We caught up with Alex Tolfree, co-founder of Alresford Interiors, who has been benefitting from one to one sessions with business coach Colin Harding at ActionCOACH Solent every quarter for the past 2 and a half years. Regular meetings have given him the support and framework to continue moving the business forward, whilst also juggling day to day issues and working “on the tools.”
Alex told us, “ActionCOACH have helped me with the big things. We were doing marketing, but we had no idea what was working and what wasn’t. Now everything we do is tested and measured, so we can see the return we get. If it’s not working, we review it.”
Alex finds ActionCOACH Solent’s fortnightly BIG Mastermind group discussions invaluable, where individuals from a wide range of businesses focus on a specific area that is challenging them in their businesses and share their experiences and ideas.
Alex explained “I’ve learnt so much right across the board. In the first 18 months with ActionCOACH, I think I spent too much time “on the tools” rather than running the business. Gradually though, I started applying the little things they were telling me. Last year we started putting new processes in place, employing staff and recruiting the right people. ActionCOACH have made a huge difference to the way I recruit – I’ve realised it’s about finding staff with the right attitude, and skills can be taught.”
With a background in retail and hospitality, Alex was used to being customer facing but started Alresford Interiors in 2008 with a partner, sanding neighbour’s floors. Working at first from the back of a VW Golf with a few borrowed tools, he landed his first major project at Bedales School in Hampshire. Now employing 10 people, Alex explained “although I’m sometimes still on site, I’m mainly office based, maintaining the focus and direction of the business.”
“ActionCOACH have instilled discipline and structure into my working day. Every quarter I see Colin, run through the tasks he’s set me to do and I follow through. I do what I say I’m going to do, and that makes a difference.”
When asked how the business has changed, Alex explained “I was employing 4 people when I started seeing the ActionCOACH team, now we’ve bought a workshop, taken on 4 more staff, doubled our space, thereby doubling our capacity, so we can take on more projects.”
“The big difference is we’re profitable. Colin has given me the confidence to quote sensible prices, to look at potential projects and take a considered approach rather than never saying no.”
Alex has great plans to expand further and working in partnership with ActionCOACH Solent, feels confident that Alresford Interiors will achieve their plans for the future.