Business Mentoring Scotland has found its latest advocate in the form of Diane Drummond, co-owner of B-Dacs, a Glasgow based provider of Air Conditioning installation and related services for industrial, commercial, and domestic clients. B-Dacs was shortlisted for Family Business of the Year at the 2013 Glasgow Business Awards and has enjoyed substantial growth, particularly over the past 2 years, since its inception in 2003 – by Diane’s husband Brian. It was in October 2011 when Diane and Brian first met with their mentor Michael (Mick) O-Connor. Mick is currently Business Director with aerospace maintenance firm Vector Aerospace, and has an incredible track record of performance in the areas of project management, change implementation and management, cost reductions and efficiency improvements.
Diane details her experience of mentoring below, explaining exactly how Mick’s form of mentoring enhanced her business skills and contributed to the growth of B-Dacs:
Why did you join Business Mentoring Scotland?
“I`d taken redundancy from the bank where I’d worked for 14 years, I was looking to join Brian in the business and I was really keen on upskilling my general business skills and knowledge – basically everything to do with setting up and running your own business.”
How did the mentoring relationship work?
“It was usually me that met with Mick rather than Brian, and I found it very thought provoking and challenging. Mick was no pushover and would ask me questions such as: What is your strategy? What markets are you operating in? I would then frantically write in my pad and come up with a “to do list” after every time we’d met.”
What did you learn through being mentored?
“I found mentoring great as a checking mechanism. Although I had a background in finance Mick taught us to have clear profit and loss projections, this was crucial to us as a business with no debt, operating purely on a cash flow basis. He taught us how to think strategically and gave sound advice on implementing processes and procedure.”
How did mentoring impact on the business?
“Before going into mentoring we had no clear objectives of what we wanted to do. Brian was too busy in the business to think about strategy and long term plans. We changed the structure of the business so Brian could focus on getting the business in and obtaining contracts, and our newly appointed project manager could run the projects once they were in.”
Did mentoring increase business turnover?
“We were turning over about £0.5m before going into mentoring, and in the last two years that has doubled to about £1m. We definitely wouldn’t have increased our sales revenue as much without Mick’s help, and gross profits are now at around 25%”.
Has the business grown since mentoring?
“We now have 14 employees, up from 6 before we went into mentoring. We’ve taken on a project manager and a social media graduate. Mick gave us the confidence to look at Brian’s job role and make those changes. We’ve also moved office to larger premises. If there are three stages of where a business can be at, we’re now in the middle to end section, whereas going into mentoring we were right at the beginning, we had no strategy. Now we’re thinking not only of how we can maintain the business but of how we can get even better.”
Would you recommend mentoring?
“Absolutely. I actually think it should be mandatory for businesses to be mentored. I think I have grown massively and these mentors come with a bank of skills that can only enhance your business acumen.”