What were the drivers for you wanting to work with a business coach?
We’re a multi-generational family business that has been trading for 76 years. We were going through a period of moving from one generation to the next and were looking to restructure the business and reignite energy into it. The retail business is very competitive – so we were keen to look at the wider business and to focus on key areas to develop and improve.
Why did you choose REACH Business Coaching?
We were invited to a REACH seminar by our firm of solicitors who were partnering with Jas and Angela at one of their events. The content was really very good – it was all the right stuff to help us control our time and our business and make us more profitable. I made reams of notes. I had my Financial Director with me at the time and we thought we could implement everything we’d learned. But we weren’t getting it done. So, 12 months later we went to another seminar. I remember saying to Jas that the information he shares is absolutely great but very difficult to execute on your own.
What were some of your specific challenges and outcomes?
Attracting a broader customer base
Our customer base demographics was a challenge. Our loyal customers were typically aged between 55 and 65. We were keen to widen our market by attracting a younger generation through our doors, too. Jas worked with us to segment and profile our customers which enabled us to reach and attract this market. We want to delight them so that they purchase more products from us over the next ten years.
We’re working in a competitive market where margins are tight. On top of this, some of the products we were selling were also available to other retailers. National furniture chains are highly discount-driven, which doesn’t suit our business model. Jas has helped us to move away from a reliance on sales and discounting, which is so rife in our industry.
Ensuring a return on investment
There has been a lot of investment from family members over the years, and naturally, we’re keen to see a return on that. So, there was a lot of pressure sitting with us. In the four years we’ve worked with Jas, our gross profit margin has increased by 15%, which is very good for a retail business – especially because of the notoriously fickle industry we’re in. We realised too, that it was important for our team to share our vision for the future of the business. So, we set up a team training day with Jas to help them understand the journey we were on and to get them on board. This was absolutely the right thing to do.
Confidence to grow the business
By working with Jas, he’s helped us to transform our mindset, which has given us the confidence to grow Cookes Furniture and to expand our second business – Cookes Storage Service. We opened our first self-storage unit seven years ago, but with Jas supporting us, we opened a second storage unit in Stratford Upon Avon in 2022. This was a multi-million-pound investment to double our storage capacity.
This has been possible with the structure and mindset provided by Jas’s coaching, combined with a deep understanding of our financials. It’s given us confidence in our ability to fine-tune our business performance to deliver solid turnover and profitability every year. Over the next five years, we’re confident we’ll triple our turnover.
What is it about Jas you’re buying into?
I feel like I can connect with him. He’s a family man with two kids and he’s got his work life balance, values and ethos right, which completely resonates with me. I have a young family too and so do some of our other directors, so we were constantly juggling our time and family commitments with the challenges of running a large family business. I trust Jas – especially after our alignment conversation. Everything felt right.