As part of promoting the valuable mentoring support delivered through Boost’s Growth Mentoring programme, we highlight some of the mentors behind the scenes that work with Lancashire businesses.
So take a break for a minute and read about consultant and business coach Chris Sullivan, an experienced business leader in the hospitality sector.
Why did you choose to become a mentor?
In February 2020 I became a mentor for Boost’s Growth Mentoring Programme as I felt that it was time to share my experience and to help other businesses. Little did I know what I was walking into! I visited my first client on Friday 13th of March just as coronavirus was impacting on the economy.
It was pretty clear that the role of a coach and mentor was going to need to switch to helping businesses make sense of and surviving the new trading conditions. I also got involved as a volunteer with Boost’s #AskForHelp campaign.
How do you make a real difference to Lancashire businesses?
The feedback I have had is that I help business owners to ‘bring order from chaos’ and to allow them to plot a route out of the situation they find themselves in. Many businesses are run by family members or close friends and I can facilitate long overdue and difficult discussions. A business doctor I suppose!
What is your area of expertise and why is it an important area to for business leaders to address?
Whilst my industry specialism is hospitality, my coaching strengths revolve around the organisation of a business, measurement of success and having a plan. You cannot be successful in hospitality unless you deliver consistent operational excellence through a well organised, high quality team working to a plan. These principles cross all sectors.
What has been your most inspirational moment as a mentor?
In the early days of Covid-19, I mentored a local craft brewery. They had lost all their major pub customers as pubs had been closed. To make matters worse they had tanks full of already brewed product with no obvious market. We had a long discussion about other potential routes to market.
Within weeks the founder had started direct delivery to people’s homes locally and by canning the products was able to supply the whole country by courier.
The business had found a new route to market and the cash flow was now transformed as the customer paid upfront unlike pub customers who pay some weeks later on invoice. Pure genius!
What are the key challenges for Lancashire businesses at the moment?
The major challenge is dealing with uncertainty caused by the stop-go nature of the pandemic legislation and conserving cash. I try to get business owners to firstly accept and analyse the situation they are in and then concentrate on what they can do about it. Their ultimate success will be dictated by their attitude towards it.
As a mentor, what are your three business growth tips?
1. Monitor and forecast cashflow on a weekly basis. The numbers never lie. Cash is what counts.
2. Have a realistic plan with key performance indicators and milestones. Share it widely with your team. Team members want to know what you expect of them and what success looks like. They are not mind readers.
3. Create a culture where it is enjoyable to come to work. Staff retention supports long term performance. Apart from sleeping you spend most of your adult life at work so it makes sense.
Chris is an experienced business leader with an eclectic CV in the hospitality sector, operating at board level with iconic UK businesses such as Harry Ramsden’s, Brighton Pier, Blackpool Tower, Pontin’s, Starbucks, Whitbread, Scottish & Newcastle and Scientific Games.
In parallel with his executive career Chris has built up a successful consultancy, specialising in coaching business owners to resolve management issues, effect business turnaround and preparing for successful sale.
Would you benefit from mentoring support to help grow your Lancashire business? Call 01254 291281 and a member of the team will be in touch to start your growth conversation.