Embracing the digital agenda has ushered in a new era of expansion for Cumberland Windows, based at Egremont in West Cumbria.
The family business, which employs four people, was founded by Dominic Farrer in 1989 and supplies windows, doors and conservatories.
Two years ago Dominic and his son Michael sat down to draw up a strategy to grow the business.
Michael said: “We were looking at ways to modernise and grow the business organically, without taking on too much risk.
“Our plan was to target housing developers and local builders because, previously, most customers had been private householders.”
He was hunting for information about grants when a Google search directed him to Cumbria Business Growth Hub, the Chamber’s business support service. He found that he was eligible for 12 hours’ business support.
Growth Hub adviser Adrian Luckham prompted a change of strategy. Rather than target builders, he identified that the business should improve its marketing, prioritising its web site.
Michael said: “Orders were coming almost entirely through word-of-mouth recommendation. The website was generating only 5% of sales.”
Adrian linked Cumberland Windows into a £1,600 subsidy available through Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Growth Hub project. This European Regional Development Fund-supported initiative subsides consultancy fees to help eligible businesses grow and create employment.
Eligible businesses can access a 40% contribution up to a maximum of £2,000 towards consultancy to support their growth plans.
The grant enabled Cumberland Windows to commission Wombat Creative of Cockermouth to design a new web site.
This has helped the business evolve a brand – it shortened its name from Cumberland Window Design to Cumberland Windows – a necessary step to expanding beyond its heartland in Copeland.
The business is now concentrating on search engine optimisation and a social media campaign to drive traffic to the website and stimulate sales leads, and has plans to shoot a video to embed on the home page.
Michael said: “You can have the best website in the world but if you’re not driving traffic to it, nobody is going to see it.”
He added: “This has been a step change for the business. We are building a brand. The website showcases our expertise, experience and reputation, and allows us to demonstrate to customers that we are knowledgeable about our products, energy efficiency and security.”
To find out how the Growth Hub can help your business, or to learn more about the ERDF subsidy scheme, call 0844 257 8450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMEs in all sectors throughout Cumbria can obtain free advice to support their growth and competitiveness through Cumbria Business Growth Hub.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub this comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.