Firstly, for the record, I’d like you to know that Leroy and Carolyn bravely gave their permission for me to share their story in the interests of helping others who might be experiencing similar challenges to the ones they faced. At no stage would personal issues otherwise be revealed from Club Red Inspiration’s coaching sessions without the prior permission of the clients.
The ‘Present State’ (as it was when we met)
I first met Leroy’s wife, Carolyn at a business seminar in Perth in early 2012. We caught up for a coffee, during which I talked about my coaching and mentoring ideas and she promoted her skin cream networking business and her home-baked cookie concept. We got on well and agreed to keep in touch in case we could help each other in any way.
Later that year in 2012, she contacted me and suggested that her husband, Leroy might need my coaching services. Leroy had been made redundant from his job as a supervisor in bathroom renovations when the company he worked for folded, and he decided to give the world of self-employment a shot.
At the age of 48, however, Leroy had begun to question his lot in life. Labelled as dyslexic at 30 and having suffered the uncertainty of unemployment, his confidence had taken some blows. Leroy had no real plan for the future, except to somehow scrape up enough work to fill the week. He enjoyed the flexibility of being his own boss and loved the fact that he could attend all the school functions for his two wonderful children, but he described himself as ‘boring’.
During our Discovery Session he said he was ‘going through the motions’; that each day felt like ‘Groundhog Day’ (from a movie of the same name in which a news reporter finds himself trapped in a town where the same day is repeated over and over); and concluded that he felt like ‘a lion in a cage’.
Leroy’s family were back in London and since he and Carolyn had migrated to Perth he had only been back a couple of times. Leroy’s Jamaican cultural background had instilled in him a tendency to remain a private person and by his own admission, he felt uncomfortable around people. He even revealed that he did not like going to school functions with his children as he felt awkward around the other parents and was worried that “people might think I’m stupid”. (He clearly isn’t!)
To summarise the predicament, Leroy knew that ‘something’ needed to change, but he didn’t exactly know what and he didn’t know how. Carolyn was tired and frustrated. She likes to read inspirational books and attend personal development courses but the inconsistent business income meant that she was going from part-time back to full-time work in hospital administration. She had tried the usual home-based business panaceas and was trying hard to help Leroy with the office side of his work, but it was becoming a bit overwhelming. Leroy was a good carpenter but had never run a business before. Time was marching on and they both wanted more – more out of life, more opportunities for their children and more fun as they worked towards some kind of retirement options.
Leroy had no business plan at all except to try get through the week and eek out a living. Leroy’s marketing consisted of one-sided business cards, an ad in the local newspaper and some word of mouth referrals from their closest friends. He had no online presence, no real branding strategy, no unique sales proposition (USP), no financial plans and an unmarked van, plus of course his tools. The business had no real tangible asset value.
Some kind of mid-life crisis was kicking in and the atmosphere at home was subdued and somewhat pessimistic. The trait of being ‘apprehensive about meeting people’ and wanting to build a small business that depends on meeting people was not a good mix.
Leroy’s New Resource – Mentoring and Coaching
The first step, using coaching jargon was to be clear about ‘where they were at’ – their ‘present state’ and their problems, or at least their ‘perceived problems’, which are not always the same thing!
They had done one thing ‘very right’ though – to recognise that they needed external help and to ask for it – that’s where I came in.
I won’t go into all of the details of how we worked some magic, but Leroy later gave me this testimonial:
“I still don’t know exactly what it was that Tony did or said, but something’s really clicked inside my head and I feel completely different – I’ve got so much more confidence. That started even after the first session!
Since then, we’ve transformed my business. I’ve now got a unique brand and some systems that have made things much more professional.
I’m getting more calls and making more money on a consistent basis and our goals are much clearer. Working with Tony has really made a huge difference to our business and our lives.”
Leroy Brown of Leroy Brown Carpentry
Leroy Brown Carpentry Two and a Half Years after he started working with Club Red’s Tony Inman
The first thing we did was to look at Leroy’s own perception of himself and his circumstances. We worked on his self-talk, his perception of the opportunity he had before him, his values and his amazing support network. Surely and steadily, Leroy built his confidence and became excited and enthused about designing his life by building an effective business and having fun doing it.
Leroy had two massive points of difference over his competition. One was that he kept his word and always turned up at the time he had said to the customer that he would be there – that’s a big one for a WA-based tradie! The second was that he always cleaned up after himself – no piles of unwanted sawdust are ever left behind on a Leroy Brown worksite. For those readers old enough to remember the song about his namesake ‘Bad bad Leroy Brown, the baddest man in the whole damn town’, you’d understand why we just had to paraphrase it.
I came up with a new slogan and a new brand theme:
‘Leroy Brown – the Cleanest Carpenter in the Whole Damn Town’
We worked on every aspect of Leroy’s business, using the ‘Inman System’ and on Leroy’s plan for how the business fitted in with his life so that, as I like to say, “The dog is wagging the tail and not the other way around!’
Leroy now has a website, social media pages, vehicle and street signage (mobile billboards), testimonials, video recommendations, referral business, business systems, financial controls, a merchant facility, growing goodwill and an increasingly saleable business.
He has gone from scraping a living to having four weeks work booked in advance, to doing a joint venture, to employing a full-time carpenter, a contract carpenter, a part-time bookkeeper and of course Carolyn as his executive assistant and me as his coach.
Using the coaching services of Club Red Inspiration and Tony Inman, Leroy Brown Carpentry has increased turnover and profitability by two and a half times over two and a half years, as at October 2015 and the business continues to flourish.
Leroy went back to the UK for a wedding last year and he and Carolyn have taken family vacations to Rottnest Island, the South-West of WA and are planning a Bali holiday.
Leroy’s confidence and enthusiasm for life have grown so much in that time. He attended adult literacy classes to help him deal with the dyslexia (even Richard Branson has dyslexia). He has given presentations at business networking breakfasts. He has built business relationships and joint ventures and he even co-coached his son’s soccer team last season. Leroy also finds time to pursue his love of photography and he loves taking before and after shots of his craftsmanship at work to showcase his talents.
As his coach, I feel like part of the family. It has been an absolute joy to work with Leroy and Carolyn and to see them progressing steadily towards a happier and more fulfilling life.
Here is what Leroy had to say about his experience of working with Business Coach and Mentor, Tony Inman of Club Red Inspiration.
If you need the services of Leroy Brown Carpentry, or you know someone who does, here are his contact details: