::this post ID is 10580::::in categories of ..Building Services....Features..::

Becoming a new ShelfGenie franchisee

Calgary Home croppedBy Greg Billson
Starting a business is a bit like having a baby. At the beginning, it is very demanding, needs everything to be done for it and will die if you are not continually nurturing it. Then, as it grows, it becomes less dependent and can survive without needing as much of your constant intervention. As a new ShelfGenie franchisee in Calgary, I am now watching this process unfold. My days are currently long and stressful, but I am working to put the right pieces in place and I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A methodical beginning
I was born just outside Cardiff, Wales, and my family moved around the U.K. a lot as I was growing up, due to my dad’s line of work as a sales consultant and, in his later years, a self-employed business consultant. 
I have two brothers, one seven years older and the other five years younger than me.

As a child, I enjoyed making models, which led to an interest in seeking perfection through design. I also developed a lifelong love of cycling.

My dad was the biggest influence on me and we thought very similarly. He was logical, patient, methodical, calm and collected. People felt at peace around him.

In high school, I focused on the sciences, including maths, physics and chemistry, as I loved problem solving. In the U.K., you have to narrow your options as you go along.

I went to university in Sheffield, England, for a degree in computer science. It was a four-year degree from 1978 to 1982, when computers were still reasonably new to most of us. I loved the process of understanding how technology could meet business needs and generally make the world a better place for everyone.

My degree included a co-op element, with two six-month stints working in the industry. Specifically, I worked for British Steel Stainless in Sheffield when I was a student, which led to me joining one of their computer systems providers, Scomagg, in Glasgow, Scotland, right after I graduated.

Scomagg was a small company; I was their 26th employee. Thanks in part to its small size, the company enjoyed the luxury of every single employee being supremely talented in his/her role.

Birdseye-8-11During a brief meeting with our managing director, I suggested we might secure more business in the Sheffield region if we had a local presence there. It was with great surprise that, a couple of weeks later, he told me he had thought about the idea, decided to proceed and wanted me to manage it. I was just a humble programmer at the time!

So, I moved back to Sheffield to open Scomagg’s very first branch office. I guess the managing director and I were right, though, because I was able to increase revenue from an initial £250,000 to more than £2.5 million within a couple of years.

Scomagg specialized in process control software and hardware. Back then, everything we did had to be newly developed right from the beginning, including the design and build from the circuit board on up. It was a really fun and challenging place to be.

Being the manager of the Sheffield operation, I had the authority to make a priority of focusing on software process maturity as a means for providing better customer solutions at a lower cost, so as to increase our competitiveness and profitability. As we worked on more projects, we captured more metrics about the nature of repeatable processes and the resulting levels of customer satisfaction. It was rewarding to see a clear correlation between customer satisfaction and process maturity; that is to say, our most satisfied customers were those for whom our project teams had most closely followed a mature process.

There was an equally strong correlation between customer satisfaction and profitability. To this day, it surprises me how few organizations truly grasp that implementing a long-term strategy and investing in process maturity are among the most effective ways to deliver strong returns.

Leave a Comment