What were the drivers for you wanting to work with a Business Coach?
We’d been in business for a long time running a successful veterinary practice situated in the centre of Ashby de la Zouch. Our business had grown substantially over the years and we came to the point when we realised that we were unable to develop the service to our clients any further in the town centre location. Therefore, in 2015, we committed to designing and commissioning a new veterinary practice building which would have the capacity to provide and develop veterinary services for our clients well into the future.
In 2017, we moved into our new building on a business park on the outskirts of Ashby which took advantage of better transport links and provided fantastic facilities in the practice for both clients and staff, and plenty of parking. After many years of looking for a suitable site, arranging finance, designing and building the new practice we had thought that we could ease off as the pressure of the move was over.
An additional and important reason for this huge financial undertaking late in our careers, was to develop the veterinary practice so that we could sell the business and retire, knowing that we had consolidated the position of the practice in Ashby. And, that with its new situation and facilities, it would attract buyers who could recognise the business potential.
However, a national shortage of qualified staff coincided with the move and this had a significant impact on both our quality of health care provision (maintaining the 24 hour in-house emergency service) and profitability.
We needed advice from someone who would be able help us to focus on re-establishing our profitable business, allowing us to sell and retire.
Why did you choose REACH Business Coaching?
We’d previously talked to a couple of Coaches, but we didn’t think that either of them had the sort of focus on our business which we were looking for. Our accountant then passed on an invitation to one of Jas’ Friday morning seminars, which I went along to. I was impressed by what Jas said and after a further individual discussion, I started to work with him for 1-2-1 coaching in December 2018.
Jas had a different approach compared to the other Coaches which was immediately noticeable; he didn’t focus solely on the business and the way I worked in the business, but on my whole life. He was interested in the global picture; my health and well-being, family decisions and the way in which the business impacted on every aspect. Therefore, my wife Debbie, also got involved in the coaching sessions. Jas recognised that we had a family business which was intertwined with our family life and affected everything.
A significant difference with the way Jas works compared to other Coaches is that he insists on working outside your business premises. Jas will take you away from your office into a different environment and that allowed us to apply a different focus when looking at our business. This was of great value.
What were some of your specific challenges and outcomes?
After the move, we relaxed as the pressure of moving eased. We expected that our successful business would transfer to the new site without any difficulties. However, this expectation, together with the difficulty of finding suitable staff, built new and unexpected pressures. Over time, we got to the point where we couldn’t see the wood for the trees.
• Staffing Issues – Our purpose-built veterinary practice was more than four times the size of our previous town centre surgery. We had far more capacity and weren’t short of work but with the national shortage we couldn’t recruit enough qualified veterinary staff of suitable calibre. To continue to provide the level of service to our clients we had to use locums which cost us significantly more and this cost ate into our profits.
When I bought the veterinary practice in Ashby 25 years earlier, I had a receptionist, one nurse and a part-time vet; by the time of the move to the new surgery our business had grown to 36 staff.
• Figures and Finance – Our business had grown significantly over the years and although we had introduced some systems, the additional information we needed to run the business after the move wasn’t readily accessible. Jas helped us to identify the systems and processes we needed for our business and the subsequent development. The use of a Dashboard allowed us to have an up-to-date overview of the business which we hadn’t had previously.
• Mindset – Although Jas primarily addresses the needs of you and your business, he also takes account of the impact which the business has on your life and family. Everything is discussed in complete confidence. Jas was effectively the business partner we’d never had, and he guided and supported us through our decisions allowing us to arrive at our own conclusions.
When situations required skills which I didn’t have, Jas encouraged me to look at the skills we had within the staff group which were more suited to achieving a successful outcome. That was another key area where Jas was different from other Coaches; they said that I would have to change my character and become more outgoing. There were certainly times when Jas took me out of my comfort zone, but he understands which aspects the business owner should work on for the business and where to use skillsets within the business.
Jas encouraged us to let our staff know that we were working with a business coach and to send them along to his seminars so that they could understand what we were trying to achieve in the business. We were encouraged by the positive discussions and actions from those staff who attended Jas’ seminars, and it’s certainly something we’d recommend other businesses take advantage of.
What is it about Jas you’re buying into?
Jas is with you 100%. When you’re talking to him, there’s no-one in the background, he won’t be distracted, he’ll concentrate on you. He won’t allow business interruptions in the session – his or yours.
Jas is also a hard taskmaster. You’ll need to complete work between sessions, you’ll have to get involved and do the work which you both agree on; that is how you will get results. Jas will stick to timescales and tasks which have been jointly agreed, which at times can seem challenging, especially when you don’t think you’ll have the time to do everything, but it is beneficial. He’s holding you to account, and it works.
What was the end result?
We worked with Jas from December 2018 to March 2020. During those 15 months, between Debbie and myself, our management team and Jas, we turned the business around, clearing our overdraft and producing a business which, given the offers received when it was marketed for sale, was desirable to buy.
We have finally completed the handover to the purchasers and completely retired from the business. We have achieved what we set out to achieve – to build a veterinary practice which would continue to provide an excellent service to the Ashby area for many years; and we’ve been able to realise the value which we built up in the business, allowing us to retire.