Lessons learned while building a successful Joinery Brand that can be transferred into any business

Interview with
Pete Baylis
Lessons learned while building a successful Joinery Brand that can be transferred into any business

Pete Baylis, and the things he learned while building his successful Joinery Brand that can be transferred into any business.

Word travels fast and thus, the delivery of a great customer experience is one of the determining factors of a successful business. In addition to this, taking care of staff, systemizing, and removing the dreaded owner ego heavily contribute to the longevity of a business, as Pete Baylis, the founder and former owner of Vogue Kitchens in New Plymouth highlights when giving advice on building an enterprise.

After completing his joinery apprenticeship and gaining the confidence to navigate his trade, Pete, on a whim chased up an ad in the newspaper and found himself the new owner of Peko industries, purchased for $20,000. Pete changed the name to Vogue Kitchens as a way to remove himself from the business and create a brand that could, and eventually, would be sold 30 years later. Back in 1983, Vogue Kitchens was the only joinery shop in New Plymouth CBD, and while the location and progressive design of the building created the illusion of higher costs to consumers which sometimes worked for and against him, Pete found that it was the implementation of other strategies that were what really created the point of difference in the market. The following are pathways that led to his success.

  • Train up your staff – give them the confidence to do the work independently. 
  • Processes, Processes, Processes – in other words, a systemized business has sustenance. There is a tangible business to sell at the end of the day if defined processes are put in place.
  • Remove the Ego – Fear of delegation must be overcome, and releasing control is essential when growing a business.

Pete is a firm believer in hiring apprentices, and he would put his new employees in the deep end in order to give them confidence. He sought out those who were excited to learn about joinery and worked with them from the start: “The ones that are passionate about it will always be your best tradesmen.”

In addition to finding and training the right personnel, he also believes creating a positive staff culture is key. Pete upheld this golden rule with staff members, and he would publicly praise his employees when clients had good feedback. However, he would be careful to provide guidance privately. He follows up by stating, “Staff don’t leave because they have more information and training. They leave because of a poor relationship with their boss.” Owners should respect if their staff choose to move on and start their own business, because that’s essentially how new businesses form, and this indicates that they’ve learned the skill well enough to take that leap.

Pete recommends outsourcing and employing specialists to do their individual roles more efficiently, instead of trying to take on too much. He realised that delegating tasks saves time and money, and helps keep the focus on managing the business itself. This allowed him to concentrate on training staff and building the customer experience. He explains that his team would always aim to arrive on time, and with a drop cloth and vacuum cleaner in hand. Little things like introducing yourself and going the extra step to ensure the house is tidy after each day would lead to more referrals and opportunities, simply by doing the right thing and treating both staff members and customers with respect. He states that the biggest mistake when selling: “If people don’t like you, they will not deal with you.” Pete understands after decades of experience that people buy with their emotions.

That understanding along with his expertise in joinery and kitchen design has propelled him into a successful career in real estate. He is now an agent for McDonald Real Estate, and his distinct competitive advantage helps buyers and sellers to visualize potential for renovations, as he can conceptualize and draw plans for arguably the most important room of the house. He finds the layout and state of the kitchen can often make or break a sale.

You can get in touch with Pete Baylis by visiting the McDonald Real Estate Website

Pete.baylis@eieio.co.nz 021 490 008


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