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Case Study 2

Skills & Value Creation

After the Managing Director of this leisure retail firm had been intrigued by our client endorsements, we had several discussions about his aspirations for the business during which time it became apparent, that our services warranted further consideration.

Reassured by our track-record of improving our clients’ fortunes and encouraged by our client endorsements, we got together to discuss specifics surrounding our appointment and our proposal to create an initial blueprint or ‘roadmap’ for their further success.

This was a three-stage approach of:-
1) Observation and discovery
2) Submission of specific proposals
3) Delivery

Leisure retail firm

For the initial stage, plans were made to undertake a detailed look at the business and its market using access to specialist industry data, company processes, systems, and human capital aspects before proposing a ‘discovery’ session, led by ourselves as an independent party, with the wider team at the earliest opportunity. Having run many of these sessions previously without director involvement, we knew this approach would provide the best possible platform to encourage open and honest dialogue. Such a step would further demonstrate to the team that the directors were fully behind the process whilst helping to demonstrate their genuine desire for further improvements to the company’s operations.

Not all owners and boards approach the issues in this way though, often preferring instead that we work exclusively with the senior team in a coaching and advisory capacity. However, in this situation, there was enough to suggest that such a route would limit the outcome. Whilst both methods have us acting in an advisory capacity, the former hands-on approach helps us identify a broad range of attitudinal concerns at a much faster rate. However, when the makeup of teams varies from one business to another, speed is not always the main advantage.

Throughout these discovery sessions, we regularly came across a common theme that appeared to undermine the capabilities of some members of staff at an operational level. Consequently, we explored the thinking behind it, frequently challenging this view so that we could encourage the client to change their thinking for their own benefit. Examples were introduced and new process plans were created by the management team so that they could use these learning tools to change attitudes and transform everyone’s thinking. Once complete, a seed change took place that enabled a rapid rollout of new initiatives, that helped exploit new opportunities for growth through greater insight and an appreciation of better governance.

As individuals, many of us come to know our operational demands extremely well, but the soft aspects of our roles are rarely encouraged or discussed within SME businesses. But in our experience it’s rare that the full extent of the issues lay solely with frontline personnel and that a proportion of human capital and operational related issues often lay with the management team themselves, which was the case in this example. However, with the board embracing the need for adaptations across the whole employee spectrum this became a very empowering journey for those involved and the company as a whole.

Whilst most of our clients engage us to solve generally disruptive operational inefficiencies, some appoint us to help reinforce their own thinking. But if you’re a board member who’s close to their teams, bringing change in these circumstances can often be much harder than you would expect. In these environments, boards can develop a higher tolerance to certain situations as a result of ‘knowing everyone’ in the business when in truth, the workforce either aspires to a different relationship or takes advantage of one. Free rein can be a liberating and an open concept which will undoubtedly work in some organisations, but in others it serves only to limit growth or create chaos and confusion. Consequently, our role requires us in these situations to determine what type of management team the company will receive the greatest benefits from.

Leisure Retailer

The activities we’ve undertaken and the improvements that have been made by everyone involved in this situation, has according to the board, created an entirely different feeling amongst those that remain. Feelings of misdirection have been replaced with a sense of appreciation and focus. Gone too are the days of costly ad hoc activities and generally poor internal communications which have instead been replaced with meaningful, considered and timely ones. Additionally, new bespoke operating systems have been introduced which have contributed to the bottom-line performance and to the improved professionalism of the company. In fact, the client was quick to point out to us that the operational and systems efficiencies that we’d developed were vital to managing their customer transactions, expectations and the overall delivery processes associated with them during the spring and autumn government lockdowns imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our foresight had significant financial benefits for the firm whilst also creating safeguards for the staff.

Whilst we are not able to share specifics due to the nature and privacy of the work involved, here’s a summary of the areas of our involvement in this example:-

  • Process mapping for gap analysis
  • Extended appreciation of the interconnectivity of the teams
  • Systematic approach to challenge existing attitudes and reposition beliefs
  • Widespread improvements for the attraction, support and retention of staff
  • An appreciation of the quality and efficacy of the existing workforce
  • Improvements in the professional skills of the management team
  • Review and wholescale adjustment of the salary structure
  • Adoption of structured promotion opportunities and associated incentives
  • Reduction in absenteeism
  • Increases in accountability
  • Social engagement and youth training programme formed with local schools
  • Initial apprenticeship and management training programme commenced
  • Identification of system gaps with proposals delivered for appropriate resolution
  • Briefing of new system requirements, tendering and commissioning
  • Testing and delivery of new operational system
  • New methods for data acquisition and segmentation
  • Integration of third-party systems
  • Removal and destruction of non-consenting consumer data
  • Identification of appropriate markets, customer groups, resources and financial targets
  • New policies adopted for Privacy and Data Security
  • Improvements to the reporting cycle and the integration of relevant KPI’s
  • Warning flags for the cannibalisation of existing markets
  • Review of medium-term opportunities
  • Adoption of new product extension and improved supply-chain attributes
  • Improved cultural transparency

The changes have brought a new understanding of the business as a whole and have helped to not only identify further areas for development, but also create an appetite to tackle them.

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