Mark and Rebecca Richards had been in business as Christchurch Wrought Iron for a few years when they decided to find a Business Mentor. Keith Alexander became a reliable supporter of the pair as they shaped their operations to thrive. Together, they explain how Christchurch Wrought Iron has become stronger than ever.
Christchurch Wrought Iron produces high-end automatic gates, balustrades, and more from wrought iron and stainless steel. Mark leads fabrication and his expert craftsmanship allows the company to create bespoke, top-quality products. Rebecca supports the business side of operations and says they both work incredibly hard.
“We felt overloaded and overwhelmed. We were flat out all the time and were working extremely hard but had little to show for it.
“We felt that we needed some help to create some processes to manage everything more efficiently.”
Mentor, Keith found Mark and Rebecca’s situation to be typical of many businesspeople. He could see them bowing under the pressure of keeping everything going.
“Running a small business can be remarkably lonely. You can be pulled between customers, staff and even the bank. It can make it difficult to see the wood for the trees."
Together, Keith, Mark and Rebecca identified three focus areas that they think could also benefit other business owners.
- Get your head around the numbers, including profitability, pricing, lead times – even if it’s uncomfortable.
- Beware of burying yourself in the day-to-day running of your business - take time to stand back and check the overall direction that you want to be heading in.
- Be ready to delegate to make the most of others and empower your people to step up.
Changes were forged gradually
Rebecca explained they began implementing new processes and then refining them.
“Keith was amazing. He gave us ideas of how we could set up systems to see where everything was a month to month.
“We started with a template for quotes so we could automate some of that. Doing these things showed us areas we weren't charging for.”
“He was such a help over Covid – he picked up his support when stress was high, and we really needed it. During that time, we focused on cashflow in particular. But, every time we meet, he has a fresh idea to help.”
Keith said he found joy in giving advice and expertise that was unbridled by any commercial arrangement or vested interest.
“Mentoring is incredibly rewarding. I’m semi-retired, but my experience is in manufacturing management, operations management, and business management.
"One thing Mark has done is to get himself off the tools. He's now more focused on the approach and the customers, while continuing to oversee quality. He gets out, goes to the sites and sees clients.”
“Covid was confronting. It meant some finance planning was imperative.
“Christchurch Wrought Iron survived with the support of a strong team and the Government’s subsidy.”
Now, it's about shaping the future.
Keith has loved seeing the business evolve, along with Mark and Rebecca’s confidence and satisfaction.
"They're lovely people, and it makes you want to help them.
“Within a few months, they've seen the biggest single change over 2years. They're on their way to truly thriving.
"All the signs were telling me they are ready to grow, and now, capacity is all that was holding them back.”
Rebecca says they’re now better than ever and have confidence about where they're heading. Having a Business Mentor has been essential.
“It's so important to have someone who's not part of your family and has no personal stake.
“Now, we have a plan, and we know where we're heading. We can start to think about the future rather than facing what's immediately in front of us. Instead of responding ad hoc, we have the information to make strategic decisions.”
Mark, Rebecca, and Keith all recommend that others make the most of Business Mentors services. If you'd like to find out more, contact us here.