Running a rapidly-expanding enterprise sounds like a key to a bright future, but often part of the challenge for business owners is keeping pace with the accelerating growth of their companies.
Business was already soaring for airborne adventure firm GoSkydive when Nigel Scott flew in to help the company plan for the future.
Company boss Gordon Blamire had ambitions to become the biggest tandem skydive operation in the UK, and it was Nigel’s job to make sure Gordon’s head wasn’t in the clouds, and that his plans didn’t come down to earth with a bump.
Two years ago, GoSkydive was helping 1,800 customers to throw themselves from a plane every year, with the help of three full-time staff and eight part-timers. The annual turnover was around £400,000.
Today, 4,000 customers a year are taking a leap of faith – just over twice the number – and yet turnover has trebled to around £1.4m. And the company employs 23 full-time staff, with 10 more working part-time.
“The average sale value has increased from £280 per customer to £330 per customer,” explains Gordon. “That’s one of the things Nigel helped us to do. We have Key Performance Indicators and targets in place to help us measure the value of each sale.
“We’ve invested heavily in marketing, and in bigger, faster aircraft, which gives us the opportunity to up-sell.
“We also do a lot more direct booking now. Two years ago agency bookings accounted for around fifty percent of our business, which brought pressure on margins. Now agencies account for around 15 percent, so the combination of better sales mix and higher average sale per customers has a big impact on profit.
“Nigel has had a huge influence in these areas.”
Besides coaching the core team on a monthly basis, Nigel has been mentoring Gordon. “When I started out, I knew a lot about skydiving, but not a lot about running a business,” says Gordon.
“Nigel’s had a real input in the growth of the business, from marketing and methods to team management. I’ve also been able to adopt more of a management role, which allows me to focus on the future development of the business.”
The company – which currently operates from Old Sarum, near Salisbury – aims to have four or five sites across southern England within the next five years. It’s already among the biggest providers of tandem skydive experiences in the UK; this will make it the largest.
“I expect we would have got into difficulties during the growth period without Nigel’s input,” says Gordon. We were investing a lot in infrastructure and in the future, and we needed to be able to handle the cashflow.”
“Revenue-wise we are growing fifty percent faster than we would have done had Nigel not been involved.
“Nigel has made a very significant impact on the success of GoSkydive. To any director of a growing business, I would recommend Nigel.”
The key challenges for the owners of rapidly-growing businesses, and Nigel’s tips for success, are:
People: find really great people whom you can trust to take on day-to-day responsibility of the business while you concentrate on the future.
Managing the money: Growth eats up cash. It’s important to have a handle on the cash flow.
Sustainability: Have continuous sales and marketing efforts to keep the show on the road. Monitor your activity rigorously.
“At GoSkydive, we implemented annual goals and a 90-day plan for the whole team, looking at areas like sales and marketing, operations, and financial planning,” says Nigel.
“They conformed to the ActionCOACH mantra of Plan, Do, Review. It is important for everyone to understand what is working, and what isn’t working so well by testing, measuring, and making sure the money is well spent.
“GoSkydive has an exciting future ahead, and we’re all looking forward to being part of the success story.”