We typically work with businesses with an annual turnover of £250,000 to £5 million operating with between 10 – 100 employees. Our breadth of experience allows us to work with clients from a variety of service industries. With the business acumen we have built along the years, we can apply our expertise to add value in every industry. Here are some case studies to give you a feel for what we do.
Client: DTP (UK) Ltd
Industry: Digital printing
Brief: DTP (UK) Ltd is a digital printing company based in Edinburgh. The company began in 1983 as a high street photo lab. However, in 1994 it branched into digital printing to keep up with new market trends. DTP is a family run business headed by Alun Joseph.
"Prior to working with Castle Strategy, our company was facing a number of challenges. As the MD, I never found enough hours in the day. There was always too much to do and too little time.
We also had a number of inefficient or non-existent systems across our finance, HR, operations and customer care teams. This adversely affected our business. In the last few years, we had to let go of a number of employees. The redundancies affected the entire team, motivation and morale was at an all-time low. We contacted ‘Castle Strategy’ to help us overcome these challenges."
We worked with DTP to overhaul their existing business structure and improve their operational systems. Some of the key changes we introduced are:
An overall company vision was lacking which meant that DTP had no clearly defined short-term or long-term goals. Working with the team, we drew up a number of goals to give the company direction. Each team member was encouraged to participate in this exercise. This boosted their morale and motivation as their contributions meant that their opinions were highly valued by the company. During our midterm review, DTP reported that the team has in fact taken greater responsibility of the company due to increased collaboration which fostered team spirit.
We introduced a ‘performance dashboard’ to actively gauge the progress and performance of the company and individuals towards the agreed goals. The projection of performance allowed the MD and management team to make informed decisions on the ‘next steps’.
A number of new systems were introduced to improve the efficiency of business operations. The introduction of a new ‘proofing’ system freed up an estimated 120 work hours a month.
Reduction in work hours
As a direct result of improved business systems, the entire team was able to work more productively. The fully functional system meant that the team had more time to handle additional tasks. The MD was thus able to delegate operational tasks and focus on more strategic matters. In addition, overall profitability was enhanced which allowed for the appointment of a new ‘customer account manager’ further reducing the MD’s workload.
Identification of new target markets
We conducted market analysis to identify new clientele for potential growth. Alongside this, we designed a number of strategies to win new business and retain existing clients.
We introduced regular meetings to improve communication within the company. These were held by each strategic cohort such as the shareholders, management department, overall team as well as individual meetings.
Brief: basketballscotland is the National Governing Body for basketball in Scotland. It encourages participation in the sport within the Scottish community.
"As the CEO of basketballscotland, my work hours were in excess of 60 a week. Instead of making executive decisions to push forward engagement in basketball, I was fire-fighting. Our business systems were inefficient which added to the stress. We also needed to broaden our network and engage with more organisations that could help us increase participation in the sport."
We worked with basketballscotland to simplify and improve their business operations, increase income generation and broaden their network to support their goal of increasing participation in the sport. Some of the key changes we introduced are:
We introduced a number of key systems to reduce the time and stress it took to complete tasks. This has saved the organisation an estimated 5000 hours. Pressure on the team was reduced which allowed for more time to work on other crucial areas.
The introduction of efficient business systems resulted in reduced stress and a better work/life balance. The systems freed up time within the staff which allowed the CEO to delegate tasks to the team. This resulted in reduction from a 60 to 40 hour work week. Additionally, the CEO is now able to manage more strategic matters.
Through the years we have built a great number of business relationships and contacts who have now been able to assist the organisation achieve their goals.
We designed and assisted the team to implement new strategies to increase participation in the sport.
We designed and delivered sales training for regional officers which saw a £30,000 deal closed within a month. Further work put put in place a sponsorship strategy that is now generating over £27,000 a year.
Business advisory services
As part of our business advisory services, we provide independent and impartial advice to the CEO. This has been invaluable in supporting the CEO with sensitive and complex matters.
Client: Visit West Lothian
Brief: Visit West Lothian Ltd was set up in 2008 to promote joint working between West Lothian Council and local tourist trade, in an effort to develop West Lothian as visitor destination. Since then it has evolved into a membership organisation. Its role is to maximise the economic impact of West Lothian’s visitor potential, improve the quality of the visitor experience and raise the profile of the area.
“Our Board had slowly evolved over the last 4 to 5 years, and getting caught up in day to day matters we never stopped to review how we could function better as an organisation. As a result we rarely supported our volunteer Directors, but instead took their time for granted. In terms of systems, many were missing and others were incomplete, and we knew our Board could perform better as a unit but were unsure what to do to turn this around.”
We worked with Visit West Lothian to clarify the structure and strategy of the organisation, implement a plan of streamlining across their systems and put in place steps to support the recruitment, induction and development of Board Directors. Some of the key changes we introduced are:
There was a complete change of focus in recruitment that saw an outdated nomination process, often resulting in people ending up on the Board for the wrong reasons. We implemented a new model that now better manages Director expectations, recruits from a larger audience and motivates new Directors to give more to the Board.
Board director induction and training
We delivered training to current Board Directors to support them in their role, and this training will now form an induction programme going forward for new Directors. A culture of ongoing training and development has now been established for Board Directors, supporting them to meet their personal goals as well as Visit West Lothian’s objectives.
We supported the Board to introduce a number of new systems to reduce the time and stress it took to complete tasks, which has brought about a more consistent approach to business. They now have a complete manual on how to run their Board creating a more efficient business operation.
We supported Visit West Lothian to review their Board structure and function. We agreed on what would give a balanced Board in terms of number of Directors, skills and experience, and what changes needed to be made to improve the Board functions. This piece of work encouraged some natural movement on the Board resulting in a more dynamic and productive Board going forward.
Working with Visit West Lothian we advised them on how they could better report and present information to their various partners. This has resulted in time savings for full time employees and more meaningful data, which has in turn better informed the Board and supported them with analysis and planning.
Client: Roden Associates (formerly Rachel’s Office Support)
Brief: Formerly Rachel’s Office Support, Roden Associates was formed in 2009 to provide bookkeeping services to small businesses in central Scotland. The small team of three were successful in providing such services, but founder and proprietor Rachel Roden wanted help overcoming obstacles that were impeding business development.
“Before I started work with Castle Strategy I had a small bookkeeping business and was working round the clock just to make ends meet. I found it difficult to get my head above water so that I could implement some strategic changes that would make my life easier and more profitable.
I knew my business had potential and just needed a little support to help me during tough times and move it forwards to a more profitable position.”
We worked with Roden Associates to better communicate the range of services offered, as well as to improve efficiency in-house and when dealing with clients. In doing so, we helped improve sales, management techniques and efficiencies. Some of the key changes we introduced are:
We helped Roden Associates communicate clearly that they offer a number of complementary services in addition to bookkeeping, such as bill payments, cash flow services, payroll, reports and consultancy. In adding value and increasing the range of services offered, they invariably become a “one-stop-shop” for small business enterprises, which has increased profits substantially.
Prior to working with us, Rachel felt the company lacked recognisable branding that could help increase both the number of clients and the prices of services. We helped the company overhaul their client-facing image to a more professional one, which contributed to both the MD and clients having more confidence in the services offered. In fact, all current clients were retained during the re-branding and price changes and new clients were acquired as a result of it.
Cashflow varied month to month, and take-home pay was often lower than expected. We carried out analysis to determine how this could be improved, and as a result, turnover is up 50%, the company’s cashflow has been stabilised and Rachel’s’ take-home pay has significantly improved.
Sales and lead generation
Prior to working with Castle Strategy, there was little-to-no focus on sales, which meant opportunities to add value to clients and increase turnover were frequently missed. We helped implement a discernible sales strategy that has improved the company’s performance, and helped the MD achieve deals that were in some cases 10x larger than those made with existing clients.
As the company is developing and winning more clients, the need has arisen for a larger workforce. We have worked with Rachel to implement a recruiting and training strategy to meet this demand, and to help the business grow even further.
Increased efficiency and reporting
The MD had found that a great deal of time was being taken up by administration – time that could have been better used servicing clients or sourcing new business. In a bid to combat this, we implemented a number of new systems to help Rachel reduce the time spent on admin and track results and progress. These paperless systems utilise the latest technology, and have saved Rachel money, time and stress whilst improving office communications and overall business efficiency. New systems have also resulted in a much improved service for clients.
Client: Robertson Training Ltd
Industry: Business Training
Brief: Robertson Training is headed by award-winning HR professional Derek Robertson, who provides world-class training designs and expert facilitation. The team consisted of two staff. Derek wanted to grow the business, including hiring more staff and delivering even higher levels of service to their already happy clients, but was unsure how to go about this.
“The business was doing well but I knew I needed to get a clearer picture about where the business was going. Clients were very happy but we knew we could do more. I needed support on how to do this and where to start.
To start growing the business faster I understood we needed to bring on more people but did not know how to do this within the restraints of our business. Post-recession, finances were not where we wanted them to be to grow the business and we were unsure what changes to make to improve this situation.”
We worked with Robertson Training to create and implement a new business strategy that would take the business to the next level. On top of this, we added new documents to their sales process and set up better cash flow monitoring systems. The results were bigger contracts allowing the company to bring on board a key new employee and four outsourced professionals.
Derek was unsure how we could improve on their near 100% success rate when closing sales. We showed him how to implement new documents and structure to his sales process in order to better understand his clients’ needs. The result is that Derek now wins much bigger contracts from clients, whilst still enjoying his near-perfect success rates.
Robertson Training always tried to create partnerships with their clients, rather than taking on the role of service provider as most of their competitors do. Prior to bringing Castle Strategy on board, Derek believed that they were achieving this goal to the best of their ability. We helped them identify lots of ways they could add more value to their services and work with their clients more closely. Robertson Training now has stronger partnerships with their clients, setting them apart from their competitors.
Although they were having no problem winning clients, Derek’s cash flow wasn’t in the position he wanted it to be in order to grow the business. We implemented a new business strategy that improved cash flow, allowing Derek to grow the business. Combined with the larger contracts being won thanks to the changes we made to the sales process, Derek has been able to bring on board a new member of staff and create a flexible workforce to support the business as it continues to grow.
With a new member of staff on board, Derek’s workload has reduced, allowing him to step into a more strategic role within the business. This will enable him to plan and drive forward business growth and ensure that the business continues to offer the high levels of service his clients currently enjoy.
"Ewan added value to our business from day one. I prefer people who keep their promises and do something extra. Ewan does this in spades. I can track increased turnover to Ewan’s consultancy, support, challenge and insights. I fully expect Ewan to be a partner to Robertson Training for a very long time."
Client: Dorothy McKinney Ltd
Brief: Dorothy McKinney Ltd offers a range of Specialist HR services to businesses across Scotland and the UK, providing mediation, dispute resolution, work place investigations, and management training. The company helps resolve workplace issues, such as low staff morale or motivation, legal challenges, or failure to hit targets.
“Before I started work with Castle Strategy I was looking to phase into retirement over the coming years. I wanted to reduce my time in the company, but was instead working long hours as part of a schedule which I did not want to maintain long term. I was unsure how to scale and charge fees which reflected the value of my services as well as better identify where business was coming from in the next few months.”
With the help of Castle Strategy, Dorothy was able to focus her business and understand her key proposition, which in turn led to a higher level of service for clients and the ability to charge substantially higher fees.
With a year’s worth of healthy growth behind her business, Dorothy is now confident there will be plenty of work coming her way in the months to come.
Structuring sales process
A new, structured sales process has given Dorothy confidence when prospecting new clients. The process allows her to demonstrate the value of her services, and as a result she is winning more and bigger contracts than ever before.
Laying the foundations for hiring
For the first time, Dorothy has now hired a team to support her. A new financial model allows her to finance them, and she also has systems in place to ensure the team maintains the quality of her work. Having this support has meant Dorothy can reduce her client-facing days to 10 per month – a target she anticipates she will achieve within the next couple of months.
Creating a dependable future
Having created a stable foundation for her business, Dorothy is now able to plan her life and business in the long term. She is now working towards adding more value to the business in order to create a saleable asset.
Raising bottom line
By identifying the value of her services, and providing a higher level of service to clients, Dorothy has been able to increase her fees. Her daily retainer rate has grown considerably – up to 100% in some cases. This had led to a record-breaking year in terms of turnover and profit. As a result of all this Dorothy has now moved to a Limited Company meaning that she is able to take money out of the business much more efficiently.