Ellie: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to The Landing Page. This is episode two. My name is Ellie, and this is our podcast where we discuss marketing related topics, such as Google Ads, SEO, Social Media, and Website Design. Today, I’m going to be speaking with Adam Coley. He is the managing director of Lowaire, and I just want to find out a bit more information about the business in regards to how it was launched, the type of clients we work with and how he scaled the business from the ground up.
Ellie: So Adam, you launched the business in 2017 from your dining room table. And since then you’ve managed to grow the business by over a hundred percent annually. I think for our listeners, it’d be great to find out how you accomplished that.
Adam: Yeah, definitely.
Ellie: Yeah, so we’ll get straight into it then. What inspired you to start Lowaire? Where did the idea come from?
Adam: I worked within the public sector within the NHS. And as you can imagine, it was quite a stressful role. And not a lot was getting done as quickly as I’d like. And also I kind of just thought, hang on, I can probably do this a little bit better than the company I was working for at the time. So I just kind of made that decision that I wanted to launch my own business really. And that’s where the aspiration, I guess, came from launching Lowaire as the business.
Ellie: Yeah, and you were on your own to start with literally for working from your house.
Adam: Yeah, so we, I kind of set up in my dining room with a little table and a laptop. And yeah, kind of started to grow the client base really with just kind of local companies you know, sole traders, small businesses. And from there it kind of just snowballed really.
Ellie: What was the services that you offered when you first started?
Adam: So initially it was quite strange because it was initially a website design that I was providing as a service primarily. And then when I actually went on to launch Lowaire, I decided to stop website design and move into just SEO. So we initially started as technically, just an SEO agency. And then from there, we’ve kind of expanded those services into other areas, so know paid media, social, website development and yeah.
Ellie: Yeah, that’s great that is, and how many of you was there when you first started? Obviously, it was just yourself and then…
Adam: Yeah, so when we, I kind of worked from the dining room for six months. And then kind of wanted to scale up a bit of a team obviously are having clients were increasing. So obviously we wanted to kind of facilitate those clients. And yeah, I kind of wanted to get a little office, so it took me like 12 months to find an actual office I could afford. And once I got that office, obviously I hired my first staff member and I think that was in probably January 2017. So yeah, we started with one staff member. And then the second staff member to join was David Russell.
Ellie: Who’s still here now.
Adam: He’s still here today. He is actually Senior Consultant. He actually started on an apprenticeship with Lowaire back in 2017 and yeah.
Ellie: Still here.
Adam: Still here.
Ellie: It’s always good.
Ellie: What do you most enjoy about your role at Lowaire? Like, what’s your favourite thing about having your own business?
Adam: No, I think, obviously having that kind of control over the services and just the overall process of things, is obviously better than what I was doing previously, where I was kind of having to follow a process that wasn’t necessarily a good process. But yeah, I think just overall kind of seeing, you know, customers, businesses, increase in revenue and visibility. I think that’s obviously really rewarding to see. And yeah, I just like kind of speaking to customers, you know, the communication side and just being a bit different from other agencies, because there’s not a lot of heart in agencies anymore. It’s very much…
Ellie: Get the work done.
Adam: Get the work done, give us your money.
Ellie: That’s it.
Ellie: You won’t hear from us.
Adam: Yeah so no. So I find if I liked the fact we’re slightly different, we’ve got an edge when it comes to kind of communication with clients, and I think that’s really important.
Ellie: I think a lot of the clients know that we’re there for them. If they need to just ring us, someone will answer.
Adam: And they’re kind of like almost like an extended part of the team. Like, I don’t sometimes feel like they are buying a service from us, but more like they are kind of working with us.
Ellie: Yeah, on the campaigns.
Adam: Yeah, to achieve that mutual goal, so.
Ellie: One of my favourite things about working here is just how close we actually are to our clients in regards to communication and everything like that.
Adam: Yeah, and just kind of understand them really.
Ellie: Yeah, I think that’s the best thing. What would you say your biggest accomplishment within the business is?
Adam: Gosh, that’s a hard one.
Ellie: Hard question.
Adam: I think the biggest accomplishment would be the size of the clients we work with today.
Adam: I would have never imagined in 2017 that we would build sites for the likes of Surrey University or work with Hertz or you know, work with central government departments. That was definitely not.
Ellie: Where you thought.
Adam: Yeah, I just didn’t ever think that would be a possibility. So to kind of scale up to those size companies and clients I guess is what I’m kind of most proud of.
Ellie: Yeah, definitely. I think when you, like you said, when you first started, it was just, your local plumber and we still have people like that now, as well as working with these bigger brands.
Adam: Yeah and I think that’s, what’s quite nice is that we got to work with the big boys, but we also get to work with the small guys. And they’re kind of, what’s always driven our business is small clients. So they are obviously going to be a kind of the heart of what we do.
Ellie: Yeah. What was your mission when you first started Lowaire? Another tricky question.
Adam: Do you want the honest answer or a lie?
Ellie: Well, maybe both, we will go for both.
Adam: Yeah, so obviously money, money was mission initially because we were so small. Obviously, we had no capital, we had no investment, we have no investors. So it was literally like.
Ellie: We need money.
Adam: We need money to get money in the bank. So, initially, our services were kind of quite cheap in general, I think. Yeah. I think our first site was, I sold that first website for about £250.
Ellie: Wow, yeah.
Adam: So, compare that to today, slightly different. But yeah, initially it was just trying to keep the bank balance afloat. Making sure that obviously, you know, we’re generating the revenue that we need to grow as a business. But overall the mission I think, was to just provide a better level of service because.
Ellie: You thought of the clients.
Adam: Yeah, because like I said, previous to that kind of, I just saw the industry as a very money-grabbing, not a lot of results. And I just thought, hang on, like, if we actually speak to a client.
Ellie: It will help.
Adam: It will definitely help.
Ellie: Just sitting around behind a screen.
Adam: Exactly. So I just wanted that emphasis on customer services and, you know, support really.
Ellie: Would you say that I should mission now as well, or has anything changed since then?
Adam: Yeah. I think, when we started, obviously we were quite small. Things have changed quite a lot now. Obviously, we’ve got a much larger team, you know.
Adam: Bigger office, bigger clients. So the mission’s definitely changed and I think it’s probably more process-driven now that’s kind of my mission to make sure that, what we are doing is right and that everybody understands that process.
Adam: And what I’ve built can be replicated correctly, if that makes sense. So that, that’s kind of the mission really now is kind of refine those processes and just make sure that we provide a really, really high level of service that’s resulted.
Ellie: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s what a lot of people are after at the moment is results. Like they say maybe sometimes, no we understand that we’re not going to get leads, but realistically, that’s their goal.
Ellie: To get sales.
Adam: I mean, especially when you’re spending sort of, you know, £1000 a month, £2000 a month on marketing, it kind of has to pay itself back. So, I think, yeah, 99% of the time it’s result-driven.
Ellie: Yeah, definitely. Well, obviously we’ve had COVID happen recently.
Ellie: So I want to kind of touch base on that.
Ellie: How did that impact the business and the clients?
Adam: I can’t even remember when COVID started now. Cause we’ve just been living in it for years.
Ellie: It feels like years. I think it was about two years ago now.
Adam: Yeah. So I mean, when we, when COVID first hit, we were like every other business, really. We didn’t really understand the impact long-term it would have. And I think everybody initially thought, hang on, this is going to last a couple of weeks and then we’ll all be back to work. Two years down the line, we’re still, we’re still kind of in that situation.
Ellie: Still not sure of what’s going to happen.
Adam: I mean, when it did happen we still feel like every other business, I think we probably lost 50%, 60% of our clients overnight. And we were quite good with our clients. Obviously, we work with small clients, so it’s important.
Ellie: Yeah, we understood where they were coming from and why they had to do it.
Adam: Exactly. So I think it was all about just kind of making sure that we weren’t burning bridges as people were leaving and making sure that, you know, when things did improve, they would come back to us and sure enough.
Ellie: They have.
Adam: They have come back. So yeah, it wasn’t a great time. Obviously, we lost half our clients and obviously, we had to furlough staff as well. But I think, you know, all the staff members were really good and understandable.
Ellie: Yeah, they made the work, the most of working from home as well.
Adam: Yeah, definitely.
Ellie: Catchups with the team and everything.
Ellie: I think that kept us all going.
Adam: It did, yeah.
Ellie: Through the COVID period.
Adam: So yeah, kind of on the rebound, like everybody else now, I guess. And it’s just kind of, trying to get back to some normality.
Ellie: Yeah, yeah. What would you say the worst business decision is that you’ve made to date?
Adam: Well, gosh, that’s hard. I’ve not made a great deal of bad decisions I don’t think. I guess when I started the business, I was quite naive and I probably did things that I probably shouldn’t have done. So for example, like the first week of me launching a business, I signed a contract with Yell to, to have my business put at the top of their search results. I think it was about £300 or £400 a month for a listing on their website.
Ellie: Wow, so it wasn’t cheap, especially for a startup.
Adam: Exactly, and it was on a 24-month agreement. And after like a couple of moments, we just had absolutely no results from it whatsoever. I obviously wanted to cancel the service. But obviously, I was locked into a long-term agreement. So I guess the worst decisions I’ve probably made were at the start of the business.
Ellie: Just jump in.
Adam: Yeah. Just being like naive, not understanding that actually, like.
Adam: The implications of these things, or, you know, should we try and test it before we sign up to a long-term sort of service.
Adam: But yeah, I don’t think I’ve made any incredibly bad decisions to date. But yeah, I guess naivety would be the one initially.
Ellie: Well on the flip side of that with what is the best business decision you’ve ever made?
Adam: I guess written taking the risk really and increasing the teams, because a lot of stuff wouldn’t have necessarily happened without the team behind it. And you know, to take on the number of staff members we’ve taken on is quite a risky move. But obviously, it has massively paid off. You know, we’ve got some really good consultants in house. And they all have and share the same ethos that I have in my mind for the business. So I think that’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Ellie: Yeah. I was going to just touch on that as well. Like what do you value in an employee? And I guess that’s having the same kind of goals and seeing what you see for the business.
Adam: Yeah. I think, guess it’s kind of the vision and just obviously, bring in the business from like a dining room table to what it is today, I highly value people that share that vision. Because, if we can all do without sounding big-headed here, if we can all do what I did in 2017, then you know.
Ellie: We’ll be laughing really.
Adam: Like, where the business go, you know, we could significantly grow it. And it could be sort of 10 times the size as it is today. So yeah. I guess trustworthiness, honesty and just that shared ethos and vision.
Ellie: Yeah, to get the brand and the business where it should be in the future.
Ellie: Are you planning on increasing the team size anytime soon or in the near future? I’m assuming that’ll be one of your goals down the line.
Adam: Yeah. I mean, we’ve just recently taken on a sort of three.
Ellie: Yeah, three.
Adam: Three new people. So I think at the moment, we are kind of okay, where we are, kind of at least this year. But we are going to take on some sort of T level students and things like that. And so, you know, to try and get them kind of into the industry, essentially. But maybe towards, I don’t know, mid next year, we’ll start looking at. Kind of you know, building out the team a bit more.
Adam: And increasing the team size.
Ellie: Yeah, definitely. And I was going to say, how do you kind of offer incentives to employees? I know we did pumpkin picking the other week.
Ellie: Do you think that’s important when running a business? To keep the employees happy and offer them rewards if they’ve done well.
Adam: Yeah. I think, you know, incentives are always good to kind of, push employees to do that best, essentially. But I don’t feel like it’s kind of the be all end all. We do kind of bingo, we’ve got our air coins. But I think, making someone part of a business to me, I feel like it’s more beneficial and rewarding than just, here’s like, I don’t know a gift voucher for Amazon.
Adam: So I think just including people more within the actual business and, you know, almost kind of saying, look, this is also your business and it’s, you know, you can build it as much as everybody else. Incentivization, I think is the bingo and the air coins that staff tend to like.
Ellie: Yeah, I definitely do like that so it’s clearly working. If you had a £1000 salary to promote your business as a start-up now, how would you invest it?
Adam: Across sort of marketing services?
Ellie: Just in general. For example, if you were a new startup, you’d have a £1000 to spend, where would you spend that?
Adam: If it was, look here’s £1000, then it would probably be a box of business cards and a folder. And, I don’t know, maybe just the cheat website. It was a one-off thousand. If someone was saying here’s £1000 of marketing budget a month, what are you going to do with it? I guess it comes down to the business.
Adam: you know, if it was my business you know, Lowaire, then I would put that into maybe Google ads and probably held off on the SEO, just because it’s a long term strategy. So I’d probably just pumped it all into Google ads, knowing that I’m going to get those instant leads. Which will give me more money to invest into Google ads, essentially. So yeah, I think that the paid side would be my go-to as a startup.
Ellie: Yeah. And I think that with a lot of businesses, paids always a good suggestion.
Ellie: because it is almost instant, not obviously not guaranteed, but they should see something out of paid where it’s like you said SEO is a longer-term strategy.
Adam: Yeah and I think paid as well is really measurable.
Adam: So you can literally say I’ve spent a £1000, but I’ve generated.
Ellie: Yeah, what have I got back out of that £1000.
Adam: which is quite tricky with organic. I think yeah. The paid side would be best.
Ellie: Yeah, definitely. As a business owner, what are your top three priorities?
Adam: The top three free priorities like guess are ensuring that we keep that vision, that shared vision and ethos and making sure that doesn’t fade out just because we’re growing as a team and a business. And I think sometimes when organizations and businesses grow. They quickly or can quickly.
Adam: Yeah, about where that roots lie and you know, what they actually provide. So I think the number one is to keep that shared vision and make sure that’s maintained across the team. The second is employee welfare essentially, and happiness. Obviously, I want people to turn up to work because they want to be here. I want people to be motivated.
Ellie: Not just because it’s an everyday job they’ve got to get up.
Adam: Yeah. So I think kind of making sure that my team are happy, progressing, developing is really important. And then I guess the third thing would be the like I mentioned, the process side of things. So making sure that we have those processes that really do provide results for clients. You know, we want to aim essentially to be one of the best SEO agencies in the UK and to do that, we need to provide the best results in the UK.
Adam: So, the process side, it would be my third kind of objective or goal if you like.
Ellie: I think then coming towards the end of that has now we’ll touch on what your goals are for the next few years. Where do you see Lowaire? Where maybe in five years time. What do you think for that?
Adam: Yeah, so, I mean, it’s hard to say at the moment, cause everything is so uncertain. And obviously with COVID and things like that, we don’t really know where we’re going in the future. But what the overall ambition is to really be one of those major players, not just locally or nationally, but globally.
Adam: You know, we want to be kind of that go-to for SEO because of the results we provide. So I guess the overall ambition over the next five years and where I see it going is that we increase our staff. We increase the number of branches that we’ve got, you know, potentially gaining more investment into the business so we can expand quicker.
Adam: And I think it’s, you know, just pushing those territories, like making sure that we are a national and global brand rather than Lowaire from Shepshed, Lestershire. You know, we want to be at that national global level. So that’s kind of one of the overarching ambitions for the brand over the next few years. And then I guess again, with staff, retaining the right people. Because I feel like that’s a really important for a business, especially ours, because it’s so service-led. I think that having the right team, but people behind your team is, you know, absolutely paramount to provide in a really high level of service. So yeah, that’s kind of where I’m seeing it at the moment. But obviously, like I said, with COVID and everything, you know.
Ellie: It’s a bit hard to.
Adam: Who kind of knows.
Ellie: Where we are going to go.
Adam: Yeah, definitely.
Ellie: Well, yeah. Thank you for talking with me today.
Adam: No problem at all.
Ellie: I think we’ve gone through quite a lot here and people were able to get some information from this.
Ellie: Thank you.