Succession Planning For Southworth Handling
Succession Planning and Business Growth…
Planned and Managed Exit Strategy
Sustainable Business Growth As Well…
Succession planning is a no easy task. You not only need to find the right person to take on the running of the business. The company also needs a strong plan and systems in place to ensure it will flourish when you’re not there. This was the challenge facing Peter Brook, owner and MD of Southworth Handling Ltd.
The company provides materials handling equipment primarily for positioning pallets and work pieces. It also sells trucks and trolleys, small electric lifters and stackers. Its main unique sales point is user health and safety.
Business Starting Point.
We have a 3,000 square foot warehouse and workshop in Thatcham. Our Business employed five people. We specify and distribute products to improve ergonomics in the workplace. In particular, through prevention of injury, particularly back problems, when lifting and moving loads. These products are relevant to any industry where manual handling is required. These range from pharmaceuticals to food, through to chemicals and electronics.
Peter has been MD since the late nineties, during which time the company has been what he describes as a ‘steady earner.’ He bought it from its US owners a few years ago but is now approaching retirement age. Peter wanted to conduct effective succession planning to achieve a smooth transition. It was this that prompted him to work with a Business Coach. Peter explains: “I felt it would be invaluable! Having some unbiased advice to develop effective succession planning for the business.”
“My Business Coach had first been in touch with us when we were still owned by the US parent company. Unfortunately then, the board was not willing to go ahead. Now it was my decision, and I felt it was right to invest in the training and mentoring that the Business Coaching offered. I liked my Coach’s approach, I felt comfortable with them. I felt that they were people I could sit with, talk to and open up to.”
How Did Business Coaching Help with Succession Planning?
First and foremost on the agenda was to have a proper discussion with our sales manager – David Allison. David was the ideal candidate to take over the running of the business when Peter retired. Peter takes up the story:
“David had not given a great deal of thought to taking over the reins. It was great news when he agreed, but we still needed to work out how to best manage the handover and my exit through some succession planning. This is where our Business Coach was indispensable. Our Business Coach helped set up the succession planning. Our Business Coach also helped us realign and strengthen the whole business. They acted as a moderator and facilitator, suggesting what needed to be considered and agreed. But they also got us thinking and preparing for the future. They helped us to formulate a four-year plan. We set sales targets and got us thinking about our recruitment strategy for when the economic climate improves.”
A Smooth Transition To Retain Customers
“The main focus was Southworth Handling many customers. They were listed and categorised according to how valuable they were to the business. This was something that had never been done before. They were grouped into three sections. Category A being the most regular and lucrative. With category B of moderate value and category C irregular, occasional or low spenders. The team then looked at ways to move as many customers as possible up a grade. We identified which B’s had potential to become A’s. Which C’s had the potential to become B’s, or were not worth investing extra effort in nurturing.”
This process really got the business focusing time and efforts where there were further profits to be had. It prompted Southworth Handling to identify its unique selling points and strengths and capitalise on these. This made up-selling to customers much easier to do. Interestingly it also highlighted the potential to increase service work, by a valuable 30%! This was an additional benefit, something which the team just hadn’t focused on before. This expansion of the service work required an increase in the workshop workforce. The company has also taken on a new administrative assistant. Our Business Coach helped here too, coaching through their highly effective recruitment process.
Conduct More Than Just Succession Planning, Continue To Build Your Business.
Systems for testing and measuring were also put in place. We covered elements such as inquiries, how existing customers are serviced, how new ones are won, and how to check and consolidate backorders. Figures are now produced monthly and quarterly in order to pinpoint trends and react accordingly.
Maintaining margins was extremely tough in the midst of an economic meltdown. Especially since our business sources were from the US and elsewhere overseas, so was vulnerable to fluctuating exchange rates. Overnight these increased its cost base by around 20%. But even in this harsh climate levels have held up. Peter believes this has much to do with his business coach.
“Our costs were rising, so we had no choice but to increase our prices. This is obviously a risk in a recession,” says Peter. “Fortunately, the systems our Business Coach had helped us put into place all meant we retained our customers.”
So now the company is in a strong position, it has weathered an incredibly tough time. Turnover is healthy. There’s been no dent in its profits. The succession planning is in place and the business is brilliantly placed for when the market picks up.
Peter concludes: ‘It’s been just so beneficial to have independent, external advice. Someone on the outside who can look in and spot weaknesses and give guidance on ways to correct them. I really don’t think we would be in this shape without our Business Coach. The Succession Planning and the associated growth of the business would not have been achieved without them”
Find Out How You Could Also Benefit From Business Coaching…
At Libabun we help Business Owners and Managers discover and understand the benefit of working with a Business Coach. We do this by conducting a 2-Hour Small Business Audit which looks at your current business strategies and your current results. Next, we assess the options with you and offer you a myriad of improvements to achieve ‘real and sustainable’ growth. We also do this audit with you so that you get to understand how Business Coaching can work for you and your business.
You also get to see the competence of the Business Coaching team you are considering working with. As a Business Coaching Organisation, we also offer all our clients a 26 Week Results Guarantee. So we want to make sure the business growth opportunities are there for you and we are confident we can help you achieve them.