No longer the new kids on the block

Dominic Goldsmith, Co-Director of Style Mobility

Back in November 2017, THIIS covered the story a new mobility shop that had opened on Britain’s east-coast, Style Mobility. Located in the resort town of Great Yarmouth, directors Dominic Goldsmith and Simon West discussed the challenges of being newcomers in an area with well-established competitors on their doorstop. A year on since the store launched, Dominic reflected with THIIS on the challenges, achievements and learnings of the past 12-months and considers what the future holds for the company.

Having both worked for a local mobility company in Great Yarmouth, Dominic and Simon decided to take the leap and start their own mobility retail operation in September 2017.

Taking inspiration from car showrooms and his experience in hospitality, Dominic explained that the company aimed to create a modern, stylish space that reflected the growing emphasis manufacturers are putting on making mobility products more stylish.

With long-established retailers a short distance away, the two directors were confident they would be able to carve out a place in the local market for their new store but for any new company, the first year is often the most turbulent time.

Being willing to test and able to adapt

Discussing the first full year in business, Dominic explained the importance of being able to be flexible and experiment.

“As a new company, the first 12 months have been a steep learning curve,” he said.

“Certain ideas and plans that we had before we opened perhaps didn’t work so well in practice as they did in theory and had to be scrapped or altered to suit the reality of how the business turned out. On the other hand, some worked better than expected. Overall it has been a lot of work but we have enjoyed every minute!”

Still as enthused as when he first opened the doors to the store, 31-year-old director Dominic highlighted that one particular area that was thriving was reconditioned equipment, leading the store to bolster its workshop operations.

“We have seen a great deal of success with the supply of good quality, reconditioned scooters and powerchairs, as used machines are more affordable and accessible to more people,” he noted.

“Our service and repair workshop is up and running now at full pace and we have a strict, fast-turnaround policy on repairs and servicing. We are lucky enough to have an exceptionally qualified engineer in control of the workshop operation and it has proven to be a success.”

In contrast to the growing refurbishment business, one of the areas that has not taken off for Style Mobility was its bathroom adaptation venture.

“I think that the proud moments have definitely been when major suppliers and manufacturers have recognised us and the work we are doing” Dominic Goldsmith

Originally, when the store launched, it dedicated one of the spaces in its three-room showroom to the adaptation arm of its retail operations, however, after trialling it, the directors decided it was not right for the company.

“We decided after a few months that we were not going to continue with our bathroom and wet room fitting,” said Dominic.

“Although we fitted several successfully, it just didn’t work out to be as lucrative as we had first thought.”

Overcoming challenges

As well as one of the most turbulent times for a business, the first year can also often prove to be the most challenging for a fledgling retailer and that was no different for Style Mobility says Dominic.

“There have been several challenges that we have had to overcome, mainly supplier and account issues, and, as with any new business, establishing trust with local people is always going to take time, especially given the nature of the business and the cost of some mobility products,” he said.

Considering how Style Mobility overcame these challenges, particularly around building trust as the new shop in town, the young director described how customer service and the right promotional activity played a key role in becoming established.

“In order to build trust in the community, we make sure our service is second to none; we will do everything we possibly can to ensure our customer is left satisfied. Consistency is incredibly important to us and the standard should always remain the same,” he explained.

“We live in a small seaside town made up of close-knit communities so word travels fast, good or bad. Fortunately, it has remained good!”

In addition to prioritising customer service, the company takes out a promotional stand in the town centre two to three times a month to raise the store’s profile amongst local residents.

“It helps us to connect with both new and existing customers,” added Dominic.

“We try to make sure we are constantly active and being noticed.”

With a year of successful trading under Style Mobility’s belt, Dominic says the support of suppliers that have acknowledged the company is a great source of pride to the team.

“We have learned the importance of mutual respect between dealers.” Dominic Goldsmith

“I think that the proud moments have definitely been when major suppliers and manufacturers have recognised us and the work we are doing, giving us accounts so we are able to stock and sell their products,” he remarked.

“It was a good feeling to go from being newcomers trying to get started to being recognised in the industry as a rapidly growing business that we hope is here to stay.”

The appreciation of mutual respect

With the retail landscape for bricks and mortar stores often being defined as one increasing competitive pressure, Dominic interestingly underlined that the last year had taught him the value of cooperation with other mobility retailers.

“We have learned the importance of mutual respect between dealers. It is majorly beneficial for businesses and customers if we help each other out,” he outlined.

“It is near on impossible to stock everything and we may have something they need and vice versa. A company near us also manufactures a fairly unique product so it’s great to be able to offer that to our customers too.”

Looking to the future

Following the success of its first year, the ever-optimistic director is now preparing for the years to follow, expanding the team and taking the retail shop to the next level.

“In the short-term, I am keen to get our first sales advisor trained and out and about, hopefully exploring new ways to bring in business,” stated Dominic.

“The most exciting thing about this for me is that we are introducing someone young and new to what I believe to be one of the most exciting, interesting and fast-moving industries there is to be involved in.”

“We live in a small seaside town made up of close-knit communities so word travels fast, good or bad.” Dominic Goldsmith

He continued: “In the long-term, we will be looking to increase the sales team and then, eventually, the size of our premises and workshop facilities.”

With big plans on the horizon, Dominic finished by expressing his deep gratitude to some of those in the industry that had helped the company get to where it is today.

“We would like to say a big thank you to Steve Howard at Pride Mobility, Ian Bedford and the team at Monarch, Simon Hunter at Sunrise Medical, Louis and Kevin Harmer from Norfolk Mobility and everybody else that who have taken us seriously and given us a chance.”

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