My diary was somewhat affected by the weather last week: on Monday I got snowed in down in Maidstone, so instead of going to see a prospective new client up in Darlington, I did some more work on our functionality review, which is looking at the contribution of everyone in the business.
Although SK Chase is five years old in June, we decided about a year ago that we could be doing so much more. So we started a coaching programme with Shirlaws, and it’s completely transformed the way we operate – including my business partner Steph and me. In the beginning, we knew exactly what our focus was: creating a business. But as time went by, it became increasingly unclear what exactly our roles were; now we’ve structured the business so we know exactly what we should be doing every day (we’ve even put together some job specs for ourselves).
Steph’s the MD, and I’m the chair, so it’s my responsibility to think about the vision and direction of the business. At the moment we’re in a consolidation phase, but in six months or so we’ll be entering a growth phase. So I’m currently spending time looking at all our different options: whether we want to enter a new market in the UK (like restaurants, for example), or whether we want to go international with the existing model first.
So far we haven’t been adversely affected by the economic climate, and I think there are two reasons for that. For one thing, hotels are looking for new ways to generate extra revenue, and they see us as a potential new revenue stream. And the other is, while people are spending less, they’re also choosing to buy more online, which means our market is growing year-on-year. So hotels are very open to us coming on board.
I also decided a year ago to go on a media fast. I just felt it was very easy to get caught up with all the stuff in the press and get obsessed with it – obviously as a business owner I have a responsibility to be aware of what’s happening, but instead of reading the papers every day, I now get someone I trust to send me the relevant headlines once a week. I think this has had a really positive impact – it helps our people stay focused on what we’re trying to achieve.
Apart from all that, I’ve been thinking about what I want to say at the Everywoman conference in Glasgow on 3rd March, where I’m on a panel discussing ‘rising to the challenge in tougher times’. I’ve been to a few client meetings – including Center Parcs, where we talked about offering new spa packages, and to see a potential client which is due to open later this year - Rockliffe Hall in the North-East. I’ve been talking to potential partners about outsourcing the fulfilment side of the business, i.e. issuing and dispatching our vouchers. And I’ve been looking at new offices – we’re in a warehouse facility at the moment and I want to move us to a nicer, brighter, more contemporary office space.
Last but not least, I’ve also been doing some coaching with my staff – I want to make sure that as we grow we’re as committed to our cultural goals as we are to our commercial goals. I really believe that having happy people makes a business more profitable!
Kaye Taylor is Chair and co-founder of SK Chase, the UK’s award winning gift voucher company for hotel breaks and experiences. Founded in 2005, the company's innovative software has since built new revenue streams for over 200 hotels and spas across the country. If you want to hear her speak at the RBS everywoman Scotland conference on 3 March in Glasgow, click here for more details.