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Driving success – an interview with award winning Director Sonja Wood

Most successful businesses have one thing on common – a strong brand aligned to a innovative culture that drives business success. In this our fourth interview we hear from award winning Director Sonja Wood.

Sonja’s sales and marketing skills were honed at 18, working in Richard Shops. As a husband and wife team, they started EcoSan in 2007 with virtually nothing creating a company that lives and breathes green values. Today, they collect 205 tonnes of waste a year and it creates energy for thousands of homes, diverting sanitary and nappy waste from landfill. EcoSan’s steady growth is due to their commitment to delivering a quality personal service in an eco-friendly manner. Sonja’s award-winning approach to business stems from being a people person and launching innovative ideas like recycling chewing gum.

Sonja’s roll of honour:

Interview Transcript:

What is your business activity?

The business activity we are in is eco-friendly washroom solutions. What that means is that we go in to businesses and provide them with products such as sanitary disposal, air fresheners, hand dryers – all the products you’d find in a washroom on a service agreement but we try and provide the service in an eco-friendly way.

How did you exploit the gap in your market?

The way we exploited the gap in our market was really by looking at how we could be different to our competitors and by being eco-friendly; so many businesses now are looking at their carbon fibre footprint and what they can do to make a difference and actually, washroom services is an area which you tend to forget about but thousands of tonnes of sanitary and nappy waste go to landfill every year. We are helping by turning it into green energy to divert that and exploit that gap in the market.

How do you promote your business USP?

The way we promote our business – our core promotion is actually done through going out and knocking on doors, talking to local businesses and telling them what we are about and why we are different. If we can save them money and also make them green at the same time, then obviously they will change and we will retain the business through the service we provide.

How do you identify your strategies for growth and generate more business?

Obviously the most important thing is never to sit still in a business because you get natural wastage anyway so we are always looking at growing the business. We have different incentives for the sales team to encourage them to go out and sell so that we gain new business. They also obviously earn extra money for that and there are also other incentives as well.

What’s your secret to attracting new clients?

We attract new clients by obviously retaining the business we’ve got so that on recommendation, we can use those clients to a new potential customer. The other secret is to go in and see, especially in this day and age, if we can save them a little bit of money and offer them better value for money because ultimately you don’t necessarily need to be the cheapest. As we all know, cheapest isn’t always the best but it is about value for money.

What’s your latest innovation?

Our latest innovation is that we provide a lot of dust mats into businesses. They can be logo-ed with your company name or or they can be a plain mat or they can be bespoke for that client. The benefit of those is that they take 80% of the dirt off people’s feet as they enter a building, it goes into the mat instead. Now there are other companies that do those mats but what makes us different is that our mats are made from recycled fishing nets. A lot of fishing nets end up floating in the ocean for years and years. Wildlife gets caught in it and it does a lot of damage so we’re actually working with a company that have identified this and have managed to make nylon from it and it then goes into our mats. That’s our latest innovation and we’re looking to expand our laundry because it’s been so successful.

What next for Sonja Wood?

What next for Sonja Wood…. The business is obviously growing year on year and I’m looking to double the size of our sales team; we’ve just doubled the size of our offices to accommodate more staff and we’ve just taken on our first apprentice which is great. It’s obviously been a very big learning curve as the business grows, so my understanding grows. We’re looking really just to keep the business growing to support the Kent economy and provide employment within the area.

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