Dec 13

When you think of turkeys do you think of determination?

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When you think of turkeys do you think of determination?

Christmas is a time of year when most people are thinking about winding down to spend time quality with their families, but for some it is when they are at their busiest.

As an example, for Paul Kelly, Managing Director of Kelly Bronze Turkeys, Christmas is a make or break time of year. Not only are they busy, it is also vital for their business that the season is a success. He was recently quoted as saying:

“Not a day goes by when I don’t remember when we didn’t know where the next penny would come from.”

The Kelly Story

Derek Kelly started his turkey business in 1971 and it seemed as if he had established a thriving business with an assured future. However in the early 1980’s the future looked a lot less certain with competition from supermarkets and other mass producers of turkey products. In 1984 Derek had the idea of building a business around the Bronze turkey – a traditional breed. This brought further challenges. Whilst the Kelly birds were hand reared and allowed to roam in natural woodland, supermarkets felt that their black feather stubs detracted from the white meat. Further, the power of supermarkets meant it was impossible to compete on price.

Derek believed in the quality of his product and knew that this would win in the end. However the story was not to be an overnight success. In his early days in the business, Paul remembers having to sell door-to-door to keep the business going. Setting aside the issue of paying for the parking (and the expectation of a fine!) we have elderly relatives and need to be contactable.

The road to success

Slowly, over time, butchers started to order their turkeys and the Kelly Bronze business started to take off. The situation was further helped when a celebrity cook promoted Bronze turkeys in one of their books. Whilst still facing issues with competition from intensive farmers, price was becoming less of an issue and the supermarkets were not really offering any competing products.

Today Kelly sells 10’s of thousands of turkeys and has acquired a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia

What can we learn

There are several business and life lessons here. Firstly we are reminded of the maxim that:

Quality always sells

Derek Kelly’s belief was that people would be prepared to pay a premium for an excellent turkey for Christmas Day. Further, if the quality and experience is right, people will come back. Think of some of the premium brands people buy, whilst some of this might be showing off, much of the reason is that people know that you get what you pay for.

If you believe in your product don’t give up! You may not have to have the dogged determination of the Kelly’s but remember you have to be prepared to do the hard yards as no one is going to do them for you. This is as relevant to individuals as it is to businesses.

Also, if you are offering genuine quality, charge a quality price!

Moral of the story

Like all good Christmas tales, there is more to it. This isn’t really a story about turkeys also noting that for some people, their ethics and values mean that eating meat is anathema to them. We have to respect that and also acknowledge that it is not a happy ending for the turkey either.

However there are hard won lessons in business everywhere – if you are prepared to look for them, take them on board and learn from them. Perhaps you’d feel differently about a business, product or service if you had to think a little bit more about how they came about and the businesses and people behind them?

Certainly, at some point over the Christmas period it is worth considering if you are determined enough, pushing hard enough or have enough belief in what you are doing to punch through all the difficulties to create a successful outcome? If you don’t like what you find, the good news is it is never too late to start… tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.

Otherwise, simply sit back, enjoy the warm glow of a good meal (meat or meat free) and console yourself that you’ll probably be sat there next year and may, predictably, be no further forward with what you want to achieve in life. Success is rarely achieved without hard work and determination, so are you trying hard enough?

If you want to #changesomething, why not give us a call?

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