Claire Summerskill from Control House talks about RedSky’s help in business planning
Who are Control House?
We specialise in electrical control systems – anything industrial we can automate it – right from the design stage to manufacturing, installation and commissioning. At the moment we’re doing work for the Olympic Games and Airbus – we have some pretty prestigious clients! We got to the stage where we were getting very frustrated with the banks – we’d get one account manager who thought we were doing well, had the right product and so on, but they would get a ‘no’ from their manager, who didn’t know you at all or what you were about and wouldn’t give us the lending for what we needed. As we were growing, our needs were growing in terms of the financing.
Just having the right product is not enough
We talked to Peter at RedSky; he got to know our business really well, knew what we were trying to achieve and equally what the banks would say to it. We learnt that it’s not just about whether you’ve got the right product, it’s how you communicate that to people who can help you.
Peter put together a business plan for us, which not only focused on our vision and where we were going, but was written in the right format for the banks to understand so that they could give us a decision very quickly. He took our proposals to a lot of different banks on our behalf. This would have been impossible for us to do as we had no relationship with them. Peter knows how to communicate with these people and talk their language. Thanks to him we got an offer through the loan guarantee scheme and some other non-traditional forms of lending – and we were able to get largely government secured money which helped us to consolidate what we were doing. This was a huge springboard to take us to the next level.
RedSky keeps us aware of funding opportunities
We’ve also had mentoring from Peter – in forward planning, sales, marketing, recruitment and employee relations. He obtained funding for us to have a financial heath check, and his colleague Martin is due to do a strategic business review shortly, which is looking at the business as whole. They continually keep us aware of any funding that’s out there that might be useful for us. It takes a long time to sift through information on funding – and it can be a bit of a lottery. If you’re not at the right place at the right time, you can miss opportunities.
Running a small business can be lonely
Peter is someone we trust – we know that he’s got our best interests at heart; he’s not just trying to sell us a product that he can make money out of. Running a small business can be lonely – and you need to know you’re talking to someone in confidence. We always find RedSky very approachable and responsive – they understand our business and, most importantly, they know what might be at stake. They know that if it needs to be handled ‘now’ it will be ‘now’! It might sound a bit dramatic but I don’t know that we could have carried on the business without the help from RedSky. We share intimate information with them – sometimes you’re sharing your joys and sometimes you’re sharing difficult times. It’s a real journey.