This family business performs an essential service: it repairs accident-damaged cars. Yet the challenges of business planning in this family business are significant.
Over the next five years, the speed and scope of change will dwarf that of the previous twenty. These changes will be more complex and varied than ever before and demand new responses. They include:
- The impact of artificial intelligence
- Sector consolidation
- New and sophisticated market entrants
- New vehicle technologies and materials
- Changing business models
- Scarcity of talent
- Channel disruption.
Meanwhile, the pressure on the Directors and employees to repair cars quickly and safely, is unrelenting:
We face day to day operational demands that are greater than ever. As cars become more sophisticated, the expectations placed upon us increase. Additionally, we must develop a strategy and plan for the longer-term. This is vital to create a secure future for the business and family. The ways of working we have used to date are insufficient for the challenges ahead.Business Owner and Managing Director
Prioritise the Challenges and Design Solutions
We distilled these challenges into three priorities:
- First, we needed to free up one of the Directors to concentrate on the strategic issues. This in turn meant we needed to create and develop a next layer of management. These new managers would have to assume many of the operational responsibilities currently shouldered by the Directors. To enable them to do so, we would first have to identify and document what these were.
- Secondly, we needed to increase the Directors’ financial acumen and access to robust management information. More complex challenges would present more complex decisions in future. The Directors would need to model the impact of different options and plot a route to sustainable growth. For this we introduced a specialist with the experience and qualifications they needed.
- Thirdly, we needed to build the Directors’ capability to identify, evaluate and respond to strategic issues as a leadership team.
We agreed to work together for a full day each month, with interim support available by email and phone. Together, we developed scaleable solutions and strategies for each of these issues.
Our focus now is to embed them in the business with the support of the management team so they can be sustained and scaled.
Securing the Future
The Directors’ achievements to date include:
- The appointment of a new group of Team Leaders, many to their first leadership roles. They are stepping up and working effectively together to deliver the core, day to day service.
- A fully documented record by business function of every management task in the business. This details who is accountable and responsible for each; what needs doing; how frequently; to what standard or metric; and where the evidence is that it has been done. This moves know-how out of people’s heads and into a form that can be refined and scaled.
- One of the Directors shifting from working six day weeks on operational issues; to working four days in the business and one day at home, almost exclusively on strategic issues.
- Establishing a clearer understanding of the financial position of the business, having cleaned up and aligned the accounting systems. These now provide robust and succinct management information the Directors can rely on.
- Far more effective collaboration between the Directors. They have a greater appreciation of their respective capabilities and behavioural preferences, and have taken some significant decisions as a team, including:
- The sale of a business in order to release capacity and financial resources for their core activity.
- Evaluating options to open a second site in order to benefit from economies of scale.
This work is ongoing. Over time, the Directors have become a much more effective leadership team, and have come to trust and rely on their management team to meet customers’ day to day expectations.
In short, the Directors are securing the future of their family business with speed, agility and admirable resilience.
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