Lorna Hitchen is the Director of Halifax Windows, based in Ovenden. A family run company, Halifax Windows have been providing windows, doors and conservatories for local homeowners for almost 30 years.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
Halifax Windows has always been a family company, and I’ve grown up with it. It was always going to be an inevitability that I would take some role in management in the future. We took over the running of Halifax Windows when my uncle passed away, and I’m delighted to be working somewhere with such a rich local history.
What is your business motto?
I like to think that the motto at Halifax Windows is that we’re small enough to care, but big enough to cope. I’ve always wanted to focus on customer care, as I feel that’s the most essential part of any business. That being said, we can handle anything that’s thrown at us, from a small window repair to installing windows and conservatories in a large new build housing project.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
I think it’s important to be patient and take work one day at a time. Having a long-term plan is essential, but things won’t get done overnight, so you just must work towards them at your own pace. You’d be surprised what gets done even when it feels like nothing is moving forward.
Take lots of notes and take lots of risks but understand that you’re going to get knocked and sometimes those risks might not pay off at all.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
I think the biggest challenge I face is juggling customer responsibilities. We’re incredibly lucky as a firm to have such a varied number of customers, but sometimes it can feel like you have a lot on your plate. Giving everyone the attention they deserve can be a problem when you only have so many hours in the day.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
My favourite part is certainly dealing with customers and meeting new people. The personal side of the business is always the best bit, even just engaging with our suppliers and finding out about new products to come out in the future. You learn something new every day in business, and I find speaking to people is the best way to learn.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
I love being the person that customers deal with, and helping them to find solutions to their issues, but sometimes if there are situations that are out of our control it can be frustrating for both of us. If there are manufacturing delays or unfortunate occurrences like dangerous weather, it’s particularly hard.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
I’ve always admired Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor of The Huffington Post. I know what it’s like to be a woman in a job that is often populated mostly by men, so it’s very admirable to see someone like her come in to business and shake things up a bit.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
I don’t think there is one specific moment or achievement that I can look back on and say, ‘this is it’. I’m always proud of being able to handle high pressure situations and tackling day to day problems that can be very stressful and coming out on top. I am only 22, so to be director of an established local company and manage that is an achievement.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
Our next goal is to expand across West Yorkshire. We would like to have branches in Huddersfield and Leeds in the coming years. We’re proud of our local reputation, and that people in Halifax know who we are and what we do, but we feel it’s time to grow and reach the next level very soon.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
I’d like to invent something that fits well within our business, so some kind of innovation in the home space. We’re always looking at what new products and services are best for our customers, so to be able to develop our own would be amazing.
As we move towards smart technology in the home, and everything becomes connected from your phone to your central heating, I’d like to bring something to the market that ties in with that.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I love Halifax Windows and wouldn’t want to work anywhere else, but if I was forced to pick I would probably say Virgin. I appreciate the way they treat their staff, and they’re always thinking differently when it comes to new products and services, so that matches up well with what we do here.