and ensuring people are passionate and care as much as I do about the business.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I've had an entrepreneurial streak from being a child. From the age of 10 my favourite magazine was not the 'Beano' but the 'Loot' - a buy-and-sell magazine. But I took up a trade and qualified as a joiner in 2003 and worked as a sole trader which gave me a decent insight into running a business. I’ve travelled and worked all over the world (mainly in Australia and New Zealand) using my joinery skills and often setting up small businesses and creating teams to help deliver. Before establishing Kids Funtime Beds, I was working on super yachts all around the Mediterranean doing high-end joinery work.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Listen to your staff, know your staff, look after your staff, praise your staff, train your staff - I think that when people feel good about working for the company they genuinely want it to do well.
We have an incredibly low turnover of staff and often anyone that has left has said they wished they could return.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Making sure that our customer service is exemplary is key to our success and one of the greatest challenges, although we now have a model which is working really well. We’ve built up a 99% Trust Pilot rating and have 250,000 followers on Facebook. It’s the customer reviews that really get me excited because that’s a key measure of success. Kids Funtime Beds currently ranks second in the bedrooms category and third for furniture in the UK, and we’ve worked really hard to achieve that.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I don’t find it particularly stressful because I love what we do. In fact, I’m about to start a new company as Kids Funtime Beds is doing so well. One thing I do really enjoy is taking time out to support local charities. For every customer picture shared on social we donate £4 to the Manchester Children’s Hospital. We recently present the Hospital with a cheque for £5,000 and donated a new bed for patient Tia Taggart. Meeting Tia and her family and seeing how happy she was with her new bed puts the stress of running a business firmly into perspective!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I know it’s a bit odd but I've always wanted to be a businessman, hence reading Loot as a child. I used to trade games consoles by post and then got into buying and selling BMX bikes, which I'd spray paint myself.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Yes mobile phones. They are banned during working hours but I do still see them every now and then.
We work with the staff when this happens, but can never seem to eliminate it entirely.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I think we will have expanded our premises and hopefully will be employing a bigger team and maybe building on export opportunities. We are currently based on the Roundthorn Industrial Estate in Wythenshawe and although we do not have a showroom we often have customers visiting us. I’d like to be able to provide a space to showcase our products although we will remain an online retailer as that works well for us.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Look after your staff and they'll look after you. Always put the customer first, it's unnecessary to have an unhappy customer, there's always a way round a situation. Go above and beyond for your customers, because an active and positive fan base will lead to more business.
Have a good budget for marketing, it’s crucial for growth. There's no such thing as free advertising.
Avoid investors unless completely necessary.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Have a HR advisor. There is always someone out there who wants to take your money so good advice is worth paying for.
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