Few mobile dealers can boast zero churn and 10% growth rates in these economically tough times but Cliff Parry, owner of Vodafone Silver Partner Ffons Cymru Phones, says his business is consistently hitting these levels.
Parry, who is celebrating his 23rd year in the mobile phone business this month, attributes his success to the unique quality of service he gives his small but loyal band of predominantly Welsh speaking customers.
He explains: ‘My USP isn’t that I have been in the industry 23 years or that some of my customers have been with me for over 20 years, it’s because I communicate in Welsh, the language of heaven, and I am also known for making rather a good cup of coffee.’
Ffons Cymru Phones is run as a one-man band from Parry’s home in a tiny village eight miles out of Caernarfon in North Wales. Parry believes he is probably the only Welsh speaking mobile phone dealer in North Wales, giving him a niche market from which he has built a base of around 50 customers, of whom 90% are Welsh speakers.
He has a base of 500 connections, split almost evenly between Orange and Vodafone with the remaining connections on O2.
He says: ‘In my area of North Wales, Welsh is the first language and I’m pleased to have serviced my customers in the medium of Welsh. I have never come across any negativity from the networks that I run my business in Welsh, in fact they’ve always been highly supportive and understanding.’
The networks’ support is not surprising considering Ffons Cymru Phones’ zero churn levels and its 10% growth rate. Parry’s ability to communicate with his customers and build lasting relationships with them has also created an extremely loyal base.
Parry says: ‘About 80% of my base has been with me for more than 10 years and the other 20% have been with me for over 20 years. After a couple of years of doing business with my customers I upgrade them to be my friends.’
Parry has also forged close links with his contacts at Avenir, Mainline and Vodafone over the years and is adamant that their support has proved vital to his success.
‘They have been supporting me from the Bronze Ages,’ he jokes, adding: ‘The support has been excellent and they know my business as well as I do and really understand it.’
Ffons Cymru Phones customers take between one and 45 connections. ‘For this area 45 connections is big,’ Parry exclaims. ‘This is a very sparsely populated area. To put it in context, where I live has a population of 12 people.
‘My customers are predominantly from Gwynedd County which encompasses the Welsh speaking part of North Wales including Anglesey. There is barely any industry here and no big towns. Caernarfon is the largest town in the area with a population of 12,000,’ Parry explains.
However, despite the sleepy nature of the area, Parry faces tough competition from rival dealers.
He comments: ‘There is a lot of competition. My customers are inundated with calls but they are loyal. I would say they are highly loyal to me considering the level of competition here.’
Parry believes that loyalty is not only down to his ability to speak Welsh but also his support.
He says: ‘When they have a problem I am more concerned than they are. I take on their pain and I try to help out and to do that as soon as possible.’
Being a one man band also has its advantages. Parry says: ‘When they deal with me they like the fact they can talk to the decision maker, rather than a sales representative who may not be Welsh speaking, may not be local and may not be there in a year’s time.’
Parry is currently on a drive to increase his base but he says he will not sacrifice the high levels of personal service he gives each customer.
‘I would rather have a base of 500 that I can look after well than have a base of 600 and have my customers complaining about the service. It may be a small base, but it is very well looked after.’?