Nick Smith’s passion for what his local area has to offer and his love of working with people, inspired him to start YorTours.
The company provides bespoke driver guided tours of Yorkshire. We caught up with him to find out what the first year of trading has been like.
How has your Start Up Loan helped your business?
I used my Start Up Loan to purchase my vehicle. This was key for the business allowing me to conduct the tours and was my biggest single investment.
What was your next step after purchasing your vehicle?
The next stage was identifying a website designer. I did a lot of research as to what was available on the market, and looked at a variety of price ranges and chose the web designer that understood the concept of my business better than anyone else. My web designer also designed the leaflets, letterheads and compliment slips for YorTours, so the marketing materials that I send out are aligned and the theme is consistent.
What has been the greatest challenge that YorTours has faced in the first year of trading?
Finding new customers and identifying the market that I am trying to pursue. I used my existing network to spread awareness of my business and I often use LinkedIn to post articles and updates so people know what I am doing. Testimonials from initial customers have been very important in generating repeat business. 90% of my customers have come to YorTours after reading these testimonials. I have displayed some on the testimonials on my website and I have also listed YorTours on TripAdvisor, where my strong rating has also helped generate a lot of business.
Have you used any of the business support offered by Start Up Loans?
I have used the PayPal business offer to be able to take payments from customers. As well as being matched with a mentor who I meet with on a one to one basis, I also attend group mentoring. It was there I met another Start Up Loan recipient who is in the catering industry, and I hope to start selling their refreshments in my vehicles and soon.
How often do you meet your mentor?
Prior to starting up, we met weekly, and since I started trading we have met approximately once every 3 months.
How has having a mentor helped develop your business?
It is great to have an outsider’s view of the business and my mentor was the one who suggested that I exploit my existing contacts and networks to spread awareness of my business. He taught me to use my own network as a marketing tool.
What is the one piece advice you would give to people starting their own business?
Listening and taking advice is important, but you must have the courage to do what you think is right and identify your own USP. A great piece of advice I received was that when you decide on your target market, don’t be tempted to keep lowering prices thinking it will drive more business. Focus on keeping the price stable but offer a higher level of customer service that is above your competitors.