The Start and Grow programme was utilised by RS Bodyshop in Wisbech, which is very much a family run business, with Georgina Bond and her husband Rzegar at the helm.
With a lifetime of experience in the trade, Rzegar had dreamed of running their own automobile body shop at some point and after a twenty-year career in children’s services, Georgina was ready to make the move to support him. Around 18 months ago, the opportunity to do so arose in a quite surprising way.
“It all happened really quickly,” explained Georgina, “Rzegar had been made redundant and at the same time as receiving this news, I happened to walk past a garage which was closing down.” One week later and they were the proud owners of a new body shop!
Whilst they didn’t plan for it to happen so rapidly, the couple are doing well 18 months on, with many of their customers being ones with whom Rzegar had worked for previously as well as a growing trade from the local community and further afield.
“It was through the local Job Centre that we heard about the grants available through the Growth Hub’s Start and Grow programme,” Georgina stated. “I can honestly say that without the support we have received from the programme, that we wouldn’t have achieved so much.”
Georgina explained that one of the most beneficial things from their engagement in the programme, apart from the grant, was the development of their business plan. “The plan helped us to focus on where we were going as a business and to put our ideas on paper.”
Georgina comments that the support from the Start and Grow programme was “really good” and they took part in workshops to develop the business plan and financial forecast as well as applying for a grant. “The grant means that we will be able to buy a Paint Scheme which enables us to be more efficient, both in terms of the energy used but also saving travel time to get paints mixed up elsewhere.”
They are also planning to hire an apprentice and having the new equipment will give them the time they need to train them which will also help in terms of efficiency. On top of this the grant will also be used to develop their website to help them to promote the business to a wider market. “As a business we can offer great value to customers and we already have some that come from as far as Leicester, where the work is more expensive and not necessarily of as high a quality,” stated Georgina.
“The paperwork required for the grant application process is quite lengthy and can look overwhelming at the start, but with the support of the Start and Grow programme, we worked through it all more easily,” commented Georgina. She describes how the process helped them to think about their plans with fresh eyes and that they would “highly recommend it to others!”
The couple have exciting growth plans for the coming years and are looking to employ more staff and whilst she looks back on their unusual business start-up journey with a wry smile, she states that, “we’d advise anyone starting a new business to spend more time planning at the start. However, the most important thing is to take advantage of the support available from the Start and Grow programme which is invaluable.”
“We now have the flexibility and life balance that we craved previously which enables us to spend time with our four children now that we are our own bosses and that’s wonderful!”
You can follow RS Body Shop on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RSBodyshopwisbech/ and look out for their new website coming soon!