So my kids often ask what am I doing at work today? I'm sure they think i just go in and 'play' on the computer and eat out for lunch......if only!
Ok so they might have something on the lunch part! I've developed an unhealthy addiction to Sushi (namely Zero in Berkhamsted/Harpenden & now at On the limit, Tring) and I think I may have sampled nearly all of London's independent Burger vendors and establishments over past 10 years. If you are interested in my humble burger opinion then I highly recommend Dirty Burger in Vauxhall. You will find them tucked under the railway arches clad in corrugated steel giving off a 'dirty' industrial look. If you are a little more adventurous and travelling further afield then let me point you in the direction of my favourite UK burger joint, it's a little back street place in Brighton called 'Burger Brothers'. Quite simply the best burger you will ever eat, beautifully seasoned in a brioche bun and it all comes with a near local twist as one of the owners is originally from Amersham way.
So at KLS, my business based in Pitstone Nr Tring we supply hygiene & catering products to businesses across London & the South East. I make it my business to sample their creations, food establishments make up a large part of our customer base, it's only fair if they are my customer then I become their customer too, well that's my thought process although my waistline is beginning to pay the price post 40 and these days it's definitely more sushi than burgers.
Our client base can range from restaurants & event caterers to care homes and offices and nearly every business in-between. It's always been a very competitive industry but it's been made harder by the fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote. The majority of products in our industry are imported from Europe or beyond and those manufactured in the UK are made from raw materials sourced and paid for by the EURO or Dollar so we have seen prices steadily rise. We deal with a lot of independent businesses mainly operating restaurants & cafes and they all report it's never been tougher as prices rise across supplies including food etc. Because of this a lot of my focus over the past year or so has shifted on ensuring we are getting best value from manufacturers so we can get the best prices for our customers.
So a day in the life at KLS, the truth is everyday in our business is different and like any small/medium sized business everyone has to be able to turn their hand at anything & everything if required. I mix up my day's being office based and out on the road seeing existing customers and sourcing new business. If I'm in the office it's pretty much full on from 8:15 as we go through the orders that have been placed overnight, get the sales orders raised and get the warehouse to pick the orders as we plan the most economical & efficient routes for our drivers. After the morning rush has settled down and the van's are on their way making deliveries we begin to plan for the following day and ensuring our warehouse has sufficient stock to fulfil our customers requirements. Orders come in over the phone or via email & in addition to the day to day operations we may get a new customer enquiry which will require a site visit or an existing client needing an item not held in stock that needs sourcing. It's these things that make us different to our competitors, that's our USP. We find it hard to say 'no' or to let a client down so we always strive to have the personal touch, we make the time to ensure our customers are getting the best service possible. It's that level of service that has seen our business grow, we often find if a chef, front of house staff member or housekeeper moves on for any reason he/she will often recommend us to their new place of work.
Today is no different, the day has started as normal and we have sorted through the overnight orders and the van's are out on their daily rounds. I've had a call from one of the event caterers we supply who are over at Leavesden Studios near Watford catering for the cast & crew of a 'Blockbuster' movie currently in the UK to film some scenes. They need an emergency order to tide them over and for a delivery plan to be formulated to ensure they can keep the cast & crew fed & watered over the next 8 weeks at various locations throughout Herts & Essex.
As the vans are already out on their rounds I get the car loaded up and head down to the studios, by doing it this way I can help our customer for today with the stock they need & we can also go through their supply needs for the duration of the filming. It's helpful to go through the schedule of filming at all the locations, the cast and crew numbers for each location and then working out delivery frequency and logistics. The morning was a success and whilst standing just feet from the impressive film set by the food trailer nestled amongst the rows of cast trailers we now know what products our customer will need over the coming weeks. This leaves our customer with one less thing to worry about and they can now concentrate on making delicious food and not worry about the supply chain. A perfect example of our USP, I don't know if any of our national competitors who would have responded to their customers in this way.
That's the part of the business I enjoy the most, going that extra step for our customer. I love when we get an email from a customer thanking us for what we've done whether it be getting them stock when they were really against time or sourcing something obscure for them. I find getting new business locally the most challenging part of what we do if I'm honest. I'm a real believer and supporter of local independent business but it's a belief that surprisingly isn't always reciprocated.
We have a really good presence as a supplier around Dacorum & beyond and it's been made almost entirely by word of mouth and recommendations. But still I'm often left feeling frustrated when we try to get new business with local restaurants & cafes but they stick with the big national companies without even giving us the opportunity to quote. It's particularly frustrating knowing that we are nearly always able to offer cheaper pricing. I guess a lot of people don't like change or think it will be too time consuming to change suppliers but it really is a simple process and I invite any business with hygiene or catering requirements to get in touch to see how we could help.
Back to the the office and it's time to catch up on whats been happening whilst I've been out, I've had a few phone calls whilst I was at the studios so no time for lunch today for me. Orders have been coming in for Monday and the warehouse have had several deliveries in from our manufacturers and suppliers. A hotel customer has also asked for a quote on some new tableware including plates and cutlery and I work with the office team on ensuring we get all the stock in place organised to cover the film locations over the next 8 weeks. It's been a productive day and the end of a busy week.
If you would like any information about KLS or how we could help your business then please get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you.