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Jo and Jim Sharples weren’t short of customers for their business, Jim Sharples Furniture, in Bristol.

But Jo realised that Instagram would be a great way to get their name out, add another lead generation string to their bow and become the go-to company for bespoke furniture making in the local area.

Here Jo talks about her experiences on the InstaMind, what she feels she’s gained from it and how it’s influenced their entire approach to the business.

Who are Jim Sharples Furniture?

Jim Sharples Furniture is an established business, trading for more than 18 years, making bespoke furniture for Bristol folk. Anything from kitchens to bookcases to desks and tables, designed and made to order and to an insanely high quality. They usually have a full order book of clients and a waiting list too, after all each piece takes time and effort to create, and they’re only a husband and wife team. So they don’t need hundreds of clients throughout the year to fill up the time they have available.

Jo realised years ago that the business could do well on Instagram. The work they do is visual and it’s a great way to share more about the hard work that goes into it. She set up an account and quickly racked up around a hundred followers, mostly friends and family. But she didn’t really know what to do with it and it didn’t lead to enquiries. So when she spotted the #InstaBizWeek challenge advertised in a business networking group, she decided to take part.

Why did Jo join the InstaMind?

Jo learned so much on the #IBW challenge and got so many followers and even a few enquiries, she quickly saw the potential of Instagram for the business. So she joined the InstaMind in the spring of 2019 and has been a firm fixture in the group ever since.  

Despite leads and enquiries regularly coming in thanks to word of mouth as well as via the website, Jo knew that Instagram would be a great way to get the Jim Sharples name out there and build some authority. To become the go to for local people looking for hand-crafted furniture.

She recognised that many of their competitors had large followings and engagements that predominantly came from other furniture makers. And while that might feel positive, it doesn’t actually bring in the work.  

This was the first mindset shift Jo had. She realised she didn’t want other cabinet makers following her, she wanted the end customer, the people who want special furniture for their home and are prepared to pay for quality. Now she just needed to learn how to make that happen!

What did she get out of the programme?

For Jo, the best part was that the course was put together in a way that was totally achievable. As a self-confessed ‘non-techie’, she had been worried things would move too quickly and she wouldn’t be able to keep up. But that wasn’t the case:

“I was able to do all the steps. And while I’d gone into the InstaMind thinking it was just about Instagram, I found it was so much more than that.  It helped with how we look at the whole business. Kimba made us identify what sort of person we want to work with, she got us to really nail it down. And she helped us look at things in a different way too.

“We’ve always had a massive waiting list. In fact, we were often a little embarrassed to tell people they’d have to wait nine months. But as Kimba made us realise, if they’re not happy to wait, they’re not our ideal client. Now timescales are the first thing we check with people, and more often than not they’re happy to wait. Because it’s us they want to work with.”

But if they were busy already, how did all this benefit the business?

In terms of figures, Jo has gone from around 100 followers at the start of her Instagram journey to 1,700 today. And while that might not seem like tonnes and tonnes, remember they only need around 10-12 clients a year to sustain the business, they’re not trying to shift a huge volume of products. The best bit is all of those followers are ideal clients:

“It means that when enquiries come through Instagram – which around 40% of them now do – they are far better quality leads. And much more likely to convert to sales. The relationship has already started, expectations are more realistic, and people are genuinely excited to work with us.”

Thanks to InstaMind, Jo says they now value their time more. It’s allowed them to be more specific about who they want to work with, meaning the work they do tends to be more enjoyable. And they’ve got more confident in the value they’re delivering. They’ve even put their prices up twice.

And what does Jo have to say about it:

“I’ve definitely grown in confidence. Kimba has helped me learn to be more honest and show who we are as people. I thought we had to show only the perfect, shiny stuff, but she’s convinced us that people buy from people – we’ve opened up more and it works.

“I’m still terrified of doing Lives, but Kimba and the others in the group pushed me out of my comfort zone to at least include videos in my stories. We came up with ways to make it work without having to talk to the camera. For example, I’ll show the process of painting the furniture as I’m doing it. It goes down really well with our followers.

“And I’m not saying I’m an expert but when I look at some other business’ Instagram posts I often feel I could give them a few hints and tips, which shows just how far I’ve come. I can see that they’re attracting other businesses like themselves, and I can see why it’s happening. We’re not doing that!

“Ultimately, Kimba and the InstaMinders helped us to work out why we’re doing what we’re doing. The reason we’re in business is really important. It’s not just about making money. We’re conscious that what we make is good, we make environmental decisions and use sustainable timber. We’ve been able to niche it down and really get behind this ethos.

The InstaMind helped us get there, but it’s also given us a platform to get that message out to our audience and really step up to the plate when it comes to working in the way we want to. And it seems that we’re now attracting people who appreciate that too.”

“I’ve put lots of effort into making the business better, but was all sparked from doing the InstaMind.”

If you’d like to know anything else about Jo’s InstaMind experience you can find her at: @jimsharplesfurniture on Instagram. And you can find out more about the InstaMind here.

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