What we do
In a nutshell, we solve business problems. We’ve done this for many years, over many sectors and successfully tackled a variety of business issues. We’ve worked with all types of businesses, ranging from a one-man band to an organisation of 55,000 employees.
We solve your business issues in one of two ways …
Some examples of our work
You might be interested to learn about some of the projects we have worked on. Each one is different but here are three examples to illustrate that we work with all sizes of clients from a one man band to large corporates, across a range of industries including IT, Education and charities. As long as your business employs people, we are happy to discuss your problems and see how we can help.
You talk about problems rather than challenges or opportunities. Any reason why?
I take a very pragmatic approach to how I can add value to a business and that is by solving problems. I have heard people use terms like “issues” or “challenges” but I think that’s merely semantics.
I remember working in BNFL as the Commissioning Group Manager. One morning, my manager, Frank, burst into my office and said “Boss, we have another bloody opportunity for change on the plant!”. Just semantics 🙂
You are focused on dealing with problems and all the stress that brings. Why do that?
I realised a while ago that I am good at three things …
- Solving problems
- Getting the best out of people
- Hitting targets
I use all these skills in helping clients solve their business issues. More specifically, there is a time after I have helped to clarify the problem that needs solving that I describe as “terror”. It’s before I start having ideas about possible solutions. I love that feeling. As one of my mentors, Peter Thomson once said “Don’t let anyone try and convince you that writing the fire prevention policy is anywhere near as exciting as putting out fires”.
I’ve found a great way of spending my time helping people put out their fires. Metaphorically, of course!
What and how do you charge for your services?
Great question. The good news is that there are no fees involved for an initial meeting. Typically, we would meet for an hour or so and discuss your challenges and what you are looking to achieve. At the end of this meeting we decide if we are a good fit to work together. Following on from that, there are three main options:
- An agreed hourly rate. This works well for coaching, where you may prefer, say, two hours per week/fortnight for a set number of weeks.
- An agreed rate for a specific piece of work. Good examples of this are evaluating your business plan or facilitating an event with your sales team.
- A monthly fee. This works very well when you want continuous support and challenge. Typically, we set a maximum number of contact hours per month, with an agreed response time (usually the same working day).
As is usual, we charge mileage at an agreed rate and other expenses (accommodation, rail/air fares, materials) at the cost to us.
How do you decide we are a good match to work together?
My response is that we decide we are a good match – it’s not just my view. I would like to say that I have a tried and tested scientific process to decide that. To be fair, part of that is true. During our first meeting, we explore the sort of problems you and your business are facing, and we discuss how I would approach solving them. I’m also very upfront. If I can’t help with any aspects, I will tell you. As an example, I am very happy to explore whether the EIS is suitable to help you grow your business, but I am not a financial expert so would always involve one as we progress.
The second part of the process is slightly more nebulous and probably more influential. I ask myself “would I enjoy going for a beer with this chap?” Whether, as a colleague has suggested, this is just a way of assessing whether our values match I’m not sure, but I do know that this filter has served me well over the years.
Do you work exclusively with Business Owners?
The short answer is “no.” Most of the people I deal with are business owners or the Managing Director of a business. I also work with Directors/Senior Managers of businesses who want to improve their own performance or the performance of their part of the business. The key for me is that they own whatever problem we are working on and have the authority to change things to fix it. I also work with people that have been identified as “high flyers” within a business and need an external coach to continually challenge their performance and occasionally individuals who their boss has decided needs to improve their performance. So, quite a wide variety of people in a wide variety of roles although it’s pretty much always in a business context.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise that in many cases, what is holding back many businesses from performing at their best is not the market or competition or any external influences but rather the thinking that goes on between the ears of the senior people involved in leading the business.
I am reminded of the (presumably apocryphal) story of a shoe salesman sent out to Africa to assess the market and he sends a message back to his company “no market here, no-one is wearing shoes”. After a while, the company sends out a second salesman, who sends the message “massive market here-no-one is wearing shoes!”.
Its clear which person has the business mindset. When working with a client, we spend a good deal of time exploring how their thinking is holding back their personal performance and thus their business. It’s rarely how it looks on the surface but that’s half the fun.
How long do you work with people?
This is totally driven by you, my client. To give you some idea, the shortest coaching engagement (so far) has been 20 minutes and the longest has been three years. To give you some detail on that:
- The first one concerned the MD of a printing business in London. He wanted help to become much better at giving presentations to his staff when they were all together. We explored how he felt when giving such a presentation, traced it back to the first time he had experienced it and enabled him to let it go. After 20 minutes he said “right, that’s sorted. You can go, and I’ll pay for the full session.” And, he was a Yorkshireman!
- My second client was the Chief Executive of a charity who wanted to decide on his next move. We met for three hours every month during his transition from employed Chief Exec to freelance consultant and then establishing himself in business.
The most frequent length of assignment is three two-hour sessions, usually at fortnightly intervals. I have a couple of guidelines, whatever the length of relationship:
- It’s your choice when to end our working arrangement, I will not walk away.
- I will tell you as soon as I think we are done but 1 applies.
WHAT my clients
(willingly) say about the work that I do.
“I have used Allan in two capacities. As a coach he has helped me to achieve major changes in my career and greater fulfilment in many aspects of my life. As a consultant his work with a large team of managers resulted in significant changes in their approach to their work and the contribution they made to the organisation. He is highly experienced, knowledgeable and skilful and a person of exceptional integrity.”George Levvy
“Three sessions with Allan were enough to help me re-focus on those areas of greatest value to me professionally, and in turn personally. The structured process and guidance offered by Allan didn’t necessarily tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it did enable me to see the wood from the trees and plan the way forward in achievable, goal-orientated steps.”Dan Statham
Generating New Ideas. Solving Big Problems
I have helped many companies with their business problems
so let’s talk about how I can help you to solve yours.
“I have worked with Allan on many occasions and on many projects and expect to do so again soon. If I had to describe Allan’s approach in two words I’d say “critical friend” … in every sense of the word. Allan has proved to be vital during difficult times and has never been afraid to constructively challenge me and my team when necessary. High recommended!”Jason Gould
“Allan worked with our sales team right at the start of putting together our proposition and was excellent at ensuring we described our proposition in terms of benefits for our clients and not from our point of view. As with most start-ups, funding was an issue and I appreciated that we were not tied into many sessions-one session of three hours was enough to get us on the right track”Chris Rowe
“Allan has been an active and engaged Trustee (and, latterly, Deputy Chair) of our charity for many years. During his tenure he has not only supported but also constructively challenged the executive to achieve ever greater impact. The team has always enjoyed working with him – even when his questions are tricky to answer…”Rosi Prescott
“During a period of intense pressure and under-performance at work I had a number of sessions with Allan which helped me re-prioritise and add focus not just to my professional life but also personally. Without any doubt the sessions helped me become more confident and I successfully turned my performance around with my employer, so much so, I then had the confidence to branch out and build a successful business for myself as a result! 100% recommendation from me!”Julian Dark
Let’s Start Something new
Drop me a message and let’s start a conversation
“We hired Allan to facilitate a team meeting in Bratislava. He worked with our management group and a selection of stakeholders beforehand and got a thorough understanding of the areas we needed to address. Through a mixture of practical light-hearted exercises and discussion about the learning we took from them, he helped us to bring about a permanent change in the way we view ourselves as a team and also significant progress in the effectiveness of our communications.
As well as his professionalism and skills, Allan is a really nice guy to work with. I recommend him wholeheartedly.”Neil Aitkenhead
“Working with Allan during 2018, really allowed me to look at my business from a different angle. He believed in me, when sometimes I doubted myself. Allan has years of experience in business and can point you in the right direction. He will hold you accountable and will provide you with some tough love to get the best out of you and your business. Everything starts with mindset. Allan has not just been my business coach, but has become more like a friend. Thank you Allan for all your support.”Lydia Briars