“Great leaders hire outstanding people, train them well, inspire them, and then get out of their way.” Frank Sonnenberg
Building an outstanding team, developing individual skills and providing motivation for them to keep going is critical to growing a business. Just ask Kevin Jones, owner of Speedy Signs New Plymouth.
After a 28-year career with the IRD, Kevin took a chance when he left without having the security of another job lined up. He took up the position of Academy Manager of the Taranaki Rugby Union where he spent 8 years in the developing and mentoring of young athletes, including future All Blacks. Encouraging them to work hard, develop their skills and reap the benefits proved to be a natural ability.
However, deep down he had always wanted to have his own business.
“I’d always wanted to do something for myself and eventually I thought it was now or never.”
Kevin and his wife Sheryl, together with son Matt opened their Speedy Signs franchise in 2008 – just weeks before the global financial crisis hit. The first couple of years were more challenging than he had ever thought they could be as Kevin went door-to-door drumming up business and handing out business cards. The risk he took setting off on his own was proving to be daunting.
“Tenacity got us through the GFC, we’d just started and couldn’t afford to lose it all, we stayed focused and kept going.” Failure wasn’t an option.
That tenacity paid off and their three-person team expanded with the addition of new staff and then their daughter Wendy completed the family affair. It didn’t take long before the need for additional team members saw their crew grow to nine. This is where Kevin’s ability to cultivate the skills of young people and encourage them to further their development plays a crucial role in their success.
Kevin’s background at the IRD and the Rugby Union influenced his ability to build a team engineered for growth. “Everyone in a team has something to contribute and this works in business as well. Not just that, it’s how you go about building a team that wants to do stuff for you.”
In his business, everyone on the team has input that is listened to and valued. For example, on the first workday of the year, Kevin and Matt presented the team the opportunity to weigh up and decide the best options for a new store layout to improve workflow. They then spent the day implementing the decided layout - moving machinery and taking out benches and wall fixtures to create the space to implement the objective. Their contribution and involvement was immense.
“We carried out the same process developing Vision and Values the previous year. Being heard and having their ideas valued strengthens the team and motivates them to work together towards a common goal,” says Kevin.
Being able to discern skills as well as an individual’s ability to fit within the team led to bringing in the newest member of their team when they weren’t even actively hiring. Luke had returned from the States where he worked on major signage projects like the Superbowl, and had previously owned his own sign business in New Plymouth. He dropped in out of the blue to chat with Matt, and we got talking about the future and “next level”. Kevin recognised that Luke’s talent and skills would be a major asset to the team and fitted the family vision going forward, and decided they had to bring him on board to assist grow the business and achieve our targets.
Kevin and Sheryl’s team-building efforts were officially acknowledged when they were awarded the 2018 Supreme Franchisee of the Year award, in addition to the Business Services Franchisee of the Year, ten years after they started their business. The awards were given in recognition of their training and development programs which exceed industry requirements, the growth they achieved, and their high performance as a franchisee.
Westpac spokesperson Daniel Cloete, says, “It is a privilege to sponsor these prestigious franchise awards, which celebrate the very best in franchising excellence. The franchise finalists and winners who have entered demonstrate what it means to achieve and adapt in today’s complex business environment, we are delighted to acknowledge their successes.”
Franchise New Zealand magazine asked Kevin why he thought they won. He replied, “I think it comes down to the team. We’ve set up a bloody good environment with a bloody good team who will never let us down, we’ve helped everyone develop expertise and we encourage everyone to contribute.”
The driver of their business’ growth is this ability to build a team that wants to accomplish things together, maintaining a culture that motivates young people to recognise their skills and develop them further, all while encouraging ideas and input from everyone.
That, combined with a little tenacity, will continue to grow their business well into the future.
Need help growing your business? Call us on 0800 SPEEDY or visit speedysigns.co.nz