Scott Barr was startled to find himself a victim of his own success. Ten years ago the owner of Southwest Exteriors, in San Antonio, found that in spite of his growing business, he was $300,000 in debt. Worse, he recalls, “I didn't know how to get out of it or where to turn.”
A colleague referred Barr to a business coaching organization. That was more than a decade ago, and Southwest Exteriors has been on solid ground ever since.
HIT THE CEILING Whether you started on the sales or the installation side of the home improvement business, if you're successful enough, you have a good chance of hitting a wall sooner or later. “People who come to us are generally facing what we refer to as a ‘ceiling of complexity,'” explains Catherine Nomura, director of business development for Strategic Coach, in Toronto and in Rosemont, Ill. “They've become successful enough that their business has created a level of complexity that makes it difficult for them to keep growing.”
Or living a happy, healthy life. A key difference between business coaching and management consulting is that coaching involves managing the business in such a way as to achieve life goals by freeing up time for relationships and extracurricular pursuits.
WHAT'S OUT THERE Strategic Coach, which uses a group approach, quarterly meetings, and online support to teach a well-defined method to manage time and goals, is just one of many business coaching options. “There are unlimited combinations out there,” says Barr, who has tried several. He has belonged to Strategic Coach, Remodelers Advantage, and currently works with The C-12 Group, a Christian business owners group. Barr also worked one-on-one with an individual business coach.
He says that he has benefited from all these. “Business coaching definitely is effective,” he says. However, you have to find the group or individual that's right for you, he cautions. “You have to trust somebody and give them a certain amount of room to run, but I would build in some checkpoints so that you can see if you are going in the direction you want to go.” Another important consideration is credentials.
“Anyone can call themselves a coach, so you have to be careful,” Nomura advises. “Ask a lot of questions, really know the group's or individual's track record, talk to people who've worked with them,” she adds. “Make sure you find someone who has a process that really works. The ones who stick around are the ones who produce results.”