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Examples of ‘real company’ stories John could tell

CASE STUDY: Craster Woodworking 

Craster started in 1992 as a family joinery business. When Alex Craster took over the business in 2004, he found himself running a small business on his own for the first time and felt lonely at the top. He was doing everything, uncertain about where he was going with the business or how to get there – so turned to Shirlaws for help.

Shirlaws’ coaching started with what the business was known for in the marketplace and, more importantly, what it wanted to be known for. By getting Alex clear on where he wanted to take the business the coaching helped him clarify how to get there, and got him and his team focusing their time and energy on the activities that built the position he wanted the business to occupy in the market.

The result was a huge increase in the product range the business offered. The business also made its first ever acquisition, which allowed it to further boost its product range, enter new markets and take on new and prestigious clients.

A key output was the launch of a digital product development platform which provides buyers with visibility of what’s being designed for them and the progress of their orders. It helped the company build stronger relationships with clients, which supports the aim of moving from being a manufacturer to being a partner working with clients to design bespoke hardwood products that define the hotels they serve. This helped Craster build its own unique brand identity – a high value proposition in a competitive market. It has also seen revenues more than double and margins improve.


CASE STUDY: Roselle Events 

Roselle Events, based in Edinburgh, plans, produces and manages conference, incentive and recognition events within the corporate sector. For the first few years they managed to grow organically. However, a couple of years ago the business started to feel as though it was getting stuck. It was not growing as quickly as it had done and the owners recall feeling that they didn’t have control of the business.

At the time, Roselle employed five people but for a small team they were still surprisingly disorganised. Roselle decided to address this with a strategic organisational project based on Shirlaws’ principles of red, blue and black colour-coding, to create consistent processes and bring efficiency to the business.

The project had a huge impact on the culture of the business.

“People began taking responsibility,” says owner Jo Daly. “I couldn’t imagine the business without the functional process and structure it has now. Every process is documented, we have policies and procedures, structure charts and everyone knows what area of the business and which process they are responsible for. Having our processes documented makes them an asset that increases our value. In the first 12-18 months following the project we grew by £1 million – a 60-70% growth rate.“