Business models predicated on local authority or other forms of funding can place charities in a financially vulnerable and unsustainable position. Greater Manchester has lost at least two furniture re-use organisations in the last 18 months.
We specialise in supporting organisations with strategic development, income generation and cost reduction analysis. We’re creative, we provide solutions which reflect current and potential resources and capacity, as well as provide business coaching to senior managers and trustees as a side benefit!
With over 10 years knowledge and support of the furniture re-use sector, we know what services will work for your organisation, saving significant time, money and heart-ache.
The Cyrenians, Newcastle (now Changing Lives)
The brief was to research the feasibility and value of integrating an off-the-shelf franchise model into the organisation; to generate income; and increase training and employment opportunities around pre-used furniture. Research indicated that resources would be better spent establishing their own enterprise, which would complement their current business activities and objectives. A business plan was developed, and suitable retail premises identified. This solution saved on significant up-front and on-going costs on a business model that wouldn’t work for the organisation.
Community Transport – National
The brief required a high-level review of Community Transport’s furniture re-use and recycling service (9 locations); identifying opportunities and constraints for growth; and proposing solutions to minimise the forecasted loss of local authority funding. A full and quick analysis revealed the need for a focused strategy that would motivate and empower the people within the furniture services division. A sales and marketing pilot was undertaken at one of the sites to demonstrate sales growth potential, cost reductions (predominantly waste disposal) and staff motivation. Sales income tripled in the first month, new partnership opportunities emerged, and staff were motivated to contribute to the on-going sales success on their site.
A furniture reuse charity had been providing affordable, pre-used white goods to low income households for years. The brief was to confirm that the service was costing the charity far more than it was able to generate in income or subsidise with its other services. From analysis of internal and external data; a full cost recovery exercise of its operation; and consideration of the impact the removal of the service would have upon a core offer to the community, it was recommended the charity should end the collection, testing and re-sale of white goods; working instead with a local supplier of refurbished white goods. The charity is now able to concentrate its resources on other core activities, as well as continue with the supply of essential and essential household goods to people in need.
A charity, dedicated to the support of carers, had begun selling second-hand paint sourced via the Community Repaint network. The brief was to maximise sales income to fund a new, part-time youth carer worker. It did not possess, nor was likely to invest in a dedicated high street retail space. The potential marketplace (e.g. professional and domestic customers), retail partners and procurement practices were researched; guidance on retail presentation, pricing and branding was given; and a financial analysis and plan provided which highlighted the weekly sales targets they could meet without the additional investment in retail staff. The charity’s initial income targets were revised downwards for year 1, and their product offer was reframed so that the excellent price value, rather than environmental benefits of buying the paint were emphasised.