041: Joined 2 friends in a garden shed, over 16 years grew sales 10-15% p.a., put family and balance first from day one, uses a T-rex email for big sales, shafted overnight by a Big 4 bank and appearing on The Block almost bankrupt him (Luke Chant)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

October 1, 2020

In this episode, I interview Luke Chant, the Founder, and CEO of Hotwire Heating, a wholesale distribution company that imports underfloor heating and heated towel rails, and distributes them all over Australia. Hotwire is the recommended floor heating (and/or) heated towel rail supplier for installers and some of the biggest tile and electrical suppliers in the industry. Hotwire has been featured on The Block, House Rules, Reno Rumble, and The Home Team.

In 2004, he joined two of his mates in a garden shed to grow the business which sells heated flooring and handrail solutions. A few years in, his two business partners put a generous offer to him to buy them out. The process was challenging and Luke advises small business owners to choose their business partners carefully, “Just because you’re friends with someone, it doesn’t mean you can work well in business” 

Over the last 16 years, Luke grew sales 10% to 15% year on year, and he shares a superb sales tip using the T-rex email. The first year, they were featured on The Block TV show and it almost sent him bankrupt after doubling sales, shafted overnight by one of the big four banks they used for trade or import finance. He put balance and family front and center from day one and talks about a balance technique he uses to ensure the bond is strong with his four kids. 

He feels he’s still in the process of chasing business success but highlights that personal success comes from 25+ years of marriage and four kids he not only loves but likes as people, and he’s friends with. He says the hardest thing about growing a small business is funding it. The one thing he would tell himself on day one of starting out in business is, “Risks are worth it. It does pay off. It’s going to be okay. Work out what you don’t know and how to do it” Stay tuned for more on Luke’s small business journey.  

This Cast Covers:

  • Importing and distributing underfloor heating and heated towel rails plus some managed installation works for specific clients.
  • Joining the business in a managerial capacity, buying the owners out, and running it successfully as the exclusive owner for 16 years.
  • Leaving a cushy job with a company car to jump in feet first into the small business.
  • Growing consistently year on year at 10% per year.
  • Writing the article about being successful in business that went viral and got him loads of recognition.
  • The importance of defining what success means to you as a small business owner.
  • How he successfully marketed his business by making sure he always shows up.
  • The power of using CRM software to conduct and track marketing activities.
  • Taking a lot of workload off and leveraging his time better by having an automated sales process.
  • The difficulties of bootstrapping the business from the start and the challenges of getting import financing.
  • The critical importance of choosing partners carefully before getting into business with them.
  • Improving on the finances side of the business that he was not good at by hiring a good financial team to do the job.
  • Taking a huge risk by putting money meant for buying his family home into buying stock for a huge supply and how it paid off.
  • Loving the competitive nature of business and coming up with solutions to overcome the challenges that come with it.
  • Learning that a small business owner doesn’t need to know everything to run their business when there are people who tasks can be delegated to.
  • The value of ensuring that you keep a really good routine in your business while constantly looking at what you’re trying to achieve with your business.
  • The benefits of employing an offshore team to do the backend administration.
  • Building a sustainable culture through constant communication with all the team members via virtual team meetings.
  • The unique way that Luke achieves work-life balance as a small business owner.
  • The gains of investing in a valuable business development program.
  • The challenges he had trying to make the business work without any financial backing or another form of support from family and financial institutions.
  • How the story of Phil Knight and Nike inspired Luke to keep going with his business.
  • Systemizing things with Google Sites to streamline daily operations effectively.
  • Staying conscious of the fact that risks do pay off and are worth it.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes: 

“Choosing your business partners carefully is critically important” – Luke Chant

“There is no value in you learning to do something you can’t do, you just have to hire people you trust to do it well” – Luke Chant

“Ensure that you do keep a really good routine in your business” – Luke Chant 

“Bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell” – Luke Chant

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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