Bristol-based action sports goods distributor Shiner has scooped a major European business award for customer service.
And the importer of skateboards, roller skates, scooters and BMX bikes is on a roll – having bagged two trophies in as many months.
The company’s success is also good news for Wiltshire business mentor Nigel Scott, of ActionCOACH, who has been helping Shiner to ramp up its operations over the past three years. He’s been presented with the ActionCOACH award for Best Client Results.
Shiner director Charlie Allen was presented with the award for Best Customer Service Results at the 2013 ActionCOACH Business Excellence Awards in Portugal earlier this month, seeing off competition from more than 100 other firms from the UK and Europe.
“When I met them three years ago they were a great company with a healthy turnover, but there were process and procedures that could help them to offer their customers an even better service. That in turn helps increase sales which are now at around £10m.” said Nigel.
“Taking an outsider’s view of the business, Nigel helped us to establish structured management plans, in order to do things more effectively,” said Charlie, who runs Shiner with his brother, Chris.
“The watchword now is IFOTIS: in full, on time, in spec. We have processes to ensure that orders placed by our retailers by noon are dispatched on the same day – even during our busiest times.
“We now enjoy a customer satisfaction rating of 99.6 percent.”
The family-owned business was established in Laurence Hill as a builders’ merchant by Jack Allen in 1936. In 1956 Jack’s son, Michael, started Shiner Autos – a British Leyland car dealership – on the site, and in 1976 began importing skateboards from America.
Shiner is now one of the country’s leading action sports businesses, and owns the exclusive UK selling rights to Heelys skate shoes.
In 2012, as part of its focus on customer service, Shiner relocated from its cramped home of 76 years – where, at one point, stock shared floorspace with a vintage MGB sports car and roller skate spares were stored in a toilet – to a modern 76,000 sq ft building at Aztec West, which offered the firm ample warehouse space and a showroom.
At the same time the firm created 16 new jobs, bringing its workforce to 41.
Shiner experienced a 10 percent increase in turnover last year, and profits look set to double in 2013. The UK is in the grip of a cyclical skateboarding and scooter boom, but the growth market is in a product the firm first started importing in 1978: roller boots – or quads, as they’re now known.
“Roller discos are becoming increasingly popular, and we’re working with Bump, based at the Trinity Centre in Bristol, who are taking our quads to roller discos and music festivals all over the UK,” said Charlie.
“Youth fashion brands are embracing them too. Eight pages of the Urban Outfitters look book feature models wearing our quads.”
And it was quads which won Shiner its first award of 2013, back in January. “We turned our stand at The Toy Fair at London’s Olympia into a roller disco, with glitter balls, flashing lights and pumping music,” says Charlie.
“We feared we’d get kicked out. Instead they awarded us the trophy for Best Designed Stand!”