Business Succession or Exit

Success Story: How to transition the family empire into a profitable business

[blog]Success-Story--How-to-transition-the-family-empire-into-a-profitable-business
Just mention the words ‘family business’ or ‘multiple directors’ and the average business owner will probably say “yikes …as if business isn’t hard enough!”

But this week a super coaching client is sharing his thoughts on how his family business… with multiple directors (four in fact)… is finding success with the help of his coach. You’ll hear the unique challenges he and his family have gone through, and the simple but profound kind of successes he’s hit along the way.

His name is Pat Sgro and this is his story.

Client overview

Business Name:Suregrip Ceramics
Business Type:Family business
Directors:Bill, Pat, & Gerrard Sgro
Location: Geelong West
Description: Sources and delivers high quality tiles to retail and trade clients
Website: http://www.suregripceramics.com.au
Coach: Geoff Currie

Q. Who is Suregrip Ceramics?

Based in Geelong, the Sgro family have made a living out of providing premium quality tiles to clients with an eye for detail. Initially beginning as tilers, the Sgro’s have emerged as a strong family business with a unique offering – helping retail and trade clients find the perfect tile in a town known for anything (like Ford, Rip Curl, and the Geelong Football club) but classy tiles.

Pat said:

“[My dad and brothers] were building a small business that was sort of organically happening… they were buying their own materials (as tilers)…. and bit-by-bit, more and more people found out they were getting the good materials in…

The business just started to grow from there.”

The gradual rise in demand for quality tiles made it clear the Sgro boys were on a winner. But despite their success, the business was “slow” and “taxing”…

Q. What problems did Suregrip Ceramics have?

Pat said:

“It took us years to figure stuff out. Figuring things out as business owners, figuring things out as far as how to run a business profitably; and how do you run a business with family? How do you do it with four partners?

We got to a point, and we realised… things were slow and taxing, [and] we all sort of went ‘we can’t keeping doing this’ because we’re not making any decisions, nothings getting done.”

Things weren’t getting done because…

“We had blurry lines between roles and responsibilities. We had a lack of leadership, [and] getting other people in on the business at the management level to try and help was tricky because you’re dealing with people seeing how you’re operating behind closed doors… [and we were] operating just as if you would when you’re teenagers at home with your parents.”

That means the Sgro family were unknowingly running their business like they ran their home. Dad made a suggestion and the boys listened or ‘rebelled’…

“[My brothers] will easily become overloaded with tasks and work to do without saying ‘no, I need to get my own work done.’ So simple things like that where they see it as their dad is asking them to do something – [and] they want to please their dad – so they just say yes…

But the reality is they can’t possibly manage all these things… I’ve seen it in other environments, you know ‘to please the boss’ and that’s fine, but there’s that added dimension… it’s my dad and I want him to be proud of me.”

Q. What coaching solutions did Pat’s family business look at and ultimately reject?

Pat said:

“I’ve dealt with other [coaches] before and there was an instant sense of there’s something shady going on here…

There’s a lot of airy fairy kind of things going on… it needs to hit the road and it needs to make sense.”

Q. Why did Pat’s family business choose Geoff Currie and BGL as their business coach?

Pat said:

“I literally spent about two years looking around at different … ways coaching was being delivered to the business owner. I was actively looking for somebody, and I had a couple of different people lined up. [But] I got contacted by Geoff; made the appointment, [his team] sent the information out and I showed dad.

Dad and I had already been meeting regularly on business development type topics… And because we were passionate about what we’re doing, we could switch off and go ‘how do we do this thing?’ “

Q. How did Geoff Currie and BGL deliver coaching to Pat’s family business?

Pat said:

“Working with a coach it brings all your processes to the front of your mind.” Instead of just tackling whatever comes up, or whatever bites you at that particular time, you focus on taking actions that move your business forward, says Pat.

And as for the cost structure?…

“The cost structure, it’s fantastic. It’s basically like having somebody else on staff and that persons job is tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong, to encourage you in the areas that you’re doing things right, and to look at your weaknesses as a leader and build you up. Those are things that Geoff does.”

Q. What results has Pat’s family business seen since working with Geoff Currie and BGL?

Pat said:

“One system for example I spent the best part of a week following my dad around with a clip board. I would simply observe.” He was really efficient in some areas and other areas not so much, so we needed a solution that would save time, says Pat.

“So one simple change we put in place saved us about an hour and 15min a day. So you multiply that by the whole year and you go ‘there’s a lot of time saved.’ It’s almost an extra day a week saved in simple labour hours; and that came from spending some time with Geoff, with the coach.”

Q. What would you say to someone looking for a coach?

Pat said:

“I meet people often and I watch them operate in their own business. Some people you don’t mention it to because they’re not ready for it; other people are clearly ready for a coach, they just need some direction.

Those people … I ask them the question, how much time do you spend on this business? Are you really passionate about it? And if you get a couple of answers in the right direction and you realise they are doing the best they can and actually do need the next steps, I say without any hesitation you must speak to a coach. You must at least go down that road, because the benefits that can gain from working with somebody who see’s your business from a different angle who gives you perspective on things… it’s ideal.

You really should have a coach.”

Want this kind of success in your business?

Geoff Currie is available to chat over a coffee and help you get the business you imagined you would. Stop dreaming about it, and start living it. Call 61 3 5338 1234 today.

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