Success story A&S BMW Motorcycles

Posted by WABC

By Gary Henson

The Business / The Organization: Randy Felice is the owner of A&S BMW Motorcycles, the largest BMW Motorcycle dealership in the world. With humble beginnings, A&S began as a salvage motorcycle store in 1968. In 1988 they became a BMW motorcycle dealership. By 1998 they finalized the contract to provide BMW motorcycles to the California Highway Patrol and began to grow rapidly.

The Partnership: As the son of the original founder of A&S Cycles, Randy has worked in the business all of his life. When his parents retired in 2003, he began registering his leadership team in management classes. On the last day of one of Randy's courses, the leader recommended getting a business coach.

Although Gary Henson, president of BusinessCoach.com, had spoken previously to Randy several times about business coaching, Randy admits not really understanding the value that coaching could have for him and A&S BMW. The timing was right; Gary made a routine follow-up call soon after Randy's discussion with the management course leader. Randy said, "I chose Coach Gary because he was committed to being my coach. I could tell that he would be committed to the success of my business like it was his own."

The Challenge: Randy's priority in hiring a business coach was to cut business expenses. Even with his degree in business, Randy also knew that he needed help learning to be an effective manager. As the partnership developed, Gary and Randy found that these additional issues needed addressing:

  • The company had no clear vision or mission
  • The company had no stated core values
  • Employees didn't know the strategic direction of the company
  • Employees had no clear goals or commitments
  • Randy was uncomfortable leading staff meetings
  • He didn't know how to become an effective leader or see the clear value of leadership
  • He didn't know how to develop a team culture

The Approach: At the beginning of the coaching partnership, Gary asked Randy to clarify three things:"What do you want? What are you committed to? Who's going to hold you accountable?"  When the foundation of trust and accountability was established, Randy began to take the following steps with Gary's help:

  • Established all-company staff meetings to build shared vision, values and goals and foster communication
  • Established managers as leaders of their individual departments
  • Implemented performance- and commitment-based systems for the company
  • Developed a monthly managers' budgeting and training meeting
  • Utilized profile assessments to ensure that employee characteristics were in alignment with critical need areas
  • Replaced underperforming employees with highly effective team leaders
  • Added new product lines that were complementary to A&S BMW's retail environment, such as Vespa, Kymco and Rokon Powersports

The Value Delivered: Once A&S BMW developed and implemented the shared vision, mission statement, commitments and goals, the impact on the bottom line was striking:

  • An 18% increase in profits from retail operations. This was despite a 5.9% decrease in sales as BMW Motorcycles discontinued many of its models to prepare for new models.
  • A 12% decrease in employee expenses, including insurance, worker's compensation, etc. Randy states, "Once we got everyone going in the same direction, we could get more done with fewer people."

Randy says, "so much has changed that it's difficult to cover it all, but what's important to know is, Gary made a promise to transform our business and he has kept that promise. I would have never believed that my life could have changed to this degree, not in a million years." Randy further states, "Anyone who hasn't taken on coaching is only half running a business."

Today, a year and a half into the business coaching relationship with BusinessCoach.com, A&S BMW is a different place to work, and now, a different place to play.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Premier Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


Gary B. Henson, founder and president of BusinessCoach.com, specializes in business coaching as a strategic/change management tool leading to improved customer/employee satisfaction and overall increased corporate performance. Gary Henson and Randy Felice have recently partnered to write a book called The Fearless Leader. Learn more about Gary and BusinessCoach.com in the WABC Coach Directory. He may be reached by email, at: coaching@businesscoach.com.

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From Small to Dazzling: VSM Marketing Support Services

Posted by WABC

By Jean-Pierre Fortin

The Business/The Organization

VSM is a corporation offering telemarketing services in the information technology domain across North America. Founded in 1993, VSM is one of the leaders in the province of Quebec in this business area, and is positioning itself in the North American market by offering a wide array of marketing services to its information technology clients, including client prospecting and qualification, targeted client databases, business intelligence and profiling, turnkey marketing seminars, and more.

VSM and its leaders have worked to leverage their clients' strengths as they work with customers. They have reached an exceptional level of client satisfaction, and VSM is recognized as an expert in the marketing of information technology.

The Partnership

The president of VSM, Alain Boudreau, had led the company through its initial small business stage and growth. Over time, because of their specialization, VSM created a large demand for their services and high performance. In 2001, Alain hired a new partner who would take over the day-to-day operations of the company.

In November 2001, Alain contacted Jean-Pierre Fortin, executive coach and the founder of Coaching de gestion inc. Alain saw Jean-Pierre, an experienced coach and previous executive, as the right person to coach him and his partner as they worked to take the company to the next stage in their growth. Jean-Pierre, a coach since 1998, had been an executive for over 25 years, and also knew well what it meant to be an entrepreneur facing growth.

The Challenge

Alain's main desired result from the coaching partnership was to effectively navigate the dazzling growth his company was facing. With the assistance of a coach, he needed to:

  • Help his partner quickly engage himself in the right direction
  • Overcome the loneliness that results from being the top link in the decision-making process
  • Shift from a day-to-day operations focus to a more strategic approach in leading the company
  • Modify the company's business model in order to develop a profitable client base
  • Restructure the accounting system to better understand the costs associated with each contract
  • Identify and eliminate non-profitable clients

The Approach

Jean-Pierre related easily to the challenges his client faced, because he felt that he was facing similar challenges in his coaching business. He saw the opportunity to not only support Alain but to also apply the result of the coaching. Jean-Pierre and Alain easily understood each other and established good communication. Concurrently, Jean-Pierre hired a coach located in California to enable him to step back and ensure the success of his own business so that he could more effectively coach Alain through this period of growth.

Jean-Pierre used a coaching strategy that focused on what was most important for Alain: sustained sales growth, higher operations efficiency, and improved profitability. The strategy for the business included:

  • Making a clear distinction between revenue and benefits to eliminate non-profitable sales;
  • Delegating more while emphasizing responsibilities and competencies rather than tasks;
  • Developing a client base with repeat business rather than "one-shot deals";
  • Raising the awareness and diligence of project managers to control the evolution of contract costs.

Rather than pointing to solutions to the complex situations that Alain faced, Jean-Pierre helped him work intensely to discover his own solutions. Over the period of a year, the sessions moved from weekly to as needed and upon client request. The relationship has continued, and Alain continues to turn to his coach to get clarity when facing a complex decision.

The Value Delivered

Over time, the strategies that VSM executive Alain Boudreau and coach Jean-Pierre Fortin implemented have increased the sales growth of the business and led to increased profitability and a higher efficiency in operations.

Through coaching, Alain became aware of the distinction between the different types of costs (direct, general, marketing, etc.) and their implication in profitability. He began to realize that these costs were too high with respect to the estimates they were providing to clients. The coaching led to some interesting results: while sales growth was not significant due to the elimination of non-profitable clients, the profits from the consolidated client base grew by approximately 9.7%.

The intangible results of the coaching partnership were just as powerful. Jean-Pierre felt as a coach that he better understood the rite of passage of a small business to a medium-sized business. The trust built between coach and client and the empowerment and awareness the client experienced will allow Alain Boudreau to continue to lead VSM to even greater growth.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Fall Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


Jean-Pierre Fortin, MCC, CEC, CRHA, CA, works with company directors, executives, managers and entrepreneurs primarily in French-speaking Canada and Europe. In 1997, he founded Coaching de gestion inc., a coaching school for leaders within organizations as well as for professional coaches. Read more about Jean-Pierre in the WABC Coach Directory. Jean-Pierre may be reached by email at fortinjp2@coaching.qc.ca.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Playing on a Bigger Stage – A Branding Firm Expands, Winning Ovations from Partners and Clients

Posted by WABC

by I. Barry Goldberg and Martin Thoma

The Business/The Organization

Thoma Thoma is a branding and marketing consulting firm founded and owned by Martin and Melissa Thoma in Little Rock, Arkansas. The company had spent the past three years restructuring its services and repackaging itself as a "brand growth consultant." As activity began to increase and its new positioning gained traction, the leadership team understood that in order to make the leap to bigger markets and clients, they would have to re-engineer everything from basic beliefs to key processes and organizational accountabilities.

The two principals suffered from what might be termed "entrepreneuritis." Since they had founded and built the company, they knew how to do every job in it--so they did. It was clear to the entire team that the two newly promoted directors would have to mature quickly, establishing and maintaining accountability for their departments, if the principals were to relinquish their habitual hold on details. The principals needed to focus on the big picture if the firm was going to live up to its full market potential.

The Partnership

The principals knew that creating this envisioned change would take sustained effort and unprecedented persistence. Barry Goldberg, executive coach and founder of Entelechy Partners, had recently shared his vision for a year-long coaching process for leadership teams with Thoma Thoma's principals. They all agreed that Barry would coach the group and each individual for a year, integrating concentrated off-site team experiences with bi-weekly individual leadership coaching.

The Challenge

While the Thomas and their team had some ideas about what they wanted to accomplish, the design of both individual and group development plans clarified those challenges. Using The Leadership Circle Cultural ProfileTM, the organizational challenges were the first to be clarified:

  1. Thoma Thoma was such a nice place to work that everyone took it for granted. Even employees indicated that more demanding performance standards would be beneficial.
  2. While the vision was clear and compelling, employees lacked confidence in the company's ability to execute in a purposeful manner.
  3. Employees valued the firm's commitment to work/life balance. However, they also agreed that additional drive would translate into increased productivity and client satisfaction. Those ends could be accomplished without turning Thoma Thoma into the sweatshop stereotypical of the industry.

Each of the four individuals involved in the coaching process also established an individual development plan based on personal strengths and opportunities. Issues common to the group included:

  1. Discomfort with direct communications concerning work standards, deadlines and internal processes.
  2. A desire to apply linear processes to creative development, gaining significant improvements in scale and efficiency.
  3. Significantly differing business perspectives between the creative team and account management.
  4. The need for clear accountability, including the transfer of more responsibility from principals to directors.

The four clients made their own behavioral contributions to each of these group issues. They also had opportunities for individual development. Perhaps the most powerful catalyst for change, however, was their willingness to work together to alter collective patterns of behavior through their individual participation in the program.

The Approach

The Leaders' TrekTM for Thoma Thoma started in April 2005 with a three-day offsite session focused on group coaching. As the team engaged in real work, coaching interventions centered on the first two individual development goals listed above. The team was coached on giving and receiving difficult feedback. Working very specifically with Speech Acts, the group engaged in re-engineering key processes through direct communication and clear agreements.

The major outcome of the "BaseCampTM" experience was that the entire leadership team took responsibility for organizational change. They brought their new, well-practiced skills back to the office, where individual coaching centered on unique development plans for each executive. Creative Director Derek Wacaster explained, "My coaching work focused on building greater confidence and taking larger ownership of my position--things critical to my success. From the very first session, I experienced an internal change that resulted in richer interaction with my teammates and significantly enhanced my contribution to the firm."

By involving the entire leadership team, this coaching format had a major impact not only on individual development, but on specific relationships among the team members as well. Common frameworks for bonding patterns, balance and communications delivered a growing set of tools for dealing with new issues. Common language and newly honed skills allowed the leadership team to become independent and self-sustaining, assimilating new capabilities very quickly. As a result, ever deeper material could be explored in coaching without creating dependency on the coach for sustained behavioral change.

The Value Delivered

The value of the Thoma Thoma team's experience with The Leaders' TrekTM can be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively:

  • Roughly one half of operational duties previously held by principals have been successfully delegated to directors. Work continues in this regard.
  • All key processes have been re-engineered as "scripts," and ownership for each process is vested in a "producer/director" who is accountable for process execution.
  • All employees now understand and embrace the focus on quality work completed on deadline, and exhibit a high appreciation for that value in the work environment. (One employee declined an offer at a competing shop for considerably more money.)
  • Principals are focusing on higher leverage strategic activities, spending much more time and attention on developing relationships with client CEO's.
  • Implementation of new discipline in the firm's sales process has improved its close ratio from roughly 30% to nearly 60%. Thoma Thoma is more focused on pursuing the right opportunities, grooming its referral network and ignoring low-potential pitches.
  • After three months on The Leaders' TrekTM, Thoma Thoma increased its monthly sales target by 70%. From May 2005 through October 2005, it hit the new target five months out of six, missing it by only 10% in September.

Throughout this period of increasing business and financial performance, employees report more energy, greater enthusiasm, higher morale and growing esprit de corps. And Thoma Thoma is still viewed as caring and nurturing--an exceptional place to work.
This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.



I. Barry Goldberg is the founder of Entelechy Partners. His coaching practice focuses on senior leadership teams and high-potential executives. Barry holds a Graduate Certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University. Read more about Barry in the WABC Coach Directory. Barry can be reached by email at barry.goldberg@entelechypartners.com.






Martin Thoma is a Principal in Thoma Thoma, a brand growth consultancy. Martin is widely published on the subject of branding. He is an English and journalism graduate of the University of Arkansas. Martin can be reached by email at martin@thomathoma.com.

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From Monopoly to Market Leader

Posted by WABC

By Anne Geneviève Girard, PhD and Michel David

The Business/The Organization

The Maison des Futailles ("MDF") was originally the wine-bottling arm of the SAQ, the state-owned liquor monopoly in the province of Quebec. In 1999, the government decided that this operation should be privatized in order to eliminate a perceived conflict of interest with its other wine and liquor suppliers. At that point, the only two remaining smaller private wine bottlers merged into MDF, creating a stronger player to compete with the giant Vincor, a multi-national major liquor and wine distributor.

MDF was facing a difficult situation. On one hand, it had inherited the culture of a government monopoly. It was very product-oriented, but had a low sense of urgency and minimal client focus. On the other hand, it faced a powerful competitor in the marketplace. Its market share was gradually decreasing and cost cutting was the only driver of profitability.

The issue facing MDF: How can a spin-off with a government attitude survive and compete successfully against well-established, aggressive competitors?

The Partnership

Dr. Anne Geneviève Girard provided psychological assessment services to the Liquor Board for several years prior to the spin-off. As a result of her support of a succession-planning exercise at the Liquor Board, she was engaged to assess high-potential candidates and propose internal coaching plans to improve their skills in preparation for promotion to senior management positions.

Mr. Roland Prud'homme, a chemist in charge of a production plant, was one of these candidates. By focusing on improving his self-confidence and leadership skills, he earned numerous promotions. In 2002, Mr. Prud'homme was nominated and confirmed as President and CEO of MDF.

In his new position, it quickly became apparent to Mr. Prud'homme that the company needed a renewed strategy and a consequent realignment of resources in order to arrest its decline and become a winner in the marketplace. Mr. Prud'homme retained Anne Geneviève Girard to coach him and his team.

As she began her work with MDF, Anne Geneviève realized that there were gaps to address in the area of corporate strategy. She therefore called on her colleague, Michel David, a consultant who had developed a unique approach to coaching on strategic issues. The two collaborated to jointly coach MDF's management team in their particular areas of expertise.

The Challenge

At its core, MDF had a strong foundation of expertise in sourcing products worldwide, and the logistics to provide consumers with quality products. What it lacked was competitive spirit. While quite understandable and acceptable in a monopoly, this lack was a dangerous deficit in the open market.

In order to regain market share and build profitability, MDF would have to:

  • Define clear, specific and challenging goals;
  • Segment different markets;
  • Define positioning and competitive strategies;
  • Align organizational resources; and
  • Significantly increase accountability for results.

In summary, the what, the how, and the who all had to be addressed. Incremental thinking, which traditionally led to missed goals and lots of excuses, had to be abandoned in favor of focusing on the target and working backwards. With the end in mind, key steps could be identified and turned into breakthrough projects to be completed under tight schedules.

As Mr. Prud'homme put it, "It is essential to have a formal process, an effective methodology. You then realize that the same system will produce the same results. The gaps appear clearly and the problems become evident. In addition, if you put the right people in the right job, there is no limit to what you can achieve."

The Approach

Building on Dr. Girard's long-term coaching relationship with MDF, a participative team process was implemented. Regular interaction in this workshop-driven process forced many problems to the surface. It became plainly apparent to the President and CEO that not every employee would be able to survive in the new strategy-driven business environment.

The keys were a combination of effective business strategies and employee alignment with those strategies:

  • Top management was assessed in the areas of growth potential and team skills.
  • The current strategy was assessed based on questionnaires (High Performance AssessmentTM) and interviews.
  • Through the coaching process, senior management improved their interpersonal communications, transparency and co-operation skills.
  • By working closely with Mr. Prud'homme and four of his Vice Presidents, a more effective team was created.
  • Two crucial executives (Sales Vice Presidents) who didn't accept the new priorities and expectations of performance, and who failed to move in alignment with strategic objectives, were successfully replaced.
  • A number of senior executive posts were filled with individuals who possessed significant food sector experience, particularly in the area of competition for shelf space.
  • A precise marketing/sales strategy was designed and implemented.

The Value Delivered

In the two-year period following implementation of the coaching program, MDF's market share increased from 30% to 36%, and EBITDA (Earning Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) increased by 18%. MDF became a recognized market leader externally, and functioned with a much stronger team internally.

The final impact: Success breeds success. New investors are coming on board in 2006 to bring added market expertise and take MDF to the next level.

The real value is stated directly by the President and CEO himself:

"Through Dr. Girard's direct coaching, and the coaching of some of her colleagues focusing on specific issues, I can honestly and modestly assert that I have become a good President. I fully and confidently embrace my role. While keeping my people-oriented philosophy, I am now very results-oriented as well, and I am strongly convinced that under my leadership we will attain the results outlined in our strategic plan."

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide  (Summer Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.




Anne Geneviève Girard, PhD, owner of Anne Geneviève Girard et associés Inc., utilizes her eclectic background as a certified psychologist, management consultant and coach to identify talent and develop individuals in their organizations. Learn more about Anne Geneviève in the WABC Coach Directory.  Anne Geneviève can be reached by email at agg@aggirard.com.






Michel David, owner of Michel David Inc.is a strategy consultant. He helps clients develop powerful strategies in their current business throughdifferentiation, focus and discipline and create tomorrow through radical thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. Michel can be reached by email at mdavid@performancevision.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.