Small business suffers from owner-operator syndrome.

“Aston's help has been invaluable.”

West Coast Suspensions manufactures and fits specialised suspension systems to vehicles which have to perform in harsh, rugged outback conditions. Their clients include the agricultural, mining and resource industries. It began business in central Perth in 1924 and now operates from premises in Bassendean.

Like many small businesses, West Coast Suspensions ran under a traditional owner-operator structure with director, James McCully involved in every aspect of the business. So when business was brisk, James had little or no time to himself – or to step aside and think about the company’s long term plans.

Realising a restructure was needed, he called in the experts.

Seven steps to success.

“James is typical of so many small business owners,” says Aston Advantage’s Chantal Haskett. “They spend so much time working IN the business, they have no time to work ON the business. The solution is to restructure the company so that the director or owner feels comfortable leaving the day-to-day operational issues to other members of the team.”

Chantal introduced James to the Aston Business Advantage 7 step plan in February 2016 and over the next 18 months set about establishing a new management structure and a new way of operating for the 90-year old business.

“I started by working with James on establishing a clear direction for the company. A strategy that would define what he wanted to achieve from the business – and how we were going to get there,” Chantal says. “We then set new KPIs and targets, and introduced an incentive program for the staff.”

The new management structure involved promoting two existing staff members to leadership roles, and training them in their responsibilities. Aston Advantage also helped recruit new staff who would fit in with the team and become valuable, long-term employees.

A fresh look at an old problem.

 

“She helped us create a solid management team and structured regular meetings where we can discuss strategy, new ideas, staff performance – and tackle small problems before they become big ones. We could have never achieved this using our internal resources.”

As well as defining a clear communications agenda, Aston Advantage provided DISC profiling and training across the whole organisation to encourage team building and give employees a better understanding of the company’s clients and their expectations.

 

“I think we did a good job in changing the culture at West Coast Suspensions,” says Chantal. “It’s now a place where the director is confident his team can run the business in his absence. And the company now actively encourages internal promotions, explores career opportunities for its staff and is constantly looking for new ways to improve its service offering.”

“Our end of year figures for 2017 were up 5% in what was a very difficult market. And recently, we achieved our best-ever turnover figures in decades. The fact I now have more time to think about and work on other things is a welcome added bonus.” says director James McCully.

“This whole process has produced real, tangible results.”

The Results

  • Director no longer affected by owner-operator constrictions.
  • A new, positive culture encourages loyalty, opportunity and promotion.
  • Turn over in July 2017 was the company’s best since 1924.

Aston took the initiative to really ask questions about the business, about the structure, and how we’ve been engaging with the market externally but also how we were engaging with each other internally.

Stuart Bell, Project Director, APP Corporation

I think the DISC profiling is very valuable because it was almost a path of self discovery as well. The leadership team all did the DISC profiling ourselves, learnt about and understand a little bit more about what makes us tick and what makes others tick.

Mark McNally, Managing Director, McNally Group