It is amazing how quickly things move on. It has only been 18 months since we opened the doors for business at the FORZA Technology Centre and a lot has certainly changed since then. One of the first things I realised when we re-launched FORZA after taking over full control of the brand was that there was a very limited market for our products. At that time, we had five fat-burning supplements that appealed to those who were eager to lose weight through fitness.
It was quite daunting, after striking out on my own and leaving my business partners behind, to realise the industry in which we had made our success was actually declining. Looking at your business objectively is not a task that sits comfortably for any self-employed trader. No one likes to find out that they are doing something wrong – it is not in our nature to admit it – so the idea of running an audit on my own company practices and the way in which I worked was frightening.
The reason that I left my previous business partners was owing to the fat that we had very differing ideas on how a business should be run and on the most profitable route to market for our products. I wanted to wholesale and own as many brands as possible, while they wanted to retail the products we sold and concentrate on one single brand. I was of the opinion that with only one online retail platform and with no chain of shops or major sales channels, we had little chance of breaking through our glass ceiling.
Having struck out alone with a handful of products that customers seemed to be losing interest in, I immediately set to work. After adding a number of emerging products to the range, I decided that FORZA was in desperate need of a redesign. I hired a talented designer who, after giving the products a more modern and stylish feel, turned his attention towards building our brand guidelines.
A month later I employed somebody to rewrite our content and he also started building his own set of guidelines and working parameters. I knew that it was paramount to start putting processes in place since a company that does not document its processes and instead relies on memory is doomed to fail its customers. Within six months we had documented all of our processes and hired additional members of staff. It seemed that the more diligent we became, the more sales we made. In simple terms, consumers and buyers like to deal with companies that are organised.
An organised company inspires confidence in its products. This was enhanced when we applied for ISO 9001 (quality assurance), ISO 22000 (food safety) and ISO 14001 (environmental management). We passed them all in a few days because most of the documents required for the process were already in place. I have always feared that one day I would be struck down by lightning and have no legacy to leave my daughter. However, with good working practices and a solid structure in place, I know that FORZA could survive me should it need to, which now gives the company value.
You often hear the term in football that “no player is bigger than the club”. This is also true at FORZA where everyone knows their job and what they have to do each day. With these processes in place we are now able to grow, measure that growth and make sure that we do not grow too fast. The team know what is expected of them and when, making FORZA a better place to work for all and allowing them to build relationships that will go on and on…