Case Studies

Cladding Panel Manufacturer

Reducing material waste by 5% in 6 months

Tim was asked to review the financial and management accounts as the Gross Margin was fluctuating erratically from month to month and the Board of Directors weren’t able to rely on the figures.

He upgraded Sage and implemented a simple system whereby the cost of sales figure directly related to the goods sold thus producing meaningful figures. At one of the company’s board meetings Tim asked how waste was being measured and accounted for. The managing director and production director said they had tried to do this for five years without success as up to six different cladding panels could be produced each day on a continual flow basis and weren’t sure that it was possible. Tim persuaded them that he should be allowed to ‘see what he could achieve’ on the basis that ‘you can only manage what you measure’.

Using his diplomatic and enquiring style he obtained from the production manager and his staff the different raw material contents of the panels including various weights, sizes and fire retardant capabilities. He then built an Excel spreadsheet using lookup tables, formulae and absolute cell addresses which automatically produced the theoretical usage of the stones and different resins that could be measured against actual usage. He trained the staff to input the figures which were refined over several weeks and within 6 months wastage was reduced by more than 5% in a company turning over £4m.

The directors and managers were delighted as for the first time they had good information and the value of the reduction in wastage directly improved the bottom line profits.

Ten years later the spreadsheet was still being used and Tim was asked to come back and enable the spreadsheet to record up to twelve different panels a day as the company had expanded significantly.

Tim was able to achieve such a success because of his knowledge of how businesses works, including manufacturing, his ability to communicate with the Board of Directors as well as people on the shop floor together with his hands on ability in IT and Finance.

Funeral Director

Systems to ensure absolute compliance with families’ wishes at times of bereavement

The business first approached Tim over 20 years ago when it was arranging around 50 funerals a year. Tim was asked to introduce systems to ensure that families’ wishes were recorded in a simple way at the time of arrangement and and that the details were effectively communicated to staff as well as being used to improve the financial and management information.

The company was starting to grow significantly and the owner realised that there would soon be too much information to be carried in his head. By understanding exactly what was involved in the business processes, Tim was able to produce forms that could be easily completed in highly emotional situations at the time of bereavement, while Edward could continue to give his full attention to the family and their needs. These forms, with a few amendments, are still being used today when the number of funerals is in excess of 300 per year.

Another issue was that the number and value of memorial stones was not being controlled efficiently and Tim helped introduce systems to keep on top of this once they had been physically checked and he had uploaded the details from Excel to Sage.

Tim has revisited the company from time to time to help improve management information, accounting controls, train staff and upgrade to newer versions of Sage.

Tim was able to ensure the information is available to care for families in line with the company ’s high standards because of his ability to listen and ask appropriate questions, his enthusiasm to help businesses improve and his knowledge of Finance & IT.

International Geological Company

Improving ‘Right First Time’ and introducing systems to ensure continual improvement

Tim formed the limited company for the Directors in 1982 and played a role in establishing the company as a preferred supplier of high quality science to major oil companies.

The company operated on the Excel spreadsheets Tim designed until the turnover exceeded £1m, at which point he introduced an integrated accounting package.

In 1992 Tim helped re-organise the company after a demerger, in which a major shareholder and eight staff left the company, securing the employment of the remaining thirty five staff and the continuity of banking facilities. He played a valuable strategic role for over 20 years.

Tim was instrumental in designing a simple system that married actual performance with the original tenders, measuring the success of the project both geologically and financially, highlighting learning points not only for the geologists involved with that particular assignment but for all staff so that future projects could be run more effectively for the clients and more profitably for the company. A Right First Time philosophy improved the company's performance considerably.

Tim was able to help improve performance because of his ability to understand complexity, act as a confidant to the owner, and relate to highly qualified scientists.

Hotel in Jamaica

Improved relationships with bankers, re-financing, reduction of waste, creating and implementing systems

After qualifying as a chartered accountant with KPMG Tim’s first job was Financial Comptroller of hotel in Jamaica. This was a steep learning curve, as there was a severe lack of financial systems as well as working capital. Physical stock counts revealed significant deficiencies of wet and dry stock, analysis of food and drink orders uncovered further losses and there was poor control of cash flow, especially receivables (monies owed).

Systems were designed and introduced covering all areas of operation of the hotel during the first year and in the second the concentration was on training staff, in particular the local Jamaican who had been promoted to the position of Financial Comptroller, two Comptrollers previously.

Tim was able to relocate to Miami and return to the resort for a couple of days each month as good information was being produced expeditiously to enable the General Manger to run the hotel on a daily basis and report to the Board of Directors meaningfully. Tim returned to the UK in 1979.

When the directors discovered that Tim had set up T H Consulting in 1990 they immediately contacted him to see whether he could help them with their finances. Hurricane Gilbert had devastated the hotel and they had considerably overspent the insurance claim. Their bankers had lost patience, threatening to remove their facilities. Tim flew out, reviewed the situation, met the bank to find out exactly what they required, produced meaningful projections and negotiated for Ja$ loans to be converted to US$ loans at 10% less interest ensuring the company had a future.

Tim was intricately involved in the hotel becoming the first three star all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. He prepared projections including ‘what if’ scenarios as there was no example to follow, created systems and the following year was the most profitable ever.

Tim was able to win many successes for the company because of his understanding of different cultures (98% of staff were local Jamaicans), his ability to communicate with people at all levels, from the board of directors to the bell hops and bankers to suppliers, introduce systems, train and motivate.


Social Enterprise

Simple straightforward advice to understand profitability and financial control

Tim was asked by the committee of volunteers to review the business as they feared they would have to close because of lack of profitability. The company had operated for seven years, surviving hand to mouth partly through their ability to obtain grant funding. However, there was now a danger that this funding would cease. There was a healthy turnover but a lack of controls and no measure of gross profit for individual sectors of the business. Banking was recorded but there was no accurate measurement of daily sales, hence no-one had a proper notion of how well or badly different areas of the company were performing.

Tim quickly created Excel spreadsheets that summarised daily takings for each area and reconciled sales to banking. He then taught the staff how to work with the spreadsheets. This immediately created a better atmosphere, as people were able to talk about specifics rather than hunches and opinions. With sound data to work from, meaningful marketing and sales plans were made, together with a clearer vision of the future and a better idea about what needed to be done.

Tim was able to achieve such positive results so quickly because of his knowledge of businesses in general and profit measurement in particular. He has considerable experience in creating and advising social enterprises and charities and is able to communicate with volunteers and paid staff alike, who often have limited business knowledge.


Local Business Networking Group

Smallness isn’t a barrier to losing money

The group had found that their bank account had reduced from £1,500 to not being able to pay the meeting venue for their weekly breakfast meetings within nine months. The group's treasurer and membership committee looked at the figures and concluded that the account would be £300 overdrawn if all the outstanding liabilities were paid. Meeting costs had been paid to the hotel for which monies had not been received by the group. If this had happened for two delegates a week, £750 would be lost over the course of a year.

The fact that outstanding creditors had built up the bank account did not reflect the real liquidity. This apparent liquidity had led to payments being authorised by the members that could not in reality be afforded.

Tim was asked to stand in as treasurer and within nine months the bank balance, after all liabilities had been paid, was standing at over £1,000. The members had contributed £400, which meant that the additional £900 balance had built up because leakages had been stopped.

Tim subsequently introduced simple systems to ensure all monies that should be received were received and all payments could be afforded.