Case Study: i4 Product Design

Don't wait for clients to approach you

Brain Combe - I4 Product Design

Brian Combe, i4 Product Design

WE LACKED CONTROL

Since 2003, we’ve been designing consumer, industrial and communications products, as well as equipment for use in places that range from playgrounds to hospitals.

In the past, clients would approach us with a design problem, and we would analyse it and offer a solution. We still work that way, and it’s a perfectly reasonable way to do business, but we had very little control over fluctuations in our workload – or in our revenue.

WE BECAME MORE PROACTIVE

We made a decision to be a lot more proactive in our quest for new clients. We have taken on a marketing manager and a PR consultant. Instead of waiting for the phone to ring, we’re seeking out clients. It’s already paid dividends – we’re forging relationships with new customers all the time.

We’re always looking to invest in the business, and sometimes we even do that by investing in our clients. Occasionally we’ll work with individual inventors who come to us with an idea. If it has potential, we’re willing to take a risk. We’re currently working on a number of joint ventures like this and I’m confident that they’ll go on to be successful.

WE ARE NOW IN VERY GOOD SHAPE

The company is in a better state now than it’s ever been, but even that brings challenges. We’ve worked on more than 20 products with Flymo, for example, and 85 per cent of our turnover is from repeat business, so while we do have the ambition and capacity to expand, we are focused on maintaining our level of service and keeping existing customers happy. We have a great relationship with the Bank, and we plan to work closely with Jim Hiddleston, our Relationship Manager, who has taken a very active role and deals with any issues.