We spent five minutes with Frank Buckley, CEO, IDSystems and asked him some questions about running a business.
How do I maintain and enhance margins? For IDSystems it has always been about service and product innovation. In a market for glazing solutions that’s become increasingly competitive, the key to maintaining our margins has been having a unique range of products that are not available anywhere else, and by offering outstanding service and support to our customers. The aim for us is always that the overall solution we provide to customers – whether they are homeowners, architects or builders – offers them far greater value than the sum of the individual elements.
The key to this is not being afraid to be innovative, to bring products to market that prompt demand rather than reacting to it, but also to be able to effectively communicate, so our customers see the value in buying an overall package.
How can I put my prices up and keep my customers? Never talk about price, always talk about value.
I’ve got this great idea – what do I do with it? The biggest thing is to understand that a great idea is only a great idea if it is going to turn into sales and generate profit. Where IDSystems has had success has been in the ability to predict trends and customer demand before they exist. What you need is a robust and realistic business plan, particularly if you are relying on third party support to deliver the idea to customers.
How do I protect my reputation and enhance it? Reputations are built over long periods and a good reputation is based on two things; products that perform well and stand the test of time and an organisation that is responsive to customer needs. I like to think that our most important role is transforming our customer’s visions into reality, something which goes beyond the product.
How to network to my advantage? The key to networking is to treat it as the start of a relationship. You may not be sure where it’s going to lead, but you hope that at some point it may lead to an opportunity. Early in my career, I was advised that it was better to be owed a favour than to be owed money! In the intervening years I have seen many instances of this wisdom. Networking is a long game; it may not always be obvious but being helpful and responsive always bring rewards.
How can I shut off from the business? Having outside interests or hobbies is crucial, as without other distractions (whatever they may be) there is a temptation to work 24/7. Finding something that allows you to get away from the office is vital and for me personally, family has always provided the downtime I need. For others, it may be time spent on a golf-course or beside a fishing lake, it’s different for everyone.
How can I stop working in the business and free up more time to work on the business? The key is to employ the right people with the right skills doing the right jobs. If you have that resource in place within the business then it will free you up to step back from running the business or to focus your attentions on specific elements of the organisation, such as research and development. Most people in positions of control at any organisation devote the majority of their time to running the company itself, rather than what they actually went into business to do in the first place.
Frank Buckley has an extensive commercial and operational background across a range of industries including the glazing sector. He is CEO of Norwich based IDSystems, a national market leader for innovative bifold doors, sliding doors and high-quality, custom made glazing solutions. idsystems.co.uk