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Case Study – Country Carpets & Beds

Do you have a job or a business?

Do you know what your business stands for and where it’s headed?

Do you have clear roles for your employees – or are you ‘it’?

Most importantly of all, do you have a life as well?

When Chris Dyson first came to me for help, his answer to all of the above, was ‘no’. Apart from the bit about being the jack of all trades within his carpet and bed retailing business, and struggling to delegate responsibility to others. As a result, he’d reached a point where something had to give. Eighteen months on, he’s a changed man, captain to an ace team and enjoying six holidays a year with his family. Below, he describes how he got here.

As told by Chris Dyson

Step 1 – Admitting I wasn’t Superman

“I think the biggest trap business owners like me fall into, is thinking they have to be everything to everyone,” said Chris. “In my case, I was the salesman, estimator, carpet fitter, you name it.

“I was afraid to delegate anything, for fear it wouldn’t be done to the right standard.

“As a result, I didn’t have a life and I was so stressed out, my family were taking a back seat.”

After 20 years in the business, Chris was only just keeping his head above water. Extremely busy on the wrong things and with limited reward.“

“Ros had called me a couple of times, saying she could solve my problems, but I’d been too busy to listen. Then I got to a point where I was so run off my feet, I had to admit I needed help, and I got her involved.”

How will you get there if you don’t know where you’re going?

“It seems so obvious now, but Ros made me step back and look at my business with fresh eyes. She challenged me to analyse my customers, the products and deals I was offering, and my profitability – not the money turning over within the business – the actual profit left after fixed costs,” continued Chris.

“The results were sobering. I didn’t understand my unique selling point, I didn’t have a vision of the future, I wasn’t investing enough in my people and systems and I was selling quality goods too cheaply, often to the wrong people.”

No ordinary carpet shop

Walking into Country Carpets and Beds in Hunmanby, North Yorkshire, you very quickly get the sense this is no ordinary trade-to-consumer business. For starters, there’s a sofa in the middle of the showroom – and a bowl of fruit.

Why?

Because this is now a company with a strong culture, founded on outstanding service. Consistently delivered by people who are well trained and rewarded, highly motivated and encouraged to strike the right balance between life and work.

“It’s a small thing, but the bowl of fruit is there to encourage my team to eat well and stay healthy. Not only will they then feel better, but they’ll take less time off sick,” explains Chris.

“My role in the business has changed massively. I now focus on being a good leader, and am investing heavily in training for my growing team. Everyone has a clear role and responsibilities and I’m able to delegate with confidence while I concentrate on what I should be doing, which is driving the future business strategy.”

A dramatic change of fortunes

The results of this change of focus are stark. Chris’s customer base has grown by 10& in the past year. Profits have grown ‘significantly’ too. All this despite increased investment in people and management systems, and a £10,000 reduction in his advertising budget.

“We now know exactly what we’re about. We offer the Lamborghinis of the carpet world at very cost effective prices, and provide a service which is second-to-none.

“As a result, word gets around and the business is really taking off as a result,” says a proud Chris.

“We speak to every customer who comes through the door, to understand what brought them to us, their needs and how they’ve found our service. This enables us to plan and adjust our activities around their needs.”

On the home front, things are very different too: “I’m a different man”, he added.

“I’m much less stressed and enjoying life to the full. We hadn’t managed a proper family holiday in 20 years, in the past year we’ve had six.”

An attitude of mind

“In my opinion, business owners need to be ready to commit to business coaching. They need to ask whether they’re prepared to commit to acting on what it tells them, and if they see it as a cost or an investment.

“If you’re working in your business rather than on it, you might be running around as I was, unable to step back and analyse it properly, in order to make the decisions you need to make.

“Ros’s coaching has helped me change my focus and, quite literally, changed my life. I’m now a leader of people with a clear plan of opening another five carpet shops over the next five years, one of my highly trained employees running each one for me.

“I’m a farmer by trade, not a businessman. I fell into carpet retailing by accident, after the BSE crisis of the 1990s made farming unviable for me.

“Now I feel I have business management skills I could transfer to any venture and make a success of it.”

Are you ready to step things up a gear?

The last thing many business owners think they need is a business coach. But why let yourself get stuck in that same rut for years? Break free and choose Ros for a fresh perspective and sound advice based on solid, down to earth experience.

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