Dave O’Keefe is managing director at Preston-based Luxus Design, retailer of a range of bathroom, radiator and bedroom products.
The fast-growing company, which won retailer of the year at last year’s Red Rose Awards, is currently taking part in Two Zero’s Scaleup Leaders Network.
Dave shares with Two Zero the biggest lessons he has learned while scaling, the types of businesses he admires and explains the legacy he wants Luxus Design to create.
What is the most important quality of a scaleup business leader and why?
Having a clear model to achieve growth and reflecting on this regularly to make sure goals are being achieved. Most importantly, sharing it with the team so everyone can be part of the success.
As long as everyone is clear about the business roadmap and what we want to achieve, it makes it rewarding and enjoyable for all. Regular communication with the team teaches us of potential growth in certain areas to expand in and bottlenecks in others that need further resource or improving efficiencies. We then act upon these as quickly as possible.
How have you grown and developed as a scaleup leader?
Growing a business from the ground up is very different to leading an existing team, so it’s key to make sure you have a clear outline about the type of individuals and supply partners you want to work with and grow with long term.
We are a very fast-moving business and have scaled at an exceptional rate in a short timeframe, so being proactive, making quick decisions and seeing them through to the end is paramount.
How do you inspire and empower your people?
For me a good working environment is important, allowing people share ideas and going with them. We learn from each other and that’s how we move forward. We have a relaxed approach, people don’t need to be micro-managed, I certainly wouldn’t like that. It’s all about trust, and if you trust the people you work with then you can’t go far wrong to having a great workforce and enjoyable working environment.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received and why?
Go with your own instincts, don’t hold back and strike whilst you can in that moment. Don’t surround yourself with yes people, you need to be questioned, and at the same time you need to listen to others. Surround yourself with good people you can trust to bounce ideas off and receive genuine and honest advice.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned on your business journey, and how has this impacted you?
Things can always allow a little more time, decisions have not got to be made instantly. Never be pressured into making such decisions, and likewise do not put pressure on others to give you instant decisions as that is no different.
Sometimes it’s the quick decisions that are most damaging, take time, analyse the situation, share your thoughts. Otherwise, you’ll most likely find yourself revisiting certain things and questioning them.
What scaleup business do you admire the most and why?
Many new businesses don’t get past the first three years, which is could be down to cash flow issues, product/service demand or aggressive competition. Having a solid business plan and effective marketing strategy that has full understanding of the market and its competitors with a healthy budget, whilst investing money back into the business for growth is so important.
When I see businesses doing this in the early years, they usually have a successful outcome and go from strength to strength. It shows real commitment and dedication to that business which goes a long way. Those are the businesses I admire the most and learn from to help ourselves follow in their footsteps.
What key metrics do you look at everyday in your business?
Firstly, making sure everyone is happy and on with things to start the day, then onto sales, customer service and reviews across all our websites.
I look at product data analytics and brand analytics so that we can see what’s popular and what’s not selling to understand stock levels for marketing and promotions – same goes for the brands. I cross reference prices sold and invoiced to make sure we maintain margins.
I check website performance and development work carried out whilst checking priorities from the previous day that need actioning. Amongst other things those are generally the day two-day metrics.
What is the legacy you want to create?
To create a business that everyone has enjoyed being a part of: staff, suppliers, customers all included. To see a vision through to the end, become the leading supplier of what we do and expand into new territories that others couldn’t. To take a large proportion of the market share within our industry and for all of us to be proud of what we have achieved.