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Episode 208: Getting Off The Tools and Run The Business with Charles Mullins OBE




Quitting school may not be beneficial to everybody unless, perhaps, you’re Charles Mullins OBE. Started dreaming about becoming a plumber at an early age, Charles Mullins OBE had the drive and competitiveness to create one of the most recognized brands in the UK. While he admits, jokingly, that quitting school much later was a regret, his common sense and hard work paid off. In this very light and jolly episode, Adam Stott has Charles Mullins OBE tell us his story of how Pimlico rose to what it is today.

Charles Mullins OBE is the founder of Pimlico, the largest independent service & maintenance company in the capital. Pimlico’s story has been one of constant improvement and year-on-year growth since its inception in 1979, with returning customers accounting for the majority of the more than 100,000 jobs completed annually.

Show Highlights:

  • The beginning of Charlie’s journey into becoming a plumber began at an early age
  • Charlie gets off the tools and steering the ship of his business
  • Importance of enjoying your work
  • The drive, enthusiasm, and will to succeed
  • How Charlie’s company handles its branding
  • What’s the best marketing tool Pilmico have
  • Advantage and benefit of being transparent to the clients 
  • Why Charlie thinks that meetings are a waste of time 
  • What Pilmico has done to maintain the quality of its products and services
  • Avoiding people-pleasing when dealing with employees
  • How Charlie was able to retain clients through the years
  •  

Links Mentioned:

Big Business Events
Check out Charlie Mullins OBE’s company, the Pimlico Plumbers

Transcript:

Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Adam Stott:

Good evening everybody and welcome to tonight’s podcast. I’m super excited tonight, and you should be super excited too if you’re tuning in to the live because we’ve got one of Britain’s most famous entrepreneurs.

I would say there’s built an amazing business one that you’ll be familiar with, which is Pimlico plumbers. Really excited to have a chat with him tonight and find out more about the building of the business and you know get under the hood of his philosophy about how you go and grow a business. Without any further ado, I’m going to bring in Charlie Mullins. So welcome Charlie, how are you doing?

Charles Mullins: 

Good evening, Adam. I have to say thank you very much for 00:36 program and hopefully listeners 00:40 the magic formula if there is one.

Adam Stott:
I’m sure 00:44 magic formula I can say it’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be fun. So Charlie, obviously we’re just giving you an introduction there you’ve been running Pimlico plumbers as the CEO for a long time now. We’ve achieved some amazing results. He’s well known as the biggest plumbing firm certainly in London and probably the UK as well and you’ve won an OBE for your services to business as well.

To ask me critical treatments along the way and how they all happened Charlie. Do you want to tell us a little bit from your point of view? What’s that journey been like?

Charles Mullins: 
I’ve been gone for two years now but being in the plumbing industry for 58 years now. You know, my successful business keeps you young. I think when I was nine bunking off school, helping a local plumber. I’m not recommending it but it worked for me. I was always gonna be a plumber, and I never expected to ever, the company to buy a brand name.

All over what I want to be was a plumber, you know this guy 01:45, he had a car, motorbike, house, loads of money, it seemed everything 01:53 I was looking for.01:56 Or a bank robber, probably not a good one. The seeds were sown and then once you know what you’re gonna do. I mean I never know our ideal, I wasn’t being a boxer, of course, what I was gonna do. But, you know, our started working with him, and that was it. 

I leave score 15 version of education; know where we call him things qualifications. Now realize now it was a big mistake, you know, I mean, I should have left the 14, absolutely pointless. 02:31 You don’t need brains to be a good businessman; you need drive, enthusiasm and common sense.

I’d like to think of gold, and I’ll become through an apprenticeship for years, got myself through that. And that’s why I’m a great lover of apprenticeships because he signs you into a contract, they can’t easily get rid of you, you can’t easily walk out. It sort of keeps you in there and I think he saw steadies you out to, where are you gonna go, I was told as an apprentice. Well, then I will learn like. And this plumber guy said to me all these years ago, Bill Willis. If you get an apprenticeship you’ll have loads of money and you’ll never be out of work. And I say that to youngsters today. 

Charles Mullins: 

Moving on, I do my apprenticeship and just about get through it if I’m being honest one wasn’t the best one I got through it. Then immediately become self-employed that they are finished my apprenticeship becomes self-employed, all that work versus self-employed plumber at my own business.

Now I’m up and running in like self-employed in has started to work for wealthy people are soon realized that it’s easier to work for people that have got money than people that haven’t got money. A common sense thing, but often the obvious common sense things don’t quite come to you when you start a business. 

So again I’ve been running a stop working in the Pimlico area work for a company called Pimlico properties quickly known as Pimlico plumber. Offered a room in a base when I was having sleepless nights. What is a plumber 04:01 this for me do plumbing I’ve been in office, you know just crazy nights and it’s all going through your mind. I think you need that in business, you need things sort of take you out your comfort zone.

Adam Stott:
I love what you said earlier, love the comment you said, you need drive, common sense and enthusiasm. The fact that he was saying that you will score earlier because the way they train you, don’t really train you for business today and I think that’s really clear.

When you’ve gone on to build that business, you started off. You’ve seen somebody else doing well, so you’ve got the idea that that’s going well. Moved into your office that’s one of the things a lot of people don’t do in construction. They stay on the tools and obviously is very important from a construction person.

How important is it to get off the tools and get off the tools early and run the business rather than the job?

Charles Mullins: 
Do I have the freight for people? I’ll get my question a lot, you know, I’ll be on the thought. I’m not really an office guy, but you know you can’t sort of steer the ship and thoughts focus on the kind of thinking only be in one place. It’s more important to be on the top there steering the ship, so I thought gradually might change. I’ve got this office and I’m in the answering machine, and it don’t work. He got the one on the other 05:14 overseeing of buildings to that and again.

I keep saying that we all learn off for some somebody or we’ll learn some people for somebody. These office people and got successful businesses, and doing it you know they put suit on, like a million dollars and talk 05:32. I left the experience on the tool so.

Then when you’re doing the office side of it, you  get sort of up and running the business starting to build. One or two guys I employed equipment to be successful took care of big business. Who should not be serious in business but you’ve also got been doing. If you can enjoy your work, then it’s got to be a winning formation on it, to do the job you don’t like, to do a job you like dealing with people. Obviously, earn a few quick, and quickly realize you’ve got to employ people to be really successful.

Now we employ that formula 50 people turnover nearly 50 mil. Making good profit, they might profit and never go spin business today is great, it’s wonderful. But if problems on the way to sleepless nights you really lose your ass. You lose people on the way you might lose friends, family, business people. Their share is not a smooth ride but what I would say, being the pluses outweigh the minuses. You know there’s nothing 06:44 there’s no business like you’re own business.

Adam Stott:
06:49 All those things that you’re saying they’re absolutely and they can be wrong that you know. A lot of people see the glamour side but they don’t see that side of it right. In your opinion like you built with the right mentality to be an entrepreneur, or do you feel that it’s so cute, sometimes they learn from the knocks, in order to really get it.

Charles Mullins: 
07:12 Start off as a businessman. I’m a plumber, you know, and plumbers are good at doing the job, not necessarily the other side of it. I’m obviously not an academic I mean if I had brains, I’d probably be dangerous.

Talk about drive enthusiasm, the will to succeed, wanting to succeed and the other thing is I think it’s about your attitude. You have to make a good living, you’ve got to put yourself out there. The more you put into it the more you 07:38 and nobody else usually will live in. I remember this in only types of running a business, people will always pay for quality.

So if you’re going to produce the best product the best service, the best attitude, the best job place to be that you can do for anybody. Whether it be selling, your making selling, 07:58 or even just talking about the better service you give to someone is. The better your business 08:04. There’s no magic formula. I know you know that there are no plenty of these business people out there now. We’re all looking for a magic formula, we’re all looking for a one resource. Please make my business great, but your business will only get great depending on on what you put into it. The type of people you employ.

I mean, my business isn’t for me, it stands to have many family members, loads of people that I’ve worked with over the years, and people sort of drive an attitude. At the end of the day there’s good people out there, and not everybody wants to be a leader, some people need to be a follower, and you’ve got to get them people on board.

Adam Stott:

Yeah, absolutely. Great advice there and, you know without a shadow of a doubt, it’s about the people you get around you. Not everybody does want to be a leader to be well quite happy to be a part of something. The thing that I really want to talk to you about which I think is really important is the branding side of things.

Charlie, you know you’ve gone on and built a massive brand right in construction that’s really rare. There are not many construction companies that have a brand that is, if any, there is well known as yours. You seem to have got that branding down so I’d say and how did you learn about that is this something that you researched? Is it something that you tried?

Charles Mullins: 
09:20 The words for much of this social media or the any computer business, which is great now, I mean absolutely wonderful. You know I 09:29 to turn the computer on, but I would love for people that are very good at it. To get cards printed and things like this years ago, I was usually a shop like 09:38 or prints or something. And a guy was running them and he’s explaining things to me about how you can promote.

To cut long story short, I employed him about 45 years ago as a marketing manager, or not a manager and changed the business massively because we’re not necessarily good at marketing. We think we’re good at everything but we’re not. We got some experts on it good like, I was doing wages, I was doing estimates, I was doing the job. I was trying to promote the company, and all you got to do let’s start with but as soon as you can employ people have them on board.

They’re very good at things people, and what I was doing was putting like square pegs in round holes and I’ve learned not to do that. You want someone to do your marketing, get someone with a small game, someone who will do your wages, someone who does accounts, someone who 10:30 phone, someone 10:31 good at it.

But I know 10:33 to start with, you got to really 10:34 this guy on and he said one word for me recognition, you need to get recognition. If it doesn’t matter what it’s for billboard, 10:42 radio, Yellow Pages, wherever you want. 10:46 Get recognition; simple now is so for anybody. If you want to get known, get recognition, anyway you want to be good recognition, then all about. So, you know, we thought moving logo and brand and getting it seen me, there and everywhere. And you know, 11:03 for years now with internet business.

Now, I think it’s a lot simpler. You know you can communicate different ways, 11:11 in what you want out there. So I think there are a lot more real partners today, 11:15 we’re really promoting itself, and we’re getting recognized for two years. As you just said, we’re the largest independent plumbing company in the UK. We’ve got a brand now, and we’re certainly the most recognized plumbing company in the world. It can be done, it’s all about just a few guidelines like when offered somebody now.

Somebody wants to go and visit, they only need a little bit direction, the rest is who say they want to go through it. And you can make it happen. But one of the big ingredients in our successful business is hard work, We must never forget that one.

Adam Stott:
Absolutely, you know, I think that’s great. I love the story you bring in the market manager in and learning about really having that skill added to you and then writing with it and running with it and continuing to grow it. Now while we’re on branding, I find really interesting is that you took that, going out there and getting recognition for Pimlico plumbers, you then at some stage transition that to yourself and actually get recognition of yourself. You appeared on The Secret Millionaire that you’ve wrote your book, you’ve got an OBE for business, you’ve got a massive personal brand. So when did you discover the nominee, could you build it for your business, you know, it was that a conscious decision or was it not?

Charles Mullins: 
It wasn’t a conscious decision. I mean, my interest was there still is there not that me in the Pimlico plumbers, but I think people can see that you’re able to speak about that and then you know you just get involved in all in everything and I would have been no job, no job would be perfect politics. 12:52

Adam Stott:
I’m interested to hear it.

Charles Mullins: 
12:56 as a business person, it’s not sit on the fence, anyone to sit on the fence, you got to put you in the pub the public. You got to take the stick that goes with it and keep going. And don’t get me wrong cool signature down and nobody’s indestructible. But I learned in the end that, you know, the more people 13:14 the more you know you can get advice, the more help you can get. And aside to pay you got all these social media, you got programs on telling you, You can make a few quid and a successful in business and easily pick up the bits that you feel that are gonna benefit you. 

It’s not a conversation today, you’ve got to pick up what you think. We talked about brand and we’re very quickly moved into uniform from day one. 13:42 we have vehicles, I mean you’ve got tribes when they’re driving around London, they don’t wear a uniform. They don’t have a 13:48 van, I think it should be my law, you should not be able to go in somebody’s house without the company, corporate uniform, one should not be able to drive a vehicle in London a van without people know what you’re about, and you know it’s the cheapest form of advertisement of your vehicle, and it’s the best form of advertisement. I mean, we have 250 or 360 vans on the road, and they’re the most recognized when they’re on the road in London, they’re the smallest and the best advertising for we’ve got any cost to pop from 14:24, you’re going to a job.

Yeah, you know, it’s a great way of marking the show is probably one of the, I would say probably one of the best ways and, you know that recognition, you’ve got to get and, you know, again we will clean it for the app. And if you’re smart, you’re turning that Smart, you’re 14:41 is smart, then you know we make smart decisions. And you just got to believe that you’re not, I mean, I don’t think you need brains for it, I mean if you haven’t brains and all, and the driver is enthusiasm, and it can’t go wrong but you got to have common sense.

Adam Stott:

Absolutely, let’s just quickly talk about driving enthusiasm, you know, is that something that you feel was just naturally in you, or is it over the year, are you competitive against others? Are you competitive against yourself? if you’ve got, you know, where’s that drive come from for you, Charlie? Was the, you know, the depth of that?

Charles Mullins:
I think it shouldn’t be any answer to be competitive, 15:18 you don’t get nothing for being second in boxing and I mean, it’s all about, you know, trying to win and for trying to be the best, but just giving it your best shot. I mean, I never started off with this drive with enthusiasm. I never started off, you know, often make good decisions now or I’m not trying to make the decision, but it’s just about, you know, you’re running the business, people are trying to make it happen and then convince people that, what you got to offer is a good service.

You’ve also got obviously got a good value for money, but I think to run a business, what I’ve realized over the years is, honestly, in the plumbing industry, you get used to what tradesmen, he broke his arm, his brain is not working. It’s what I’ve learned and our baby. Kids have fallen over, a million excuses, and people are not stupid, you want that believe you, I’ll come up from day one, we need to tell the truth, when 16:16 or is running like generally then that’s what we say, 16:21 people except that more, but we used to get many years ago are still getting customer rings like, oh, can you come to 16:31 he can’t get along.

So what it 16:36 but I’m trying to say really be honest in business, be honest with people and be transparent and more today than ever because people are not stupid, check that whatever they want on the internet was probably the first company, plumbing company to put prices or charges up on the internet, and it’s a great way of doing it, you know.

Adam Stott:
Yeah, a lot of people free charging I mean, to be fair it’s quite far removed for the construction industries and the plumbers out there because, you know, it’s like, where’s your confidence because the brand was so strongly you thought you know what, doesn’t matter, someone on the cuts, it’s a little bit, no big deal.

You know they’re gonna come to us anyway because we’re the right brand. And one of the things I’ve said for years about brand new and I’ve tried to explain branding to clients is that when your brand and your brand, you become the honey and the bees come to you rather than you have to chase the bees, by which a lot of people do right. And I think that move where you’re putting the pricing out there is just by saying you know what we’re confident in what we do and this is who we are, this is what our costs, when you want this, we’ll come to do it. 

Charles Mullins:
There is a little bit of that comes into it, of course, but at the end of the day, if you’re not producing the good service or the product, people stopped coming from your brand in the world, it’s all about performance at the end of the day, quality of service. 

And, you know, it takes a long time to build up a reputation and a brand, and you know yourself, you lose it overnight. It’s all about, you know, maintaining the performance, you know, maintaining what you’ve done, and also the people that visit don’t come to the front too quick, because you’re not going to be able to stay there, you know, 18:25 the monkey. They all come from somewhere. You’ve got to bring them in. I can’t do 42 years of business in 30 minutes of airtime, 18:42 you have to give enough to be a meeting every eight months or so. 18:51 say, honestly, business, transparent in business. quality of Service in business, employing people.

Adam Stott:
18:59 now like Charlie, because this is what most business owners say, so small business owner would say, you know, I can guarantee that holy service when it’s me. Right, but when I’ve expanded, and I’ve got tons of other people obviously I need systems any processes, but I was just wondering from your perspective, having a large business with multiple different tradesmen in an industry that people, a lot of the time aligned with the industry, like you said yourself, it can be 19:26, make your own flight maybe isn’t the right word. What is it you building your business to maintain that sort of quality service or is it something that you monitor regularly, you have meetings on it.

Charles Mullins:
19:38 that’s for sure. 19:42 you can talk to people and most decisions, yes or no for me means 19:52 companies ring the bell will ever meet. Now, tell me what you want, tell me how much you want. And the answer is yes or no, nothing changes in the meeting, and I say, well, I’ve got to sit down, we’ve got to do this. We’re not stupid people, watched 20:09 that was two hours, and they can’t make a decision. You know, I’m just saying it.

Adam Stott:
No, I love it. I love the perspective, you know, I’d love to hear it, you know, and I think it’s really important for people to understand because, you know, that’s why I asked the questions when somebody who’s done as what you have is that kind of perspective is really interesting, you know, really interesting.

Charles Mullins:
20:32 your energy unnecessary onto something, you know, if you’ve got a little get together, applicants have a time limit of 10 minutes. We want to make decisions and move on and get to the point. So there’s a lot of wasted time in business, if you only got so many hours in the day, concentrate on what you’re supposed to be doing or what you’re good at.

Don’t waste the time and you’ll find that, I think it would have a lot of stuff that’s unnecessary. Then you’ll find, you get good results. You’re honestly got I mean, I don’t have 21:04 never had them two or three years ago, I can’t stand up in business meetings. 21:11 I mean, let’s talk to anyone, because what we’re doing nothing clever, we will turn up one time, with smart outfit, we do the job, we’ll give you a guarantee, you’re aware of what’s gonna cost, and you pay us at the end of it.

Let’s just fine with any products, you’re selling a call. 21:36 If you’re installing like ceilings in that person what they can, what they going to get for their money and produce the goods, and do it. It’s action, it’s not talking, people you know, again, about being honestly you know, our customer, probably two o’clock. They love listening to me, and I know that people complicate businesses Adam. 22:01 talks about me is there’s other things you don’t need, you know, but in the same token, when you do get up and running.

Let’s stop kidding we got look off the staff we have a 22:13 not for me but subsidize where massage comes in like, no, you know, just send them back my 22:23 all goes down well we have a roof terrace, we have lovely Christmas party both party said that to me, forty years ago as a plumber, you’re gonna do that for star. You obviously lost it, you know, of course, if you look off the people, they look after you. 22:45 treat people like are you going to be treated.

Adam Stott:
Yeah, folks under that common sense and though this is what you’re saying is, isn’t corny. If you look after people they’re gonna look after your business they’re gonna look after your clients. Absolutely spot on, 100%, you know, and I think…

Charles Mullins:
23:01 but you asked me a question about, you know, you get good people and you might train them, and you’ve all gone through that are not suitable for you. I mean, not a lot of rubbish to get to a good fit, but a lot of them are not sure. And you got to be, you know, nobody likes 23:22 people and move in a month by the end of the day, if they’re not right for you.

The quicker you move them on the better. And we’re very good at that these days. We give someone an opportunity, if they turn up late, the first audio. Like the first night, they’re gonna be like throughout the time that we squat the bars on the first night, they’re gonna be struggling, all the time and it just be brave enough and make them decisions, and he was just saying what we use almost complete oil company, I should say, you know, people often ask me, when’s the best time to get rid of somebody, when’s the best time? I’ll ask you the question Adam, when is the best time to get rid of somebody?

Adam Stott:
The moment that you feel you ask yourself the question.

Charles Mullins:
24:12 You’re right. Think about it, it’s time to get rid of them. 24:21 we’ll get plenty of people opportunities. But, the quicker you can get rid of the problem and get the right people in, and you learn to delegate the more you delegate them you trust people. I mean, our fault, nobody could do the jobs as good as me, no one could do plumbers, got a load of rubbish Charlie, you know, people moved on and estimate it, talking on the walls, you’re not talking on the phone and talking to the customer, but he learned that people are very good at it, and you get them on board 24:51 do you think that you know I’ve got someone that knows and understands that, but you’ve got to have somebody that fills in at the end of the day where you’re informed and be realistic, and also incentivize people. 25:05 you can have all the cake, you’ve got to share the cake. I’m not saying, I’ll give you people think you reward people I mean, look at the karma.

Adam Stott:
The good people that you end up with the people that stay with you, the people to contribute, I’m a big believer in sharing the cake making sure that they get the right rewards, but I am also the reason you asked me that question is like over the years that I’ve been in business. I was very much a people pleaser person, but after being in business, my first 10 years. You have to be ruthless because otherwise you’re in a bad business and that’s the end of it. Yeah, exactly 100%.

Charles Mullins:
25:48 Adam, the Pimlico nearly went bust in early 90s with the recession, 25:55 was two months pushing forward about two months people pleasing, not getting rid of people, not being direct enough with things. We nearly don’t bus or nearly lose my ass. And if you can come back from a recession, and carry on ambitious you’ll be a much better business. You’ll be stronger and you won’t let it happen again 26:16 you need to wrap it all up and once said, you’re gonna lose your muscle fight for it, you know, I don’t want anyone to go through that, but if you don’t get it right, that’s where you’re gonna wind up. So, don’t get me wrong, we got plenty of mistakes, you got plenty sleepless nights, you’ll have plenty of rounds with your partner. 26:43 

Adam Stott:
26:47 sleepless nights 26:55 

Charles Mullins:
The good news is you have more sleep nights than what you do sleep 27:01 been there. And you think to yourself, this seems to be problems trying to stop you doing it you know this, I’ve been doing this once again, I’ll go back to being honest and have some etiquette getting the right people is don’t put up with the rubbish in the shoe, just eliminate it.

It’s easy to say now I don’t even have to do it now. People are better than me. I got what we’re getting rid of so and so. He was drinking a cup of tea. 27:34 But there’s a lot of people that are very good. I mean, obviously you’ve got to be considerate with people, but honestly if filled. Don’t let people treat you as a fool and if you treat them decently they’re decent to you. It’s really hard to get all this off in, give me some real bits of 28:06 that I may think may or you may think 28:09 help your listeners.

Adam Stott:
So, I’ve got a good questions come in straight away from mine. How do you deal with the missus moaning all the time? 28:22 

Charlie Mullins: 

28:31 that’s a difficult one. And maybe might be to get around business.

Adam Stott:
Absolutely. Yeah, that’s right so you got some common ground to work from there then. Okay, so there you go mine 28:51 they’re very good question right, so I’ve got another one that’s coming. What’s the best advice for setting the boundaries with people? 

Charles Mullins: 
Yeah, that’s a great one. You set the band. I did this earlier but we have a booklet company called the 29:07 called, we call it, and regulations that we want. So if you want someone to wear this uniform is in the book. If you want someone so this is there I will say, well, this is a clean van.

They have to pay for this, they have to do certain jobs have it written down and then there’s no confusion at the end of the day it’s your business for you to set the rules, and we call it the do’s and don’ts, but on their companies called the biblical Bible, and people follow that and basically if they don’t like what s in it, and they’re not done to comply with it, then don’t work for us, you know, we have a thing where we don’t have no 29:49 I’m looking at mine now 29:53 business, we don’t have earrings, we don’t have without facial 29:59. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong. All I’m saying is that we run a business and obviously work for us. 

So you got what your terms and conditions are. Keep adding to that book, you know, call it a 30:14 Bible because it’s probably 30:16 the Bible now but, and people have gotten them that work for you, or you’ve got in your office, and, you know, if there’s any uncertainty you know we have things like you know, 45 years ago, four years, we’re saying to people, you can’t wear trainers, you can’t wear shorts, they can’t wear this, you can’t wear that the people that thought Nike, that’s okay.

So, make your own rules and regs up but make everyone aware of, especially with the internet now I think you just go, you know the do’s and don’ts on there, or in terms of business is like people often say to me, you know, have you got Charlie that all your customers pay there and then, you know, arise when is payment on completion. Years ago, when we nearly went bust, we did have that served. You know I was trying to get this money, and we nearly went bust because people owe this money. So you stop there, and a customer comes on, there’s only a payment on completion and send them over the phone.

That’s they’re struggling with that then we don’t go, we’re not going to get there, do the job and they say, I can’t pay, if it’s exceptionally circumstances decision, you know, there’s been a mess up, we live with that but we do with collect over a million pounds a week in business in money terms, we would probably 10 15 grand a week, floating around and people piles up because if they don’t pose it without continuing with them, you’ve got it strong on it, you’ve got to layout the foundation 31:52 

Adam Stott:
I think that was an amazing answer because, especially when you’re saying about the Bible, everything that you don’t want to tolerate. Instead of you having to pick it up every two minutes and tell someone to be aggie just so this is what we want. If you can go with it, great. If you can, it’s the right place you, love it. So, Larry saying, what advice would you give someone in their first year of business?

Charles Mullins: 
Yeah, well, I mean the first 32:18 this year. I would say go slowly. Nice and gradual don’t come to the front too quick, be realistic with things. And depending on what business you’re in, but you know I learned a long time ago in business. From day one, you want to start building up a customer base. 32:36 all these years is we’ve built up a base over the years. We do 2,000 to 2,700 jobs a week, and 80% of them have users before, so retaining customers is a great thing to do when you start off without your business, we won’t be going today.

If we had to build up a customer base that was specially consumption and what we’re building our customers from when I was doing the plumbing, but they were still 33:17 put it like this, so people will continue using you, you and your service, someone behind you 33:30 building up and retaining customers from day one isn’t quite, in your first year go nice and slow to offer the best you can, be very transparent, and be honest with people, and a society that will be able to produce a quality service, quality product. People will always pay for quality.

Adam Stott:
Nice, brilliant advice. The least advice was amazing as well things should be doing that from day one. Dominic has said how many tickets to get 250 vans on the road in London?

Charles Mullins:
The company doesn’t get any personally, that’s the responsibility of the driver. Imagine if wouldn’t use responsibly, we’ve got 34:15 we got some excellent money. But they need support properly. And it looks avoidable not to get tickets. But if Pimlico was playing them, I’ll probably get a file. So we don’t pay them so we don’t get any, but of course, at drivers get them. But it’s all built with the package they got with us. And they’ve got to pay for it, they’re less inclined to get a 34:41 

Adam Stott:
Quick tip on scaling the business would you say?

Charles Mullins:
Okay, for me, the way to do that is employed people, the soon as you start employing people, that’s when your business is gonna grow. Because you’ve already got to the stage you can’t do anymore. And people say to me, people haven’t got enough work for full time. got enough, okay, we’ll get them part time getting family, relatives, friends, or just someone you bring in the business to work.

The moment you start employing people, is the moment your business will start growing or scaling up because one man could only do or one person sorry, can only do enough to make money for one person. I was told years ago, we don’t have plumbing. business guy said to me, he needs to get more Charlie’s more people. And that’s what you need to do in your business. So if you’re name is Mary or Eric, get more Eric’s, get more Mary’s. I’ll ask you a question and also 35:40 on this business. So what’s the worst thing in business?

Adam Stott:
The worst thing in business?

Charles Mullins:
Or worst thing is worse than me being in business, or running a business if one thing is the worst thing and business. I mean I just said it a minute ago, I’ll give you a clue

Adam Stott:
It depends is all about a mindset thing or a thing that can happen or

Charles Mullins:
36:05 employing people?

Adam Stott:
All right, okay.

Charles Mullins:
Yeah, right. The worst thing.. 

Adam Stott:
36:09 I love employing people,

Charles Mullins:
36:11 and this thing is the worst thing, right? But if you don’t do it, right. Then you don’t gonna grow. I don’t say these, you know, it could be a nightmare. You telling people don’t do this, you got people saying you’re discriminating in your you know, you’re not this…

Adam Stott:
36:31 is the worst thing in business when you get people that are just not most people. Because there’s people that will matter what you do, will look at you. And we’ll be serving with jealousy in every 36:48 you mean and you’re trying to help them. And that happens. And it’s a terrible feeling. That is the stress. But I can honestly say that after all these years now, like my mentality, is when I bring someone in, I bring him in was really the right attitude that I can’t wait for them to come off my shoulders, you know.

Charles Mullins:
People in the interview are different than when they get the job. And also I turn off course. But I’m just saying it’s lovely to get nice, big business, but 37:19 I’m just saying this. And I don’t think a lot of the listeners agree with me. 37:23 is employing people because they can be unreliable, they can be difficult. 37:29 you know what I mean and they can be 37:32 it’s difficult. But you have to go through that to get to good ones. But the oldest thing in business is employing people. And the best thing in business is important people were when you get a lot of yours now, you will make it big. Now I never really 37:50 I ever want to be with a plumber and 37:54 was earning good money. And for me that was success that was it. 37:58be in a plumber. You know, working for nice people going in nice houses, earning nice money.

Adam Stott:
Do you love the fact you have made 38:09? You know, like now you back? I think some interesting questions. A lot of entrepreneurs have something where they’re never satisfied. I’ll be really interested to hear your perspective on you know, how do you feel now about that?

Charles Mullins:
38:20 It’s wonderful but never 38:23 that and they weren’t really clicking. And then what happened then, I’ve been at the conference she’s got like us now. I didn’t believe we could be such so I mean, I should go walk in red light years ago. 38:38 just so well first kicked off, not republicans of course. You know, see someone in a Rolls Royce and I used to say all that we meet one day, I think it was just kidding and then all sudden, it’s me one day. I think the longer you do it, you got to believe in yourself. And if I had decided to 40 years ago. Well, I mean, we’d be an incredible, probably all over the world company if I’m being honest. But it’s also believed that what you can make for being a plumber, or what you can make from as a self-employed person.

Adam Stott:
How do you feel about the future now for the business, if you’ve got succession plans in and where you want to go, you know you want to do?

Charles Mullins:
Yeah, we both really want to get more than market share in London, and we’re getting increasing on that. We’re more geared up today than we’ve ever been. We’re more forward thinking than we’ve ever been. And I have to say is because we’ve got the better people on there, you know, through walking, taking people on, don’t take what’s your take on better and, you know, we’ve got a great team there now. And we’ve gotten national now, we can carry on, as long as the work in London will get more than market share in London, for sure. And that’s what we’re aiming for.

Adam Stott:
Nice. Alright, so we’ve got one more will come in will be quite a few we will have to try and manage that time for you, Charlie, but we’ve got a few more to go. I’ve been successful for 10 years on my chauffeur business. I’ve also started a car cleaning business. that’s gotten amazing at the moment, I can no longer do everything on my own and I want joint ventures. How do you find the investor? Did you ever need to?

Charles Mullins:
40:17 believer of having a partner or getting people in working with wouldn’t work for me? Because I don’t think two people think the same. So I’ve already asked you that question. If you could avoid the outside, avoid if you can’t avoid it, maybe come to someone that you know that you know, more good personal biases that might want to buy in with your  40:40, that you’re just gonna go to them cooks in suits, like bankers and let them.

Adam Stott:
Okay, so this one is from brandy Essex. Okay, where do you get your work where from?

Charles Mullins:
40:55 uniform. He works at what we want and where we want it been during the year. So I haven’t got a clue. But I think years ago used to get the maids that just dropped in. And there are lots of companies 41:10 really, but I ain’t got clue where we go from but 41:15 that now skill.

Adam Stott:
This one’s actually coming from my market manager who’s been watching tonight. And he said, Hi, Charlie, how’s your business marketing changed over the decades? If you’ve got any good stories about spectacularly failed or spectacularly successful campaigns?

Charles Mullins:
I’ve got no stories about fail campaigns. From the market, we went into the PR side of it, you know, I think it was really big in 2000, we moved to this new building, 45,000 square foot building in Lambeth, all singing and dancing as some electric 41:54 from the vehicles coming from up north conga line, big amazing company.

I said we’d like to come down and do some pictures and promote it was, as she said to me, like a little phone. boots up oh, and I’m thinking people will promise you no appeal. That she calm down and that was awkward, see the value of she’d done it even magazine. And now use a PR company called recognition on me one night for a PR company recognition. She was using recognition she put me on to them up in Dalia and I’ve been with them 42:33

People ask me man, they say, you know, this is important throughout the appeal, is it a value? Can they get your money back? And can you afford not 42:54? I mean, PR is is goes back to the same thing recognition. And then we also have a PR company in London Film associates. And they’re both two people things and it’s brilliant. 

I mean, I’m gonna say this, you’re gonna come to the people that do the right job. But I’ll tell you that you got appreciation, you’re going to market, you’re going to appeal even if you do it yourself to start with, you know, on the on the computer and on social media and going out of business on social media. You know, the amount of recognition and the amount of credibility gives the company I’m a great believer of doing everything in house if you can’t seem there, but marketing is brilliant and one of the most successful marketing ideas was with one and all but a few years ago, the biggest publishing thing that ever happened.

I think it was 1997 when he joined us, and the strike was sort of for washing brains buster, I mean, you know, you check him out and incredible, the best marketing thing he was on every show, he was in every newspaper, and he was working for us, you know, and do it that way to be on this bill for was around the corner, and it will pass over 44:25 in the chat. 

I should give him a score, like to go and have a beer. And he said, I don’t want your money. Some, you know, let me do a bit well, but what do you want to do? 44:36 so for people like me and coming, and it was just incredible. And then last year, for many years, I mean, he is under for when he died, when he went in the marathon, he made a record, it just goes on from there, because, you know, this is simple idea. You know, he just promote from there if you if you and he didn’t work full time for us in the afternoons, oftentimes mums shopping. Leave that one behind.

Adam Stott:
45:15 Any ideas on how to retain clients, more repeat customers is 22% on a wholesale website, I want it to be high.

Charles Mullins:
45:27 you’re already doing it, right because you’re returning 23% of your customers. So you’re already doing it right. And you want it to be higher? I think you already know the answer. And yeah, I mean, you know, it’s all about quality of service, they will stay with you and feel your unreliable through you mess up to you overcharge them, they’re your customer, we work on that basis. If you become a customer of pubblico you’ll be a customer for life, unless we mess up. So I would say quality of service will maintain a regular customer. If you give them what they want. They won’t go elsewhere.

Adam Stott:
Yeah, absolutely. No, good question. I think you know, he knows his numbers. That’s good. He knows he’s 22%. He’s monitoring 46:20. And this is a really good question, right? Because this is something that massively holds entrepreneurs back from camera, what are you scared of taking risks? 46:30 so all the 10 cells will stop 46:31 again, but I’m worried but excited at the same time. Great questions from 46:35. 

Charles Mullins:
Yeah, I mean, good question. And yes, I was scared of taking risks, and I still am scared to take the risk. I mean, who wouldn’t be? You know, I mean, nothing for sure gonna work. But, you know, what I’ve learned is that, well, you know, that, if you don’t take the risk, then you’re missing the opportunity. And if you take too many bad risks, and you mess it up, then maybe you should have been patient as you normally maybe should do something else.

You know, so it’s a case of you got to get your right, but you got to take risks. I mean, on that, you know, we’ve all done this with an opportunity. You could have bought this, or you could have bought got this office or you could have thought this person on and 47:15 and it missed the opportunity. your gut instinct will tell you what you should do, and don’t sit on the fence. 47:25 I’m not doing it, I am doing it. But if you don’t take risks, you’re not going to get these great opportunities.

Adam Stott:
47:33 take out opportunities, 100%. 

Charles Mullins:
Crossing the road and you know, you’ve got to take a risk to get there. You’re not stupid, you’re not going to go there 47:47 certainly were. But if you didn’t take the risk to get across you stay where you are. 47:53 definitely take risk.

Adam Stott:
47:55 simplifies that question beautifully. Yeah, it’s that simple. Really good, okay. We’ve got a couple more, Charlie, before we wrap up, right. This is an interesting one for Neil. So did you start beginning today? Would there be another trait that was implying that you would do? How good a boxer Charlie? how good a boxer were you?

Charles Mullins:
48:18 more than the last. I mean I’m kind 48:24 injury and then I’ll put all my time and energy into the business.

Adam Stott:
48:37 particularly the boxing help you with in business today?

Charles Mullins:
Yeah, but this is what a lot of people might not been in school for. There’s so academic things help them; it might be the way they’ve been brought up. And so by the end of the day, as much 49:01 it’s still a part of being your own person. And it’s all about making things happen. If I’m being honest 49:10 because I don’t know nothing about nothing other than running a business. You know, I’d love to say drawing is your 49:16 

Adam Stott:
49:17 millionaire, did you do any because you had to dress up as a handyman? Is that right? Alright.

Charles Mullins:
Well, the dress up was one, I just acted like one. 

Adam Stott:
What jobs did you do that? Did you 49:27 

Charles Mullins:
I was like put shelves up in a charity shop and driving around cancer to the to the appointments. And 49:38 I’ve ever done in my life. And it made me cry and I mean, giving the money away.

Adam Stott:
And that’s awesome.

Charles Mullins:
Let me ask you 49:57 questions. I obviously 50:00 because I got the knowledge of PR. I would go into PR and the media, that sort of thing. I think it’s a great business. I would go into that. I think you know, because I think if you get good at PR, you know, there’s a great market out there. And that’s why we wouldn’t have afforded it years ago. Oh, now I know, I would go for that. Yeah.

Adam Stott:
Brilliant answer, I mean, there’s been everyone’s been loving the chat tonight. And people say the best chat since a lot that happened and lots of positive feedback. So make sure you come on and say a big thank you to Charlie for giving up his time today and I and he’s been really contributing on the questions. If you’re listening to this on iTunes and Spotify, obviously, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

I mean, I’ll just say, Charlie, thank you ever so much. Because you’ve been absolutely amazing, buddy. You’ve done every single question, which is brilliant. Charlie, a lot of 51:02 you want to say to the audience.

Charles Mullins:
Yeah, first of all I want to say everyone has enjoyed it. Great and we get a little bit out of it. And that’s wonderful. Some of the questions are great; this live 51:16 saying it’s been the best week since lock down. Always been the best thing even before lockdown. But it’s all lovely. It helps anybody wonderful. Always remember, you’re not gonna make it without hard work, that’s the important thing and keep doing what you’re doing.

Adam Stott:
I’m gonna pick up a copy of Charlie’s book and it’s far more about the books. I’m gonna pick up the book.

Charles Mullins:
Book standard business. People show is great, and it’s very useful, good business tips and that, you know, 51:48 anybody, a lot of stuff’s out there on the internet, but, you know, just going through a company. So we went over the authority not so you want to give me one. Go on their website, and it’s a lot on their website that might help them, it’s very transparent and very honest. It’s been lovely, Adam.

 

 

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