Coaching Case Studies
I commissioned in independent interviewer in 2012 to call a few small business clients to get their feedback, which has been summarised below.
Luke Dee, Dee Glass and Glazing www.deeglass.com.au
I was in a bit of a rut, and not really interested, but now working about 55 hours per week, with team of about 7 in the business.
Was working less but now more interested and putting more in to achieve goals…looking to take over from Dad eventually. I was referred to Clive by a respected friend. I wanted to learn more about business and took Clive on to help make changes where things weren’t working so well. We looked at the job process, scheduling, margins and pricing, and working with the team members. We changed the quoting process and started tracking a lot more things like the conversion rates. We worked on marketing strategies to grow the business, refreshing the brand, etc.
It’s good to have a mentor and the motivation and accountability that Clive gives. Planning and goals were non-existent, so I now have that in place. Financially this year has been a lot better than the last couple of years even though a lot of businesses haven’t been doing so well. I am gaining more respect from Dad and the Team even though Dad has been in business a long time. My family does think it is a good idea, however they rarely get involved. I found the planning workshop helpful, though it was at a time when I was on information overload…if I did it again I think I would learn more from it.
Clive hasn’t been in the glazing business before, but understands my business really well and can adapt his experience to my needs. He is always focussed on my goals in Coaching sessions. Things now run a lot smoother, with less chaos, and are more profitable. My energy levels are much higher now, and I get much more of a buzz. Clive has changed my life. I can now communicate better with family in the business with less arguments occurring. I am a lot more productive and spend more time organising things in the business.
Lauren Ryan – Jayes Travel www.jayestravel.com.au
Prior to Clive…business had grown really quickly but no systems or structure to support it…we were in a mess, not working as a team and weren’t meeting targets. No time to work on the business…working 80 plus hours per week…ridiculous hours. No formal training in business or management previously so having to work it out as they went.
Biggest challenge has always been getting good staffing, and getting them to work towards our goals. Didn’t have any consistency in presentation to clients, following up, no measurement and tracking, sales techniques, etc. Clive did some evening workshops with the team. We started to measure and track conversion rates, initially shocking, but we are improving them monthly. Family can see quite transparently the benefits of having had Clive on board. The team thinks it’s positive, offers them more job security by helping them achieve targets. The seminars are exceptionally valuable, not only motivating, but helping me with focus in on a specific subject and put them into practice. It’s also nice to sit with other business owners and realise they are in the same boat. Clive is exceptionally good at focus and accountability on short term goals, and Clive keeps our longer term goals in mind. Business is much, much better now. I think the best time to engage Clive is immediately…every business should have a Coach.
Stuart Buckton – Buckton Building www.bucktonbuilding.com.au
Was at the point of pulling up stumps, at wits end for what to do… arguing a lot.
Got Clive in to get some direction, analyse how we were working, our systems and processes, plus understand how the numbers worked..or not! Clive brought on a lot of ideas, as we had our blinkers on. He asked a lot of questions, such as how we tendered quotes etc. He helped us put some good systems in place, including tracking leads vs conversions, how we relate with clients, creating roles and responsibilities for the team, plus establishing proper meeting procedures. We needed to work on financials and make some changes, and as a result have re-arranged our team structure with less employees and more sub-contracting. Was going really well – building growth, until Home Owners Warranty put the brakes on us, so couldn’t sign on any more work for a period until it was sorted.
Coaching with Clive has been good because I was doing everything and not letting go, but now have delegated a lot to others in the team. We have learned a lot, but still need to work more on time management. The team has learned a lot too. We enjoyed the planning workshop and different points of view. I am slowly becoming more effective. In summary we have achieved a lot of goals…or making good progress towards them…achieved a lot in the time frame.
Nathan Franks – Dynamic Business Technologies www.dbtechnologies.com.au
Been is business a bit over 4 years and working with Clive at least 18 months. At start with Clive I had 2.5 employees and was working 70+ hour weeks. I started business as a technician grabbing an opportunity, with no real goals focus. Main aim when starting Coaching was to not be doing in 18mths time what he was in terms of hours worked. I engaged Clive to see what we could do with the business. With Clive I have added more structure developing me into an owner rather than the business owning me.
Clive has acted as a General Manager for a period to take control of my team, and enable me to learn from him to a point where I was capable and confident to manage the team better, and he could step back to more strategic work with me. Clive has no IT interest or experience which I saw as a significant benefit as I couldn’t see past IT, while Clive looked at the business without any pre-conceived obstacles. The external exposure changed the way I thought and looked at things. Accountability from the top is one major thing that Clive has helped me address, understanding who is responsible for what and making sure we follow through. We have much more direction and focus, having implemented systems to ensure consistency and productivity. Finishing work and spending time with my family was another key goal which we have achieved, now having more staff, and more profitability so my wife and kids are happy we got Clive on board too. The fact that the business is still here is attributable to Clive…in fact my wife might suggest I stop working with Clive as I am at home too much now.
The team enjoy the structure against the ad-hoc nature of the day and got to know Clive well as he was acting as a GM. One of them has gained about $25K increase in wages as a result of working with Clive. Clive is relentless…a bit like a blue heeler on a tennis ball, with regard to my goals and accountability. He gets to understand my industry and who we are …like a sponge… and this helps him get better results from us. Now employ 6 people, have significantly more time at home, communication is better in the team, and we are more profitable. Working towards a business that can work without me….focus is now on growth goals…to triple our supported seats in the next 18 months. It’s been a lot of change in short period of time for me, working to become less of an engineer and more of an owner. The best time to work with Clive, is when you are open to listening. I really think there is no-one that wouldn’t benefit from taking him on…
James Smallman – Smallman Security www.smallmansecurity.com.au
Was not happy because business was on my mind 7 days a week, always having money and time pressures. Have worked on cash-flow and are now seeing the effect of that. We worked on employee processes and disciplines to bring them in line. Have established a better time management system, and is better able to get things done in a timely fashion.
Team dynamic is now better with energy and focus, cash-flow has improved. Focus is on the backend structure to create more efficiency, reliability for clients, and a lot less stress now. This gives a lot better family life. Wife, Amanda is also really getting a lot out of the coaching and enjoying the benefits of the sessions. The workshops attended have been great.
Clive does bring me back on track. We always have his full attention -100%. He understands my business very well. Have done a lot of changes in the 4 months so far and everything is heading in the right direction. Future looks fantastic. Enjoying it much more, and I feel much more effective.
Don’t put off working with Clive. If I had my time over again, I would get him involved from the beginning… instead of waiting 9 years. Was waiting til I thought I could afford it. We under-estimated what he could do for us.
Robin Fridell/Allan Hawkins (Modern Group)
In 2007 business had peaked, then we got into a rut, and morale went down…lost energy. Things seemed to be going ok. Initially we went to a seminar put on by Clive’s competitors, as we wanted to see how we could operate better and more profitably. We had further discussions with them and then were referred to Clive by a business associate who was working with him. We wanted someone to show us what we didn’t’ know what we didn’t know, and felt Clive would be the better person.
Both of us had minimal business training background, but have strengths that work well together. We wanted to kick start the business again and needed fresh ideas. What we initially gained from Clive is the foundation and basics of working towards goals, changing the outlook of the team, giving them ownership and accountability for their portfolios. We have also put some effort into systems/procedures to improve clarity and everyone’s ownership for their responsibilities, which brings the productivity/efficiency that flows. It has given us more time to work strategically rather than “IN” the business. If we hadn’t done this we would probably have been in some difficulties.
The team looks up to Clive, and refers to him for support too, and Clive supports us with giving the team direction. In the early days we would all think Clive was a nuisance with all the questions, but once we got over our egos and dropped our guard then we saw the benefits and would complete homework willingly.
Clive puts a lot of work into his newsletters and the workshops we have attended. This all opens us up to questions and we always look for at least one point to takeaway. The beauty of working with Clive is that we can then follow-up on these lessons at subsequent sessions with him.
The business now looks a lot more structured, and with the major impact of the poor weather on cash-flow, we could have been much worse off, but we are well positioned to forge ahead. We are much more in control now, looking at things a lot closer, know our numbers well and can make more informed decisions.
The future now looks quite positive, and with acquisitions that we are working on the business looks quite bright. The extra work created by Clive is necessary to uncover the hidden benefits in the business, because, being busy people we otherwise wouldn’t take the time to stop and answer the questions that he puts to us.
The best time to take on a Coach is before you need it, the sooner the better…a bit like a Personal trainer, where you work on your body to build it rather than address a health issues when it’s too late. We have each other but there are many individual business owners who need someone to talk with at this level.
A Coach can’t do it for you…you need to step up to the plate and do it for yourself. He is straight up and he’ll put you on the spot. We really can’t put too much if any blame on our lack of action on Clive, we really have to take responsibility ourselves.
Hunter Valley Skips (Tracy Smith) www.huntervalleyskips.com.au
We’ve been working with Clive for around three years and had this business around 18 months when we started working with Clive. Prior to working with Clive we had three of us working in the business, one employee and myself and Colin my husband. We now have 12 on the payroll and won the fastest growing small business award last year. We were working lots of hours and it was pretty profitable for us. I now take a day off in the middle of each week and we are able to go away for a holiday in June rather than only have a break when we closed at Christmas time.
Our lawyer and friend Matt put us in touch with Clive. He knew we’d not long bought the business and I needed a bit of help. I’d had no secretarial/office experience (I didn’t know how to use word) and Matt said that Clive could help with all that sort of stuff and teach us how to read our profit and loss statements and all that sort of stuff. So he worked mainly with me up until 12 months ago and then worked more with Colin to get the boys in the yard organised. We learnt about running a business and reading the financials and putting systems in place like time management skills and structuring the business – having procedures in place for the boys on just how to do things which let us sit back a little bit and focus on the home. When Clive came into the business he said “Righto, this is where you need to draw the line and go back inside the home and spend some time with the family and the business will wait till tomorrow.” He’s helped us with business planning and marketing – like getting the right wording on our Yellow Pages ad and we’ve done pamphlets for letter box drops.
We didn’t have any specific goals in place when we started working with Clive but Clive sort of put in place that we needed goals and Clive makes us think of what we want… where we want to be in this amount of time and what we need to do to get there. One of mine was to have a day off in the middle of the week which I have achieved. Now Clive is working with Colin more. We’re able to go away for a week now in June and the business runs without us for a short time. One of our goals for the future is to promote the recycle facility and that is one of the things Colin and Clive are working on at the moment with some brochures and one of our boys here is a salesman as well as a driver so we want to get him out there to start selling and promoting that side of it.
I think that the best time to start working with Clive is as quick as you can and he’ll point you in the right direction – especially if you don’t have any business knowledge. Clive hadn’t any experience in our industry but it didn’t matter he adapts his business knowledge to the business/industry he is works with . And the main reason I would recommend him to someone else is if they’re having a problem so they can lean on him for that business experience that he has.
Lifeguard Cessnock – Christine McKay www.lifeguardtyres.com.au
We’ve been working with Clive for around 6 years. Lifeguard sells tyres, batteries, wheels and we do wheel alignments to businesses including the mining industry as well as to household shoppers. It is a family business that’s been around for 60 years. I took over from my father around 10 years ago and now have my daughter running the business with me. I was employing around eight people and my plans back then were to build the business up and make a living out of it.
Clive came around canvassing one day, told us what he was about and left us his details. I didn’t do anything at that time. I think a couple of months went by and our office manager that had been here for a long time (a lot longer than I had), had to retire to look after her husband who became ill. This sort of left me in the lurch and I realised then that I needed a bit of help (I had two young staff that I had just employed and had to teach them basically from scratch). And so I gave him a call and we went from there.
So initially the major reason for working with Clive was staff management and we sorted through the roles of each individual person. And also I needed him to help us with sales and marketing. I’m not a marketer, never have been. I’m not interested in it at all. I love the workings of the business and that sort of thing and I’m very customer orientated and I love working with my customers but as far as doing any sort of marketing I need a real push.
There are lots of little things that stand out since we’ve been working with Clive. We’ve got documented staff roles and responsibilities now so this is clear and we’ve gradually been working on our procedures manual. My daughter also become involved with the business straight from school and Clive has been working with her. She’s also not really interested in the marketing side of things but we know that to go forwards we need to become more involved with marketing. To start with there was some resistance from my daughter to working with Clive. I don’t know why… you’d have to ask her. I think maybe a lot of the time she thought he was a waste of time, that sort of thing. We had to sort of work with that and get through to her that there were good things he was doing for us. We’re in a very old building so we’ve done our waiting room area up and we’ve actually now got a designated waiting area and tea and coffee we offer customers. We’ve also recently installed a CRM program on our computer which we’re busy learning at the moment so that we can send thank you and follow up letters to our customers. I’ve been to Clive’s planning workshop which was helpful and apart from the CRM program our current goals include focusing on our personalities and we’ve completed DISC profiles.
There is a big improvement in the way we do things since he started, but you know, there is always room for more improvements.
If I were talking to another business owner I’d say the best time to use Clive’s services would be right at the beginning with a new business. I think everybody can benefit from somebody like him having a look at their business.
Rod Kirk – June/July 2012 www.rodneykirk.com.au
I’ve been working with Clive for around seven years. I took over my father’s business in 2000. We know a lot about building but when it came to P&L’s, break evens and stuff like that… the business side of things we didn’t know that much to be honest. We do renovations and extensions and back then were still part of the building boom when we started working with Clive.
Before Clive came on board we employed around 5 people and I worked from 7am to 9pm. We didn’t have any systems in place and weren’t managing the projects very well. I was trying to do too much – I was being the accounts person, pay person, managing the jobs. Things were going haywire. Someone had contact me about coaching a while before but back then I thought I could do everything and I didn’t need anyone. I ended up calling them and they put me in touch with Clive.
When I started to work with Clive we looked at the whole system, but mainly time. I used to continually get interrupted by the phone. The whole business is now managed much better, we’re more streamlined. We’ve put in place people – a secretary, project manager and estimator. We’ve put systems in place and even though the building industry struggled in general over the last two years (I know a lot of my competitors have sort of gone under) we’ve been lucky because with the systems we’ve had in place we have got us through. And we’ve grown the last two years, put on an estimator, which has cost us money but I can see the benefits in the next two years. And we’ve put marketing in place as well and for the last 12 months have had a marketing person. This has brought in a lot to price at the moment which is great.
I’m much less stressed these days and spend more time with the family. Now I get down to the office at 8 and leave by 5 and do not work weekends. We’ve a team of 16 now. I’m in the process of working on a pricing program that will benefit myself and the estimator. I know the mark ups, margins and break evens and really look at my Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet.
I think the best time to start using Clive’s services is anytime. You can always improve on things. Everyone thinks they know everything but you don’t. And if you are starting up business it would be good to get Clive in straight away.
Anthony Critchley – July 2013 www.newfangledideas.org
The core of the business is training and managerial coaching to Government Services and Not-for-Profits in Australia – we’re concentrated in New South Wales at the moment. We’ve been working with Clive for around 6 years.
The business was really just a cottage hobby when Clive first started working with us. We’d been going around 12 months and were working part time in the business – it was really just supplementing our normal income. There was myself and another partner. Training events were just held here and there. After Clive came on, it really ramped into the business.
In the early days we concentrated mainly on Management Training in the Government and Not-for-Profit sector… so running training on supervision practices, performance management and that sort of thing. Then out of this grew some coaching. People would meet us in training, see the quality of what we could deliver and then approach us asking to meet with us one-on-one for the next twelve months in order to really build what they’d learnt in the training program into the way they work. So with coaching we’d spend one-on-one time with managers.
We both came from a background of working in the Not-for-Profit sector. We had management experience but did not have any experience in small business or a marketing background. There was always some else that did marketing, finances and service delivery. All of a sudden I was the person entering receipts into the accounts program, running the services, writing a training program as well as trying to market it. So we started working with Clive because we really wanted somebody for this. We had been tossing up two options. One was for us to get an MBA and the other was us looking at investing the same sort of dollar for a more practical approach to the skills that an MBA would possibly give us. Both of us had degrees so an MBA wasn’t scary. It was something that we could easily have done with it paying off in the business probably 5 years down the track. If we’re going to grow the business we decided we needed to have some pay off much quicker than that. So a business coach was the logical choice. We interviewed five or six coaches that came from Sydney and the Hunter regions. Clive was a natural fit for us.
In the beginning Clive worked with us around building a small business and marketing. We focused on how to actually sell our products and to build a business model for these products. Over time Clive’s role evolved into facilitator and then a mediator in terms of trying to get decisions agreed to behind the scenes between the two directors. So, for instance, appointing a bookkeeper required a lot of coaching to convince the co-director that this was a sound investment in expending money and getting somebody else to do this rather than us doing the work ourselves. Clive’s role quickly grew into one of taking our business strategies or business success options and getting them across the line. He was a very good debriefer, mutual debriefer between the directors, encouraged us to bring rigor to the business… so bring profit and loss sheets to the table, get a consolidated marketing strategy and plan to get an absolute core direction and so his role started to put some meat onto a skeleton…. So you’ve got marketing, you’ve got finance work and you’ve got all these bits of work lets actually put them together and interpret it, make sense of it and leverage some better decisions from that point.
If we didn’t have Clive then much of this wouldn’t have happened. We wouldn’t have a bookkeeper and we wouldn’t have actually grown the business. One of the things that Clive was really good at was encouraging us to increase our fees and to have confidence in doing this as well as build a confidence around our own products. He also encouraged us to have consistency around what we were both charging which was a challenge with my co-director frequently giving substantial discounts.
The team now consists of myself, the co-director who is exiting the business, our bookkeeper and then we have five contractors that do some work for us.
Clive is pretty good at focusing on my goals during the coaching sessions. Due to my co-director exiting the business my focus has been on cash flow due to my co-director not working over the last few months. Our coaching sessions have focused on this, Clive increasing my confidence again and looking at some more marketing strategies and income generating strategies over the next few months. He understands our business and our challenges very well. In a nutshell we were just two blokes that needed to actually commit to some common structures and systems. The work that Clive has done with us over the last five years has meant that even though we’re going through a bumpy period (with the co-director exiting) there’s enough structure, system, personnel and confidence to keep the business going.
Toni – July 2013
At the time I started working with Clive I was in a partnership and although we were going fine we were struggling with how to improve it. We have a hairdressing salon doing all sorts of different stuff and we use Aveda products, a very good brand – they’re all natural. We’re located in a strip of shops.
We started working with Clive because we wanted to get more out of our business. We were both hairdressers and had no experience in running a business. We’d been open around a year and a half. We did not know how to improve the business – so we were wanting some guidance really on what to do next… we didn’t know if we should get more staff and we needed to start to look at our figures and needed help to understand how to do this. Our accountant put us in touch with him.
When we started working with Clive we had one apprentice and I was working around 45 to 50 hours per week, my business partner wasn’t working quite so much. We were growing in clientele, turnover and in the number of products we were selling. We weren’t sure if we should take on more staff and wanted to understand our financial position and improve our personal income as well as the business generally.
The focus when we first started working with Clive was to control our expenditure more. The salon was bringing in lots of money but we were spending too much money. We weren’t making much profit. Clive showed us how to read our financials and how to tightened up on things and made us more aware of what we were spending and to work smarter not harder.
Then not long after we started working with Clive my business partner became pregnant and I ended up taking over the whole of the business. Clive helped us through this transition. By this stage we’d taken on some more staff and he helped me with some staff problems I was having. He helped me work out a bonus system for staff which was good, with the appointment book… we’re putting more appointments in during the day and he made me really aware of how much money was coming in per hour for each staff member. I now know who’s performing and who is not and this helps me make better decisions. We set up regular staff meetings as well and my computer is set up so I can print out all the figures I need easily.
I went to Clive’s Team Building workshop as well that was about team growing and your profits, management of them and managing your team. This was good because there were other people there you could speak to and you kind of realized that everyone’s got similar issues. So it was good, it makes you realise that you are doing the right thing as well.
I have four staff now and am happy to keep my team small at the moment and just work on the stuff that Clive’s given me to work on. I’m working around 40 hours a week and I’m trying to work less in the business and have the girls do more work in the business so I can back off a little bit.
John King – July 2013 www.johnkingphoto.com
We’ve been running the business for around 20 years and prior to working with Clive, I was working in the business 5 ½ days and John 6 days per week. We were shooting weddings, portraits and a little bit of commercial photography. We were pretty happy with how the business had been going along though it probably could’ve been performing a whole lot better.
Clive has been working with us for around six months. He’s never worked in the photography industry before but that doesn’t matter as a lot of the strategies we talk about are similar for most businesses. Our team consists of John, myself and we’ve two shooters that we call in if we get busy. Initially we wanted Clive to help us with organisation and structure. We were disorganised with our time and needed to work on our time management to get our day to day work flow running more efficiently. We now have default diaries and set days to do set things or shoot at a certain locations. Prior to working with Clive, John used to shoot all over the place on any given day, but now that we’ve specified one site per day, for example he may go to Nobbys Beach every second Saturday and Redhead Beach on the other Saturday rather than offering both spots on the same day. This means that John does not have to run around all over the place so there has been a small saving in our costs in relation to travel and his time is used more productively. I run things more efficiently in the office for example I have a set day for ordering and it doesn’t matter whether there are 2 photos or 20 photos, they just get ordered on that day. This means that customers can be told what day their photos will be available for collection. We’re much less stressed now that we have made these changes. Then we are working on our goals. Marketing is one of them – we are working on achieving more enquiries, higher conversion rates and a higher sale value. We’ve not had a structured marketing program so Clive is pinning us down to organise promotions in advance so that we create a more even flow of clients throughout the year. We’ve made a decision to focus on portraits rather than weddings. We now have a financial goal for the year that we’re working towards. When Clive runs webinars we also tune into those. These reinforce some of the things we know already and we pick up a few new points along the way.
I now work in the business four and a half days and John five days. We now get more done in less time and we have more time for ourselves and are less stressed. Looking to the future we want to keep the business growing but be able to pull back a little on our actual day-to-day work. We are now focusing more on turnover and maximizing profitability.