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Case studies | Jul 31

How going above and beyond can be one of the most powerful marketing tools

Case studies | Jul 31

Kevin Wilson Master Builders has made a habit of going the extra mile. This has proved to be their most powerful marketing tool.

Reading Time 7 minutes

Back in 2007, Pam Wilson and her husband Kevin established Kevin Wilson Joiners and Building Contractors in Sterling, Scotland, which was later rebranded to Kevin Wilson Master Builders (KWMB).

The business is currently sitting on several national awards and more jobs than they can manage due to their outstanding reputation within the industry. However, just three years ago, the company was on the verge of collapse.

Weathering the storm

The initial financing of the business came from the family moving house, leaving a small amount of capital spare. With this £13,000, Managing Director Pam and her husband bought a van, tools, insurance, and began operating as a sole trader. But within a year the world experienced the 2008 financial crash which was soon followed by a recession, dramatically impacting the construction industry.

‘Within a year we were hit by the financial crash. Those were tough times. We had absolutely no work on the books by Christmas of year three. We decided that we needed a competitive advantage and recognition for the quality of work we were doing, so we sought accreditation from the Federation of Master Builders.’ 

Pam Wilson
Managing Director, Kevin Wilson Master Builders

And lo and behold, just one month later they got a three-month project for local renovation work. This not only allowed them to start bringing some much-needed cash in, but the company van was out and about, getting noticed and increasing the chance of more work.

Juggling the daily running of a construction company while networking and building a reputation was difficult as a young mother, but Pam persevered, and the business steadily grew.

‘2015 was the first year we felt like we were successful. We started to get a little bit of money in and could, for the first time, take the kids on holiday. I thought I had sussed it. Our reputation was also growing quickly too. We really wanted to go the extra mile for our clients, and this led to more business as word got around.’

Pam Wilson
Managing Director, Kevin Wilson Master Builders

And in 2018, KWMB’s commitment to going the extra mile for clients paid off. Pam received a call from a client they had back in 2008 who had recently bought a 1927 tennis pavilion turned café. The café had not been touched in over 30 years and the work that needed to be done was extensive. Pam and her team put the tender in and eventually won the project which would pay them £350,000, their biggest project to date.

Further hardship

If the sudden cash injection wasn’t enough, KWMB then won the Commercial Project of the Year award from the Federation of Master Builders. But just as the company was flying at its highest, 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic struck, putting a screeching halt to all current and future work.

‘It was one of the worst times of my life. All our hard work had gone. This felt so cataclysmic, I thought our business was finished. I thought I was going to have to sell my house. We had three members of the team we could immediately furlough which helped. After that we just had to wait, and those six weeks were hell. My mental stability went out the window. My husband had been working since he was 15, out from early until late every day. And now he was stuck in the house. I think what got me through that time was the Federation of Master Builders and their regular meetings during lockdown.

‘Just as lockdown was ending, we were allowed to start working again, but only if it was outside. The business was a shambles and we needed to find a way to start bringing the cash in again.’

There was a small backlog of work that needed to be done as life began to gain some semblance of normality, and Pam felt this work had to be done quickly as there was no certainty another lockdown wouldn’t ensue. As there were still strict regulation around social distancing, Pam and her teenage son and daughter were enlisted to speed up completion of the projects.

Between September and December 2020, the Wilsons managed to complete two renovation jobs and recouped some of the losses inflicted by the first lockdown. But then in December, once again, the country was plunged into another lockdown.

Working smarter

It was during the second lockdown that Pam knew she had to be smarter. She had never sought financial support before but felt that if the business was to survive, it was an avenue she had to explore. It was during one of the Federation of Master Builders meetings that the topic of funding and external support began to emerge.

Pam not only secured funding to move to a larger workshop which enabled them to start producing tools, but she also invested in KWMB subdivision KW Bathrooms, KW Kitchens, and KW Project Management to better reflect the specialisms that the business offered.

KWMB’s new streams of income gave the business far stronger foundations as even when the projects were scarce, there was a consistent flow of income from the tool workshop and the consultancy work.

But despite 15 years of business, there had been no formal training on how to run a company, and Pam felt that she had to go in search of that to maximise productivity. And it was in 2021 straight after the second lockdown that she stumbled across the Help the Grow: Management Course. Since enrolling on the course, KWMB has increased its turnover by 35%.

‘I didn’t do the course until March 2022, but it helped my business so much. Going back to basics and learning about the foundations of how to run a business removed a lot of that imposter syndrome. I also benefited massively from my mentor and the rest of my cohort.

‘I would often come in covered in dirt from knocking down a wall or doing some tiling. But just talking to my mentor and peers, them letting me know that I’m not alone in these hardships, really did give me a boost, a sounding-board for any ideas.’

A powerful marketing tool

An area of the course that really resonated Pam as a business owner was marketing. As they went thought the content, she realised that she had never actually advertised the business and, as Module 5 outlines, adding value to your customer experience is one of the most powerful marketing tools.

‘I’m sure if you speak to Kevin, he will just say he’s being paid to do a good job and therefore does one. But for me, I understand that people have worked hard for the money they’re giving us. They’ve probably dreamed about this house or project for a long time. It’s going to change the way they live their life.’

Pam Wilson
Managing Director, Kevin Wilson Master Builders

This is perfectly symbolised by KWMB’s 2023 Federation of Master Builders Award, Heavenly Builder. The award was given for going above and beyond in the renovation of a project in the south of England. Their client had gone through significant family trauma and was currently situated in a dilapidated, 130-year-old property that wasn’t fit to live in.

‘I had to approach this project so sensitively because the client had been through so much. I would invite the client into my office and ask how they felt about each change we were making, because it really mattered to them. This is someone’s home.

‘I worked to get all the trades in and make it fit to live in. There weren’t even pipes to bring the gas in, and a lot of companies would just leave it from there, but this was such a sensitive case I had to ensure the house became a home. This was so much more than just a job. I think a lot of businesses don’t go far enough these days.’

The project even inspired Pam to start volunteering at a food bank in Stirling every Wednesday morning for three hours.

This is just one of the countless times Pam has gone above and beyond, and it has been one of her most powerful marketing tools. Customers value quality and care. If they feel that the person selling to them genuinely cares about them through them customer experience, they will forgo convenience and often a higher price point to engage with the product.

Pam says that money is great, and it allows her to do things, but it’s not her bottom line. It’s this type of thinking that has ensured that even when times get tough, KWMB’s reputation as a business of quality has been the catalyst for survival and growth.

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