Case Study: Soilfix

Overcoming growth pains and future proofing the business

 Profile image of Overcoming growth pains and future proofing the business From Spring Leadership

George Evans

Based in Bristol and Essex but working throughout much of England and Wales, Soilfix is a soil and groundwater remediation specialist. They work with clients across many industries to help clean up sites for development, removing contaminants, preparing the ground, and ensuring environmental risk is minimised.

Having experienced a period of growth, MD, George Evans, recognised that he was no longer able to be involved in everything that was going on and needed to find a way of empowering the team so he could start working ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ it.

That’s where Spring Leadership came in.

The problem

It’s a common problem with businesses that are transitioning between the earlier stages of growth. At the start-up stage, everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets stuck in. From the MD to the admin staff, job descriptions are wide-ranging and barely worth the paper they’re written on. If you’re fortunate enough to have a good team in place there’s a shared goal to just get the job done, all hands to the pump so to speak.

But as the business grows, the number of employees creeping up past ten, past twenty, edging closer to thirty, it’s more difficult for everyone to be involved in everything, it just wouldn’t work.

Founding Director George Evans found this to be true for Soilfix as the business began to grow organically around 2016. He realised he had to start making people more accountable rather than simply jumping in and ‘rescuing’ them all the time, and he needed to put in place a management structure that better reflected this new era for the business.

Project 2021

Having worked with Steve previously to develop a strategic plan and in a mentoring capacity during some testing business times, George knew that Spring Leadership would be able to help with this new challenge. He believed their “insight into larger businesses and how they operate and function,” would prove useful as he sought to grow.

Firstly we undertook a complete review of the Soilfix business – it’s strategy and positioning and how it was organised.  We then conducted 360-degree emotional intelligence assessments of the senior team with individual feedback. All of the team found it revealing in what it told them about their management and leadership styles. The programme we put together as a result involved team coaching with the four director Executive Team as well as one to one coaching with each of those directors, and also coaching with another four of their key managers.

In addition, we worked together to create a growth plan called Project 2022 which involved empowering and developing key members of the rest of the Soilfix team and the creation of a senior management team to run the business.

We’ve worked closely with Soilfix ever since to help them get everything in place to achieve that plan.

And the results?

“We are becoming…and it’s very much a work in progress…a senior leadership team. Our board of directors is much better at working on the business instead of in the business,” says George. “And we’ve got a much clearer direction, but also a clear marketing strategy which we’ve disseminated through the business. We understand ourselves better and how we operate and we’ve learned a lot about accountability and how the things we do as managers can disempower others.

“In terms of financial performance? I wouldn’t say that‘s improved. But that hasn’t been the goal. We’re slowly getting more junior members of the team to take ownership of that. We are, however, growing without significantly reducing profitability. We’re going through this painful stage where that is expected but I’m optimistic we’ll maintain our profitability coming out the other side.”

But what about the impact of Covid?

“The work we’ve done with Spring helped to future proof our business,” explains George. “I’ve relatively successfully pulled myself out of projects where I used to be very heavily involved and I’m pulling myself out of tenders and proposals as well. This is great; it’s created more time for me to do the things that bring more value. And it’s making my time more manageable.

“So of course, when Covid hit we were in a better position to deal with what was thrown at us. As I was less involved in the day to day running of the business, I was able to look outside at what was happening and then feed those messages through in terms of actions and how we should manage things. So I suppose we’ve been able to act more effectively.

“And while we’ve had to put the coaching and mentoring programme on hold for now I have continued to meet with Steve for a few hours each month. I suppose it’s a combination of reviewing what’s going on in the world and personal mentoring.

“Either way it has been extremely valuable.”

Final thoughts

“Steve and Corine are very knowledgeable on business management practices as well as current best practices and what is going on in the wider world. That’s what we value in them. They’re good at asking questions and causing us to question what we’re doing. And I’ve built up a great rapport with them over the years.

“Together they’ve helped us to make the changes we needed to inspire the next generation of leaders within our business. It’s been a great journey so far and we’re looking forward to working more with them in the future.

“I would recommend Steve and Corine for companies that are struggling with growth pains. That’s where they really helped us. If we’d stayed as a company of just 10 people I think we would have been fine. Even up to 20 people to be honest. But the difficult transition for us has been getting to where we’re at now.

Are you struggling to take the necessary steps back from your business to enable it to scale up?

Our bespoke one-to-one and team coaching programmes could be just the thing to help give your teams and key individuals the accountability they need to get on with the job at hand, freeing you up to concentrate on growth.

Get in touch for a no-obligation chat about what we could do for you.

Together they’ve helped us to make the changes we needed to inspire the next generation of leaders within our business. It’s been a great journey so far and we’re looking forward to working more with them in the future.

“I would recommend Steve and Corine for companies that are struggling with growth pains. That’s where they really helped us. If we’d stayed as a company of just 10 people I think we would have been fine. Even up to 20 people to be honest. But the difficult transition for us has been getting to where we’re at now. George Evans | Managing Director, Soilfix