So Lewis decided to take the plunge, and from first viewing the site in June, the deal was quickly completed at the beginning of September. The new onsite demonstration kitchen was constructed from scratch in just 4 weeks, with staff members working around the clock to ensure that it was ready in time for the grand official opening event on 16 November.
She made sure she engaged her staff in their own office space too, researching on how to make a happy place to work and enabling them to paint and decorate their own areas according to their choices.
As part of this year’s expansion, the staff roster has increased from eight to 11. “We had to get the right people in place to develop our new concepts,” detailed Lewis. This included her daughter Jenna joining as business development manager.
Lewis also signed up last minute for a stand at the European Pizza & Pasta Show on 9-10 November in London, and was surprised to find it generated 60 qualified leads. “It was mainly end users, so we passed those leads back to our dealer network,” she said. However, she feels that overall, LLK’s monthly dealer workshops have been the most effective events for the company: “We are totally dealer focused, so we need to engage with them and not the end users. The distributors who come along to our workshops have gone on to be really successful in pizza equipment, because it has opened their eyes to all the markets they can use the appliances for, which they may not know about.”
These sectors include education, for which LLK recommends Deli-Conti Foodservice’s ‘pizzas by post’ service. Deli-Conti delivers part cooked pizza bases which are said to be the healthiest on the market. “We know lots of pizza experts and we have got all the right contacts to link people together in different areas,” said Lewis. “When a dealer goes to speak to an end user, if they are not confident about it we have got the right connections to make it work.”
Another expanding aspect of the business is the maintenance and servicing. Lewis’ husband, Carl, is the technical director and works from the North Wales base which the firm opened a year ago. The engineering team will soon be boosted from four to five people, as another LLK staff member is currently undergoing training. The division covers both gas and electric appliances, right up to full kitchen installations, with coverage across the North West and Wales. LLK also covers this region’s servicing for Italian warewasher manufacturer, Krupps, and is looking to continue this fruitful partnership. “It’s been good for the dealer network, because engineers in North Wales are few and far between,” commented Lewis.
She has had to learn a different way of working through this whole transformation process, and she now concentrates on strategy and planning, coordinating with each department’s manager, rather than being so actively involved in the day to day running of the business. The company will also continue to work closely with PFR, seeing the rep group as another arm of its own team.
“It’s been tough, making this massive financial leap, so now we need the backing of dealers to support us through,” concluded Lewis. “We’d like to do a lot more with the dealers we already work with and then recruit more like-minded dealers.”