Mark Smith has recently become the Busy Guernsey Bee, the new Busy Queen Bee Franchise in Guernsey. He answered some questions about why he wanted to join The Busy Queen Bee team.
So, what made you want to run your own Franchise?
After 5 years working in the Specsavers Retail Support Team I was looking for a new challenge, I’ve wanted to work for myself for a number of years and was looking for something that would utilize my skills. I’d been toying with the idea of using the knowledge I’d gained at Specsavers to start my own retail consultancy business, by helping businesses to deliver better customer service; I hit Google to see of anybody else was doing anything similar and I found Claire’s website. So, I gave her a call to chat about what she does and that’s when she mentioned she was looking for a franchise partner in Guernsey. I am proud to have become the director of my own business by Franchising The Busy Queen Bee and have set up The Busy Guernsey Bee.
You mentioned Specsavers, what was your role there?
I was part of the Retail Support Team, based in Guernsey, I was responsible for the Customer Service of over 90 stores across the Midlands. Our team had been set a five year challenge of making Specsavers the number 1 brand in the UK for customer service. When you think about which retailers in the UK are known for their service, John Lewis and Marks & Spencers immediately spring to mind, we wanted to be the ones that they came to for advice. It took us five years, but we did it and in the 2016 ICS customer service survey, we were 4th place (1st place high street retailer), it was a great achievement.
Apart from the experience you gained at Specsavers, what else drives you?
I am extremely passionate about customer service and strongly believe that great businesses grow and thrive by putting the customer at the heart of everything they do. In this age of Internet Shopping it’s essential that bricks and mortar retailers to deliver consistently exceptional customer service from friendly knowledgeable staff, this is what can set them aside from online retailers and protect their business. We have to accept that online is here to stay, but it’s up to our local businesses to not think that customers will come to them simply because they always have. I want to make sure that St Peter Port remains a great place to shop and socialise, we have the benefit of no large out of town developments pulling customers away from the town centre. I had a fantastic childhood growing up in Guernsey and I want to ensure that my kids do as well, working for myself will give me the opportunity to spend more time with them.
How can you help Guernsey businesses thrive?
One of the unique situations we have in Guernsey when comparing business growth to the UK is our small population. UK businesses can grow by advertising in surrounding areas and towns to bring new customers, but in Guernsey and there’s only so many new customers that can be attracted by advertising, so growing your market share will always be hard. However, by delivering exceptional customer service to all of your customers all of the time you can ensure your existing customers remain. Customer retention is much cheaper than attracting new customers.
You mentioned your childhood, tell us a bit about your life?
I was born and brought up in Guernsey. Like a lot of young people I started work in the finance industry and then went to work at as an accountant at Specsavers until 2000. I was then give the opportunity of owning a business in Ayia Napa and spent a couple of years throwing people off a 200 foot high crane and running a bar. Then I came back to Guernsey and Specsavers in 2002, I managed a few more years then moved to the British Virgin Islands where I worked for small Trust company, did a lot of diving, sailing, surfing and discovered my love for competitive cycling. Life as an expat was great fun and a terrific learning experience, the BVI is heaven but if you truly want to go back in time in terms of customer service, Infrastructure and attitudes it’s certainly the place to go!
After 6 years living in paradise, it was time to return to Guernsey and put down some roots. I love Guernsey and it’s seasons; dramatic coastline, friendly community and although the BVI is idyllic I never really felt it was home. When I came back to Guernsey, I initially worked with the States on the Financial Transformation Project but Specsavers called me back, and I was there until March this year, and now I’m The Busy Guernsey Bee. In my spare time I still enjoy competitive cycling. I am a Director of the Guernsey Velo Club and a founder member and organiser of the MUG ride.
So what next?
Growing the business, inspiring businesses to thrive by delivering exceptional customer service, building my network and of course enjoying life!