INTERVIEWS WITH MEMBERS :
This week’s Interview is with Fionnuala McKernan owner of All Seasons Windows And Doors who is a member of WhatsWhat.ie and also a member of the WhatsWhat.ie VIP Members Lounge.
This segment puts the spotlight on a Business Owner in WhatsWhat.ie and gives you an insight into the person behind their business.
Thank you for taking part in this interview series for WhatsWhat.ie. You are the owner of All Seasons Windows and Doors – can you tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey and how you became involved in what could be deemed a male industry?
Fionnuala: Thank you for inviting me to take part in this series of interviews with small business owners.
I have been involved in the replacement window and door business since 1996, working in sales and learning every aspect of the industry by working alongside some great business people. In 2014 the economic collapse hit the country and company I was working for closed their doors. And as they say, when one door closes, another one opens. I made a decision to start my own company and with some very valuable support, I took the plunge! I had nothing to lose.
I started a Facebook business page. I took images from the internet until I built a portfolio of my own ( UK images) – I paid for Facebook ads out of my children’s allowance once a month until the business started generating income. Facebook works for me to this day. It’s where so get most of my business and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I have a fantastic IT guy who looks after my website. Clid, who is a member here and Barbara Gordon has been a wonderful friend to me too.
I made plenty of mistakes and learnt a lot in my first couple of years – I drove a tiny Micra 03 banger with a fold up the ladder on the back seat for measuring windows. It used to dig into my neck! I kept going and telling myself that if I just left going – someday I would drive a fancy car. And I did! It took me four years, but I got there. Paid for with buckets of blood, sweat and tears! I got a loan from Grid Finance of €4K for my first company van.
Fionnuala can you describe a typical day for you, what your day consists of?
A typical day for me starts at 7 am with a strong coffee and admin. I will send off my orders to my suppliers and schedule the week’s work. After the school run, I will head out selling which is my favourite part of my work, meeting customers – I’ll also check in with my fitters and see how the day’s installation is going while keeping an eye on Facebook enquiries and taking calls from people looking for prices. More admin in the afternoon and I have been guilty of answering social media inquiries until late in the evening!
How do you motivate and encourage your team?
At present, I have three employees. I feel it’s important to. try a good fair and friendly relationship with them and let them know they are appreciated – with boundaries. I always try to make them feel that they are part of a team and regularly give them feedback from my customers which in turn makes them feel motivated and valued. I will always reward them when they go the extra mile for me. As a woman in a predominantly male industry, I do have to be quite assertive – in the early days, some of the men in this industry gave me a hard time. It took time for me to be taken seriously. Today those same men treat me differently. ?
I find that women are the majority of my customers so I have that advantage. People are often surprised when they hear that I run the business because I am a woman but hey… it’s 2019 and women are taking more and more leadership roles in general which is fantastic.
As a mother of 4 I’m sure you are an expert at work-life balance – can you give us some tips on achieving this?
There is no such thing as a work-life balance as a small business owner. The fact is, you have to go that extra mile and make a lot of sacrifices in the early years. I have no advice on the balancing act because I am guilty of working long days and weekends. There are no shortcuts to success. After six years – I still get super excited when I make a sale! The fear of it all going away keeps me focused. I am a single Mum so there is only me to pay the bills. So I do what I have to do – I try to work smart and I am learning to delegate. No ones care’s about your business the way you do so that’s challenging for me!
After 20 years of experience, what would be your ultimate piece of advice for entrepreneurs today?
My advice is – don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the thrill of winning. Go after everything, set aside time to grow your business, take chances, invest in your business, keep your books right, make good connections- ask for help – give back to others and be kind to yourself.
Become an expert in your chosen field – give your customers a solution to their problem.. and give fantastic after sales service.
When things go wrong – remember it only works- do your best to stand out from your competitors but don’t let them set the standard. You set it and let them follow yours! I do feel guilty at times when I can’t spend the time is like to with the people who matter most to me. I have learned you have to be very disciplined in minding yourself and your family. Most of all, remember those who believed in and encouraged you when you began this journey and take time to appreciate how far you have come, be grateful at all times for that.
Thank you very much Fionnuala- Where can clients contact you?
All Fionnuala details are here in the WhatsWhat Directory
Blog Post wrote by Gaye Moore (The Potentialist)