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Andy and Michelle's Member Story

At the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) we have been working closely with our members to tell their story. Back in February, we unveiled the winners of the FSB Worldpay UK Business Awards 2016 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. We’ve had the opportunity to speak to a few of the winners from this year, as well as some of the highly commended entries who are taking the small business world by storm.

Home Leisure Direct is the UK’s premier games room specialist and recently won ‘Online Business of the Year’ for the second time at the FSB Worldpay UK Business Awards 2016.

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We had the chance to speak to founders Andy and Michelle Beresford-Williams. They described the business for us, “We’re a games room retailer and sell products such as pool tables, pinball machines and ping-pong tables. We sell primarily to people with a games room at home.”

“Some people presume the products are going into commercial environments, but around 98 per cent of our products go into homes. We’ve found a lot of people are making entertainment spaces in their own homes, in basements, garages or dining rooms that are then transformed into games room.”

In 2007 Andy and Michelle set up the business from their spare bedroom at home – this partly came down to the fact that they had adopted a puppy! Both were already in full-time employment, but decided to work from home in order to further their own small business… and take care of their dog. Home Leisure Direct grew from there.

Michelle explains to us how the business is set up, “All our staff are on one site, where we have an office and three showrooms. One is an arcade and pinball showroom, then we have a pool table and games room showroom which has a mix of everything including a bar with beer pumps and arcade machines. We then have a third room which houses luxury products, everything is over £2,000 and that includes exclusive pool tables and jukeboxes. It’s quite a fun atmosphere to be in.”

Andy and Michelle decided to become members of FSB in order to gain the backing of a respected small business support organisation. Andy tells us about the benefits of becoming a member, “When you’re just starting-up you don’t have a lot of backing if something goes majorly wrong. For example, legal issues or just needing general support and guidance. You won’t realise that you need to do certain things to start-up in the first place. If someone says you need to A, B and C then it gives you confidence in the idea that you’ve set up your company correctly.”

Andy spoke of the company’s use of FSB and Worldpay’s Card Payment Processing service, “If I need something I can then turn to your list of preferred companies and providers because I know that they will be trusted, reputable and generally will do a good deal.”

“We ended up moving from one payment provider to Worldpay because it was in FSB’s list of benefits. The service has been phenomenal, they’ve been really good. They sent right a really great guy over who wanted to understand the business – we’re not your normal kind of business. The type of products that we sell are really expensive, it’s not the type of business that a lot of payment providers are used to dealing with.”

Andy continues, “As a business owner it’s really important to have that safety net that includes legal support and advice or employment protection – which is a huge bonus in case we ever needed to go to a tribunal. To have that support is amazing, it gives you peace of mind that if something does happen the support is there.”

We asked the business owners about their recent awards win, “We like to think that we’ve won these awards because we’ve kept a tight-knit feel to the business. We now have thirty employees, and everybody has their own role. We have a great atmosphere, everybody enjoys working here and we’re all friends outside of the company too! Everyone pulls their weight because we all want to do well.”

“Winning the awards gives you more of a professional edge. Because we’re primarily a web based company, even with the showrooms on site, 95 per cent of sales still go through the website or phone sales. It’s really important for the client to know the company that they are putting all of their hard-earned money into.”

We also spoke to Andy and Michelle about our FSB community and how it’s impacted their business, “On social media there has been a lot of support, especially if we’re launching a new product or announcing we’ve won an award! A lot of the people we have met through FSB will retweet us or get in touch and congratulate us. Even though we haven’t been to the networking events, there is still a FSB community there, there’s that constant support and encouragement going both ways and that’s really nice.”

We asked the entrepreneurs what advice they would give to small business owners across the UK, “In this company in particular we really value being transparent in everything, from accounts to staff. Especially towards your customers as well. You need transparency in who you are, in what you’re doing, what the products are. It builds trust with customers, you need to show them that there is a friendly face behind the computer screen and they’ll be happy to buy from you.”

Home Leisure Direct were the well-deserved winners of ‘Online Business of the Year’, you can read more about our awards winners here.

If you’d like to find out more about FSB and the work we do for small businesses throughout the UK, take a look at our business issues page. If you would like to sign up to FSB, you can visit our member join portal here.

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