We asked Scott for a moment of reflection on the first 15 years of Liberty Hygiene. Some candid answers!
Why did you start Liberty Hygiene Scott?
I used to work as a Sales Manager for one of the large washroom services companies and I was really successful winning award after award. That was great for a while but the longer I was in the industry I started to wonder if there was another way to do business with a different level of customer care and service. I reckoned there was a gap so Liberty Hygiene was born at my kitchen table in 2005.
Did you always have an entrepreneurial flair?
I think so! Sales certainly came naturally to me and my first experience of this was probably when I was 16 and an apprentice locksmith. Looking back I was most likely the worst apprentice locksmith ever. No patience and that’s something that hasn’t changed. Anyway, one day at the office they were busy in the showroom so I was sent through to help out and just keep a couple of customers talking for a few moments till the actual salesman was free to speak to them. I think my talent for talking had been spotted. By the time the salesman came over I had done the sale, customer all sorted and away with a pile of extras too. That was the last time I was sent to try and sort a lock but my sales career was born.
Scott & Glenn in action
I also DJ’d, I think very successfully, for quite a few years with some of the biggest club events in the South East. In fact I didn’t just DJ; I hired the venues, sold the tickets and generally had a whole pile of fun along the way. And DJ’ing was going to help get Liberty off the ground.
How hard were the first years?
The first 2 years were exceptionally tough. This business is not a quick turnaround of cash and needs a lot of upfront investment. That’s where the DJ’ing savings went along with everything else I could scrape together. My brother Glenn and Mum Kath joined me early on and we all worked relentless hours with little or no pay and had many a kitchen table crisis meeting but we kept going. Finally we started to see the business turnaround about year 3 and the bigger clients starting coming on board. But we’ve never forgotten where we started from. We are a family business with strong family values and try to treat all our customers, no matter what size, as valued members of our family.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
Cash flow: I reckon most new businesses have the same early days problem but generating enough cash early on was crippling but we did it. I’ve got to add that an equally big challenge is managing growth. We grew very fast early on and had to learn new skills quickly: all the stuff a business needs to succeed.
What advice would you give anyone starting in the industry today?
Tongue in cheek I would say “Don’t give up the day job” But seriously, invest in and budget as early as possible for systems to help your business. By systems I mean software to help run the business, keep track of stock, customers, job scheduling, costs, accounts…… Go for the absolute best you can afford.