Hellbent Blog

Welcome to the Hellbent Blog or Welcome to Hell :)

Our blog is a lighthearted commentary on running an SME in the field of engineering.

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  1. For the first time since we started the business in 2009, we shut our doors for a whole week (and a day) and went off on a long anticipated family holiday.  We began warning customers we were going to 'shutdown' two months before we had even booked/confirmed the dates.  We picked a three week period and informed anyone and everyone that we would be shutting for a week somewhere during that time and crossed our fingers.  Hats off to our customers - they all got their orders in on time, they all knew when shutdown was and we comfortably managed to supply everything everyone required prior to finishing. 

    We did have a moment of uncertainty a few days into our holiday whilst relaxing on the beautiful Alcudia beach in Majorca, when one of the chaps from one of our biggest customers started placing orders.  Had they forgotten?  Had they got the dates wrong and thought we were back already?  (Not a chance - it was only day 3!) But on sending a swift, polite email informing said customer that we would respond immediately on our return, we were instructed to 'switch off our phones and stop reading emails until we returned'.  Oh and that there had been frost that morning in East Anglia...  Well - you can't say fairer than that.  Although the phones stayed on just in case 19 year old son (who opted for the money option over the holiday and stayed home), decided to throw the party to end all parties in our lovely house.  Shock horror - it was all fine.  Thank goodness.

    So - we have decided 'shutdown' will be an annual occurrence from now on.  With a bit of forward planning and with the blessing and help of our fabulous customers it was a winner all round.  And October worked rather well which July/August could never do (see our last blog post - Best Month Ever).

    And shocking as it will sound to anyone who knows Logan - he threw caution to the wind, took his shoes off and got sand between his toes.  Not just once either. AND in the absence of ale or bitter he even drank lager.  Enough said!

    Sally-Ann

  2. So - August turned to September and suddenly it seems to be October... Dare I say it's nearly Christmas?!

    As I mentioned in my last post (which seems an eternity ago), Hellbent Engineering Ltd had it's busiest month ever in August this year (we've been going for six and a half years now).  Anyone in our line of work will endorse, I am sure, that it is impossible to arrange shutdowns to coincide with childrens' school holidays - it is just not viable to close when you are deluged with work.  It was particularly gratifying to see that not only were we busy with our biggest and most loyal clients but we also welcomed two new companies to our list of customers who we have been working for on an ongoing basis since.  Both are Norfolk business', not far from our base in North Walsham and both are extremely busy in their very different fields - another encouraging sign for British manufacturing.  Sadly there is always a flip side and while enjoying our growth, we were made aware of the misfortune of a Suffolk company - CDI Product Handling Ltd - who have gone into administration.  We have worked with them recently but thankfully they paid us in full for all work done prior to their troubles.  I understand that may not be the case for other suppliers and we wish them well in securing payment for work done.

    As a small business, it can be very difficult to wield enough leverage to get difficult customers to pay up in a timely fashion.  Most of our customers pay on time everytime, but there are a few who take rather longer than we would like.  One such company (who will remain nameless for obvious reasons!), were such bad payers that we have had to refuse to work for them.  When invoices became due I would phone to request a payment date only to be told that I should try again in a couple of weeks and they would see if we had gone on the list to be paid.  Funnily enough, this business was the one who was always desperate for almost immediate delivery, expected us to work Saturdays and Sundays when they hadn't placed their orders in time and complained if we told them we were too busy to accommodate.

    That said - it is very much a two way street - we always pay our suppliers on time and while we do our very best to look after all our customers, we appreciate enormously those who do pay us on time.

    Sally-Ann