Pictured: Michelle Kerrigan, CEO, Bia at Home.
In this week’s CEO Q&A, Michelle Kerrigan, owner of frozen meal delivery business Bia at Home, tells Business & Finance how her Local Enterprise Office has helped her achieve business goals.
Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
I constantly strive to ensure I produce high quality, nutritional food and maintain high customer satisfaction and retention.
Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?
Doing it all–I’m not just the director/owner, I’m also the chef, quality control, hygiene officer, HR, sales & marketing, and every other position required to manage a small business. I find this difficult trying to manage as everyone is not good at every task, but I’m learning to delegate certain tasks.
Q. How do you keep your team/ staff motivated?
I have a small team so I try to instill my ethics and values in my staff and encourage open communication and mutual respect and allow them to share their ideas for the business.
Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?
Understanding how packaging influences purchasing decisions–people are becoming more environmentally aware and don’t want to use single use plastic or non-compostable materials. There are a lot more food allergies than there were years ago, and options need to be provided to accommodate this section of the market.
Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?
New alternative diets such as plant based vegan diets. This is emerging as people are becoming more aware of climate change and for health reasons. I am looking to offer some vegan options.
Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
I would love to see more home grown, local organic produce readily available at a reasonable price point so I could offer this to my customers. At the moment price point too prohibitive. I personally feel the government and Department of Agriculture don’t encourage this or offer any incentives to develop organic sustainable farming; and as a country we import far too much food that could be grown in Ireland.
Q. As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?
Lack of skilled chefs willing to work long unsocial hours, and reliable courier/delivery service to transport perishable produce.
Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?
I offered more package deals, with discounts for bulk orders due to people having less disposable income.
Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
I haven’t felt any effects yet but I do worry the price of food will increase, forcing me to review my pricing. When and where possible I always try to support local Irish produce.
Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Success to me is having a product that people want to buy, and that makes their lives healthier and easier. Obviously earning a living and making a profit, while balancing my home life, are the most important factors. As my business and my team grows, I’m providing jobs in the community.
Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Running your own business is not easy, you have to wear multiple hats and be flexible, willing to change fast at the drop of a hat. However, it can also be very rewarding if you love what you do.
Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
Exhibiting in the Local Enterprise Village at the National Ploughing Championship with the support of Local Enterprise Offices was a phenomenal experience that gave me national exposure and showcased what I have to offer to a large audience.
In preparation for this event the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Mayo provided mentoring on sales and brand awareness to ensure I had the best opportunity at the Ploughing, and these skills can be carried forward into the future.
Q. What’s next for your company?
With the help of LEO Mayo I hope to expand and grow my online presence with the completion of the Trading Online Voucher which will develop and upgrade my current website, making it more user friendly, improving search engine optimization, and to develop a digital marketing/social media plan.
Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
I would love to be known nationwide as a convenient, nutritional food supplier, to grow my online business, and have better brand recognition. My goal is to increase my online sales by 10% through customer loyalty programmes, and identify opportunities to gain new customers while diversifying my product to suit this these opportunities.
Michelle Kerrigan is an ambassador for Local Enterprise Office’s Local Enterprise Week 2020, which takes place from March 2nd-6th, with 300 events taking place nationwide across 31 LEOs. For more information see www.localenterprise.ie.