Friday, 28 October 2011

Mini-Case Study 3: Turnover Up 50% Even In A Deeply Recession Hit Market

Scan: the recession caused the almost immediate collapse of revenues for construction companies, architects and interior design products.

Evaluation: our client sold up-market furniture etc to hotels, offices and wealthy individuals, but had little profile and no leadership positioning. They ended up selling on price, and not winning enough competitive pitches.

: position as regional leaders, focus on “famous” designers, evolve the website so it offered more and better than any competitor, promote the owner as the regional authority on design, refurbish premises and launch high quality events for media and clients/prospects.

margins increased and turnover was up 53% ahead of an ambitious target in the first 6 months.

Contact Paul Jobin or Robert Craven at The Directors' Centre to find out more. +44 01225 851044

Monday, 24 October 2011

Mini-Case Study 2: Increasing Accountants’ Sales By 32%

Scan: three companies of accountants had merged, but operated to their own agendas as businesses and individuals. Too many were merely “order takers” leading to poor client relationships.

Evaluate: a business review showed little clarity of purpose or direction, and no unity of operating systems. Needed to change 1+1+1=3 into 1+1+1=5.

Recommendations: management and staff seminars created a shared sense of purpose and willingness to co-operate because they would all profit. New system set up by DC and key staff. Training was practical, comprehensive and positively received.

Results: 32% increase in services taken by clients transforming profitability. 10% annual growth exceeded.

Contact Paul Jobin or Robert Craven at The Directors' Centre to find out more. +44 01225 851044

Monday, 17 October 2011

Mini-Case Study 1: Doubling Net Profit In 18 Months

Scan: a care homes group in the Midlands with 6 homes. Good care, good people, low profits, no growth. Being out-gunned by national big company competitors.

too many NHS residents at low rates. Residents cared for, but not happy. No strategy. No direction.

: increase the rates; cap NHS resident numbers. Invest in activities to create happier residents. Launch positive initiatives: position as leaders in “home-from-home care” (what the big companies could never do); create a Fair Prices Campaign positioning them as the champions of good value; Elderly In The Community Awards to build community relationships, attract sponsors and recruit new residents.

: happier residents; a waiting list of residents; net profit margin up from 12% to 26% in 18 months.

Contact Paul Jobin or Robert Craven at The Directors' Centre to find out more

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A New Mastermind Group is Born! October 2011

A Mastermind Recipe:

  1. Take six business people (three men, three women).
  2. Lock them away for two solid days. With me.
  3. Show them how to healthcheck their businesses, define and set their personal, career and business goals.
  4. Get them to bring their key issues to the table.

This is a recipe for a high octane mix of:

  • results-focused decision-making,
  • breaking self-limiting beliefs and
  • creating the focus and drive that so many of us seek.

Chatham House Rules apply at such events. Names and identities will always be disguised to protect the innocent!!!

However, I can tell you that we had a vivacious mix of industries represented: media, e-learning, auctions, fitness, financial services and events.

The original issues were clearly defined as ‘GROWTH’ or ‘survival and growth’ and this manifested itself in many different ways.

At the heart of every conversation was an obsession with ‘deliverables’ and the actions required to achieve those results.

By results we meant increased profitability, better sales, and a better work-life balance. The subjects tackled were diverse and varied but the intensity and passion were second-to-none:

  • How to really make our clients feel loved-up!
  • How to create an out-sourced business model
  • How to introduce crowd-sourcing as an idea-generator
  • How to scale-up fast
  • How to switch director roles so that people do what they are best at
  • How to create/hit challenging sales/profit targets
  • How to put in place/create a scorecard process for highly effective monthly board meetings

Everyone left tired but invigorated to take on the exciting challenges that lay ahead. All condensed into three succinct action points to work on first thing Monday morning.

What is clear is that the formula works:

The right group of individuals

The right leader with the right knowledge/skills/attitude
An action orientation
Honesty, not politeness
Respect and the right chemistry
Accountability to deliver
Massive results for all the individuals concerned


See Will a 'Mastermind' group accelerate business growth? Or blow up in your face?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Will New Business Consultancy Programmes Translate Into Better Businesses For The Client?


So, imagine the situation. Five budding entrepreneurs come together and decide to look for a new business venture.

They create their wish list and send out their researchers to find
  • the perfect industry (growing, immature, without any significant major players) and
  • perfect clients/customers (hungry for the product, insatiable appetite for repeat purchases).
Some other characteristics would be ideal:
  • relatively easy to brand
  • the opportunity to productise and create apparently unique special formulae/recipes
  • a growing national obsession with the topic
  • a few celebrities available to be associated with the brand.
If it were 1970, then the industry would be the diet industry.
If it were 1980 it would be independent record labels or holidays.
If it were 1990 it would be extreme sports or fitness.
If it were 2000 it would be gap year students.
And in 2010, my guess is that it could be business support for small businesses.


The business support industry has been a classic growth industry. The collapse of the existing providers (Business Link etc) who had a variable reputation combines with a growing obsession with entrepreneurship (The Apprentice, Dragons’ Den, Queen of Shops, an entire government pinning its hopes on entrepreneurship and SMEs as the hero of recovery). All this creates the perfect breeding ground for new businesses focusing on selling to the small business.


So, some might say that they have small businesses (typically under £500k turnover) as a ripe market for plundering.
  • The numbers stack up: millions of them.
  • The demand is there: they want to know how to grow their businesses, the secrets, the quick-fixes, the short-cuts.
  • They have the spending power: generous redundancy and pension packages to be plundered
  • They have the hurt: poor profit, low sales with the recession as the backdrop. They have the desire.
So, the next step is to satisfy the need. The ‘so-called’ formula is relatively straightforward (whether you are selling accountancy, web design, marketing, business development, or growth services):

  • speak in a voice that the customer/client can relate to, demonstrate your credibility (testimonials, endorsements, case studies, video, website, how tos)
  • have a proven track record
  • have an expertise and an ‘ology’(a proprietary point of view)
  • ideally focus on a niche subject or market

and away you go.

Add to the mix some combination of:

  • money-back-guarantees,
  • Try Before You Buy or free seminar/workbook/ebook
  • an obsession with long copy
  • another obsession with capturing email addresses

and you have the ingredients for your new business development business.

In a nutshell:

  • offer an overt benefit
  • give clients a reason to believe in you
  • be dramatically different!!

I have no beef with how this has panned out. Quite the reverse.

In my humble opinion, the whole industry is about results. What else could it be about?


The attention of the potential client has to be focused on the (subtle?) difference between what consultancies sell and do as opposed to what clients wish to buy. It is clear that small business clients want to buy more sales and more profits. Most consultancies seem to sell a variation on the theme of more profit/sales for the business owner. What is in dispute is whether the consultancies deliver on the promise.

After several decades in the industry, having taken client businesses literally from zero to hero, from dream to final sale, I understand how the industry can deliver not just for their own share-holders but, more importantly, for the clients.

It is not sustainable (or moral) for the industry to under-deliver on its promises (even if there appears to be a bottomless pit of needy clients in search of the magic silver bullet). Neither is it good enough to make the sale, take the clients’ money, deliver on the promised service… especially if the client doesn’t get the benefits (= results) offered.


What I have learned from both sides of the business development/growth industry is that books/seminars/tapes/videos/CDs are fantastic at pushing you in the DIY direction: showing you the basics and explaining the mechanics.

However, they still miss out on an essential ingredient: one-to-one support is the point at which you and the expert are able to design the model to fit your own specific circumstances. It is this one-to-one (consultancy) or one-to-few (mastermind/masterclass) interaction which has the massive impact on your business especially when run over a time period of several months.

So, the opportunity is there for the new providers to help/assist the smaller businesses. That is not in dispute. But, will these interventions translate into significantly improved business performance on the part of the clients and delegates? It is as simple as that.