Investing for the future

Farmers Fayre is a traditional farm shop and restaurant business but owner Nicola Reece wanted to make sure it had a fruitful future. With her husband Michael hoping to reduce his hours in the business, Nicola was interested when she met business coach David Lee who offered a wealth of experience in business growth strategies.


“Our farm shop and kitchen at Stoneleigh Agricultural Showground sells produce from over 40 local suppliers and we have a keen interest and connection with the farming community. I’ve never had any formal business training and when I heard David speak at a networking event, it sounded like he could bring some turnkey support to our business.”


Initial improvements

David joined Nicola at Farmers Fayre for an initial day of one-to-one coaching, examining every area of the business which was experiencing a rather overwhelming period of high-volume growth.


“We’d recently moved into a new building which was significantly larger and gave us a quick uplift of 40% in turnover with little effort on our part. I knew we needed to be smart to harness that potential and felt I lacked the knowledge to do it on my own. Sitting down with David for the day and working ON the business rather than IN it felt like a complete luxury. Talking with someone who understands the business of business helped to bring me clarity on what I should do to move forward.”


Nicola began to look to David to help her see the light at the end of the tunnel and set the business up in a good position for growth. In December 2016, Nicola started regular one-to-one coaching with David, bringing in her husband and other members of the team from time to time.


“We earmarked some areas of the business for improvement. David then got me to look at the business from different angles, for instance, I knew our turnover figures but hadn’t put measures in place to monitor profit margins. We set up gross profit calculators in each area of the business and gave the managers key performance indicators to report on. This was a huge step in understanding our business better as we could see what was happening on a day-to-day basis rather than looking back after a month and not being able to do much to recover if we’d experienced a downturn.


“I’m embracing change and love to discuss alternative solutions as we come across challenges in the business. My work with David has also given me a new strength to face difficult decisions. One of our key areas of development was our team. If Michael was to reduce his hours in the business, I needed a solid team around me to pick up the slack. We completed personality profiling with eight staff and this fed into our plans to either develop and manage current people or recruit for skills gaps. It gave me the permission to replace staff where it previously would have been hampered by emotions. Instead, I was able to focus on the job at hand without getting drawn in to day-to-day operations.”


The results so far

In just 12 months, Nicola has made significant progress at Farmers Fayre, working on buying processes, evaluating financial systems, meeting room occupancy and business rates.


“Sometimes David will spend additional time with me and yet I never feel like he is watching the clock. We review my progress since our last session and then move on with new tasks. We approach larger projects by breaking them down into smaller activities over a 90-day period. He then makes himself available to speak to my managers should they need any advice to help meet those goals.


“We’ve experienced 20% growth in our turnover but, due to our new measurements, we can track an increase in spend per head and in footfall. Areas like the meeting room hire which we had almost forgotten about marketing now have increased usage and profitability. Michael is part way to his goal, taking two days off each week and feeling much more comfortable about leaving the business on those days.”


Nicola is now an advocate of business coaching in general and David Lee, in particular. She views business coaching as an investment, not a cost.


“I would absolutely recommend David to other business owners. He genuinely cares about our business which I think is really important if you’re going to be working with someone on a one-to-one level. Our investment in coaching has ended up being self-funding, the clarity and focus it has given us has ultimately resulted in increased profits – paying for itself in the first six months!”