Family & Change at our September Breakfast Event
September 29, 2017
At our September Breakfast event guests were treated to two interesting and informative presentations from Nick Bianchi, Director of family-owned Cheshire home furnishings store Arighi Bianchi and Professor Anthony (Tony) Conway, former Executive Director of United Utilities and now Director of Coaching at 6-Group.
Family Values & Customer Experience
Firstly Nick shared the history of the Macclesfield-based store which was established by two Italian entrepreneurs; Antonio Arighi and Antonio Bianchi back in 1854. As specialists producing fine timepieces and cabinets respectively, and having sold their wares door-to-door in their new Cheshire locality, they soon collaborated to open a furniture shop. Today, the iconic building stocks all manner of items for the home; from sofas and artwork to carpets and bedding, with a whole host of other items in between!
Nick’s own career began after spending time abroad brushing up on his language skills as an interpreter for a Premier League football club. After several seasons travelling with the teams and then a period in sales for a leading food broker, Nick decided to join the family business in 2004 and is now responsible for Sales & Marketing in his Directorial role.
This 4th generation family-owned business prides itself on always being customer-facing and moving with the times. Whilst Nick was keen to point out that the purchasing experience for home furnishings clearly has a place online, the ‘in the flesh’ experience is still key for many customers.
“The majority (86%) of buying decisions are made by the female in the household.”
Social media forms is integral to their strategy, having whole-heartedly adopted it; there’s a young team of 20 staff in this department alone! Nick personally responds to TripAdvisor reviews about the café which his father (and Company Chairman) Paul, is involved with day-to-day, and they are genuinely interested in how customers perceive their shopping experience. He relishes the opportunity to build on those relationships and to increase customer satisfaction. Looking after their staff, providing the highest quality products and offering a personal service is core to their offering.
Make Time for Change
Next, we heard from Tony Conway; who since his retirement from United Utilities where he was responsible for delivering and implementing new initiatives, now spends much of his time researching and investigating the behaviour of people in his role at 6-Group.
Tony talked us through some thought-provoking slides asking leaders to consider “What drives someone’s behaviour?”. We all see the world in a different way and each individual will react differently to the circumstances around them. Businesses cannot sit still in an ever-changing world; the old adage of ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ springs to mind. Once the idea of change has been agreed upon, and processes and systems defined, the difficulty starts with plugging that implementation gap.
“Start with nothing, end up with something, with changes along the way.”
Although change is almost inevitable for most organisations, getting the buy-in to adopt changes from staff can be the hurdle that many managers fear most. Commitment to change is very much a personal one, so it’s important to give people a wider perspective on what is in store for the future. “We only see our version of reality”.
Tony went on to explain how to identify the behaviours of successful leaders of change, which included building trust, inspiring staff and creating opportunities, and how by practising these behaviours one can much more effectively move forwards in business.
As usual, there was a good show of hands for the Q&A session before the event concluded.