Mondays, 2:00 PM ET on BBC Two
Watch Alex Polizzi as she turns around family businesses, not just hotels.
s3e8 David Holmes / Guidebridge MOT, The Fixer Revisits
April 3, 2015
Two years ago, Alex was faced with two family businesses on the brink of collapse - David Holmes and Sons, a family-run funeral directors, and Guidebridge MOT, a car repair garage near Manchester. When Alex first met them, both businesses were run by families with parents who were desperate to hand over the reins to their offspring. But with falling sales and a lack of engagement from the kids, this looked unlikely. Alex used her unique expertise to bring these two firms back from breaking point. But how have they fared since she first met them? Have they continued to flourish, or have they gone back to their bad business habits? At David Holmes and Sons, Alex discovers that the funeral industry is a tricky world within which to run a business. Dealing with grief needs sensitive handling, but David has let this get in the way of charging properly for his services. More problematic are his two sons who are uncommitted, lethargic and not sure they even want to work in the funeral business. Alex tries to reinvent their business by getting them to reconnect with the local community and giving the shop a much more upmarket facelift. She also forces David to interview his sons to flush out whether the funeral business is for them. The relaunch is a big success, and eldest son Olly rises to the challenge by committing to the business in a more senior role. But how have things fared since Alex left? Has David let Olly take charge, or has he reverted to old unprofitable habits? At Guidebridge MOT, Alex meets matriarchal business owner Jan Lord. She and her husband fulfilled a dream of running a business employing all three of their children. But with a desperate lack of customers, there isn't enough work to keep them all busy, and Jan faces the prospect of making one or more of her kids redundant. Alex has her work cut out. The garage is a mess, customer service is poor and there seems to be too much time messing about rather than working. Worse still, Jan is hiding the true state of the company from the rest of the family. Alex embarks on a dramatic transformation with customer-service training, an overhaul of the garage and the securing of a lucrative fleet-car contract. When she leaves them, they are a business transformed. But how are things two years later? Has Jan realised her dream of letting her children take over?
Two years ago, Alex was faced with two family businesses on the brink of collapse - Alf Onnie, a fabric and curtain shop in London's East End, and Props and Frocks, a fancy-dress shop in Essex. When she first met them, both were run by families at odds with each other and the modern world. Small family-run firms like these are the backbone of the British economy and were the sector hit hardest by the recession. Alex used her unique expertise to bring these two firms back from breaking point. But how have they fared since she first met them? Have they continued to flourish or have they gone back to their bad business habits? Established in 1920, Alf Onnie has a rich family heritage, but was stuck in a retail time warp. Swamped by an old-fashioned offering of 'stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap' curtains and furnishings, they had lost sight of their customer. Run by three brothers at loggerheads, the business was running at a loss of thousands. When Alex first arrived, it looked like the curtain could fall for the final time on their nearly 100-year history. Alex attempts to drag them into the 21st century with lessons in new interior trends and the chance to pitch to Alex's mother, the proprietor of the exclusive Brown's Hotel. She also masterminds a radical makeover which is almost derailed by younger brother Jeremy's exacting requirements. Despite the battles, the relaunch of the store is a huge success, attracting new interest form upmarket clients, property developers and big institutions. But how did things continue once Alex had left? Did the three warring brothers call a truce or at least agree to disagree? Have they continued to keep abreast of modern trends, or have they reverted to the old-fashioned swags and tails? At Props and Frocks Alex discovers a stockaholic. Owner Adele has filled her fancy-dress shop with literally thousands of stock lines. She also has an emotional attachment to all the costumes and finds it difficult to trust any of the rest of her family to take charge. She's smothering the business, and her family relationships are fractious. More worryingly, the business is only still open due to emergency bank loans, the staff don't like customers, and they have no marketing profile. Everything is a problem! Alex takes the bull by the horns and confronts Adele's stock obsession with a painful cull. She also marches the team to Uniqlo for some customer-service training. The shop has a major makeover, and Alex uses this as an opportunity to relaunch and meet some local event organisers. However, two years down the line, has the store survived? With the increased competition from online fancy-dress sales, were they ever going to be able to compete?