We don’t usually pay much attention to the anniversary of the date we first started trading (9th January 2006), but this year it feels like more of a milestone worth celebrating. Although estimates vary, evidence suggests that less than half of new businesses survive for five years or more. Given that half a decade after our launch we are still growing strongly and weathering the wider economic woes reasonably well, we feel very proud of Polished Bliss in terms of the brand we have established, the team we have put together and what we have achieved to date.
When we first launched Polished Bliss, interest in the concept of detailing was gaining substantial momentum. Sure, the concept of high quality car care wasn’t exactly new and there were already numerous established traders in the marketplace, but nobody had thought to combine the sale of products with the provision of services… or to focus on offering free expert advice too. This was a brand new business model for car care in the UK, and to this day still underpins what the Polished Bliss brand stands for in the marketplace.
The early days were very exciting. Not only were we managing our own rapid growth, but we were also fighting to secure supply chains and bring innovative new products into the UK for the very first time. We lost some battles, but won others, and have since forged excellent working relationships with a large number of suppliers around the world, including some that we still trade with on exclusive terms (Blackfire and Werkstat). Although the pace of change has since slowed down, we still monitor the market for innovative new products and will continue to introduce them whenever they add value to our line up.
In addition to securing quality brands, we also realised early on that in order to offer top quality detailing services a dedicated studio would be required. The response to our decision to cease offering a mobile service was interesting to say the least. Whilst many established mobile detailers doubted the sanity of the move, our diary gradually filled up and then began to groan under a waiting list well over six months long! It has been great to see so many other detailers take the same route since, as it has transformed the public perception of what can be expected from detailing in contrast to traditional valeting services.
In the last couple of years, the car care market has changed again as more and more entrepreneurs have sought to emulate existing traders and start up their own businesses. This has progressively diluted everyone’s market share, and we count our lucky stars that we got in early enough to establish ourselves before the competition became so fierce – we doubt that within a five year window we could grow Polished Bliss anywhere near as well as we have if we were just starting out today. In addition, the recession and its enduring fallout have also posed challenges, and look set to continue to do so for some time to come.
In view of the various challenges we face today and in line with our long-term business plan, Polished Bliss will continue to evolve in terms of the products and services it offers. We have some very exciting developments in the pipeline for 2011, and we hope that these plans will serve our customers well, reinforce our market position and add further value to our business. However, what will not change is our commitment to what we still feel is a unique business model in the UK. The provision of a range of high quality products, free expert advice and world class detailing services will remain the cornerstone activities of Polished Bliss for the foreseeable future.
To end, we would like to thank each and every one of you who has put their hand in their pocket and supported us over the last five years. Running a business is not easy. Since we started out we’ve experienced the full range of emotions from despair to euphoria (and everything in between, usually on a daily basis!), and have worked harder than what we ever expected in order to get to where we are today (which in fairness is not far, but we’re still working on it!). Your custom (and, in a great many cases, repeat custom) has fuelled this process, and for this we are extremely grateful. Here’s to the next five years – cheers!