All posts by Fiona McGinn

TC Matthews On The Key Benefits Of Having An External Adviser In Retail…

Research shows companies that seek external expert advice achieve a stepped change in their growth and performance. Yet many SMEs can still be reluctant to take the leap.

Paul Clarke, Financial Director and General Manager of TC Matthews Carpets, the largest independent carpeting and flooring retailer in Ireland shares his experience on how engaging an external Business Coach has helped galvanise their team, increase sales, and achieve real growth. Listen to Paul’s story below:

We hope you enjoyed listening to Paul’s experience. If you feel that your business could benefit from a fresh perspective, and you would like more information on how you could achieve similar results to TC Matthews, we would be delighted to speak with you.

Please take a moment to fill in your details below and we will be in touch:

Interesting Image

The Secret To Building a Profitable & Sustainable Childcare Business In Ireland

The Secret To Building A Profitable & Sustainable Childcare & Early Education Business In Ireland
Last week when listening to a feature on the cost of childcare in Ireland on Today FM’s Last Word with Matt Cooper, I was struck by the rather alarming findings from Early Childcare Ireland on the cost of doing business in the sector.

Their report states that the average childcare service in Ireland, whether private or community run, urban or rural, is operating on a break-even basis.

For those that do make a small profit, it’s usually too little to re-invest or provide good career opportunities for staff, making recruitment and retention of good team members a huge challenge.

Consider the additional external factors coming down the tracks such as an increase in minimum wage, increases in refuse costs, rents, rates and insurance, the task of building a sustainable, profitable childcare business may seem unachievable!

Making a Profit In Childcare

Fortunately, that doesn’t have to  be the case. Just like any other type of business, you can build a very successful and profitable childcare business by implementing some small but significant changes to your business model, and introducing systems to measure the numbers.

Hear Nessa from Little Learners Success Story…

Case in point is one of our clients Nessa McNamara who established the award winning Little Learners Montessori & Pre-School in Drumcondra in September 2011.

Back then Little Learners was a preschool running for 3 hours a day, catering for children aged 3 – 5 years, with a maximum of 33 children.

Nessa’s business concept was an instant success. Parents loved her unique combination of a creative curriculum delivered through the Montessori method. The business strived to be a friend and support the family first. The business end of things came second as a result it struggled to keep it’s door open at the end of its first year.

Nessa sought help and funding from her local bank, and her AIB bank manager suggested she consider a Business Training and Coaching programme run by ActionCOACH. This course informed and opened Nessa’s eyes on how to structure a business without losing its essential charm.

Today Little Learners is starting into its seventh year, employs over 30 team members, has 3 locations and caters for over 380 families. Nessa has turned what she originally described as a ‘hobby’ business that was just covering the costs into a highly profitable enterprise that has won multiple awards, has a firm plan for the future and most importantly of all has not lost its heart.

Please take a moment to listen to Nessa’s success story in her own word’s in this short 1 minute video:

If you would like more information on how you could achieve similar results to Nessa, we would love to speak with you, so please take a moment to fill in your details below and we will be in touch:

Interesting Image

ActionCOACH Scoops Franchisee of the Year at the Irish Franchise Awards 2017

On Friday, May 19th at the Radisson St Helen’s Hotel in Dublin the winners of the Irish Franchise Awards 2017 in association with AIB were announced.

The awards recognise excellence in franchising and reward the outstanding achievements of businesses and individuals in the franchise industry.  230 guests attended the black-tie gala event hosted by Newstalk’s Jonathan Healy

The judging panel for the 2017 Irish Franchise Awards included Newstalk Business Presenter and former Irish Dragon Bobby Kerr; Greg Swift, head of enterprise at Dublin Local Enterprise Office; Michael Bradley, former CEO of the Irish Franchise Association and Elaine O Regan of the Sunday Business Post.  

On the night, Paul Fagan, Director of ActionCOACH Business Coaching, was awarded  Franchisee of the Year (Service) in recognition of the phenomenal results he and his team achieve with Irish businesses across the country through their professional Business & Executive Coaching, and Training services. Client results show year on year business improvements, 2015 to 2016, as follows: Profits up 227%; Sales up 19%; Employment up 27%.

Tom Shanahan (RIGHT)presenting the award for Franchisee of the year Service to Paul Fagan of ActionCOACH (LEFT) (Photographer: Karen Morgan/Lensmen)

Commenting on the win, Director Paul Fagan said:

It’s a great honour to accept this award on behalf of my team and our clients. Irish businesses are operating in an increasingly competitive and demanding market. Our services help both new and well established businesses to stay on top of their game and remain competitive and profitable. We are passionate about what we do, and look forward to helping many more Irish companies achieve phenomenal success”.
Pictured at the Irish Franchise Awards in association with AIB at the Radisson St Helen’s
Hotel was all the winners on stage (Photographer Karen Morgan/Lensmen)

Earlier this year, Paul and his team’s achievements were also recognised when they retained ‘Best Firm in Europe’ for the 3rd year in a row at the EMEA Business Excellence Forum & Awards 2017. Business Coach Rory Smyth also picked up the highly coveted ‘EMEA Business Coach Of The Year’, for a second year in a row.

Coaching, while often associated with sports, is just the right toolkit for competing at the highest level. The undisputed effectiveness of having a coach in sports is proven the world over, and ActionCOACH is matching the results in coaching Irish Businesses. Clients in Ireland experience a €5-10 (500-1000%) return for every €1 invested in coaching with ActionCOACH, some doubling their sales and employees in as little as 3 years. With award-winning results like this, the future is bright for ActionCOACH and the Irish businesses they work with.

How Trump & Brexit Affect Irish Business Podcast

With the political world in chaos from Trump to Brexit to a potential Frexit, how can businesses deal with increasing uncertainty? How can businesses plan for success regardless of the external factors?

These were just some of the topics for discussion on podcast which featured our own MD Paul Fagan. To listen to the interview in full please listen here:

Does your business have a comprehensive and actionable business plan for the first quarter of 2017? If you’d like to block out a day to create a 90 day plan with the help of 6 business coaches to get 2017 off to a great start, you may be interested in our Business Planning Workshop this Tuesday Jan 10th, there’s still a few spots left!

Click here for more info or to register or call us on 01-891 6220.

Business Excellence Award Winners 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, it’s time to recognise and celebrate all your achievements both personally and professionally throughout the year.

Last Friday we celebrated the phenomenal successes of our clients at our annual ActionCOACH Business Excellence Awards & Lunch 2016 held in the Gibson Hotel.

These awards honour the outstanding results achieved with our Irish SME and corporate clients. From the nominations received, results show that in 2016 our 1-2-1 Business Coaching clients:

·         Increased Profits by 227%

·         Grew Sales by 19%

·         Created 68 new full time jobs.

All our clients have achieved outstanding great results throughout the year and should be very proud of their accomplishments.

Our finalists and award winners at the ActionCOACH Business Business Excellence Awards 2016 were as follows:

Best Retail Business

The finalists for Best Retail Business 2016 were:

Winner: Haven Hire

Audrey Kilgallon, Haven Hire with her Business Coach Rory Smyth 

Audrey picked up this award in recognition of the strong performance and growth of her business in 2016 after a challenging few years in their industry. Haven Hire are constantly learning & looking for new ways to diversify & be different from their competitors. This year they reinvested in their business, added new fleet, & hired new team which has all contributed towards top class customer service and overall strong business performance.

Best Service Business

The nominations for Best Service Business:

Winner: Little Learners

Nessa McNamara, Little Learners with ActionCOACH MD Paul Fagan and her Business Coach John O’Sullivan

Holding on to her title for the second year in a row, Nessa and her team operate a service that is a leader in Childcare. Their methods have been recognised as the best in the country.  This year Nessa continued to increase her profitability, while also expanding her premises and adding 8 new members to her growing team. There is no doubt that the future is bright for Nessa, her team and all the kids at Little Learners.

Best Hospitality/Tourism Business

The finalists for Best Hospitality/Tourism Business:


Winner: Vagabond Tours Ltd.

Rob Rankin, Vagabond with his Business Coach Jeannette Naughton and ActionCOACH MD Paul Fagan

Vagabond Tours are recognised as the original and best small group tour company in the country. Rob and his team had a very successful season, and this year achieved impressive growth in both Sales & Profitability.They have also bought a new office, launched an impressive new website, and are building an amazing team having brought several new team members on board.

Best Manufacturing/Wholesale Business

The finalists for Best Manufacturing/Wholesale Business:

Winner: Creation Station

Eamonn Elders, Creation Station with his Business Coach Rory Smyth and ActionCOACH MD Paul Fagan

Creation Station are a truly unique company. They pride themselves on their ability to create ideas for their clients who want something different, and bring them to life. In the 14 months working with ActionCOACH, Eamonn has grown his business significantly. This year he has also systemised the business and handed over more responsibility to his team leaving him much more time to focus on the important aspects of running the business. Impressively, Eamonn is also now taking 2 half days off per week and is fully confident that he can do this while continuing to grow the business.

Best Community Impact – Job Creation

The nominations for Best Community Impact:

Winner: SL Controls

Keith & the team at SL Controls created an impressive 14 new jobs in 2016. With offices in 4 different regions in Ireland, SL Controls have made a positive impact on these regions by providing numerous jobs to the local economy both directly and indirectly. They already plan to employ another 50 employees in 2017/18 across all 4 regions.

SL Controls recognise that any success they enjoy is as a direct result of the team of people they work with and as such work hard to encourage, reward and develop their team with excellent incentives and training opportunities.

 Best Company Culture – Team & Leadership

 The nominations for Best Company Culture:

Winner: Portumna Retirement Village

Tony Williams and Peter Freerick, Portumna Retirement Village with their Business Coach Marina Bleahen

Team work is the essence of nursing care and Portumna Retirement Village received this prestigious award in acknowledgement of their strong culture and the fantastic service the entire team of 84, both management and nursing care team provide to the community.   Following a very clear programme to implement a strong management structure and Cultural Change, Portumna Retirement Village now thrives on teamwork and are focused on their commitment to excellent service and a bright future at Portumna Retirement Village.

Client of the Year 2016

Winner: Kevin Egan Cars

Kevin Egan, Kevin Egan Cars with his Business Coach Jeannette Naughton

Kevin Egan is a true entrepreneur, and is widely recognised for being a leader in the Irish Motor Industry. He picked up this award in recognition of the strong performance of his business across all categories. His business, Kevin Egan Cars has achieved significant growth in 2016,  won numerous awards including the SIMI Irish Car dealer of the year award for the 2nd time, and after-sales award for best workshop in Connaught.  They also recruited 10 new staff members to double their work force and create a winning team with a strong identity and vibrant company culture.

Heading into 2016 we are determined to maintain this standard of performance and to help all our clients grow faster than both the market and their competitors.

If you would like to achieve similar results to our clients in 2017 join us at our 2017 Business Planning Workshop Tuesday 10th January 2016 in the Hilton Dublin Airport Hotel. Click here to register your place today.

To view the full album of photos from our ActionCOACH Business Excellence Awards & Christmas Lunch please click here.


What can we Learn about Business Leadership from Irish Rugby?!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_620_330/image.jpg

“The margins at the moment between people at high levels in sport or high levels in business are just getting smaller and smaller and smaller.” – Rob Kearney

For anyone who leads a team, learning the principles that makes a team world-class on the field in a high pressure competitive environment is key to getting your team to perform at the highest level in your industry. While the context for a sports coach is different than a business coach, the principles remain the same. Who better to learn from than Joe Schmidt?

His coaching and educational philosophy emphasises the importance of learning from pressure situations, and quotes Aristotle: ‘We are what we repeatedly do; excellence is not an act, but a habit.’ Schmidt says, “You need a solid set of values and behaviours as your foundation. Once that foundation is strong, then you can take the steps to achieve your goal.”

When recruiting, besides observing a player’s game, Schmidt studies the player’s attitude too. He said that a player’s game can be improved by the right training but a player’s attitude or DNA cannot be changed. It is not about provinces, it is not about red or white jerseys – his foremost task is to pick the 15 best Irishmen who should represent ‘the green jersey’. “Individual leaders such as Paul O Connell, Brian O Driscoll and Johnny Sexton lead through their behaviour not their words.” According to Schmidt, a player can lead his team by being emotionally intelligent and unselfish enough to drive younger players – qualities that Paul O’Connell possessed which is why it is difficult to find a worthy replacement.

Leadership can be about rallying those around you, but it can also be about rallying yourself to a crescendo and as O’Driscoll recalls about Paul O’Connell, “he drove that standard to another level all together. What set him apart was his constant need to get better every single year, year on year. Always trying to hone his own skills, his physical attributes, his diet; he was such a stickler for that”.

Schmidt emphasizes the importance of investing in who the players are by giving constant feedback. “Feedback is fuel for a team; both positive and negative.” Team members feel assured that they are being noticed and that the leader is invested in them that yields better results.

Schmidt draws on his experiences as a post-primary teacher, principal and coach, identifying 4 criteria for achieving success:

1 – Be adaptable – as change is inevitable

2 – Embrace challenge as opportunity – all business arises from an unsolved problem

3 – Lead from within – leadership is a mindset not a position

4 – Predict change – so you can adapt before it happens

For the Irish Rugby Team winning matches and ultimately winning trophies means success, what it is for your business? To learn how to build and lead a high-performance winning team and achieve success in your field, join us at our upcoming Team & Leadership Workshop , on Friday 25th November from 10-12:15AM in the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport. Click here for more information and to register your place or call us on 01 891 6220.

ActionCLUB Email Signature Team

 Or  if you would like to avail of a complimentary Business Review with one of our top Coaches to uncover ways to grow and improve your business, please fill in your details below and we will be in touch to arrange your appointment:

Interesting Image

E=MC^2: Einstein’s Take on Time Management


Are you so drained at the end of the day after getting up early, dealing with traffic, working all day, taking care of kids, your spouse, cooking, cleaning, running errands and the million other things you do all day – with no time or energy to take care of yourself?

The perception that most people have of time management is wrong. Time is finite. No matter how much you try to change it, there are only 24 hours in the day. What you can change is how you experience time, and that is all about ENERGY. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, everything is relative, even how two people experience time differently. The more energy you have, the slower time goes, at least in theory. But think about it, can you remember the last time you had an immense amount of ENERGY, how much you got done during that day?


Rather than treating our life and businesses as a marathon, we need to treat them as sprints and recovery (so that you can recover your ENERGY!). We all know we are going to have big sprints — that’s what makes pursuing a project or business so exciting. But it’s imperative that we build in equal parts recovery.

5 Tips to Make Room for Recovery

Schedule it.

No matter whether or not you think you need a break, schedule fun or relaxation activities in advance and stick to them.

Double the break you think you need.

I know how this goes, “Sure, I’ll take a break — I’ll give myself a whole hour off!” Not good enough. Whatever the break you think you need, double it. You are most likely underestimating the toll that all of your hard work is taking on your body and mind — even if you’re having fun.

Enlist family and friends.

If you schedule a weekend get-away with family or friends, you’ll have no excuse but to unplug. Family and friends can be great accountability buddies for taking the breaks you need.

Make a list of the benefits of R&R, and brainstorm your favourite rejuvenation activities.

I know that even after reluctantly taking a break, I will come back refreshed, more cheerful and more creative — which puts me in an even better position to do my best work once I’m back at it. Making a list of the benefits will help motivate and remind you to actually take the breaks you’ve set-up. At a loss for what to do? Make a list of any/all activities that bring you joy or relaxation. For me that’s reading, yoga, a glass of wine (with chocolate) and watching a few shows on Hulu.

Break down your biggest goals into achievable, measurable chunks and reward yourself often!

For every day that you make a massive to-do list, add a “reward” item at the end that brings you joy. Maybe it’s reading a book, a gossip magazine, or going out to dinner with a friend. For many of us, we only take breaks or celebrate when we hit the BIG goals — but those can take months to achieve. Instead, break them down into smaller parts and reward yourself for all of the smaller milestones you hit along the way.

To learn how to finally implement Time Management strategies that work into your routine, join us at our upcoming Time Management Workshop , TOMORROW Friday, 21st October in in the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport. Click here for more information and to register your place or call us on 01 891 6220.

ActionCLUB Email Signature Time

Or  if you would like to avail of a complimentary Business Review with one of our top Coaches to uncover ways to grow and improve your business, please fill in your details below and we will be in touch to arrange your appointment:

Interesting Image

5 Top Time Management Tips for Business Owners


We’ll keep this short. The biggest key in time management is prioritisation. By dividing your to-do list into urgent tasks, short and long-term goals, you’ll be able to allocate your time more effectively. Here are five of our favourite time management tips for business owners. Enjoy!

1. Prioritise communication

Email is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s a great time management tool to avoid the need for meetings, but can also be one of the biggest time sucks if you’re checking it every 10 minutes. Set aside a specific time to review emails. Not only will this keep you in the know, but allow you to knock out the tasks you need to throughout the day.

2. Block off focused time

One of the aspects of managerial roles involves being pulled in all sorts of directions. You’ll find yourself spending so much time on everyone else’s projects, with none left to complete your own. Block off portions of your daily or weekly schedule and dedicate it solely to your work. Make sure you don’t get booked for other engagements during this time and fully concentrate on the tasks at hand.

3. Put a value on your time

We’ve all heard that time is money, but have you really thought about it? How much money can you make in a month? What then is the value of each day in a month? How much is an hour of your time worth? What about a minute? How many tasks to do you have which are actually quite low value but where only you know how to do them, or jealously guard them for a variety of reasons – confidentiality perhaps, or because they are enjoyable, or because you’ve always done it and you haven’t gotten around to training someone else how to do it? Make sure that every single task you are doing yourself is worth your valuable time.

4. Re-prioritize on demand

When you’re a business owner or manager, you need to be flexible. Each day presents a different challenge and prioritization is key if you want to keep your ship afloat. To organize yourself, determine which tasks are urgent and others that can remain on the back burner. From there, build your list based on importance, time involved, or resources needed. You may have one project you can knock out in 15 minutes and another that will involve several days. For the projects that are drawn out, create checkpoints to keep yourself on track.

5. Use your focus effectively

Don’t waste time reading, watching or focusing on what doesn’t help you reach your goals. Modern technology and media is designed to get your attention, so it’s easy to get distracted by things that other people want to show you. Humans are attracted to novelty, and we are all looking for the newest, best knowledge out there, often without taking the time out to implement what we know needs to be done. Knowledge is useless without implementation.

To learn how to implement these and other valuable techniques into your day, join us at our upcoming Time Management Workshop , Friday 21st October in in the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport. Click here for more information and to register your place or call us on 01 891 6220.

Or if you would like to avail of a complimentary Business Review with one of our top Coaches to uncover ways to grow and improve your business, please fill in your details below and we will be in touch to arrange your appointment:

Interesting Image

How To Achieve Your Key Goals Before Year End

Goal Setting For The Final QuarterSummer is over…the kids are back to school… it’s time to get re-focused and back to business to ensure you achieve your key goals before year end….

To guarantee your success, make sure to take time out of your business this September to review year-to-date performance and develop your plan for the final quarter of the year.

Here are our 5 top tips to help you with your Q4 plan:

1. Plan time to plan!

  • Schedule one full day every 90 days to focus on developing a clear plan for your business each quarter.  Quarterly rather than annual planning is always recommended as it keeps you focused on key outcomes, and allows enough time to test and measure new strategies and make any necessary changes.
  • Pop the date in your diary and invite any key members of your team. This way you have all the key information at hand, get buy in from your senior team, and know that you are all striving towards a common goal!
  • We always recommend getting out of your regular work environment so there will be no distractions.

2. Review Previous Performance

  • Review year-to-date financial and strategy performance versus prior year performance.
  •  This provides you with an insight to what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to change!

3. Make Any Necessary Changes

  • Based on the previous quarters results, review how your approach can be improved to generate greater productivity and results over the next quarter.
  • If a strategy is not yielding results don’t be afraid to scrap it and try something new!

4. Don’t Forget Your Personal Goals

  • Set out your key business goals for the quarter ahead but don’t forget your personal goals too so you can achieve the work / life balance your deserve.

5. Set Realistic Timelines

  • Once you have established your quarterly goals, be sure to allocate an owner and time frame for completion.
  • Be sure to enter them into your calendar so they are not forgotten in the day-to-day running of the business.

Having a quarterly business plan is essential to keep you focused and on track with targets. We hope these tips help you to achieve your goals by year-end.

If you would like some help to develop your final quarter plan, why not join us at our upcoming GrowthCLUB Quarterly Business Planning Workshop, Thursday 22nd September in the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport. Click here for more information and to register your place or call us on 01 891 6220.

Or if you would like to avail of a complimentary Business Review with one of our top Coaches to uncover ways to grow and improve your business, please fill in your details below and we will be in touch to arrange your appointment:

Interesting Image

7 Tips For A Flawless Sales Pitch

7 Tips For A Flawless Sales Pitch

Developing a winning sales pitch is not easy. What you may believe to be a good sale pitch on paper, doesn’t guarantee it will be effective in practice….

When presenting to a potential new client, it’s really important to remember that your prospect’s needs are central to your sales pitch – it’s not all about the product or service. Your sales pitch MUST be a two-way conversation, whereby you listen to the buyer, they have the opportunity to ask questions, and as a result you offer them a solution to a real challenge they are experiencing.

This allow’s your prospect will develop a much more personalized relationship with you and your product or service.  

The devil is in the detail when it comes to really captivating your audience. From relevant buyer information to interaction and negotiation, these seven tips will help you nail your next sales pitch:

1. Preparation

Successfully connecting with your audience involves preparing yourself with relevant buyer information. Prior to the presentation / sales meeting conduct in-depth research on the buyer’s company, industry, and competitors. This will allow you to tailor your message, better communicating how you can meet their specific needs.

2. Emotion

Catering to emotion is the strongest form of strategy in sales. Highlight the unique challenges of the business you’re pitching to and allow them to visualise how your product or service is placed as the solution. Most often people react emotionally first then rationalise. Having a compelling story backed by facts is a force to be reckoned with.

3. Confidence

Not only is it important to be prepared and leverage emotion, but also to bring confidence to the presentation. Promoting yourself as an industry leader or savvy entrepreneur subconsciously builds credibility with your audience. You can achieve this by sharing stories about your dedication and vision for their initiatives.

4. Interaction

It never hurts to check in with your audience during the sales pitch. After all, it’s a two-way conversation. Gone are the days of PowerPoint slides and bullet points. Today’s most successful pitches include choices, audience interaction with products and services, and being prepared for any questions the buyer may have.

5. Objection

As mentioned, the buyer will most likely have questions. The most common objections during sales pitches fall under budget, authority, need, and time. Be prepared to go into your presentation with responses to all four. The goal is to have answers prepared, making you appear more knowledgeable while increasing your product or service’s value.

6. Negotiation

The negotiation portion of a business pitch can be intimidating. Before pitching, have a plan in place for negotiation. Not only should you be familiar with what you’re offering, but research how your audience members have invested in the past. Have a plan for the best case, the second best, and the worst. This will help you approach your presentation prepared for any response.

7. Confirmation

Always end your sales pitch with a call to action. If a negotiation isn’t instantaneous, be sure to include a follow-up. That communication touch point in the sales funnel will keep you on the radar, placing you in a good position for future prospecting. Follow-up meetings and trials are great ways to keep your audience engaged going forward.

Now that you’ve journeyed through our seven steps for a flawless sales pitch, we hope you feel more confident in putting your skills to the test. Knowing your buyer, product or service, showing a genuine interest in providing a solution, and being prepared for any objections will allow you to present your next business initiative with ease.

If you are interested in further Sales Training or yourself or your team, why not join us at our upcoming Sales Success Workshop Friday 9th September in the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport. Click here for more information and to register your place or call us on 01 891 6220.

Or if you would like to avail of a complimentary Business Review with one of our top Coaches to uncover ways to grow and improve your business, please fill in your details below and we will be in touch to arrange your appointment:

Interesting Image

Business coaching from the world's #1 business consulting firm: ActionCOACH. Professional Coaching and Training for Irish SME's, Executives and Corporates