In the second of my interviews with small business owners, we meet Sara Moreton from Keep Cottage. However this isn’t her sole venture – she also owns BPF Paint Finishers and Grasshopper Coaching, so she’s a busy lady. Here she talks about the rewards in giving a great customer experience, and the motivation behind her holiday home business.
How do you describe your business to your friends?
It’s a holiday home rental company – I have a number of businesses but Keep Cottage is the one I enjoy working on the most – although not the most lucrative.
How long have you had your business and what inspired you to start it?
Four years ago we bought a holiday home and Niall said we can have it if I can make the numbers work! I already had the two other businesses so I knew I could make it work from a sales/marketing perspective but I had no experience of meeting the needs of holiday guests!
How did you approach that gap in your knowledge?
I paid for training, joined network groups and asked lots of questions. I also used an agency who gave stacks of guidance.
What problem do you solve for your customers?
Above all we enable busy people to get away from it all and relax as a couple, with family or with friends.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
That would be growing the word of mouth and repeat part of the business as a result of great customer experiences. I love working on the brand experience at all touch points and I do not compromise on quality.
What’s the biggest frustration with working for yourself?
It can be a lonely place, so I make sure that every now and again I work from a cafe or hotel – even if its local. I stay in touch with colleagues who are working on the same projects for regular catch ups – sharing ideas and accountability.
How do you deal with that loneliness?
This is a really good question, I think that as I’ve been working on my own for over 15 years I just get on with it! If I’m not feeling great I no longer punish myself thinking I need to sit at my desk for 10 hours, instead I go out for a walk or get on my bike. I also put time aside for coffee with girlfriends.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a lead magnet to grow my mailing list. I have done the hard work but I’m struggling to push the go button – I’m not sure what’s holding me back.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
You need to be persistent as it can take time for things to work out. Also the rewards are not instant – so plan to have money in the bank to cover your survival costs for 6 months.
What is your favourite brand and why?
This is a tricky one. It was VW but they have let themselves down. So instead, I’d pick Apple as they are great innovators with a great user interface and all beautifully packaged.
Fish – fried, steamed, baked or raw
What was your first ever job?
Washing dishes at Queen Margaret’s School in Escrick.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A Life Guard on a cruise ship. I was a keen swimmer from a very young age, and was one of the youngest in my region to gain the bronze cross and bronze medallion. I was also a lifeguard during the summer holidays and thought it would be exciting and I would see the world!
What is your favourite song?
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Julia Roberts as she is good at playing dippy!
If I gave you an extra day in the week, what would you do with it?
I would spend it outdoors – moving, eating and drinking.
If a celebrity was going to buy from you, who would you like it to be and why?
Emma Freud – because she loves Suffolk, good restaurants, the water and a lively pub.
What else should I know about you?
I was the swimming, hockey and netball captain at school! So you could say I have been practising my team playing and leadership skills for the last 40 years.
I’m looking forward to booking some time at Keep Cottage because I’ve heard a lot about it and I think it would be a great place to relax – if you’ve not heard about Sara’s attention to detail when it comes to getting a good nights sleep, then check out her blog about it here.
Sara recommends having six months money behind you before you set up your business. That’s a theme that’s starting to come through in these interviews. And her motivation is clear, if she wants a holiday home she has to make it pay! Are you clear on your motivation for your business?