Whatever we choose to do to earn a crust, we do it because we have to. We need to live somewhere, sustain ourselves, and buy things. That’s a sweeping generalisation, but it’s true for most of us. But our work shouldn’t define us. Work isn’t who we are, it’s simply what we do.
I ‘humanised’ my brand as I built my business, which is part of why it’s done ok. There are lots of cliches about people buying people, but they’re all true. This page looks at me as a person. You might feel a connection with me when you read some of the things on here, or you may feel that I’m up myself. I don’t mind which, as the overall result is that I am where I want to be, by being who I am. You can’t please everybody.
I can’t help being how I am, I just like to talk a lot, and be nice to people. But that seemed to make people who came to stay at Woodfarm feel at home. And that’s what it’s all about. All I ever tried to do was to make guests feel welcome, feel that nothing is too much trouble, and to have them leave feeling that they want to come back, and to tell everyone they know all about us. I knew that if I did that, I’d build a business and make money. It worked.
Along the way I used my interaction with guests, and potential guests, via our growing database, social media, over the phone, and in person, simply to make them feel at home. I have said a billion times over the years that it is not rocket science, and it isn’t.
Do you remember the old TV programme ‘Cheers’. The chorus went like this; “Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came”. If you stop for a sec and really think about it, that is it. In a tiny nutshell, that is one of the reasons that my business works. And that is what soooo many people in customer focussed businesses are missing. I’m not talking about literally remembering everybody’s name, but embodying that feeling of belonging. It’s basic human nature.
I never, ever, ever, targeted making money. I just targeted making people happy. Yes, it does sound sickly, but it’s true. Like I say, it worked. There will be lots more detail on this in my yet to be written book, as well as individual discussions with my consultancy clients, but like I say, it ain’t rocket science. And fortunately for me, lots of my competitors don’t get this.
So I just spent a decade getting to know people, and letting them get to know me. To know who I am, what I like doing, how I like to spend my time, and a tiny glimpse into the weird brain that takes up the gap between my ears. And it is weird. But it works.
Rather than being a faceless business that customers couldn’t ‘connect’ with, I decided to let people get to know me, and for me to get to know them. I’m quite good at retaining faces and names. Not everyone, but a lot of people. Getting back to the ‘Cheers’ theme though, it’s not literal. That parallel is about a ‘feeling’. A feeling that you are known, and cared about. I’ve made hundreds of friends through my holiday cottage business. Hundreds of friends, who repeatedly book again and pay me. They’re not under any obligation to do this, they want to.
The bottom line is that we have worked hard to provide the best accommodation we can (again, not rocket science), and give people the tools to tap into the very best that Suffolk has to offer. But the icing on the cake, is that everybody is made to feel welcome. Whether I meet them, or one of my team does. I recruit nice people.
The net result is that I tend to be fairly transparent about lots of things; the fact that I’m dad to Lauren, the best daughter a chap can have, I love music and being an amateur musician, I try my best to be healthy (with varying results), and love getting out on my bike around the lanes of Suffolk and Essex, and hitting the gym. I also take an interest in nutrition, politics, photography (iPhone pointing), and human behaviour. Oh, and I love Tuscany too.
I think one of the contributory factors to the success of the business, is the transparency with which I run it.