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Episode 31: When Your Biggest Customer Takes You Down: Reflections with Glenn Aston

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Are you an entrepreneur or a small business owner dealing with the challenges of having one dominant customer? On this week's episode of The SME Growth Podcast, Dave Parry and Richard Buckle are joined by Glenn Aston to discuss his experiences with Ultra Furniture.

In this episode, Glenn reflects on the hurdles they faced as a business with four equal shareholders and how they unintentionally became overly dependent on retaining a specific large customer. Drawing from his own journey, Glenn shares some insights and lessons learnt that could be great advice for SMEs facing similar pitfalls.

Get the most from this episode in the form that works best for you: watch the episode and read the transcript below.

 

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REad the transcript

Please note: Whilst all transcripts are double checked for accuracy, they are transcribed via Otter.AI so may contain errors.

David Parry 01:10

Hello, and you're watching or listening to The SME Growth Podcast from Wellmeadow, a weekly podcasts where we try and come up with all sorts of different angles of the trials, tribulations challenges, tools and tips for helping you grow your business. And as we're just saying, in our little preamble, and we've got a guest today So joining me, Dave and rich, we've got Glenn, Glenn Aston. Good afternoon, Glen. 

Glenn Aston 01:40

Good afternoon, Dave,

David Parry 01:41

thanks for coming in.

Glenn Aston 01:42

That's my pleasure

David Parry 01:43

A brave man coming in

Richard Buckle 01:46

subjecting yourself to

David Parry 01:47

the SME growth podcast

Glenn Aston 01:49

Well, as you touched on, it's nothing like running the line at Nottingham Forest against Leicester 

David Parry 01:52

You've coped with a lot worse than this 

Glenn Aston 01:55

I have been called a lack of hair something.

David Parry 02:00

And everything in between? 

Glenn Aston 02:01

Yes, absolutely.

David Parry 02:02

So we worked together a few years ago now. In a company that used to be the managing director of and I had very interesting times, both good and bad, all sorts. And we thought it'd be great to maybe just get some reflections on that it's a few years ago now, isn't it?

Glenn Aston 02:17

It is I joined Ultra furniture in 1999. I think the MBO was delivered in 2003. Okay, part of the Christie Tyler Group, Christie Tyler, was going through difficulties at the time, they decided to go high end and they created several brands. And the rest of the companies were offered the option to do MBO just prior to Christie Tyler going into administration. So we were all forewarned about it going out into admin. But we got a very short timeframe to deliver the MBO, which we achieved on July the first, we were told that originally it was going to be July the 31st. But then it was July the first classic solicitor speak we delivered the MBO at 1:30am. I think it was on July. It is yes.

David Parry 03:17

I initially you were the FD,

Glenn Aston 03:20

FD Yeah,

David Parry 03:21

And became the MD

Glenn Aston 03:22

There was five directors. I think at the one stage we all four of us at 22 and a half percent and 10 I think it was the sales director. And we moving forward furniture has a history of having the salesperson as the MD, historically, that worked. One of my previous MDS was a brilliant salesman and needed to be the forefront of the business. And we had a good couple of years,

David Parry 03:50

a couple of years, when we knew you'd had more than a good couple of years, 

Glenn Aston 03:54

we had a very good run.

David Parry 03:56

So you mentioned the name of the company, ultra furniture and sofa, as you mentioned, just tell us a little bit about what actually then was the product.

Glenn Aston 04:03

Ultra furniture was primarily based in the mid to the lower to middle sector of the furniture trade. We kind of manufactured very high volume, low margin, 

David Parry 04:17

are we talking about soft furnishings,

Glenn Aston 04:19

yet? We use a three piece suite as the classic situation but very quickly moved, you know, everything's based around suite equivalents and it was based on a three seater, one seat and two chairs and variants of that thereafter

David Parry 04:34

That's how the industry worked. 

Glenn Aston 04:36

It was and still is, I believe,

David Parry 04:39

and you didn't sell your own brand so much as as be a subcontractor to the other big brands.

Glenn Aston 04:43

Yes, we we sold into the major retailers. They would come to us with a design brief oriented design spec and our design director who was very good you could do everything from designing the frame through to the sewing to the finished product

David Parry 04:59

He worked wonders. I remember seeing some,

Glenn Aston 05:01

He was he was brilliant at that job. And he did a very good job. When we did the MBO, we had several large customers, which we would have liked to retain. But that proved very difficult during the stages. And we fell into the trap of thinking that the one was a very good. 

David Parry 05:22

So that's how it evolved. And we're going to come on to that. But I'm just interested to reflect on some of the other challenges of running that sort of business and, and one of them certainly it was around bringing all the material in from the Far East and coping with last minute changes of opinion and all that sort of thing

Glenn Aston 05:35

most of the fabric was Far East China, that provided his difficulties on supply chains, because the production director had very slick running operation. He'd been there for 30 years. So he knew it inside out. And he got it worked, you know, he did his forecast on supply chain on the fabric particularly. But that did prove challenging, especially with fluctuations in currency thereafter, because we had no scope to move our selling prices.

David Parry 06:06

And you're always having to design to a price point

Glenn Aston 06:09

Very much so what we found is whatever we sold it to the major retailer for they would kind of double it. So we were always priced captive. If there was a 399 suite, 399 - 3 seater out there. Generally, our target price in 1999-2003 was around 199. But that was quickly forced down.

David Parry 06:30

And that's the retail price that the retailer was selling for is that includes VAT. It was getting in starting to get a feel for what you're having to make a three piece suite for here. Something that could sell for 199. Yep. It's incredible, isn't it

Glenn Aston 06:44

It is. The reason we did well in the start is that we we could produce very quickly all of our operatives were on piecework, both in the woodmill the sewing the area, cutting area, and the upholstery area. Everything was

David Parry 06:59

It was an incredible operation wasn't it 

Richard Buckle 07:00

I remember going in and just like

David Parry 07:03

Being a hive of activity, never seen anywhere So high energy, 

Glenn Aston 07:06

or when I walk people around Oh said stepped down stands still too long in upholstery, because you might get upholstered! So yeah, it was a it was a great little business at this at the start Which is why we invested in it

David Parry 07:23

It worked well for a Good long number of years

Glenn Aston 07:25

we had a had a good run. 

David Parry 07:26

Yeah, as like difficult customers to sell into weren't they

Glenn Aston 07:31

big time. We, I tried to cap the certain level of volume into certain retailers. But when they've got you, got control in a way they can say to you, well, you either supply that, or you don't have anything. So you tend to have to. It's a self fulfilling prophecy looking back.

David Parry 07:55

If they complain as well, they had this ability to do chargebacks, didn't they?

Glenn Aston 07:59

Yeah, we would debit notes raised. Sometimes we challenge them And they'd say, Well, the next time we have some loose ends, you can come and cut them off yourself if you want. And like you know what, I could never guarantee that we would have zero loose threads. 

David Parry 08:14

But but you'd never get a chance to really see the offending item, which 

Glenn Aston 08:18

Because it's been shipped out to the customer and they got the deliveries but we get a regular supply of debit notes

David Parry 08:24

There's almost a debit note creation machine as part of the business model

Glenn Aston 08:27

It was in my opinion, it was their way of creating extra profit.

Richard Buckle 08:33

Just thinking about like, sort of governance type thing you mentioned you had for shareholders equal I got Well, eventually you got to 25% shareholding each. What's the kind of would you do that, again? Is that what were the challenges? Was it was it? Was it good to have equality? Or did that throw up other issues?

Glenn Aston 08:51

It only became an issue as such, when we identified that we got a weak link in the area that we thought, both of you helped manage that situation and provide advice to the 

David Parry 09:08

Decision making tougher, isn't it when you got four equals you've got nk

Glenn Aston 09:10

it was you know, when we when we launched the reach promotion philosophy. It was hard to bring that everybody was behind it as a front of a company. Probably not sure it was given the full impact that it deserved at the time.

David Parry 09:27

So like Rich said, Would you do it again, if you were in business with three other directors would you say the four by 25% works?

Glenn Aston 09:35

I probably structured different now. One has to have the say, shall we say to make sure that everybody comes along with that line? Although I will say that the production director and the director didn't you know the design director did come with me. Unfortunately, A he was catching up with individuals you know, we wanted to change things on the production line. But we were also then at that time, we were also battling with ever increasing costs and every decrease in selling prices, and very demanding customers.

David Parry 10:13

So where did it start to go wrong? And you think what was the first signs that this long run are very profitable performance was starting to come to an end.

Glenn Aston 10:21

Looking back, it's when we started to lose some of the bigger customers, right? One customer becoming too dominant, 

David Parry 10:29

because he didn't drop the total turnover when you lost those customers. It's just it shifted the balance.

Glenn Aston 10:34

And yeah, we'd lose like, we'd lose two models in one customer and gain one at another one.

David Parry 10:41

There wasn't a turnover problem, though, for a long time,

Glenn Aston 10:43

it was been dominated by one, one big customer. And

Richard Buckle 10:48

Was that gradual thing or did that happen overnight

Glenn Aston 10:52

We lost a couple over a period. But then it didn't matter in that some of our retailers weren't in the same marketplace. So we were producing better set better product for like, furniture village, etc. Who wouldn't be competing in the 399 3 seater market, as are others. But some of our other people were also competing with the big retailer. And we were encouraged to move away

David Parry 11:25

Encouraged by that customer, dominant customer. So what starts off as being a slight, higher percentage of your sales, then maybe like, ends up just getting worse and worse.

Glenn Aston 11:35

It's a snowball.

David Parry 11:36

You can't hold that back the tidal wave 

Glenn Aston 11:38

and you just couldn't stop it. And ultimately, you know, Ultra went into administration, we rescued it. And then but then we were given 30 days notice that they weren't going to be our customer anymore. And I needed 60 days, because I got two big customers coming on board. 

David Parry 11:59

And do you sense that the big customer had some ulterior motive? Or were they just doing what they want to do anyway? Regardless,

Glenn Aston 12:08

I saw it coming because we had the regular 399 slot on the DFSs floor. But then a Polish company. We were we were alternated there one promotion, we had the next thing. So I saw something was happening there with that.

David Parry 12:24

So they got another supplier in the wings

Glenn Aston 12:27

Yes big time, because they were also single biggest manufacturer in the country as well. They manufactured a lot of their own furniture. So the knew one costs we're doing etc, etc. But we couldn't control that I'd got better control. If I'd have had another 30 days before the second admin, then we would have been much better equipped to go forward.

David Parry 12:52

And what was the board discussion, like at this time when it was happening?

Glenn Aston 12:56

It was almost leaving it to me. 

David Parry 13:00

Because it's kind of a crisis, isn't it when that's how 

Glenn Aston 13:02

It is. And I was, you know, I was upfront as I could be with the guys. Unfortunately, at that time, the production director had gone. And we got a new one in so two shareholders with just the design director myself. Yeah. And I shared with him as much as I could. But he kind of carried on designing furniture, because I've got these other two big customers that were almost there. I can remember going down to a big presentation in London, with the one retailer. And I'd been there all day because it was a massive conference covering lots of non food product, right? And then the buyer saw me at almost four o'clock said, I knew you were here. I've been chasing you all day. I must say What's this, he says? I want you to make our furniture. Great. I'm thinking how am I gonna get through this now? So I have to keep working without letting them know that there was a potential wind up of that company on the horizon 

David Parry 13:58

Being able to carry on through and be able to supply this the other customer. And see really feel it. In the end, it was for a matter of 30 days difference, would it make the difference between

Glenn Aston 14:09

Would have made a huge difference, in essence, the first time we saved the company, I think we should have structured finances a little bit different. And, you know, we had we struggled to get through that with the administrator. But it did need more capital behind it might have been better if I'd gone out and got some help. Instead of trying to do it myself and the design director if we could diluted our shareholding to bring some in with more backing because

David Parry 14:40

you think in that sort of industry thinking furniture here, homewears and so on, but there aren't that many players out there so that you can't really have 10 customers all with decent volume or can you what sort of market is it?

Glenn Aston 14:53

It depends really on what you what you set your business up. So we were set up as high volume, recover the fixed overhead

David Parry 15:02

just give us a feel of what's high volume. How many sofas are we doing?

Glenn Aston 15:05

We were doing suite equivalents. We've been doing north of 2000 suites per week. 

David Parry 15:12

I mean, that's mind boggling to think that just that volume of product, how many wagons must have been turning up to get it away.

Glenn Aston 15:19

That's at that point. We were doing that 200 to 300 suites,

David Parry 15:23

And quite seasonal, isn't it? The run up to Christmas is busy?

Glenn Aston 15:26

Well, that's that. That becomes crazy. Because at any time, you can be late with production. Because you just said we've had a supply problem. But if people want a new three piece suite for Christmas Day, then unfortunately, you've got no. So we cut off our order book at a certain point. And the production director then is ticking off every order daily, up to and that's the only time of the year where I've walked around the bay and there's no furniture in the bay.

David Parry 15:58

We just cleaned out and in January. So start again on low WIP.

Glenn Aston 16:02

You're watching the audiobook, because clearly, we've delivered in all our new product for the Christmas Day and New Year's Day promotions. I remember back in, I think it was 2000. We took in orders on two models, north of 9000 suites and they will all need to be delivered in five to six weeks. Yeah, this is alongside, These are just on 1 customer. That's when we were part of Christie Tye than we had to subcontract that December. 

David Parry 16:34

So it sounds like a brutal industry to be in you know, people talk about automotive being tough, but we're talking about there with short changes of direction very opinionated on what designs work on not these volumes you talking about shortly times, and then these quite aggressive customers that you can't really say no to. 

Glenn Aston 16:50

It is. It was challenging. You know, while it's while it's working, you just roll with it And it did. And it still does for a lot of people, you know, upholstery in the West Midlands, where we were based, was a huge employment. And I've got a good friend who I haven't seen for a while, he set up in just outside Dudley and he's doing very well now. Yeah, Bri sells high end.

David Parry 16:57

And for years. It did, yes. Okay. So that so that dodgy area that we found yourself in was this high volume low end. So very, very cost sensitive parlour market, but with these huge customers that basically say, you know, jump and you say how high.

Glenn Aston 17:33

Absolutely, That is the question

David Parry 17:35

To the point where they could tell you to get rid of other customers, if you want to keep their business.

Glenn Aston 17:39

They wouldn't put it that bluntly, but they would. That's how they will leave you with no doubt where they intend to take the business

Richard Buckle 17:47

if you if someone was listening now, and they find themselves in a sort of similar position where they think you're actually we're getting pretty concentrated on a few customers. What what sort of advice would you be? What sort of things would you be telling them to think about or action, 

Glenn Aston 18:01

I'd quickly action, another marketing plan, you have to because if they get control of your orderbook, then you're out of control your business. And unless you've got a firm contract, and our contract was only the length of the product, and the promotion would last six weeks. And after that there was no guarantee, if you've got a contract that says okay, we're going to order eight suites every six weeks for the next 12 months. Then that works if there's a firm written contract, because you can work with that where we were working. As I say, we got six weeks. And that was it. You know, when I was called into that when he came to see me about that meeting, I said it was just after the January exhibition, which is the biggest exhibition at the NEC. And I said great because he'd been on the stand and said, I'll come and see you. And we were expecting the order for the next 399 model. And the and I was told then he's in the in front of my design directors, one said, we're not going to deal with you anymore. And That was that.

David Parry 19:13

A bolt out of the blue.

Glenn Aston 19:14

Yep. complete shock. 

David Parry 19:17

And you knew what that meant?

Glenn Aston 19:18

Well, I Well, I actually said to the guy, you know, this closes the business down. I said, Can you give us one more promotion? I said, because I've got plans, but he knew what plans meant. I'm going to supply somebody else. Yeah. 

David Parry 19:32

So it wasn't in their interest to keep you alive. They're not bizarrely, even though you've been a reliable supplier for many years. They didn't want you to be supplying someone else.

Glenn Aston 19:39

Nope. Well, that's that's my perception

Richard Buckle 19:42

And it's quite, it's quite long sort of lead times isn't there into new customers. It wasn't as if you could sort of say, oh, we need to diversify. Let's go and find some new customers and next month, you've got them. You've got to get into the design cycle as well, haven't you? 

Glenn Aston 19:55

Yes, because they've like planned their promotions. A lot of the other people have spring bank holiday, etc, etc. So they've already planned in. So you're looking at least three to six months out before you can start to get things on the shop floor, then they stop, they have to price established if there's going to be a sale. So you have to then work with that. So it's not a quick switch on.

David Parry 20:19

And so that means they have to put it for sale at the higher price for a period of time. That's just a law before you can call something on sale, isn't it? How long was that?

Glenn Aston 20:26

Historically, I think we've delivered into stores for weeks before we do the mass delivery. 

David Parry 20:32

So all that lead time just adds up and ends up getting the approval, they are designing some test pieces in your get the stuff on the shop floor for the price establishment period, then you hopefully go into the sale period.

Richard Buckle 20:43

So it's almost even when even though you can see, you know, even when I guess you can start to see the issue, it's not like you can just pull a lever and fix it is it's just not like time and it's not run up to 

Glenn Aston 20:53

No it's not like putting a plaster on a cut. It's it's a long process. And as I said during that process, I was close to delivery our two major retailers. We did bring them on board later, but this was after Ultra had gone once again. And they kind of knew that I'd been not misleading them but not being as upfront with the truth about the state of the financial state of Ultra at the time.

David Parry 21:23

Yeah, close to the wind, it was dying those last few days. Yes. So do you think you could have had any other strategy that would have worked operating in that field? Or did you almost need to have a different market that you're addressing at the same time? less volatile? Maybe like you say the eight suites week or year is a different markets not 1000s?

Glenn Aston 21:48

we should have bought in a better marketing person earlier

David Parry 21:54

To open up other markets,

Glenn Aston 21:56

somebody who's already got the connections with it's very much, although it's changed over the over the period, but it was very much on if they like you, they'll deal with you. And we hadn't got that towards the end. You got to be out there. Entertaining, you know, you've got to be out taking them out and entertainment

David Parry 22:16

It's that type of industry?

Glenn Aston 22:17

It very much was very much was at the time. And you got to be in them and taking them around and showing them what you can do.

David Parry 22:24

You're not talking about that long ago, you know, and when this all happened 

Glenn Aston 22:27

No, no, no, this is not that long ago at all. But it still is you you got to be in their face. The world is a shrinking violet, you know, people, you know, Chinese imports coming into the country like there's no tomorrow now for Far East imports, leather from India, and 

David Parry 22:47

Is that even competitive than if you're shipping in large products like sofas from China, given the shipping costs and the delay,

Glenn Aston 22:55

basically moving the box of air because that's what a three piece suite is. But they still sell at very low prices. Yeah. The higher the product, the higher value of the product, if it's leather and whatever, then it does work. For 399. It doesn't work.

David Parry 23:10

So they needed UK suppliers, but often European they get about Polish suppliers. Yeah, they can get them in quick enough. So if you were to have put a limit on how much any one customer could have of your capacity in percentage terms, is there even a number you can put on that? Or would it have been wasted time anyway?

Glenn Aston 23:30

Ideally, I would like my breakeven to be spread between six to eight customers. And then the independents etc, which is the cream, we make slightly more margin, because they're better product to top it all up. 

David Parry 23:47

That's the icing on the cake, 

Glenn Aston 23:48

That would have been around 12 and a half percent if I could, 

David Parry 23:52

yeah, so that's a lot lower than ended up being where you are well, north of 50%,

Glenn Aston 23:56

well north of 60 to 70 at the end

David Parry 23:59

But like you said, that snowball effect

Glenn Aston 24:02

It's how you how you stop that. And,

David Parry 24:05

of course, it's profitable. That wasn't a bad thing in the moment that you can see it on the risk register. We did that. My goodness, we shouldn't have it but you making loads of money? 

Glenn Aston 24:12

Well, we found when I think we delivered the MBO. And then we were structured all the finances confidential invoice discounting. I remember when I renewed that, after three years, I was offered such improved terms. It was unbelievable. And then the crash came in 2008. Like it was Yeah. And it was they weren't they immediately having given me better terms wanted to pull the deal. Two months later. 

David Parry 24:41

Yeah. I can pull you under just on that. But you saw through that,

Glenn Aston 24:44

Walked through that, you know, we went with a alternative Bank, which worked well very well. But it's how volatile that industry is. The crash just came come in and then banks being what they are, you know, they said, Oh, we gotta have a review. cost you 50 grand over the review. If I got 50 grand, I really wouldn't be talking to you. But yeah, it's it's a roller coaster. I've learned a lot from it Hindsight is 2020 vision. And literally, like I was talking today, a company that we might be taking to market on another part of my business now. Yeah, I've said you need to watch one of your problems could be your dominance model and customer.

David Parry 25:26

So when you think back now then to is there's times do you genuinely remember it as very positive period? Are you scarred by how it finished?

Glenn Aston 25:35

Predominantly, I loved it. You know, I was there from 99 through to 2018. I think it was something like 17/18 years and 14/15 years of that was great. And we had a good time, a good run, a very good run. But with hindsight, I would have made some changes to the way we run that. The plant needed investing in on whatever we kind of didn't look that way. Yeah. Okay, that could have been more automated, like automated cutting. And

David Parry 26:11

so a bit more automation, marketing, you've mentioned you need to ensure that was taken more seriously, which is hard to do when you're full. And you're you know, it's got orders coming in. Yeah, filling in capacity and more. As someone says, we need to do some marketing, you look a bit mad, but it was because you needed to shift the mix

Glenn Aston 26:28

spreading the load.

David Parry 26:29

You know, different customers.

Glenn Aston 26:31

We are I remember when I first joined we, we as I said we had six or seven customers all doing north of 2 million each year?

David Parry 26:41

And would you have reacted differently to the big customer that eventually took you down? Would you have tried harder to just say no, and then limit the amount you do? Or do you think that would have just led to an earlier demise?

Glenn Aston 26:54

With hindsight, I think we should have done. People are surviving now that are not supplying that retailer.

David Parry 27:02

And in a way, even if you'd lost them earlier on while you still had another three or four, that we weren't maybe acting the same way that would have been easier to survive. 

Glenn Aston 27:11

Yeah, with hindsight, we should have. 

David Parry 27:14

So the reason you didn't it's not because there was disagreement at board level, it's just that would affect

Glenn Aston 27:18

no we kind of inherited it. I know, we had a good run wild when after we did the MBO. But through the group philosophy was, you know, they they tried to create sectors, I think the West Midlands sector, I can't remember the exact name there. But what they basically meant was high end, middle end, middle to bottom, and then bottom. And we replaced with we've got a sister company in Scunthorpe, and one in Kidderminster somewhere. And we were all like, in that group. So they would try and then they allocated customers across those.

David Parry 27:56

So that's right from MBO in 2002/3, that's what you inherited.

Glenn Aston 28:00

Yeah. And we should have reacted then once we got control.

David Parry 28:06

Broaden the customer base, say no to the the big, sort of dominant dominant one, and use the marketing terms.

Glenn Aston 28:12

Without a doubt. Without a doubt. We know that. But that's that's the benefit of hindsight.

David Parry 28:17

Well that's that's kind of, you know, why it's an interesting discussion to have now several years on, you know, the the immediate aftermath is now the dust settled, you go on to other brighter and better things. And yeah,

Glenn Aston 28:27

as I said, we had we had a great run. It's an interesting part of my life, you know, I've got remarried and everything else. So I wouldn't, I wouldn't change anything of that side. I just the business needed managing differently. And it would still be around today, had we done that

David Parry 28:44

I'm hoping that people listening to it get something from that, because I think, it's not a solitary tale

Glenn Aston 28:49

let's hope because the big beasts are great while it's working well. 

David Parry 28:57

If you're selling into Tesco or you know, one of the automotives there's lots of industries where there are very dominant players out there. And it's, well, it's going well, it seems fine. But actually being I think after

Glenn Aston 29:06

I exited, altering, you know, it was run by another group. Tesco was a big customer, the furniture site, and they pulled out the previous owners that will the owners then at the last Ultra, pull the plug immediately, because it was a huge part of the business. So it can be you know, that these beasts are great to have as a badge, but might you have to manage them, don't let them manage you more than it has to be a team. Or you get a contract in place that's secure.

David Parry 29:40

And try to limit your customers to 12 and a half percent, maybe 15% tops, rather than letting anyone that's,

Glenn Aston 29:46

that's that's the target

David Parry 29:47

You have to stand firm, I guess the problem as soon as you give a little bit of an exception to that you can't stop it. It just keeps growing. 

Glenn Aston 29:53

Because if if they say to you, we want you to do this model. And you say no, they'd say, Well, we're gonna take those from you. Yeah. if they if, if that is set to you, yeah, it should tell you how much you rate.

David Parry 30:05

Yeah, yeah.

Richard Buckle 30:06

Yeah, that's the warning sign.

Glenn Aston 30:07

It is huge. Yeah. We didn't see it at the time. You know, again, I'll repeat, that's looking backwards, we should have said, because it also then says to other customers, that they're more important than us.

Richard Buckle 30:24

It takes quite a lot of courage to do that. That, isn't it when it's all going well, and you can make money off it. And you're sitting there like,

Glenn Aston 30:30

again, I'm saying it with hindsight now, if somebody just said that I was gonna say, I would say it now. But the younger, less experienced Glenn would not have done it. Yeah, it's only the benefit of hindsight.

David Parry 30:45

Well, you learn from your mistakes, and hopefully learn from other people's as well. So yeah, hopefully, the equivalent of the younger Glenn is listening now, and it's picked up on this, and it's maybe probably already been pricking their conscience as a problem. Maybe this will galvanise them into doing something more

Glenn Aston 31:00

People react now that, you know, that's why I've got the new businesses and we support other businesses similar to yourselves and whatever. But it's kind of advising them if they want to take their businesses to market. You know, that's the first thing that flags up if there's a dominance, one or two customers. Yeah, because it's a huge risk. And the first thing I say is, watch the contract. If it's, you know, if they say it's, well, it's a rolling three month mark.

David Parry 31:27

Yeah. That's the red flag.

Glenn Aston 31:29

It is. It's huge. But if you make enough money, those three months if it's the last three months. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You got to work with these people. Really appreciate

David Parry 31:45

that. Glenn, thanks for coming in. And being frank about that experience, as you say, really interesting chapter in your life and we live part of that journey.

Glenn Aston 31:52

You did and you helped through that process. Both of you at the time I will tell you

David Parry 31:56

interesting times. Yeah, but very useful. So thank you very much for watching our listening today. That's another episode of The SME Growth Podcast with Glenn Aston has been very trying to come in as our guest today, as I asked you every week, if you can share that what we're doing here with some of your business colleagues, and maybe subscribe or like our podcasts wherever you get them from. In the meantime, good luck with your businesses