The core activity of this business hasn’t changed since it was founded: it repairs accident-damaged cars. Yet the challenges it faces in the next five years will dwarf those of the previous twenty. They include the impact of artificial intelligence (which has already arrived), sector consolidation, new market entrants, new technologies impacting vehicle design and repair, changing business models, scarcity of talent and channel disruption...to name but a few!
Meanwhile, the pressure to repair cars quickly, and to the requisite safety standards, is unrelenting.
The day to day operational demands are greater than ever; it’s just there is now a heap of business strategy to attend to if the longer-term future of the business, and hence the family, is to remain secure. The ways of working that have served the business so well to date are insufficient for the challenges ahead.
We distilled the challenges down to three priorities. First was to get the right people focused on the right things, a critical element of which would be to free up one of the Directors to concentrate on the strategic challenges. This would also demand that we create and develop a next layer of management to assume many of the responsibilities currently shouldered by the Directors, and that we get a much clearer view about everything that needs to be accomplished across the business to make this delegation possible, and for it to run efficiently and effectively.
Secondly, we needed to rapidly increase the Directors’ financial acumen and access to robust management information. As more complex decisions arise than has been the case in the past, this would ensure they were in a position to model the impact of different options and plot a sustainable route to growth.
Thirdly, we needed to build the Directors’ confidence to evaluate and respond to the strategic issues quickly, and strengthen their collective capability to act as an effective leadership team.
This is a work in progress and has required courage and commitment from the business owners to invest in the coaching and support they needed.
Their achievements to date include:
One of the Directors shifting from working one hundred hour, six day weeks on operational issues; to working four days in the business and one day at home, almost exclusively on strategic issues.
A fully documented record by business function of every task responsibility in the business: 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.
The appointment of a new group of Team Leaders, many of whom to their first leadership roles, who are stepping up and working effectively together to deliver the core, day to day service.
Establishing a clearer understanding of the financial position of the business, having cleaned up and aligned the accounting systems to provide robust and succinct management information the Directors can rely on.
Far more effective collaboration between the Directors, borne of a greater understanding and recognition of their respective capabilities and behavioural preferences.
This work is ongoing, however as time passes the capability and confidence of the Directors to initiate and manage each subsequent step is increasing. They are progressing fast, collaborating with others both inside and outside their business to meet the many and varied challenges in front of them with speed, agility and admirable resilience.