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Reducing owner-reliance and bottlenecks

Reducing owner-reliance and bottlenecks can create a business that will be saleable in the future.

Business Bottlenecks | Business Advisor

Since 2017, Lee Bros Joinery has worked with Helen Laidlaw to reduce the bottlenecks in the business and the company’s reliance on its owner, Paul Ingram. Improving the systems and processes within the business has had a positive impact on the culture and financial performance of Lee Bros Joinery.

Background: A long history of skilled craftsmanship

Originally established in 1926 by Alfred Lee, the name Lee Bros has been around for a long time. Although ownership has changed a few times over the decades, the name Lee Bros Joinery has always been retained.

While Lee Bros Joinery is known for their production of quality joinery that stands the test of time, the business was completely reliant on Managing Director Paul Ingram and ‘full of bottlenecks”.

Paul explains, “I touched every job that came through the business. The business was profitable, but it was not particularly financially rewarding.”

That’s where Helen Laidlaw came in.

The intricacies of a small business

Small businesses have a different set of challenges to larger businesses so it is important to find a business advisor who understands this and can relate to your world.

Paul says, “When I met with Helen, straight away we had a good connection. I'd had previous conversations with business advisors, but they couldn’t relate to us as a small business. Helen really understood how small businesses work. She was very down to earth.”

Clear, actionable steps to implement strategies

After outlining the goals that Paul wanted to achieve, we created some high-level strategies to improve the systems and processes in the business as well as create accurate monthly financial reports and KPI's.

“Where Helen really helped was underfilling those strategies with actionable steps. We created a plan to achieve the strategies, we laid out the nuts and bolts so that I knew exactly what we had to do.”

From owner-reliant to a business that will be saleable in the future

Since working with Helen, Lee Bros Joiner have doubled their turnover and 3x their net profit.

“We had 100% growth and turnover in 3 years. We’ve improved profitability and the business has more structure; it’s more independent of me,” Paul says.

Through implementing the strategies and plans we created together, Paul has systemised the business to a point where it could be handed over to someone else, which wouldn’t have been possible four years ago.

“The business is still reliant on me but not to the same degree. I now have a business that will be saleable in the future.”

Growing something bigger than yourself

But increasing profitability wasn’t the only benefit for Paul. The improved systems and processes also allowed him to define and develop the culture of the business.

“It is hugely gratifying and rewarding developing the culture of your team. Once you do that, it’s no longer just you. There is a sense it is bigger than just you.”

Proven results, if you want them.

Quick fixes do not work and there is no such thing as easy tasks and fast results. Paul adds, “Helen has a genuine interest in helping you succeed but you do have to put in the work. If you do that work, it's proven to result in success. Lee Brothers is a great example.”

“I’ve been working with Helen for 4 years and we are still working together with regular monthly meetings. It’s real value working with Helen.”

Key Outcomes & Wins

  • Created a saleable business of higher value
  • Reduced bottlenecks and owner-reliance
  • Developed a team culture
  • Increased sales by 100%
  • 3X net profit
  • Identified key opportunities
  • Implemented and improved systems and processes to enable profitable growth
  • Created accurate monthly financial reports and KPI


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