Power Sheds. 1st Year Sales Exceed £1 Million.
Recently, we caught up with Jack Sutcliffe to talk about Power Sheds. Jack co-founded Power Sheds in February 2019 after spending 11 years working at a large garden shed manufacturer.
When Jack shared some of his first years figures, we were hugely impressed. Power Sheds is a perfect lesson in what you can achieve with comprehensive industry knowledge and a great business plan. Jack and Simon have created a versatile product and outstanding service that has turned the industry on it's head.
In their first year of trading, Power Sheds have manufactured and sold over 3000 sheds. Achieving this has given them a first year revenue of over £1 million. The best bit? They're profitable!
If you want to find out how they've achieved it, read on....
Can you describe Power Sheds in a single sentence?
A UK based manufacturer and supplier of premium wooden garden sheds with the capability to have a shed delivered to a customer within 24 hours.
Tell us about the founding of the company. What made you choose sheds?
Simon (director and co-founder of Power Sheds) and I worked at a large garden shed manufacturer for many years. Simon was there 27 years and I was there for 11 years. Simon was responsible for production and operations and I looked after all non-production which made an ideal partnership when setting up and launching Power Sheds. The new company was formed on the 28th February 2019 and we moved into a 10,000 square foot manufacturing site in March. By April all machinery and office systems were set up and we had sold our first shed.
How has the business grown since you launched?
We have grown very quickly. In April we sold 15 sheds (which is peak season in the shed industry) and by November (which should be one of the quietest months of the year) we were selling 100 sheds a week. We are really pleased with the start and it’s looking good for 2020 and beyond.
Staff numbers have also grown. In April, just Simon and I were manufacturing and selling every shed we sold and now we have 10 permanent staff members and looking to bring in another 10 by April in time for this year’s peak season.
It’s still early days but sales have far exceeded our expectations and we have had to re-forecast our next three years.
You’ve achieved some amazing growth over the last 12 months. Can you share some of the reasons you think you’ve been so successful?
We understand the market and the competition really well. The shed market is full of shed manufacturers competing on price and promotion and giving customers loads of sheds, styles, sizes, options and extras. Our extensive research has shown that consumers find this overwhelming. We have developed a garden shed and substantially simplified it. There are very few options and quite simply, if you buy one of our sheds you get everything you need. We have tried to make shopping for a shed stress free.
We feel the shed market is very much unbranded. We have created the brand ‘Power’ which now has a European trademark and is on Amazon’s brand registry. Our aim is become the first well known shed brand and we have a great opportunity in our industry to do that.
We also set ourselves apart from the competition with the offerings we provide as well as the service. It often takes four weeks for a shed to be delivered – you can have ours the next day. There are many features of our sheds which offer that extra bit of quality other manufacturers don’t, including higher grade timber, toughened glass, galvanised ironmongery, a better quality felt etc. Other shed suppliers are finding ways to get cheaper and cheaper whereas we feel if you’re buying something which you expect to last over 20 years then it’s worth paying a little bit more.
Within our first year we have become the highest ranked shed company on trustpilot in our category. Other shed manufacturers prioritise sales and short term profit (customer retention is not so important with a shed sale as they generally don’t need to come back to you) but we have prioritised fulfilment. Our reviews and online reputation is currently outstanding and we are very focused on keeping it this way.
We have also made good use of marketplaces. For example, Amazon’s dominance cannot be ignored and although it takes an incredible amount of time to understand the platform, add products, and get sales, eventually it is worth it.
Let’s talk about your sales for a second. They are very impressive for a young company; you must have been very successful at reaching your target market. What strategies have you found most successful for reaching your customers?
We sell direct to retail and also through B2B trade agents. Very few other shed manufacturers offer B2B and B2C all under one brand as trade customers can be concerned that someone will go online and buy the shed instead of through their store. For this reason, the pricing structure to trade agents has got to be well thought out to give them a margin good enough that they want to sell and promote our products without worrying about them buying direct. We also make life as easy as possible for the trade customer with us taking responsibility for any customer concern or problem so they don’t have to (if they don’t want to).
Trade agents are now approaching us, which is a great position to be in. We don’t need to go out to the market trying to contact buyers with the aim to persuade them to sell our sheds. We are close to having to introduce a waiting list for those wanting to sell our sheds - we won’t take on a new trade retail partner unless they fit the brand and service we want to offer the customer. As fulfilment is very important to us, we’ll only take on more work if we can fulfil the orders and additional demand created by their sales.
Our retail marketing has been strong which has helped us achieve fantastic retail sales. There’s a lot of very under-priced ways to market products online from paid ads (but bidding on really niche search terms), to remarketing (to people who have already been on your website), to using marketplaces as a way to showcase your product range. Building a good online reputation also helps create trust which is so important when consumers come across a company they’ve never heard of.
You’ve been very successful at growing your social media community. What advice do you have for anyone trying to increase their brand awareness on social media?
The number one most important advice for people trying to increase their brand awareness on social media is patience. It can take years to get a good following and so you need to be prepared to put in the time and effort. Very rarely can you get 1000s of followers overnight.
There are then a number of tactics you can use to help you gain more followers. I quickly learned that simply putting pictures of your product or trying to tell everyone how good you are doesn’t get the engagement you want. The most successful content is where you provide value to people and ask for nothing in return. This can be through providing information or providing entertainment. If you can provide value to someone, this is when people will engage with you.
It’s social media... So be social. Talk to people in your industry on social media, get involved in discussions and comment on as many topics as you can ensuring you are providing value to the conversation. Direct message people on social media (particularly influencers) asking how you can add value to their pages. This could be through blog posts, posts with hints and tips etc. Build up a relationship with them and then you find they are the first to share your value adding posts to their followers which increases your brand awareness.
It also helps getting in at the right time. Instagram is now difficult to build up followers as the supply of content is starting to be higher than the demand of attention. TikTok is currently the social media platform to get in on as it is the right time. The current demographic is for young teens but it is expected to age up (just as Facebook and Instagram have done). Therefore a way to get instant world wide (free!) attention is post on TikTok. We’ve gained around 14000 followers in just over one month.
What challenges have you faced since launching Power Sheds? How did you overcome them?
A little bit of the unknown. We haven’t started our own company from scratch before and so were very conservative with our forecasting. Growing quicker than we expected meant there have been times this year where we haven’t had enough staff and so to fulfil orders we had to slow down sales at times. We would turn marketing off and change our stock levels on Amazon to 0 so people couldn’t buy.
Other than that, we haven’t faced too many challenges as yet as we planned really well and took everything into consideration. I think we’ll start to face more challenges the more staff we have and so one thing we are really focused on this year is ensuring our team are happy.
If you could go back to the beginning of Power Sheds and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I think the biggest impact is how much time it takes out of your personal life. It’s very hard to get work off your mind and particularly in year 1, you are that eager for it to work you reply to every message or email, at whatever time it comes in, whichever day of the week.
For this reason I haven’t spent as much time as I’d like with my family and friends and probably won’t for a while!
So my advice would be that you need to be fully prepared for this and enjoy and appreciate this time before embarking upon this journey and way of life.
What does the future hold for Power Sheds? Where do you see the business in five years?
The market is massive. 1.5m sheds are sold each year in the UK alone and there is not one manufacturer with more than 5% market share… which is a fairly unique and wonderful opportunity, particularly in an unbranded market.
Our aim is to change this by making the market branded and becoming the number 1 brand for a garden shed.
We already have the capability to courier our sheds throughout Europe and so will be setting up our European sales through our website and Amazon.
We predict great things for this company and despite the rapid growth, we’re only just getting started.
What’s been your favourite experience since launching Power Sheds?
Our first sale. It was a mixture of pride and relief. At the time we sold our first shed, on ebay, before the website was even launched, it just confirmed what we had been thinking… that what we offered was going to work.
If you could have one of your sheds in the garden of anyone in the world, who would it be?
I follow and listen to Gary Vaynerchuk who is an entrepreneur residing in America – he provides a lot of value on social media, marketing and self awareness and it’s helped me a lot. He genuinely does ask for nothing in return but I would like to thank him one day with a garden shed!
Finally, what happens during a typical day at Power Sheds HQ?
With it being so new, there is no typical day yet. We are massive advocates of continuous improvement, and so every day we like to have improved either a manufacturing process or a way to increase sales. I am keen on providing valuable content to raise our brand awareness so currently working on finding more time to create more content.
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