“I actually dislike the term ‘consultant’, because having worked in small family businesses myself – I know that for some people the word can have negative connotations. Although we are ‘consultants’ at Fresh Thinking we have a very different approach to most of our competitors. We understand the challenges that SMEs are facing and are practical and down-to-earth in our advice. Not only will we come up with great ideas to generate growth we will also be part of the team that helps bring those ideas to fruition,” says the company’s founder John Horton.
John, who is based just south of Birmingham, is clearly passionate about what he does and his CV indicates that he is well placed to deliver a top class service. A consummate marketer, John cut his teeth at Barclays where he says he learnt ‘the kind of blue chip best practice which could hugely benefit all small and medium sized businesses’. He then went on to become sales and marketing director for the cutlery company Arthur Price, before being taken on as a trouble-shooting managing director of the UK wing of the Dutch cutlery and kitchen knives business Amefa, where he was charged (successfully) with taking the business from substantial loss to enviable profitability.
Once Amefa was operating successfully, John sought a new challenge. “I love a problem and was looking for exciting new challenges, which is why I formed Fresh Thinking and am now working with a range of different companies to help them move forward,” he says.
John believes that the techniques he employed so successfully for Amefa – a real focus on people initiatives; developing brands; putting marketing at the heart of its operation and offering a level of customer service which is second to none – are things which can benefit all businesses – large or small.
“I want GA members to understand that whatever the size of their business we can help them. We have an extremely flexible fee structure and work with our clients to deliver a programme that will work for them at a price they can afford,” he told Giftwrap. ‘We are more than happy to work on extremely small projects, or very big ones’.
The really good news is that an initial consultation with John is absolutely free. “I think trust and honesty in business is essential and after that first meeting I will either say ‘Yes I can help and here’s how’ or ‘No, sorry, I don’t feel we can help on this particular occasion’. I need to feel confident that I can really add value before committing to work with anyone. If the company then wants to go ahead, we will work out fair terms and we will work closely with them. We’re happy to work in their own offices alongside their own team, if that’s what they would like, to deliver what is necessary,” he says.
Sarah Ward, chief executive at The GA is enthusiastic about what Fresh Thinking can offer members and is currently working with John to look into the possibility of him delivering a range of talks for members on a selection of business topics which she has identified as being of real value to those in the gift and home industry.
“I do hope that members of all types will engage with Fresh Thinking as I feel sure that John and his team will be able to assist them across a number of important issues which may threaten their profitability. I am constantly approached by members seeking advice on where to go from here and I am confident that John and his team will be able to provide not only the help they are seeking, but also the support they need to change,” she said.