Tag Archives: Business Coaching

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:

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How To Systemise Your Business For Success

Systemise Your Business ActionCOACH Irelandjul16

A system is a set of principles or procedures that specify how particular tasks are done, and that trained team members can replicate without you.

As your company grows it’s not possible to keep your finger in every pie. In order to build a successful business, you need to introduce systems and processes that can be automated as much as possible.

Good system’s implemented properly, should not only guarantee that your customers are receiving a consistent level of service, they will also enable your business to operate more smoothly and profitably. As we say at ActionCOACH – People run your systems, systems run your business!

Some key systems you will need to build as your company becomes more sophisticated include everything from the simple daily office operation systems (e.g. how the phone is answered), to your sales process, customer support systems, inventory systems, invoicing and accountancy processes, recruitment, training and appraisal systems, among others.

In order to help you get started, there are 4 basic steps to systemisation:

1. Flowchart your processes

The basic rule for systemising is ‘Systemise the routine – humanise the exception.  Make a list of all the things that are done in your business that are repetitive, or perhaps that a lower paid team member could be doing if it were systemised. Then flowchart each process. This will show you how it all fits together.

2. Document how it gets done

Ask the team member who is currently doing the job to write down every step in performing a task. This person then gets a different team member to complete the task following the process. If the person currently doing the task has to step in and explain anything to the new person then that information is added to the step, etc.

3. Manage & measure using Key Performance Indicators

There’s no point having a system in place if it’s not effective. Once you’ve set up a system, make sure you’re measuring the results as you go along. If people are still dropping the ball and you’ve got a system, it means there’s something wrong with the system, not with the person. Typically, your KPI’s will be the top five measures to show system performance. Get these from the person doing the job (i.e. in sales you could use number of leads, conversion rate, average euro sale etc.)

4. Allow the system to change/grow as your business changes and grows.

Ensure that each system is reliable, self-correcting and scaleable so as to allow it to evolve at the same pace that your business evolves.

Some final tips:

  • Don’t over complicate systems or people won’t follow them.
  • Use lots of photos, videos etc. This may be as simple as printing a computer screen or videoing someone doing the task at hand. This will make the systems much easier to follow.
  • Document your system in a policies and procedures or operations manual in an easy to access format. And make sure everyone has a copy or knows where it is! Require all of your team members to periodically review the manual with the goal of identifying needed changes on a timely and qualitative basis.
  • Communicate who is responsible for making any changes to policies and procedures.

If you would like more information on how to introduce systems into your business, 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:

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STOP Selling To Your Prospects – Help Them To Buy!

STOPSelling To Your Prospects- Help Them BUY

There is nothing more frustrating than a sales person trying to sell you something you don’t want! Don’t you agree?

If a prospective customer gives you a call, drops you an email or visits your store they are interested in your product or service. If they don’t make a purchase something has gone wrong in your sales process. And more often than not, the problem is that you have not uncovered your potential customer’s true needs.

With so much information now at our fingertips, and the ability to purchase almost anything online from the comfort of our couches, the modern sales professionals must really prove their value as consultants, rather than pushy sales people trying to sell their most expensive product. You must offer the right mix of assistance, understanding and advice to help clients make better decisions about what they buy.

By incorporating these 4 simple steps when first connecting with your prospects, it will help build their trust in you, guide them through the sales funnel faster, and if they’re a fit for your offering, it will most likely result in a sale:

  1.  Be Knowledgeable

To make the experience useful and genuine for your prospective customer, you must be an expert on the product or services you are selling and which they are interested in purchasing. Be one step ahead of your competitors. Advise your prospect about how your product or service differs from competitive offerings. Without this knowledge, the customer will soon see that they are better off going to the internet for answers, than talking with a sales person who doesn’t know their stuff!

  1. Ask Relevant Questions

I cannot stress how important it is to understand your prospects needs. In most instances you are not selling a product, but rather a solution to a problem. Here are some good probing questions to get your prospect to open up so you uncover their real needs and present the perfect solution:

  • What are you looking to improve on?
  • Do you have any initial ideas of what you’d like and why?
  • Who will be the users? Do they need to be involved in the final decision?
  • How often will you use the products or services?
  • What’s most important to you?

It’s also really useful to discover what the budget is to ensure you don’t waste your own, or their time going through products or services they are never going to buy! A good way to open up this discussion is by saying:

  • If you’re working towards a certain budget, and are happy to tell me broadly what it is, I can try and point you to the most relevant options.

The point of these questions is to find out enough to be able to advise your customer well.

  1. Offer Solutions

Now that you have a full picture of your prospects needs, it’s time to offer your thoughts and solutions. Frame your suggestions with phrases like “I think I understand that A, B and C are most important to you. With that in mind, you may want to explore products X, Y and Z as they most closely meet your requirements.” Explain the differences between each product so that customers can prioritise what’s most important to them. Remember to keep it simple though – you don’t want to overload your prospect with too many options as this could lead to confusion and delayed decision-making.

  1. Be Patient but don’t forget to follow up!

When you have presented your solutions, don’t rush the sale. Ask their opinion and develop your listening skills to give potential clients the opportunity to tell you what they really want. It’s important to not apply pressure, just offers of genuine help.

Finally, not all prospects will be willing to close the sale there and then. This doesn’t mean the sales process is over. Make sure you get their contact details, follow up to see if you can provide any more help or assistance and check in to see if they are well enough informed to make their decision and follow through on the sale.

If you would like to learn more about perfecting your sales process, come along to our next Sales Success Workshop Friday 5th February.  Click here for more information and to register your place or call us on 01 891 6220.

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4 Tips To Improve Your Leadership Skills


Technical skills can only take you so far, what you really need in order to climb the success ladder, are leadership skills. With the exception of the few who are born great leaders, the majority of us needs to nurture the right set of skills to be able to lead well. The focus of this post is to to tell you how to improve your leadership skills, and we start by listing down some of the primary traits you need to work on.


1. Be Likeable

Most employees complain of a grumpy boss and the lack of a positive work environment. The boss being not likable has also been identified as one of the major factors for people to consider switching jobs. Being likeable is therefore integral in the corporate environment. Appreciate people’s efforts, have a sense of humour, offer advice as needed – your employees should see you as someone they want to learn from.

Listening Qutoe

2. Listening Effectively

For a leader, one of the most important skills is listening. You won’t be able to get feedback from the employees without listening skills. However, be mindful of the non-verbal communication as well. To determine what people really mean, you should be able to read gestures and body language well.

Dealing with difficult people

3. Dealing with Difficult People

Disciplining your team members when they are not doing well is tricky. Resolve the problem while it’s still fresh. Speak to the responsible person alone. Even if you do reprimand them in private, do not humiliate them in public. Give them a chance to explain, and by all means avoid, getting petty and personal.

Integrity Quote

4. Integrity

Integrity is one of the qualities you need to work upon if you want to improve as a leader. Whether or not something is in your personal best interests, should be an irrelevant factor if it doesn’t reflect integrity as a leader; you need to be a role model for your workforce.

The standard of successful leadership has shifted from exerting authority to influencing people. Think about actions you can take to be more influential if you want to improve your leadership skills.

If you would like more advice on how to improve your Leadership Skills please complete our short expression of interest form or join us at our next workshop How to Create A High Performance Team, Friday 27th November. Click here for more information and to register you place today.

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Why Winning Matters

As we are in the final quarter of 2015 and the award season has just begun, now is the perfect opportunity for your business to stand out from competitors and gain the recognition you deserve for your outstanding results.

Becoming an Award Winning Business comes with big rewards:

Ego booster

It’s always nice to receive praise for doing something well.


Winning gives you a reason to reach out to the press and social media and share your success story. In addition, the event itself provides a great opportunity to network with other business owners and with local or national press.

Increased Sales

Promoting your success through the right channels will naturally bring new leads to your door as they hear you are the best at what you do.

Team Motivation

Such accolades help to keep you and your entire team motivated.


You will attract the right kind of team into your business – the best want to work for the best!

Customer Service

Finally, if you set yourself and your team a goal to win a business award the level of service in your business will improve.  If you win you will strive to maintain your great standards.

We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate some of our clients who have already been successful on the awards front this year.

Winner of Best Traditional Pub of the Year: National Hospitality Awards 2015

Damien Joyce – Lowrys Bar

Lowrys Bar Award

Winner of Paint Distributor of the Year: Irish Auto Trade Awards 2015

John O’Hanlon – National Autoparts

National Autoparts Award

Winner Best Customer Service: Carlow Business Awards 2015

Balazs Stumpf-Biro – Carlow Dental Centre

Carlow Dental Centre Award

Well done again and we hope you reap the awards of your recent success. Best of luck to all the other business owners who are waiting on awards yet to be announced. We hope to see you on the award stage soon and would love to hear your success story.

If you would like some help achieving award winning results please get in contact with us or complete our short expression of interest form as we would be happy to help you and your business to future success.




5 Top Tips To Grow Your Business


Most entrepreneurs have what we like to call the Superhero Syndrome. When it comes to their business they want things done now, they want them done right, and the only person in the company who does things this perfect way is the business owner themselves, the superhero! This leads to long hours being put in at the office with little reprieve from the stress of running your own business. Sound familiar?

It’s so easy to get caught up with the day to day running of the business and lose sight of where you want your business to be in a few year’s time.

Here are some tips to help you focus on growing your business rather than getting stuck in the day-to-day:


Perform an honest self-assessment

Sometimes it is a good idea to step back and take a bird’s eye view of your business. Looking at your business from a different perspective is not as easy as it might sound, but it is important to learn how to objectively analyse every aspect of your business. In the blog post last week, we discussed living above (taking responsibility for our actions) and living below the line (giving excuses and blaming someone else), which is also hugely relevant. 


Work on your business, not in it

If you are a business owner who is involved in every sector of the business (sales, customer service, marketing, finance etc.) this is a lot to manage. When you are focused on these day to day operations of your business, you become reactive rather than proactive and this will hinder moving your business forward. Learn to commit time every week to growing as a business owner and taking actions that benefit your business. By dedicating this time your chances of long-term success will be vastly improved.


Hire smart, direct well

The “I can do it myself” attitude is helpful, even necessary when you first launch your business. But there comes a time when it no longer serves you well. Businesses that want to grow and move forward must employ a great team. Providing excellent training and direction to your team is essential. Improve your employees and they will improve your company.

As a business owner you also need to learn to delegate tasks to your employees. By setting SMART goals together – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely, your delegated tasks have a greater chance of being accomplished.

Teamwork of businesspeople

Create Systems

Creating systems in your business can help to simplify procedures and processes and eventually allow the business to run without you. Giving up control can be difficult but with systems in place this can make the process of handing responsibility over to a team member easier. If you want your business to grow, you must stop doing everything yourself and learn to trust your team. 


Don’t be afraid of change – Do something different

Doing something different can be great way to jumpstart business growth when your feeling stuck. Here are some options to help you take action and make a positive change in your business:

  • Get help from someone – a business coach or a business group. Anything that will help keep you accountable to your goals is a good idea.
  • Write out a list of everything you do in your business and look at ways to simplify or automate some of those tasks. It might sound small but saving 5 minutes per day adds up to 100 minutes per month!
  • Consider hiring someone to handle tasks that are not critical. This will free you up to spend more time working on the business.

As a business owner we should never be afraid to put aside what’s not working and double down our effort on what is. Successful businesses are able to adapt to change and look for opportunities to meet demand.

As a business owner it can be hard to maintain the perfect work life balance. We hope these few tips will help you to prioritise the time you spend on certain tasks and help you to move your business forward to the next level of success. And don’t forget to take off that superhero cloak and allow others to help you on your way to the top!

If you would like more advice on how to grow your business, join us at our Time Management Workshop this Friday 16th October, by clicking here, or complete our short expression of interest form for a call to discuss how business coaching can help move your business forward.

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How to Manage What You Do With Your Time

ActionCOACH Ireland how to manage your time better blog post

As we all know time does not stand still for anybody. Unfortunately we can’t create more time and once it’s gone it’s gone forever. So, if we can’t manage time, what can we manage? The simple answer is that we can only manage what we do with it. This means being more disciplined about how we spend our precious time.

Here are some of our top tips to help you manage your time better:

Focus - How to manage your time better

  • Focus

It’s important to focus your efforts on the tasks that will help you achieve the success you want. Learn not to get side tracked with all those less important tasks.


  • Choose To Be A Victor not a Victim

It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming the outside world (staff, suppliers, banks, customers etc.) for why we are too busy to achieve the success we feel we deserve. From here on in, make sure  you choose to be a victor, rather than a victim – take ownership of your time and what you want to achieve with it.

Goal - How to manage your time better

  • Set Goals

Set clear goals which you are emotionally linked to and create a plan of action to help you achieve your goals. This will help you focus during the time available and you will be less likely to become distracted.


  • Prioritise

Learn to priorities different tasks. In the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Convey the 4 main types of tasks identified were:

– Not Urgent, Not Important- things that distract us from our goals.
– Urgent, Not Important – things that we are deluded by.
– Urgent and Important – things that put demands on us.
– Not Urgent and Important – things we do that lead to our goals.

Going forward, ask yourself which category a task falls into and say NO to the distractions.

So to summarise, if you want to find time to achieve your goals, all you need to do is identify what is it exactly that you want to achieve, ensure this is something you are passionate about and then work out a plan of action with dedicated time to help you achieve it.

If you would like some help managing your time join us at our Time Management Workshop Friday 16th October. Click Here for more information and to register your place.

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Back To School, Time To Get Back To Business

Goal Setting For The Final Quarter

School bells are ringing all around the country as the 1st of September has arrived and summer is officially over! That’s right, with all the distractions out of the way, it’s time to get back to business!

With the final quarter of the year approaching, September is a fantastic time to carry out an audit of your business and check how close you are to achieving the targets and goals you set out for yourself and your business for 2015.

As you review your goals along the way to make sure you are on track, and find you’re not doing as well as expected, now is the time to identify why and what can be done to fix this. One way to help you do this is by using SMART goals.

SMART Goals are:

Specific – Ensure you have a well-defined goal.  State what you want to achieve and when you want it accomplished by. Also look at how this goal will be achieved.

Measurable – Define how you will measure progress and the end result of the goal. Create a plan to achieve the goal with targets and milestones so you know you are moving in the right direction.

Attainable – Make sure your goal is attainable and not out of reach. Setting unattainable goals will only set you up for failure!

Realistic – You want goals that can be accomplished and that lead to steady improvement.

Timely– Putting a timetable on your goals will allow you to accomplish more while measuring the progress you are making towards your end result.

The only way to grow and improve is by setting and reaching your goals! You can use SMART Goals in everything you do, from living a healthier lifestyle to taking the holiday of your dreams and building the business you’ve always wanted.

So what do you want to accomplish, personally or professionally, over the next few months, and how will your goals and planning get you there?

 We hope you enjoy this post. If you would like to give your business a head start this quarter why not come along to some of our events.  Click Here to check out our event calendar.

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Make Your Customers Sell For You


Raving fans are customers who are so over the moon with the business and the service you provide that they will not only tell all their friends and colleagues about you, but actually bring them to you and help you make sales to them.

It’s a frightening fact that we spend six times as much money attempting to attract new customers to our businesses than we do to up-sell, on-sell and generally care for, and retain our existing customers.

Another frightening fact is that 68% of customers who stop buying from an organisation do so simply because of a perceived indifference. The business actually didn’t do anything wrong; the customer just thought the organisation didn’t care enough!

Would you like your customers to shout your name from rooftops telling people why, if they’re not dealing with you, they’re missing out on something amazing?

Here are some simple tips that you can introduce in your business today. These tips will help keep your customers not only coming back with more repeat business, but bringing their friends with them as well:

  • Use their name frequently.
  • Send them thank-you cards.
  • Ask them to come back.
  • Sell them everything they need to gain maximum benefit from the purchase.
  • Call them just to make sure everything is going well.
  • Call them when something new arrives in stock that you know they would like.
  • Follow-up & follow-up again.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver.

Try to implement just a few of these tips. As a Business Owner, you must lead by example; your team will do what they see you do.

The bottom line is that if you care for your customers, your customers will care for you and help you grow your business. It really is as simple as that.

If you would like to learn more about Sales and then come along to our half day Sales Success Workshop Friday 4th September.
Click here for more details and to register your place today.
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The Three Keys to Sales Success and Higher Income

ActionCOACH Business Coaching Ireland Key to Sales Success

As business owners, we depend on sales to provide us with the cashflow and profit we want and need. Whether you do the selling, have others sell for you or any such combination, your revenue, profit and income will always reflect how well you turn prospects into paying customers.

So why do some owners and sales people struggle while others find easy success?

No, the answer is not that they were born salespeople or they have a natural ability to sell. The truth lies in the fact that sales success comes from three things – Attitude, Activity and Ability. 

Attitude is more than just self-confidence. Yes, you must believe you can sell before you will successfully do it!  But attitude is not just about you and your personal beliefs, especially if you have others selling for you.

What is your attitude about the products or services you offer? Do you and your team firmly believe you fill a need in the market? Can you deliver what you promise every time without fail? Do your customers get real value by working with your company or purchasing your products?  If you or your team cannot confidently say YES to these questions, selling will typically be a challenge. So how do you fix it?  Focus on improving the delivery of your service and get clear on the benefits so you (and your team) always have the WE CAN DO attitude.

Activity is all about DOING and involves marketing to generate leads and sales to convert those leads to paying customers. 
If you do not generate enough activity, you will not generate enough sales and revenue. So how much activity is the right amount? It depends on the sales and revenue goals you have set (and yes, you must have specific, measurable sales goals).

To start, ask yourself two questions. What strategies, such as cold calling, advertising, direct mail, networking, referral programs, are you using to generate leads and how consistently and frequently are you using them? All too often, small businesses rely on one or two strategies and do them when revenues drop or they get around to it. Next, look at the sales management system – or process you use to convert leads to sales and ask yourself what activities, such as follow-up calls, setting up meetings, doing estimates or proposals, making presentations, must be done to turn a lead into a sale?

Finally, set activity goals to support your revenue goals. The best way to do this is to start with the end in mind – revenue goals or number of new customers. Then, using your conversion rate, develop the number of appointments, proposals and/or leads you need to achieve this. Note, if you do not know and track your conversion rates, start doing so immediately. All successful sales people know their conversion rate(s) from lead to sale and you should too.

When we talk about someone’s ability to sell, it is all about how well he or she can uncover customer needs so they can provide the best possible solution (i.e. make the sale). To do so effectively, we must recognise two important things: First, buying decisions are primarily emotional, a desire for gain or fear of loss (or pain avoidance) and second, people buy benefits, not features. Therefore, success in sales requires that you know more than just the features of your products or services. You must know the benefits your products or services provide and understand the true emotional motivators for YOUR target customers.

Once you understand these two important facts, selling is much easier because you do not sell; you simply provide solutions that meet their needs.

So how do you uncover emotional needs and build desire for your products or services? Brian Tracy says it best – you question skillfully and listen carefully. So ask yourself this: How much of your time is spent building rapport and asking great questions? When you do ask a question, do you stay in the moment (and really listen) or is your mind focused on how you will close the deal?

A wise man once said “God gave us two ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we speak.” This is great advice, especially when you are in sales!

So now you have the three keys to sales success and higher income – attitude, activity and ability! And here is the good news. All of these skills can be learned and developed if you have the desire to be successful – a passion for learning and a willingness to invest the time to make it happen. So get started – and watch your revenue and income soar!

Want to learn more about sales?

Fill in the form below and one of our coaches will contact you to see how we can help!

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