Business planning, Case study, Growth, Profitability

Case study – distribution company has best year ever


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Bristol distributor of action sports products – Shiner

“Nigel has been worth his weight in gold”

Brothers Chris and Charlie Allen have been involved in the family business ‘Shiner Ltd’ all their lives. Shiner has been distributing action sports products since 1976 and they had learned the trade from their father the MD. However,they felt that they could improve things if they had some more structured input. So, although the business was doing a healthy turnover of nearly £10million per annum, they thought there must be room for growth.

Nigel with Chris and Charlie

Business coaching wasn’t something that sprung to mind immediately but their HR resource said she knew a man that could help. So Chris and Charlie met with Nigel Scott of ActionCOACH – “what he said made sense straightaway and we could see that his experience could be a real help”. Nigel began weekly meetings with the brothers where they delved into all aspects of the business in an open and honest way. “You’ve got to be really open to get the best advice back” says Chris. “There were a number of areas Nigel identified for us to work on and we developed a clear 90 day plan, this was a real change as we had never done any future planning before. Having a clear structured path to follow has made a huge impact on all areas of the business” Specific areas that Nigel worked on with them included clarifying the management structure and helping the brothers to delegate effectively -“before Nigel, everyone came to us for every decision but now we empower the teams to manage themselves, this means we have more time to plan for the future” Also, they were not tracking key performance indicators and setting targets.For example the sales teams now have clear targets and Nigel also helped to put into place a bonus scheme – “the bonuses really motivate the team and encourage them to go that bit further”. The effort has paid off, last year Shiner showed a 10% increase in turnover.

The business has seen some very successful and profitable years but also some challenging ones. The brothers project that, with 3 months to go, profits this year will be double last year’s performance. Cashflow will also be strong because of the action they have taken with Nigel’s help. “Nigel gives us clear tasks to perform and if we struggle at all he is really good at finding a different way of doing it that works for our business. He is really responsive and entrepreneurial in his approach and this rubs off on us” Shiner has made some big changes since working with ActionCOACH which has often been hard work “but the achievements the teams have made have given us a real buzz, everyone is incredibly enthusiastic about the future. In fact we are confident we will increase turnover by another 10% this year.” Another focus for the business this year has been on service to customers. Rapid service has always been at the heart of the Shiner philosophy, but the team recognized that the service they offered was inconsistent and, at busy times mistakes would creep in. This was annoying for customers and expensive for the business, as well as causing some friction between warehouse and sales teams. The team have also clarified their delivery promise to customers and put clear measures in place to track how they are performing: on time and accurate deliveries are now over 97%. Crucially, feedback from customers is extremely positive.“The really important thing that ActionCOACH has brought to our business is the ability to work on our business more and not just in the business. And I believe this is a key ActionCOACH principle. The teams are more self reliant and we both feel we can now easily take a couple of weeks off without worrying about the business. This gives us the space and peace of mind to plan for the future. We didn’t do that before and now we know where we want to go and how to get there. Nigel has given the business and ourselves a new lease of life”

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