A programme of support for businesses located in Ashford that have the ambition and capacity to grow.
Background and Vision Scale Up Ashford is a partly-funded programme of support for businesses located in the borough that have the ambition and capacity to grow. The programme has been endorsed by The Scale Up Institute The Scale Up Ashford initiative has been launched with funds from Ashford Borough Council, in order to support the development of economic prosperity across the borough. The first programme of its kind in Kent, Scale Up Ashford adopts core principles from the wider national initiative pioneered by the Scale Up Institute and specific business coaching methodologies. The programme is delivered in partnership with Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and New Level Results a highly successful UK-based business growth coaching company. The key principle is that businesses are given access to tailored, intensive support and expert networks, in order to grow their business, support job creation and prosperity, and create an average 15 percent increase in gross added value. Six firms signed up to the initial pilot programme, which ran from September 2017 to April 2018, and Scale Up Ashford has since been expanded to support a total of 16 companies across the borough.
Each firm is given one-to-one intensive business coaching every month which is mapped and tracked
using New Level Resultsâ€™ coaching software, and supported by a team of experts, as well as help with grant funding applications and access to networks and platforms to promote their business. High-growth small businesses play a vital role in creating jobs and driving economic growth in the UK. The ambition of the Scale Up initiative is to make Britain the most fertile ground for businesses, not only to start up but also to scale up and grow. Research by the World Economic Forum shows that those start-ups that are able to successfully scale up their operations have a great impact on society, bringing new technology, innovative services and increased employment. With the UK's departure from the European Union, there has never been a better time to invest in growing our domestic firms in order to create jobs and prosperity. To capitalise on the UK's long history as a trading nation and its vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, the country now needs to focus on how it supports its growing firms to scale up. The Scale Up Ashford initiative aims to advance understanding of how to scale up a business, and how to build the most effective environment in which
investment in new plant and machinery
new jobs created
grant funding secured
growth in average turnover
scale-ups can flourish. The programme promotes best practice, providing opportunities for scale up companies across a wide range of industry sectors to meet and share ideas.
Ashford-based firms assisted
"We have been delighted by the success of our ﬁrst two cohorts. The programme has provided valuable lessons and insights from which many other businesses across the borough can learn. "Scale Up Ashford is a prime example of Ashford Borough Council’s continued commitment to develop growth and economic prosperity across the borough. Following the success of the ﬁrst two cohorts, we look forward to offering help and support to 10 more businesses in the Ashford area."
Andrew Osborne, Economic Development Manager at Ashford Borough Council, said:
First intake (Sept 2017)
Second intake (May 2018)
1 Forza Industries Ltd
11 Quantum Public Relations
2 Red Alert Telecare Ltd 1 AES Precision Engineering 3
7 MPR IT Solutions
12 Kineteco International
8 Flowbird Ltd
13 Destra Engineering
2 Directline Structures 4
9 Thomas Auto Injection Centre 14 Centrobed Ltd
5 Medash Signs
10 Space Between Group
15 Six Two Design
MPR IT Solutions Established by directors Alex Mendes, Richard Procter and Andy Ransley in 2008, MPR IT Solutions has developed an unrivalled reputation for excellent customer service. With an enviable client roster including Fortnum & Mason and Shepherd Neame, MPR IT has grown rapidly to become one of the South East’s pre-eminent IT solutions providers. With separate divisions providing IT support and infrastructure installation services, MPR IT is a one-stop shop for all business IT requirements, with in-house capabilities to design, manage, install and support all business technology requirements. Commercial Director Andy Ransley, said: “IT has become a really competitive marketplace, so our approach is to provide a comprehensive, all-encompassing offer which the smaller companies don’t have the expertise to match. In fact, by diversifying our operations, we’ve turned many of our competitors into clients, as they now call on us for their installation and infrastructure requirements.” Having enjoyed sustained growth for the past decade, the company enlisted support from Scale Up Ashford to overhaul its management processes and procedures in order to establish firm foundations for the future.
Andy explains: “When we started the business it was far easier to know all the ins and outs of our day-to-day activities, but as we’ve grown it’s become increasingly necessary to put an effective management system in place. We now have more than 20 employees and our headcount is set to grow soon, so we needed formal systems in place to support our growth trajectory.”
Having outgrown its present offices on Wotton Road in Ashford, MPR IT will shortly move to a newly refurbished 4,000ft2 headquarters on the town’s Henwood Industrial Estate. Andy continued: “This ofﬁce move will enable MPR IT to signiﬁcantly scale up our operations; up until now we’ve been limited by the size of our ofﬁce and we’ve been unable to take on much-needed new staff as a result. Our new location is truly ﬁt for purpose and provides plenty of space for future growth. “Our involvement with the Scale Up Ashford programme has been hugely beneficial and it has really helped us to expand our management expertise. When we set up the company, none of the directors came with a background in management, so we’ve learnt as we’ve gone, building the business on a reputation for integrity and great customer service. Scale Up Ashford has given us the tools and the knowledge to make the business scaleable, so that we can grow sustainably while retaining our founding principles.” The appointment of a new Help Desk Manager, with significant experience working in larger firms, has been a key
change, ushering in a new mechanism for reporting management information to the directors and ensuring that all the company’s HR policies and documentation are in line with the latest legislation. Andy commented: “When you’re selling a service it’s all based on having a good relationship with your clients, so our team is incredibly important. Last year we lost a few key staff members, which had a detrimental effect on the business. We’ve recovered from that but as we look to grow, Scale Up has helped us to see that we need to be more flexible to accommodate changes in staff without our service levels being affected. “We’re also keen to do more to show our staff that we value and appreciate them. Going forward we’ll be bringing in more team building exercises and social events, and we’ve set up a bonus scheme and employee of the month award to recognise great achievements by our staff and introduce a bit of healthy competition. “We’ve certainly seen the beneﬁts of our involvement with the Scale Up Ashford programme, both from the one-to-one business coaching we’ve received and by attending the workshops, which have provided plenty of food for thought. We hope to continue working with Scale Up once we’ve moved to our larger ofﬁces and are in an even better position to grow the business.”
Many businesses reach a certain point in their growth cycle where there are specific challenges which can hold the business back from achieving its growth potential. Typically, these relate to the capacity, capability and confidence of the business owners and their team. Capacity can also be restricted by premises – where there is no more room to grow and the company is simply bursting at the seams.
The challenge is compounded when the Directors just cannot seem to break away from spending all their time working IN the business and the strategic decisions that come from working ON the business are not being made quickly enough. Time can then become a great enemy of progress. The Scale Up Programme aims to gently enable the Directors to see the importance and power of freeing up small amounts of time to focus on strategy, making small steps to gaining control of the future direction of the business. This makes for a very exciting future as new actions are planned and implemented to grow the business.
Flowbird Limited Flowbird is a specialist customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation service provider. Using innovative technology, the company helps businesses to manage their interactions with current and potential customers and maximise sales opportunities to drive business growth. Many businesses treat sales and marketing as distinct activities, meaning that some sales leads can inevitably slip through the cracks between different departments. Spotting a gap in the market, Flowbird developed an innovative approach which bridges the gap between sales and marketing by ensuring that no leads or prospects are lost from the sales process. Established by Managing Director Jason Rainbird in 2013, Flowbird had initially enjoyed rapid growth but, having launched a wide range of new products and services to market, the company saw its growth plateau. With ambitious aims to increase turnover and take on more staff, Jason joined the Scale Up programme in March 2018 to help him take the company to the next level. Jason explains: “My specialism has always been predominantly in the CRM side of the business – I see this aspect of our service as vital, as it sets the foundations upon which a comprehensive automated marketing system can be built.
“However, when we initially embarked on the Scale Up programme, we were trying to sell five different service packages, which was proving
challenging. Essentially, we had too many products and we were spreading ourselves too thinly to be able give our clients the support they deserved. “Our business coach advised us to hone our offer and focus on two core packages which better reflect our collective expertise with CRM and automation. Now, with a much clearer proposition and a focus on delivering what we’re best at, we are far better able to articulate the advantages of our products to target businesses that will really benefit from partnering with us. As a result, we’ve seen improvements across all of our key growth metrics.” A key challenge faced by the business was to define a structured strategy for growth. Scale Up helped Jason and his team to develop clear objectives for the company by devising a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and activity-based goals to work towards. Jason continued: “Of course, we regularly help our clients to develop KPIs against which to monitor progress, so it wasn’t a revelation that we should be doing it ourselves! However, we’re a relatively small team and inevitably you end up focussing
on improving the customer’s business rather than taking the time to develop your own. “A critical element of the Scale Up programme has been the discipline that it has brought to our planning and activity, ensuring that we take a focussed approach and really consider all decisions in the context of the company’s growth strategy. “Having regular monthly meetings with our business coach, when we would assess progress against our KPIs, has made all team members accountable for making progress. It may sound daunting, but the continued pressure meant that we couldn't put activities off; we had to make the time to focus on our own business and the approach is now really paying dividends. “The support also helped me draw back from the business and look at the whole picture – to see where the company was, where we wanted to get to, and the steps we needed to put in place to achieve that vision. We now have a deﬁned legacy statement, which succinctly explains what Flowbird is, the services we provide and the businesses we need to target.
A fundamental ingredient of the Scale Up coaching programme was the introduction of awardwinning software known as The Curve. The Curve is helping companies like Flowbird to map and track the results of the various decisions they make each month as they implement the continuous improvement strategies we discuss.
The process asks questions which lead the Directors of the business to re-evaluate and review key components of their business model. In the case of Flowbird Scale Up has enabled the Directors to focus on what they are really good at, thus unlocking their full potential.
“Essentially, any business that is not hitting its sales targets should talk to us, because we can put the right processes and tools in place to generate leads and increase sales revenue.”
Thomas Group Thomas Group (formerly Thomas Auto Injection Centre Ltd) is known for its technical expertise in the world of diesel fuel injection, providing services to clients in the automotive, agriculture, power generation, marine and construction industries. Over the past decade the company’s customer base has grown significantly and Thomas Group now serves customers across the globe. Clients include Buying Groups, original equipment manufacturers and International companies, while Thomas Group is an authorised distributor and repairer of leading brands such as Yanmar, Bosch, Delphi, Stanadyne, Parker and Denso. Kevin O’Sullivan, Sales Director at Thomas Group, said: “In 2018 we took the decision to rebrand the business as Thomas Group, as Thomas Auto no longer reflected the wide variety of sectors we serve. This has given each of the different elements of the business – Diesel Injection, Distribution, Parts and Additives – their own distinct identity.”
account sign-in for both trade and retail markets. By embracing e-commerce we have an opportunity to enhance our customer experience with a focus on a fast, efficient service. Currently around 20% of our business is online, and we’re aiming to increase this to 50% and serve 10,000 customers a year by 2025. “We were introduced to the Scale Up Ashford programme at a perfect time for the business. Our expertise and heritage is in diesel injection; we’re not entrepreneurs, so we have really benefitted from the expert advice and support we’ve received during our time on the Scale Up programme.”
Following the re-brand, Thomas Group defined an ambitious growth plan for the business. Named ‘Vision 2025’, the plan includes the launch of a brand-new additives range (Fuel Bright), the re-development of the Group’s six websites and e-commerce platforms, the re-brand to Thomas Group, and a series of investments in the very latest fuel injection technology.
The development of the company’s new Fuel Bright additive, a potentially game-changing development for Thomas Group, is a good example of where Scale Up has added value. Following a trial with Wakefield Council in North Yorkshire, which demonstrated that the additive yielded a 4.8% saving on fuel consumption (equating to a financial saving of more than £70,000 for the Council over six months), Thomas Group is now in discussions with numerous other local authorities and private sector organisations.
Kevin continued: “Under our ‘Vision 2025’ business plan, we have set the goal to transition accounts to a digital
Kevin continued: “Through our business coach we learned that we were entitled to a £10,000 rebate on
our R&D investment. We’ve also been introduced to a valuable network of decision-makers, which will be vital as we have reached capacity at our current location and will need to explore the possibility of new premises in the near future. “The changes that we’re making to the business meant that we really needed an insight into how to scale up effectively. Key to that has been to clearly deﬁne the legacy, culture and values which will guide us on our journey, and to engage with our staff to get their buy-in and ensure we’re all pulling in the same direction. “We’ve also identified a requirement to bring in additional resources and, working with our business coach, we have created a new middle management team, comprising of an Office Manager, Workshops Manager and Warehouse Manager, to improve efficiency. Our staff headcount has grown to 19 and we’re looking to take on a possible four further staff members by the end of 2019/20, which will represent a 35% increase in our workforce. “We have committed to undertake a range of initiatives concurrently, which will bring about fundamental changes to the way the business operates. There have been and remain a lot of plates to keep spinning and, although we have a clear idea of where we want to take the business, Scale Up has been instrumental in putting a strategy in place that will enable us to get there.”
In today’s dynamic global economy, the pace of change can be so fast it can test the capability of small companies to adapt. Thomas Group’s board of directors are dynamic, committed and forward-thinking. They have taken on board all the concepts of the Scale Up programme and developed a robust plan to overcome the many political and economic challenges facing their industry right now.
They have embraced the concept of developing a values-based business with clear goals and objectives, which are acted upon and reviewed every month. To overcome the challenges of a declining industry, they have decided to revolutionise many areas of their business operations, including launching new products and services to the market and embracing new methods of selling and reaching new target markets. They have embraced change and at the same time achieved some very ambitious objectives, including growing the business and taking on new people. The regular review meetings have enabled them to steer the business forward and with a clear vision, the foundations are laid for a very exciting next five years.
Space Between Group Ltd Space Between was founded by three web developers, Marcus Cooke, Luke Frake and John Parkinson, who shared a vision for a digital agency based on its people. Having started life as a web design and build agency, Space Between has evolved to become an award-winning user experience (UX) agency, providing user research and conversion rate optimisation services to some of the UK’s leading e-commerce brands. Luke Frake, Director and Co-Founder at Space Between, explains: “We joined the Scale Up programme at a very exciting, transformative time for the business. We’d always wanted to pursue our passion for e-commerce and, following a successful year in 2017, we took the decision to transition from web development services to become a specialist user experience agency. At that time, we also launched our sister agency, Discoverable, which specialises in pay-per-click and SEO services to complement our offer. “Essentially, we empower retailers to make the most of their e-commerce platforms by ensuring that they are optimised to deliver the best customer experience possible, which boosts conversion rates and ultimately generates more sales.”
Key to Space Between’s approach is its new, state-of-the-art biometric lab. Using the latest technology, biometric sensors and computing power, the lab enables Space Between to help retailers understand their customers’ emotions. The data provides deep
insights into consumer behaviour which companies can leverage to improve their e-commerce platforms and conversion rates. Luke continued: “The biometric lab is absolutely cutting-edge technology and the only portable lab of its kind in the country. It was a significant investment for the business, but our transition to a data-driven UX agency will make the company far more profitable. We’ve already won business with some of the UK’s leading e-commerce retailers, including the Post Office, Joules and Merlin Entertainment, and the agency continues to go from strength to strength. “We were invited to join Scale Up by Ashford Borough Council, following our success at the KEiBA’s and Ashford Business Awards, and the programme seemed like a great opportunity to benefit from some free, expert business advice. Our team has considerable digital expertise, but we weren’t clear on how to manage change on the scale we were undertaking. “The advice we have received, particularly in terms of how to manage the transition process and plan for the future, has been invaluable. “Scale Up has really instilled a culture of accountability within our team.
We’re all naturally creative problem-solvers, but with so many ideas it seemed inevitable that certain initiatives wouldn’t get delivered. Now we have a process to pull more ideas through and give members of our team ownership of specific goals, which has been really positive. “We’ve also developed a skills matrix which codifies the level that team members need to reach in order to progress. Our staff and their morale are crucial to our business and putting a transparent process in place to assist career development has been a welcome initiative. “Our team culture is fantastic and something that we really value. With our current team of 15, arranging team lunches, social outings and our bi-annual parties is all quite manageable, but as we look to scale up the business and take on more team members, we’ve also been mindful that we need to preserve our culture. We’ve developed a strategy, called 15 to 50, which provides a roadmap to guide how we will protect our values as the company grows. “Scale Up has helped us to navigate our way through a challenging but very exciting period and our involvement has been a really positive experience for Space Between.”
The inclusive and collaborative approach encouraged by Luke ensured that the team’s Culture and Principles were refined and shaped at the start of the Scale Up Programme by the wider team, not just the business leaders. The mix of this approach, alongside Marcus’s rigour and diligence on the operational side plus John’s support of the team to work with a free hand, ensured that the demands of new business secured by Luke could be met with surety.
The strength of the founding team members at Space Between has enabled them to steer the business through a period of significant change, in readiness for their next stage of growth and the challenges that this will inevitably bring with it. The monthly review, adjust and challenge sessions certainly helped to maintain accountability and focus during these times and provide and ongoing frame of reference, post Scale Up.
The next 12-36 months will be even more exciting for Space Between as it continues to grow and evolve with the ever changing demands of the digital customer space.
Quantum Public Relations Established over a decade ago, Quantum PR has become one of the South East’s leading PR and marketing consultancies. The agency supports businesses and organisations working across a diverse range of sectors – from renewable energy and waste management, to infrastructure and housing developments – by delivering impactful communications and marketing campaigns. With a busy pipeline of project work, the agency wanted to increase the number of retained clients on its books to enable longer term sustainable growth. Charlie Vavasour, Managing Director of Quantum PR, explains: “We found that we were spending so much of our time and energy working to promote and protect our clients’ interests that we were starting to lose sight of the bigger picture and the opportunities to grow our own business. “Many of our clients are developers and so the nature of our support tends to be on a project basis, rather than on a full-time, long-term retainer. So, while a project is in full swing it can be very intense, but we are not in control of the timing of when projects come along, meaning expansion and resource planning can be challenging. “Getting a structure in place to focus on the long-term direction of the business to ensure that we have a consistent pipeline of potential new clients was essential to deliver sustainable, manageable growth.
“As a consultancy, we’re selling our expertise and our time, so finding opportunities to focus on our own
business as well as our clients can be challenging, as fee-earning time has to come first. We have a small team and getting a structure in place to ensure that important, non-urgent jobs – like our own marketing and new business drive – were still progressed required us to work smarter with the resources available. “Scale Up has helped us to do just that, by getting more disciplined with ourselves and working more efﬁciently in order to free up time for our own new business activities.” In addition, much of the new business activities were carried out by Charlie in his capacity as MD. He was keen to develop other team members to become more confident with the sales process and to take a more active role in new business development. Senior Account Manager Sananur Meric Guy commented: “Our team is full of PR and marketing specialists, but not necessarily sales specialists, although it’s a key part of the job. In the past team members have often spotted an opportunity and thought ‘I know we can support that business and do a great job, but how am I going to make the first move to explain our
services to them?’ The Scale Up programme has really helped us to understand best practice with regards to the sales process, so we’ve become far more confident and assertive when identifying potential new clients.” As well as developing a New Business Strategy, the Scale Up team also helped Quantum PR to develop a sales process flowchart, to help all team members improve their competency and to consider sales opportunities in the context of their daily activities. Charlie concluded: “Of course, we’re already intimately aware of the tools at our disposal to promote our business. The major benefit of being involved with the Scale Up programme has been to get a clear process agreed. Having regular monthly meetings, with a defined list of actions and goals, means that all team members know what they are responsible for and we’re all held accountable for making progress. “In the past, it’s been easy to let things slip, but Scale Up has been a fantastic catalyst for us to ﬁnd new ways to be more efﬁcient and it has really spurred us on to consider our direction of travel. We have seen a clear increase in turnover since we started the programme. “Scale up also showed us what we do well and where our strengths lie, which was very valuable and illuminating. It’s easy to focus on those aspects of the business that require improvement, but our business coach helped to reveal key attributes, such as our strong team culture and shared work ethic, which perhaps we took for granted but are certainly a key selling point for our business.”
Right from the outset, Charlie and the team were clear on the breakthrough areas the business wanted to focus on during the 12-month Scale Up programme. Active use of the online mapping and tracking tool ensured that these priorities remained at the forefront of their minds and got the attention they deserved.
One of the many advantages of creating a plan and sticking to it is the time that is saved through the discipline that Charlie refers to. Business owners are often so consumed by the daily demands of running their business that they end up working so deeply IN it that no time is left to work ON it. Having a Coach to ensure focus is balanced between the long term goals, as well as the short term deliverables, helps to build stability and momentum. All high-performing teams know where they are strong and where they are weak at any point in time and they adopt a habit of continual reflection and improvement. This is an integral part of the Scale Up Programme and one which the team at Quantum Public Relations embraced with enthusiasm, both at the plan-building stage and during the monthly review sessions. This will continue in the years ahead as the team implements the next phase of its business strategy.
Six Two Design Ltd Six Two is a specialist web design company based at Repton Manor in Ashford. Founded in 2010 by duo Helen Fairley and Aaron Taylor, Six Two works with SMEs across London and the South East. The agency joined the Scale Up Ashford programme in 2018 to get support and advice on how to grow the business. Helen Fairley, COO and Co-Founder of Six Two, explains: “Many agencies treat web design as some sort of ‘dark art’ and make the process unnecessarily complicated and confusing for their clients. Our approach is to put our clients in the driving seat, by empowering them to make informed decisions and get the best results from their digital presence. By being transparent and proactive, we position ourselves as a trusted, long-term website partner.” Six Two has enjoyed strong revenue growth of between 20 to 40% per year. However, as the company has grown, costs have increased commensurately, so Six Two needed to focus on working more efficiently to improve its profitability. “One of the primary goals we’re working towards is to realise our vision for a new team structure to provide clearly defined roles and responsibilities,” continued Helen. “The new structure will enable each of us to work more efficiently and focus on what we do best and where we can have the most profound impact on the business's growth. “The advice we’ve received during our time on the Scale Up programme has
been instrumental. For example, we now use personality profiling tools to provide data on working habits and how we interact and connect as a team. We have a fantastic team spirit, so it’s important that as Six Two grows we maintain the right dynamic and bring in the right people who share our ethos and vision to enable us to service our clients to the high standards we aspire to. “We’re also developing our own proprietary software platform, which is a very exciting step for Six Two. The platform will enable the agency to build websites faster, more consistently and to even higher levels of quality. Through Scale Up, we’ve been introduced to various grant schemes, which may prove useful in securing the funding we need to invest in the new platform.” With its website as the only channel for marketing and communication, the Scale Up programme also helped Six Two to identify new channels by which to share its key messages. By developing a strategic marketing plan, with a set of monthly activities and longer-term goals, Six Two has gone on to embrace digital marketing for the business, including social media, blogging and ‘vlogging’.
As Aaron Taylor, CEO of Six Two, puts it: “We have an objective to empower 10,000 businesses by 2023, to help them make better, more informed decisions about their website. One of the big goals for Scale Up was to create a capability within the business for us to market ourselves, create messages and deliver those messages across different channels to reach new audiences. “Scale Up has given us a really good framework to stay on top of that. It started off very simple, but by keeping on top of it, especially with monthly checkins and clear areas of responsibility, we’ve been able to really grow it into something that’s now looking quite sophisticated.” Helen concluded: “Scale Up has made a very positive impact on how we run the business. Having a structure in place has been key to that success. Previously our goals and reviews were on a quarterly basis, which inevitably used to lead to certain tasks not getting the full attention they required. Our new, monthly review structure is now firmly embedded in the business. “We always knew what we should be doing, but the journey we’ve been on has been very powerful in developing the mechanics of how to do it.”
It is no great surprise that there is a direct link between how much an individual, or a team, engages with their Coach and the amount of benefit that results from that engagement.
The level of commitment from Six Two to the Scale Up programme was clear from day one, as all members of the team actively embraced the opportunity to draw value from the coaching experience and the results simply followed. Successes and challenges were shared openly in the monthly sessions, with solutions continuing to evolve, as each member of the team had the space and support to contribute.
The Six Two team has a clear strength in their ability to listen to each other, their Clients and their Coach, which has played a significant role in crystallising their strategic thoughts, plans and results.
Aaron agreed: “With a clear accountability chain and monthly catch-ups, the Scale Up programme keeps you on track. Those little bits of focus in the right areas help to make sure that those important, nonurgent things which so often don’t get the attention they need are done, and those are the things that can really make a difference.”
Kineteco International Ltd Established by motor industry pioneer Frederick Simms, Kineteco International and its forebears have been producing spring starters in the UK since the 1950s. The company supplies original equipment manufacturers around the globe, with clients including the US Army. Following a visit from Jo James, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, and Ashford MP Damian Green, Kineteco International was invited to enrol on the Scale Up Ashford programme in 2018. Spring starters are mechanical devices used for starting diesel engines easily and safely by hand, without the need for a battery or alternator. Used for a range of applications where there is an absolute requirement for the engine to start, or where the presence of volatile liquids would make conventional electric starters dangerous, spring starters are widely used in sectors
including mining, shipping and agriculture. Tom Clarke, Chairman at Kineteco International, said: â€œOur manufacturing heritage goes back nearly 70 years, having developed the original and most reliable spring starter on the market. However, we face a challenge from Chinese manufacturers, who have copied our products and patents but are able to manufacture lower-cost products than we are able to do. â€œWe recently embarked on a project to overhaul the design of our products so we can manufacture our starters cheaper and compete on cost with
Chinese companies. As part of that project, we need to develop methods to work more efficiently and put structures in place to streamline our administration processes.” Using their Scale Up coach as a sounding board, the Kineteco team highlighted a range of administrative improvements, including reorganising the supply chain to achieve cost efficiencies. The company has also established regular management information reporting to track progress and provide valuable data on which to base business decisions. Tom concluded: “Scale Up has given us a formal framework whereby we can plan a strategy, develop goals and activities to deliver, monitor progress and, crucially, carry out the activities within a specified timeframe. We’ve also got much more successful at inventing worthwhile things to do and getting them done quickly. “The Scale Up programme has really highlighted that we need to be better organised. Without the support and coaching we may well have got around to delivering some of these activities but Scale Up has given us the discipline and accountability we needed to see things through to completion.”
The quality and history behind Kineteco underpin a strong commitment to growth and innovation, which surfaced both in the initial session to build their 12-month plan and throughout the monthly review sessions with their Coach.
In spite of staff challenges requiring a review of certain roles and responsibilities, the team continued to work through their goals using the online mapping and tracking tool, ensuring team performance was maintained.
As the strategic goals continue to take shape and definition, imminent recruitment and new orders are positioning Kineteco firmly for another year of growth and opportunity.
Destra Engineering Established by founding director Derek Rawlings in 1973, Destra Engineering has grown from humble origins in Derek’s shed to become a highly respected plastics injection moulding firm. From its headquarters on Ashford’s Cobbs Wood Industrial Estate, Destra serves clients across the UK, including leading household names like Honeywell, Sontay and Kantar Media. The business specialises in manufacturing plastic enclosures for electronics equipment and has built a reputation for delivering quality and reliability. Manufacturing conventional and complex plastic mouldings, the company offers low-volume production runs of hundreds of units up to highvolume runs totalling millions of parts. Following Derek’s retirement in March 2018, ownership of the business passed to Directors Sarah Williams and Kevin Hare, who were keen to grow the business following a number of years of inertia. Managing Director Sarah Williams explains: “Both Kevin and I have worked at Destra for more than 25 years, so we knew the business inside out, but deciding to take over Destra was still a huge step for us. We knew that the business had been treading water for a number of years, but that it had a solid client base with plenty of room for growth.
“We were introduced to Scale Up Ashford out of the blue shortly after becoming directors and, having identified that we needed new ideas and help to determine the best way to grow the business, we were delighted to be accepted onto the programme.”
Working with New Level Results’ business coach, Paul Hayes, Destra’s team was encouraged to attend networking events across Kent and the South East to meet potential new clients and develop a pipeline of prospects. A review of working processes identified several efficiency savings that could be made within the business. As a result, Destra underwent a comprehensive management restructuring, including the creation of a new Production Manager role, which gave designated managers clearly defined areas of responsibility. The Scale Up team has also advised Destra about possible options for funding, as the company is looking to invest £45,000 in a new injection moulding machine to improve productivity. Sarah continued: “The great thing about Scale Up is that it provided so much positive reinforcement for Kevin and me. Rather than spoon feed us the answers, we were encouraged to consider the challenges before us and propose solutions which we then discussed with our business coach. It was reassuring that so much of the
time he agreed with what we were proposing but was also able to provide additional insights or challenge us about areas we hadn’t considered. “The key thing was that prior to Scale Up, we were concerned with our own roles and responsibilities, but the programme got us thinking about the whole business and how we could all pull together to grow the company. “Since we started on Scale Up Ashford in April 2018, our sales have increased significantly. Over the past 10 months we’ve taken on five new members of staff (an increase of 55%) to ensure that we can keep up with rising demand for our services. We’ve picked up plenty of additional work from our existing clients, and we’ve added several new clients as well. “In 12 months, our turnover has increased by 100% and our profits this year look very healthy so far. Scale Up has been incredibly beneficial for our business and the results are testament to the excellent support and advice that we have received.”
The timing of Scale Up Ashford could not have been better suited for Destra, with Sarah and Kevin taking over the business shortly beforehand.
The depth of experience and the close working relationships among the team members, alongside a real sense of the commercial potential in the business, helped to shape Destra’s plans for growth.
All businesses have challenges, whether with suppliers, systems, or staff, but what differentiates those that succeed from those that struggle, is how they respond to these challenges. The team displays a high degree of pragmatism, a focus on solutions rather than problems and the learning and application of new knowledge and skills, to ensure goals are achieved.
The mapping and tracking of goals using The Curve has helped to maintain focus, momentum and results. What is even more exciting is the potential for further growth in the following 12 months.
Centrobed Ltd Founded over 30 years ago, Centrobed is the UK’s leading manufacturer of bespoke specialist beds and cots for disabled adults and children. Centrobed’s unique range of products have been developed to solve very complex needs and help some of the most physically disadvantaged members of society regain their independence and quality of life. Employing 32 people and based at its 16,000ft2 headquarters on Kingsnorth Industrial Estate, Centrobed sells nationwide to private customers and the NHS. Having identified a desire to grow the business and tap into new markets, including exploring opportunities to export its products overseas, Centrobed was approached by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and invited to join the Scale Up Ashford programme. Cheryll Hollis, Managing Director of Centrobed, said: “One of our key goals is to grow the business over the coming years, following a period where our rate of growth had plateaued. Currently we have the largest workforce in the company’s history and in order to scale up the business we realised we needed to use our current resources more efficiently to improve profitability.” Following advice from their Scale Up business coach, Cheryll implemented a review of management practices across all departments, which has led to some significant changes to the company’s procedures. Centrobed expanded into another unit at the end of last year to again improve efficiency.
With a six to 10-week lead time on manufacturing, any delays on the production line can have a detrimental impact on Centrobed’s ability to fulfil its order book. The company has re-evaluated its production processes, including implementing a feedback mechanism to highlight any opportunities to streamline the manufacturing process. Cheryll explained: “All of our products can be bespoke, which means almost every order is different. We have now fully digitised the production process. Any production issues are immediately reported back to the design team and resolved, which means the same problems aren’t repeated and the production line runs smoother. “We’ve also looked at our customer service and set up a system to personally follow up with every customer following installation, to check that everything is to their satisfaction and gather any feedback that can help us to improve in the future. Because of the industry we are in We’re a very people-focussed business, and this personal touch has really been welcomed by our customers.
“Another step we’ve taken is to redesign the office environment. Previously the management team were based in offices behind partitioned walls, but now we’ve redeveloped the office space and removed partition walls to accommodate all sales, admin and management staff in one area. We realised it was important for management to be in the thick of it all and now we’re far less isolated. “We’ve also initiated monthly team meetings to improve communication with our staff and set specific goals for different parts of the business. This has been welcomed by our team and we’re considering moving to a weekly schedule. “A big challenge to our ability to grow has been the squeeze on the NHS and social care budgets, which has meant there has been a fluctuating demand for our products from the health service. “Our products can automatically help to turn or stand patients, which means fewer carers are required per visit. Due to the innovative design of our products, we can actually save the health and social care sector considerable amounts of money, portraying this to the market is our current challenge. “Scale Up has certainly been a beneficial process for us. The programme has really made us take a step back and look at the business as a whole; we’ve considered where we can make changes that will have the most impact and we’re now systematically evaluating each department to make improvements that will contribute to our vision for the business going forward.”
Long-established, family-run businesses contain many challenging dynamics, not least the pressure of ‘keeping up the family tradition’ versus the need for ‘modernisation’. Like many family businesses in their third generation, Centrobed is no exception to the emotional roller-coaster that comes from having to make difficult decisions which involve moving the business forward and modernising the way things have always been done.
Key to Centrobed’s success is an incredible reputation and a strong set of core values, which underpin both current and future success. The Directors now have a strong platform on which to inspire their teams and build a business ready for the next generation.
Forza Industries Ltd For Lee Smith, Managing Director of leading health supplements manufacturer, Forza Industries Ltd, involvement with the Scale Up Ashford programme came at a very appropriate time. Having enjoyed robust growth and a 255% jump in sales over a two-year period, Forza Industries was struggling to acquire the new premises it desperately needed to expand its manufacturing and distribution activities in Ashford. Established in 2007, Forza has grown rapidly to become an industry leader in the health supplements sector. Initially Forza built its reputation around its patented T5 fat burning formula, which quickly went on to become one of the UK's most popular slimming solutions. Since then, Forza's extensive product range has grown to accommodate a host of pioneering products for weight loss, beauty, wellbeing and sports nutrition. Trading in 19 countries worldwide, and manufacturing for, and retailing under, its own brand with high profile clients including Boots, Superdrug, Holland & Barrett and Tesco, Forza needed to expand its operations significantly to meet growing demand for its products.
Lee Smith explains: "Forza has gone through a period of rapid growth and we’ve increased our staff by 56% since joining the Scale Up programme. A key factor driving our growth has been the numerous opportunities to export our products to global markets. In 2017 we were actively exporting our products to seven countries, but we’ve now
expanded to 11 countries and we’re constantly working to identify new markets, both domestically and overseas. “Indeed, to capitalise on global opportunities we recently promoted Karen Smith to Managing Director, a change which has seen me move into the role of CEO. This has allowed me to travel and engage with customers across the world, from South Africa and North America to Vietnam and the UAE. Karen has a strong operational and process background, so her appointment has brought more structure and control to the business; this stability is vital as we’re experiencing such rapid growth. "Our involvement with the Scale Up Ashford programme could not have come at a better time; what we were looking for was support to 'open doors' and introduce us to key decision-makers, who in turn might be the enablers needed to bring about our expansion plans in the town." "Many businesses aspire to achieve the exceptional growth rates we've enjoyed over recent years but, while
I'm certainly not complaining, it's fair to say that such high growth brings its own share of challenges. For example, rapid growth was putting a strain on cash flow and as a result we were having trouble finding a site that we could afford to move to.” The team at Scale Up Ashford identified key decision makers at Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council and approached each to arrange meetings in order to raise Forza's profile and explain the business' challenges and objectives. Lee continued: "As a result of Scale Up Ashford, we have benefitted from increased awareness in the county – essentially, we are now hot-wired in with the right people and we've developed important relationships. The key thing I've taken away from the programme is that you simply can't network enough the old adage 'It's not what you know, it's who you know' certainly has a ring of truth about it!" The company has now secured new premises and will shortly relocate its manufacturing and distribution operations to the site at Ashford's Orbital Park. The move will create 45 new jobs, more than doubling Forza's current headcount, as the company will adopt a 24/7 shift-based model. "Scale Up Ashford has been hugely beneﬁcial to our business. A key advantage is that it's very ﬂexible and tailored, so whatever you're looking to achieve, the team will ﬁnd the way to extract the best outcomes.” "It's really given me a valuable understanding of how local authorities work with businesses, and the insight I have gleaned means I'm far better able to optimise Forza's scale and get the best from the resources we have available, while keeping our manufacturing base in Ashford."
One of the most influential drivers to the success of any business lies with the openness and willingness of a visionary business owner to accept that he or she does not have all the answers. Leaving their egos out of the boardroom, they focus on attracting and retaining a strong team of knowledgeable experts to work with them in order to achieve highly ambitious results. Lee is the epitome of such an entrepreneur who builds a diverse, reliable and passionate leadership team with a clear vision of where the company has the potential to go. This made the creation of the strategic plan within the Scale Up programme an easy, yet still valuable exercise, ensuring everyone in the leadership team is on the same page. We have been able to track the progress of several ambitious goals and ensure accountability and alignment to those goals across the business. Difficult decisions have had to be made as there are many challenges with both the rapid growth seen to date and the high growth potential of this business. The coaching and mentoring has therefore focussed on a holistic, strategic and political agenda, as the projected growth will make the company a major employer within the Ashford district.
Lee and his team are now well placed to maximise their full potential as a business and deliver their vision.
Red Alert Telecare Ltd Having secured contracts with numerous local authorities and commercial organisations across the UK, Red Alert Telecare has ambitious plans to roll out a national service, but required the support of the Scale Up Ashford programme to help establish a comprehensive human resources strategy. Founded 10 years ago, Red Alert Telecare is an award-winning telecare and telehealth service provider that delivers Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) to support local authorities and commercial care organisations. The company's services use remote sensors to monitor elderly and vulnerable users' health and wellbeing, enabling them to continue living independently in their own homes. Clive Gawler, founder and Managing Director of Red Alert Telecare, admits: "We've always been very focussed on supporting our technicians and specialists 'at the coal face' with training and resources, and now we need to spend more time ensuring that the systems and processes we use for our back office and admin functions are robust enough. "We've enjoyed sustained growth over the past decade as the provision of
TECS and remote monitoring has become more focussed on outcomes and personalisation. We're on the brink of winning some key contracts that could really see us take off as a national TECS company, so it was the right time to develop internal processes that will help to keep our staff motivated, manage poor performance and improve efficiency. These steps will ensure that we are in a strong position to hit the ground running when we have the right opportunity to scale up." Over the course of four mentoring sessions, the Scale Up Ashford team worked with Clive to put a performance management structure in place. Recommendations included a switch from yearly appraisals to quarterly performance reviews, together with a redeveloped appraisal form to reward good performance and manage any HR issues at an early stage.
In addition, Red Alert has introduced weekly one-to-one meetings with members of the senior management team to review performance towards its targets and KPIs, which have been very well received. Clive continued: "The Scale Up Ashford team advised us that early intervention is crucial to performance management, and mitigating any challenges that could potentially have a negative impact, before they develop into something more serious. This may seem obvious in hindsight, but sometimes it takes an independent expert to provide a credible and convincing argument for change. â€œAs a result, we now have a structured approach to performance management in place, which has already improved internal communication dramatically. "We are also keen to share what we've learnt during our involvement with Scale Up to extend best practice to our other business, Red Alert Security, as what works in one company is very likely to work in the other.
Red Alert Telecare certainly has the capability to improve efficiencies and expand significantly, but it was imperative that the company put the foundations in place that would underpin growth.
Red Alert is very much a people-orientated business, so we focussed on strategies that would enable their management team to motivate, inspire and manage all staff in a professional, collegial and structured way.
Now that the right platform is in place, Red Alert has the capability to take on new opportunities, grow the business and realise its potential.
"Our involvement with the programme has been a real game-changer. Our business coach, Simon, has provided a wealth of expertise that we have been able to draw upon. His professional discipline and focus on our business ensured clear objectives were set and held us accountable to see them through. In short, we've seen real added value and a positive impact on the business."
Directline Structures Leadership transition can be a challenging time for many family-run businesses, but for Duncan Murray, Managing Director of Ashford-based Directline Structures, and his daughter Katy Barker, the transfer of managerial responsibility provided a fantastic opportunity to develop the business into new areas. Having founded the company in 1988, Duncan was ready to take a step back from managing the business and hand the reins to Katy, but getting a framework in place was proving challenging. The Scale Up Ashford team provided a bespoke mentoring programme that has enabled Directline Structures to put a formal succession plan in place. Duncan explained: "The real challenge we faced was that our handover planning was simply too flexible and ad hoc. We hadn't set aside the necessary time to really plan for the future and establish some goals and objectives to help guide the handover. We needed to bring about more structure and formality to the whole process, and the mentoring we've received from the expert team at Scale Up Ashford has been instrumental in helping us to put a comprehensive plan in place."
A fully-integrated Design and Build company, Directline Structures offers specialist consultancy services, particularly in the construction of steel framed buildings for a wide variety of uses, from industrial units and offices to education and sports facilities. With a team that combines engineers, Architects and project managers, Directline Structures' approach
provides clients with a one-stop shop for the whole construction project. Duncan continued: "I've been in the business for three decades and the handover to Katy provides a fantastic opportunity to take the company forward and think about what we want to do in the next 30 years. Katy brings fantastic energy and ideas to the business and I know that she'll do a brilliant job. "The challenge is to transfer my 30 years of knowledge to her during the transition period, but I feel confident that we now have the tools to do so effectively. As a result, Katy now takes strategic decisions about all operational aspects of the business, which has enabled me to step back and focus on early client engagement and developing engineering solutions. "Growth has never been a problem for the company, as we acquire many new clients organically and we enjoyed a 64% increase in turnover since 2017. Our long-term goal is to maintain our established working principles, continue to offer clients our expertise and deliver quality and value for money.
"As a chartered architect, Katy taking the helm means we have the chance to gradually integrate more architect involvement into our projects, which is a key USP for the company, as it is a far more effective model for projects and can reduce clients' costs by up to 30%." Duncan and Katy were assisted with identifying areas of the business that required additional employees and provided with support to recruit the right people for the new roles. As a result, Directline Structures has taken on three new members of staff and invested in new, more efficient design software. Katy said: "The sessions with Simon and his team were very useful, as they have really given me the confidence to take over the business when the time comes. I've learnt plenty of additional skills that will help me to manage the business proactively and bring the values of the company to life. “The Scale Up programme has also underlined the importance of stepping back from the day-to-day work and setting aside sufficient time to run the business and manage our staff effectively. As a result, we have recently recruited a new staff member and appointed an external company to manage all our HR to ensure we are up to date with the latest regulations and guidance.
There are many challenging aspects to handing over the reins of a business from one generation to the next, while at the same time maintaining healthy growth and integrating new systems and technology to modernise the business.
Doing so requires careful and considered planning. The use of The Curve Coaching software proved invaluable as it has enabled Katy to focus on driving and improving key areas of the business and align the coaching and mentoring to ensure a smooth handover.
This has also resulted in the successful achievement of all the core business objectives set at the outset of the Scale Up programme.
“Through our involvement with Scale Up, we have established clear responsibilities for all staff, which has given Duncan conﬁdence that the necessary structures are in place to support me to run the business.” Duncan concluded: "Being pushed to get a formal structure in place by which to transition has been incredibly valuable. It's important to give yourself time to put plans in place and to review those plans regularly to ensure progress towards key objectives.”
AES Precision Engineering Over the past 30 years, AES Precision Engineering has established itself as one of the leading manufacturing companies in Kent, producing precision components for a wide range of sectors including the medical, automotive, leisure, marine, cosmetics and defence industries. In recent years the company has grown steadily due to increased demand and now has ambitious plans to become the top precision engineering company in Kent. Run by father and son team Clive and Mark Wilson, AES recently made the strategic decision to invest in additional plant and personnel to enable the company to take on higher-volume production projects, in order to appeal to more potential clients, increase output and meet rising demand.
where the market was going. However, with the increase in demand that we've seen over recent years, we were faced with a decision to either invest, expand and take the company to the next level, or to carry on as we were. We took the plunge and we're going from strength to strength as a result.
As a result, the business has made a significant capital investment in new machinery and its staff headcount has risen by 50% over a 12-month period. The Scale Up Ashford team were asked to advise the company on how to overhaul its internal processes and to provide guidance on accounting best practice and management reporting.
"Our involvement with Scale Up Ashford has been invaluable. In fact, we've made the decision to keep working with Simon for another six months at least. The team have provided an expert sounding board which has encouraged and reassured us that investing in our business was the right thing to do."
Clive Wilson, Managing Director at AES, explains: "We'd always used our intuition in the past and based a lot of our decisions on our gut feeling of
The Scale Up team worked with Clive and Mark to set monthly tasks for the business, including targets to boost turnover, improve its marketing to potential clients and complete projects
within a specified time period. The team also advised on changes to AES's accountancy practices to develop a more robust and accurate management reporting process. As a result, AES now holds monthly management meetings to review its objectives and analyse profit and loss figures. Mark Wilson, Director at AES, said: "The Scale Up team has a great deal of expertise and is very knowledgeable about accountancy and ﬁnance, which has helped us to get an accurate ﬁnancial reporting system in place and to use that data to better inform our strategic planning and decisionmaking. "They also helped us to apply for a number of grants and to date we've been successful in two applications, including funding for a new compressor machine and an energy efficiency grant which has enabled us to install energy-efficient machinery that will help cut our bills and carbon footprint."
Many ambitious company directors know exactly where they want to get to but don’t always know how to get there, especially where there are significant opportunities for growth that can only be achieved through substantial investment in additional premises and plant and machinery.
Companies don’t grow in straight lines, they grow in steps. AES was ready to take that step and the coaching enabled them to do so in a structured and well-managed way. Monthly coaching using online software to map and track progress gave the Directors confidence to make informed decisions and invest in the long term growth of the company.
Medash Signs Family-run Medash Signs has been producing high-quality signage in Ashford for over 40 years, serving more than 2,000 clients all around the country including high street restaurant chain Subway, civil engineering giant Balfour Beatty and National Rail. For the senior management team the Scale Up programme was just what was needed to steer the company through an important transitional period. Founder John Hobbs was retiring after four decades at the helm, leaving his son and Managing Director, Jonti Hobbs, full control of the business. In addition to structural changes, the business was also looking to breathe new life into its operations. Jonti Hobbs explains: "We weathered the recession, but we lost a few important contracts and the company remained stagnant for a while, so it was important for us to look forward and start putting a strategy in place to help the business grow and gain new clients. The fall in the value of the pound after the EU referendum also resulted in the cost of our raw materials going up, so we wanted to look at ways to make financial savings in the company to ensure we remain competitive in the market place."
Scale Up mentor Simon Teague attended meetings with Jonti and the senior management team. They worked with Simon to set achievable company objectives which included: The successful retirement of John and handover to Jonti Expansion plans, new clients, staff and workshop equipment Money-saving initiatives and investigating grant schemes available Refreshing the company website An overall new approach to thinking differently and being open to new ideas One of the aims through Scale Up was the expansion of Medash's production facilities in order to serve larger clients and win new business. Medash's current site occupies prime industrial land adjacent to the Ashford International Station near the town centre, which offers great potential for
growth. Jonti said, "We are very lucky that we have a workshop that can be expanded – one of our Scale Up objectives. In order to grow the business, we have employed a new sales executive and are also actively recruiting for several roles in our production team." The rejuvenation of Ashford town centre and surrounding areas also provides great opportunities for the business. Indeed, Medash has already secured a contract to produce the signage for the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet extension. Medash's new website went live in November, and there has already been a noticeable spike in website traffic thanks to a dedicated enquiries portal and easy-to-navigate structure. A significant initiative for the company was applying for grants to fund saving initiatives, which will help to lower Medash's operating costs. A grant from LoCASE and one from Carbon Trust Business Green for energy efficient LED lighting systems and installation have both been approved, and the management team is in the process of submitting information for a further grant to help purchase new plant equipment.
One of the biggest challenges facing well-established family firms occur when the second generation is ready to take control of the business from the founding generation. However, if no timeline, structure or handover procedures are formally discussed and agreed, then the clock keeps ticking. This can create frustration and ultimately hold the business back from scaling up.
The Scale Up Programme has allowed the transition to successfully take place in a very short space of time. It has established a culture of holding monthly management meetings which holds everyone accountable to specific goals and objectives.
Jonti Hobbs said: “Our business has blossomed as a result of taking part in Scale Up Ashford. Having an external source to come in and look objectively at the way we run our company and offer recommendations on how to grow was the best thing we took away from the scheme. "Our internal policies have been strengthened as a result, and whilst it took some time for all staff to get on board with the scheme, we are now all pulling in the same direction and are better placed to push the company to further success. "None of this would have been possible without the guidance, advice and input from the Scale Up team."
VISARC Visarc is one of Kent's leading integrated marketing agencies, with an enviable roster of prestigious national and international corporate clients, including leading automotive manufacturers like Fiat and Kia, and luxury car brands Maserati and Ferrari. Since weathering the impact of the 2008/9 financial crash, the agency has gone on to enjoy impressive growth averaging 20-25% per year, marking Visarc out as a prime candidate to benefit from the Scale Up Ashford programme. Franc Gamberini, Visarc's Managing Director, explains: "As a marketing agency, we've always felt very confident that we approach our own business with the same strategic and analytic tools that we apply to a client's account, so at first we were a little uncertain about how our involvement with the Scale Up Ashford programme would assist the business. However, you don't know what you don't know, so we kept a very open mind, and I'm pleased to say we've gained significantly from our participation, which will be invaluable as we look to grow. "We've enjoyed strong growth in recent years. The key challenge we've faced has been controlling the quality of our output and maintaining our excellent service levels to clients as we expand the team. Much of our new business developed organically as we broadened our involvement with existing clients, so we were also conscious that we needed to spend some time thinking about how we can bring in new clients.
"The Brexit decision has also had an initial negative impact on our ability to win business internationally, particularly
with clients in Europe which was previously an expansion target, so increasing our visibility with potential clients has been a key objective." Over the course of six 3-hour sessions, the Scale Up team provided a comprehensive programme of mentoring and support to Visarc's senior management team, which took the form of one-to-one meetings to review the business and identify areas that could be improved upon. Franc continued: "The support we received was almost like a therapy session; we often knew what it was that we needed to do, but having access to an external team with considerable business experience meant we could really work through and review our thought process and develop a cogent and strategic plan to take the business forward.
"In many ways Simon and his team acted like our conscience; they were able to look at our business and apply their experience objectively, which was a really powerful driver to put steps in place to progress." A key element identified by the Scale Up team was the need to evolve Visarc's website by expanding the variety and volume of content. Franc explains: "Our website really needs to serve as our shop window and digital sales brochure, but it's so often true in marketing that the last thing you work on is your own website. "We were advised to focus more attention on the products we sell as well as the services we provide, and by adding new content we evolved the website from a handful of pages to a fully functioning sales tool to support enquiries and assist search engine optimisation." Weekly mini-mentoring sessions have also been extended to the rest of Visarc's leadership team. The intensive 15-minute sessions provide regular opportunities for staff to review their role within the agency and help to identify team members' individual skill sets and competencies.
As businesses grow it can become increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs to break away from working full-time in their company and take valuable time out to work on it. Like many business owners running successful companies, Franc questioned why he would need any form of business coaching, when he already has a successful business model. The very nature and approach adopted through Scale Up Ashford is to look at things holistically, ask different questions and then map and track the solutions, giving the business owner complete control.
As Franc explains: "The aim is to develop the wider team as much as possible, so they can take a greater role in managing the business and building their knowledge and abilities, which can only be of benefit to the agency as we move forward." "Through our involvement with Scale Up we were able to re-focus our attention on key objectives and activity that was perhaps being neglected in the daily hustle and bustle of managing the agency," said Franc.
"The key thing I've taken on board is how invaluable it is to take time away from the day-to-day and focus attention on the company's strategy and direction." 33
CONGRATULATIONS To all the businesses that completed the Scale Up Ashford Programmes 2017-2019.
The first and second cohorts to complete Scale Up Ashford
Business leaders from the first Scale Up Ashford programme, together with representatives from Ashford Borough Council, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and New Level Results
Business coach Simon Teague at a workshop to launch the second Scale Up Ashford programme
The programme is funded by Ashford Borough Council as part of its continued commitment to developing the economic prosperity across the borough. The programme is delivered by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. Selected businesses will receive an agreed number of hours of free consultancy, access to free business growth tools, access to funded and part funded local expertise. Your appointed consultant can clarify the details of the programme and the council's expectations prior to joining the programme.
If you are interested in taking part in the next Scale Up Ashford programme, please visit our website to find out more
www.scaleupashford.co.uk Designed by Quantum Public Relations
This brochure documents the successes of the Scale Up Ashford programme for 2018/19