I was introduced to Level Up through a local business networking group about 18 months ago. Transitioning from an HR career to Executive Search in 1997, I set up my own partnership over five years ago. Although loving what I do, I couldn’t help feeling that we needed a bit of a refresh and have more focus on why our offering was different in a very crowded marketplace.
As an HR professional by background, I have met many business coaches; some better than others. Although admittedly a little sceptical, I met Graeme Crosbie for coffee and soon felt that he ‘got me’ and understood why I was at a crossroads. We talked about how we might work together and what his kick start programme could offer.
Having spent my whole career In the corporate world, I found I missed having a variety of people to brainstorm with. Graeme has proved to be a strong business mentor. The fact he also had a corporate background and had not worked with any other search firms proved to be a real asset. He challenged my thinking and assumptions; we went back to basics and talked extensively about business and personal goals and how these could be achieved within realistic timelines.
The kickstart programme was extremely useful. For the first time in years, I found I actually dedicated quality time to thinking about what it was I wanted Theron to be. We focused on what actually made us different; I stopped apologising for being a “small boutique” but learnt to embrace the good things about offering a bespoke, personal service to a few quality clients. Of course I already knew the theory, but having to articulate USP’s and strategy to someone else makes it more ‘real’ and something you do as opposed to just having good intentions and never getting round to it because work takes over.
Apart from growing revenue, we have had many successes including the redesign and relaunch of the website with genuine USP’s; extending our client base; recruiting a new Partner and maintaining focus and momentum.
We are now on an Ontrack programme; meetings are less frequent, but they prove a useful medium for staying focused and doing the things I committed to do. Some things continue to stay at the bottom of the pile, but I’m not sure that will ever change.
Some of my network did not understand why I needed to see a business coach, especially with my background. I have found it incredibly refreshing, not least because Graeme has helped me to look at things differently and has help me to add real value to my business. I would absolutely have no hesitation in recommend him to other business professionals but only on the basis you want to take a cold hard look at yourself and realise that growth and change will only happen if you want it to. Graeme can help, challenge and give an alternative perspective, but it’s down to you to do it.
Fiona Makowski Managing Partner, Theron LLP March 18, 2018
We have been working with Level up for more than 3 years. The relationship developed when the directors recognised that although there were plenty of good ideas and opportunities being discussed, there was the need for strategic planning and goal setting. From the beginning, Graeme demonstrated exceptional management and marketing skills supported by what seems to be an endless wealth of knowledge in all business matters.
As a company we have introduced and learned numerous business skills and disciplines to give structure, direction and sanity!
Although the sessions with Graeme are difficult, they are also enjoyable. A healthy mix of accountability, decision making and humour make every meeting count and always leave us wondering what we would do without the partnership we have.
Every company would benefit from having Graeme on board, and we would readily recommend him to anyone - (apart from our competitors)
Gary Hewitt Managing Director, Spiller Architectural Ironmongery March 18, 2018
We have been working with Level Up for almost two years and I can honestly say that the advice and training we have received has been invaluable in turning around a floundering company.
We were struggling to make a profit when we first met Graeme and his light-hearted and non-judgmental approach immediately put us at ease. He has proved to be an indispensable sounding-board and without his targeted sales plan, we would not be completing our most successful year by far in 30 years of trading
Our monthly meetings with Graeme provide a boost of enthusiasm and a welcome dose of reality. He has enabled me to make sense of a chaotic set of accounts and has brought order and direction to our sales process. I cannot recommend him highly enough.
Sally Dunn General Manager, All World Freight Ltd March 18, 2018
We first started working with Level Up over seven years ago, when I was really looking to have dedicated time and help with working on the business as opposed to working in the business. Since then the company has trebled in size and has transformed from a small team with very little structure to a company with structure, processes and values.
Working with Graeme, the learning and development as individuals and as company is a huge benefit. Equally we always come away from a Level Up session with a nugget that will help us improve.
I would recommend Level Up to any business owner that’s keen to grow and develop their company. Having an experienced coach to challenge and assist you with your company plans is hugely beneficial.
Aden Ottewill Managing Director, Prodigy IT Solutions March 18, 2018
We started working with Level Up following a recommendation by one of our clients back in 2016. Their business had grown rapidly, and with Graeme's consultation, they kept things under control and on track. We had recently gone through some organisational changes and as a result needed to look at our strategy to help initiate and control business growth.
We worked with Level Up to break down the core fundamentals of what we were trying to achieve as a business. Having a clear plan in place enabled us to move the company forward with confidence. Graeme helped us to tackle some of the challenges we faced as a business, providing us with an invaluable external perspective. Level Up mentoring is such a good value investment that I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to grow their business
Steve Bell Managing Director, Zavial Ltd March 18, 2018
We have been working with Graeme now for nearly 8 years and love every minute of his coaching.
We first met Graeme at a business seminar and loved the way he spoke! The subject matter was interesting and engaging. Also he was the first coach able to cope with both my husband and I at the same time, having worked with coaches that understood only one or the other previously.
Since Graeme has worked with us we have been able to plan more effectively and discuss the business in a more objective manner, which being a husband and wife team can usually be challenging. We love our business, but there are sometimes hard decisions to make. Graeme helps make the worst day at the office better.
The benefits of working with Level Up? Good honest advice, a listening ear without judgement, but good self-found solutions – having been nudged by just the right amount.
We whole-heartedly recommend Level Up to anyone in business, because our tailor made program enables us to grow at the pace that we want and helps us to achieve what would be much more difficult if we were left alone.
Angela Wittleton Managing Director, Castle Welding & Fabrication Ltd March 18, 2018
We first got in touch with Graeme from Level Up as we were getting noticeably busier but we didn’t have the correct systems and procedures in place to manage our organic growth. We have been working with Level Up for nearly 2 years now and Graeme has helped up to identify the areas which needed working on in order to grow our business without any pain.
As a business owner, the Level Up programme has allowed me more time to focus on growing the company with a simple sales strategy to follow.
I would recommend Level Up to anyone who is looking to grow their business sensibly without it being detrimental to the service levels which have got you where you are today.
Jack Baker Managing Director, Yellowbox Solutions Ltd March 18, 2018
We have been working with Level-Up for almost a year now after meeting Graeme through a local business group (Business Tree). I was conscious that I was spending all my time “working in the business” and desperately needed to spend more time “working on the business”, as we had an important year ahead of us.
I enrolled in Level Up’s Kick Start programme and it was great to come over to their offices and take a few hours looking at my business from a different perspective. We analysed numerous elements of our business, how we work and is that effective, plus what is or isn’t profitable. Graeme certainly helped me to question how we worked and encouraged us to make important changes, which we have implemented.
We now have a clear picture of where we are as a business and a solid, achievable plan of how we are going to move forward over the next 5 years. I have very much valued Graeme’s advice, help and support over the last year and would certainly recommend his business to any growing business.
I now view Level Up’s services to be vital to the growth of my business and we will continue to work closely with them over the coming years.
James Brown Managing Director, James Brown & Sons Ltd March 18, 2018
I started working with Graeme in April 2017 when it became apparent that our growth plans were in a bottleneck. Level Up were recommended as a local and credible source of business coaching that didn’t have the bells and whistles or the bright lights of some of the national or global coaching schemes.
Graeme got to work with us right away, he could identify our strengths and weaknesses and quickly prioritised our actions and the importance of spending time working on the business. Working with Level Up has offered me greater clarity of our goals and strengthened the business objectives required to reach them.
Graeme is interesting and easy to work with, he has a very honest, frank approach and has a way of enticing the right information from you, enabling you to work through perceived problems in a manageable way but always keeping suitable pressure on to complete your actions.
I would recommend Graeme and Level Up to any SME experiencing the pains of growth or to those that simply need a sanity check to guide them back on track.
Jerry Redman Director, Sycamore Process Engineering Ltd March 18, 2018
We have been working with Level Up since 2014, when we were introduced to Graeme through the Growth Accelerator programme. Graeme was an approved Growth Accelerator coach and helped us develop a vision orbit to 2020 and put in place strategies to make sure this happened.
Following on from the funded programme, Graeme has supported me in my role as business manager, in particular in terms of the financial management of the business. In addition, I have been part of the Momentum Programme ; the Momentum Club sessions have been most enjoyable, and it has been great to be able to share issues and ideas with other business managers and owners.
Overall, the coaching has improved my skills and has provided accountability to ensure progress with agreed targets.
I would recommend Graeme’s services as he has been able to offer practical advice and support that has helped the Company progress in a controlled way in a time of significant growth.
Jon Woolven Business Manager, Tony Benger Landscaping March 18, 2018
I have been working with Level Up for around four years now.
After a free ‘try it’ afternoon meeting with a general coaching session (Called the Momentum Club) and interaction with other SMEs, I decided to continue on a monthly basis. These coaching sessions and general forum discussion have always proved enlightening, informative, interesting and generally beneficial. Coupled to this, the invaluable Annual Planning away day.
Our one-to-one meetings were initiated as a result of Government partial funding for ‘Leadership Development’. Being one-to-one, these sessions are solely focused on my business and related industry, and have proved invaluable in identifying the key issues and subsequently developing management strategies, plans and tasks. I have continued these sessions, selecting annually from a menu of options.
For many SME business owners / managers, it will be a familiar problem that one becomes so tied up with day-to-day issues, that one fails to be able to take a regular strategic overview (to quote, "to work on the Business, instead of in the Business"). In this respect, having this regular commitment I have with Level Up is now invaluable and very rewarding for me..
I would have no reservations in recommending Level Up, particularly now he has a decent coffee machine!
Neil Taylor Managing Director, Overt Locke Ltd March 18, 2018
When we first started working with Level Up some four years ago, we were looking to implement an internal system that gave greater working relationships between our two main departments, Sales and Service. This was a very useful exercise and allowed us to grow as business without having to increase our staff numbers.
From this starting point we undertook a program that has given structure to all areas of the company and due to a 3 Director structure at SDS an outside influence to bounce our ideas off is invaluable. As a result, SDS has continually been pushed to achieve realistic but ambitious targets which have improved the stability and profitability of our organisation.
As a business, we were already being successful and doing well. However, by working with Graeme, we are constantly being challenged to consider how we could do even better. The company continues to grow without massive overheads and we have learnt to look at all business issues from a more analytical point of view.
I would undoubtedly recommend Level Up for all of these reasons. I recognise that you should never be afraid question your business decisions\strategies and we wouldn’t always do this without Graeme’s input.
Nigel Gass Director, SDS Ltd March 18, 2018
We started working with Level Up in 2015 through the Growth Accelerator programme. We had great engagement right from the first meeting, and Graeme quickly became part of our Team.
During our time working with Level Up, we have been able to create a clear roadmap for success ; using this to define and develop a clear management structure in the business and to analyse properly our sales performance and sales process to create a strong platform for further growth.
Graeme is among other things a great brainstorming facilitator who is able to draw things out of our team we could never have pulled together ourselves – all through a blend of challenging but friendly support.
I would recommend Level Up to other businesses who could do with the support of an experienced coach with an excellent ability to cut through and create clarity in complex business situations
Roger Paterson Managing Director, Streamline Corporate Ltd March 18, 2018
We worked with Graeme and Level Up in 2017. I had just been appointed as Headteacher and had also appointed a new deputy and 3 assistant heads in a short space of time. I had heard of Level up through the work they had completed with Stanchester School and wanted to use them as a facilitator to help our new team to write a new school improvement plan.
We spent a whole day working together. Graeme was thoroughly prepared (after a previous meeting to discuss outcomes), kept us (a team of 8) on track throughout that time and helped us to bond as a team as well as moving the school forward.
I cannot explain how helpful the input from Level Up was but it has continued to help us develop due to what we took from this meeting. Graeme was easy to talk to, put everyone at ease and was very focussed to get the most from the day. After this, Level Up also wrote a report and one page plan based on our activities that day. From this plan, we were able to formulate our three year school improvement plan and it has proved a very useful, ‘live’ document.
I would recommend Level Up to anyone that needs a great facilitator. The benefits far outweigh the costs, which are not extortionate anyway.
Deb Loveridge Headteacher; Robert Blake Science College March 18, 2018
I have been working with Graeme at Level Up since early 2015. In that time, I have enjoyed focused support taking our business from where it was then, to a more robust business focused strongly on our customers’ changing needs.
I enjoy the regular contact with Graeme, and Leslie (my wife and co director) and I use the quarterly meetings as a good way of keeping me focused on our progression, when it’s all too easy to get drawn into the daily distractions of working at the coal face. Graeme is constructive, and supportive, whilst quite capable of pointing out when he feels that we (I!) am getting sidetracked, or missing something. Our business was too heavily reliant on too few large, dominant customers - Graeme helped us understand that, and identify target markets. We now have a larger volume of customers, and have reduced the reliance on the original customers, whilst retaining their loyalty.
I would not hesitate in recommending the Level Up treatment to any business - large or small, it will be fun!
Mike Dennis Managing Director, Nythe Farm Kitchen April 19, 2018
We engaged Level Up over a six month period to work with our Middle Leadership Team over four INSET sessions.
Right from the first session, the programme has made everyone stop and think. It offered us all a chance to evaluate where we were, where we wanted to go and also where we had been. This was so useful as you don't want to repeat mistakes, however you want to keep what is working well. The programme has given us time to reflect, think and commit to action points which make a difference.
Out of this, our middle leaders have become significantly more focused on producing clear, simple, achieveable plans.
The programme has been a success, as it has has taken us further on our learning journey, given us reflection time and also structured joint planning time efficiently in a busy school
Sarah Todd Stanchester Academy April 19, 2018
We have conducted two projects with Level Up over the last two years after they were recommended by another school.
In the work on training coaches as part of our highly successful DfE funded 'Women into Leadership' programme, Level Up provided excellent training for those who were signed up as coaches for the participants. Not only have the coaches been excellent for our participants, but they then carried that coaching on into their own schools and roles. Excellent value for money.
As a growing MAT, we contracted Level Up to work with all the stakeholders, to explore the threats, opportunities and agree the next steps. This was a very successful piece of work resulting in every stakeholder agreeing that the MAT was the way forward for all of us and agreeing principles, values and vision. This is now becoming a reality but it has been a very amicable and smooth process, if a little long. It has been worth investing the time and energy into this in order to build a trusting relationship upon which to build our MAT.
I thoroughly recommend Level Up and will be using them in any similar project
Sarah Watson Principal, The Castle School April 19, 2018
We started working with Graeme at Level Up way back in 2009. We were busy running a growing business and were aware we needed help with managing this process along with gaining a work/life balance Working with Graeme gives us a focused approach to spending time working on the business instead of in it, as well as having a structure to work to ensuring that planning takes place.
For us in particular, Work/Life balance is much improved and has continued to be so over the whole 9 years we have worked together. Business processes are more efficient in an ever-changing business and technological environment, and the team are able to function independently of us being in the business. Our regular coaching sessions not only increase our efficiency as a business and as business owners, but also give us peace of mind and confidence that we are moving in the right direction.
I thoroughly recommend Level Up for their flexible approach and support which is tailored to any individual business’s needs
Stephanie d'Albiac-Reay Managing Director, Labyrinth Computers April 19, 2018
After my first meeting with Graeme more than six years ago I realised that although I had run my business for a good many years there were lots of ideas, processes and ways of gathering information about the business that I had not thought of. He was full of ideas.
I now feel that I have much more control over my business. I am much more reactive to trends due to lead generation and conversion figure analysis. As the business has grown and especially the sales team it has become even more important to have processes in place for team members to follow to make the service we offer our customers as consistent as possible. Graeme has been a huge help in helping to put these processes in place.
I have found in the past that running my business was often a lonely affair! Having Graeme at the end of the phone had been an enormous help and very supportive. Graeme is a very kind and genuine guy, always happy to listen and advise. He always delves into how I am feeling about situations and makes sure I’m also being honest with myself. Although there have been tears at times on my part there has been much more laughter!
I have had a whole bunch of things out of working with Level Up over these years; advice and guidance – if Graeme doesn’t know the answer he will probably know someone else who does!; direction; the value of management information; setting budget targets and monitoring them ; introduction to best practices ; confidence ; delivering a compact lean business ; introductions to other business…and so on.
I recommend Level Up for all of these things, as well as providing a great sounding board for me coupled with a professional and personal attitude
Sue Franklin Managing Director, John Franklin Kitchens April 19, 2018
Prodigy has worked with Graeme for over 6 years and in that time developed a really close working relationship. We have worked with Graeme in many capacities including staff training, one on one coaching for Directors and also attend his annual business planning day which really focusses you on your business goals. When running a business its very easy to get consumed with operations and having that quality time to discuss ideas, headaches and use Graeme as a sounding board has been invaluable for us as Directors but also training for some of our senior management. Graeme has excellent knowledge of all areas of business within the SME market and for that reason I think makes working with him very relevant and critical to our business. He will often challenge you to consider things that typically can easily be over looked when making strategical decisions. We have recommend Graeme to clients and will continue to do so. Graeme is a key partner in our business today but also pivotal in helping us grow and achieve both personal and business future goals.
Ryan Park Director, Prodigy IT Solutions April 19, 2018
Graeme worked as a strategic business advisor to Streamline Corporate and personal mentor to myself for 2½ years and during that time we completely restructured the sales function and achieved over 20% growth. Graeme’s style is collaborative, methodical and enthusiastic and his ability to impart his understanding of effective Business principles makes him a great extension to any team. I can sincerely recommend Graeme and his ability to help businesses grow revenue and profitability and trust everyone enjoys the same success as Streamline!
Graeme Paterson Sales Director, Streamline Corporate Ltd April 19, 2018
We have been working with Level Up since 2013. We’d heard some great feedback on the business grapevine about Graeme and took an instant liking to him. Over the time we have been working with him, we have been able to bring more structure to the business and formulate a 3 year rolling plan with proper grown up goals. Graeme’s support has helped to ensure we meet the goals and set new ones to keep us purposeful and busy.
Graeme is great fun - we have long meetings in which we achieve an awful lot but they are always punctuated with laughs and the time flies. It leaves usfeeling well supported which is a wonderful thing. Having someone to bounce ideas off and who will give us an honest answer is invaluable.
We would always recommend Level Up to other businesses.Graeme has lots of experience with all kinds of organisations and businesses. Without this wealth of knowledge Teapot would not be where it is today.
Lizzie Ginbey Director, Teapot Creative June 27, 2018
Kevin and I have worked with Graeme since 2010, and he has been a key factor in our growth to date. When I say that, it isn’t that he has told us what to do, it is just that he has given us the discipline to make things happen!
In business, it is so easy to keep your head down when you are busy and get the job done….but with Graeme’s help we have learnt to lift our heads up and focus on our strategic plans. Without regular meetings to focus on our targets and “next steps” we would have not made the progress we have.
What I love about Graeme is he isn’t a “Yes” man…if he doesn’t agree with one or both of us he lets us know. He has a wealth of knowledge from working with many types of business and a genuine desire to help others. Running a business as husband and wife can be tough at the best of times but having Graeme around gives us an impartial third vote which helps us move projects forward.
For those business owners who think that they can grow their businesses themselves I would urge you to speak to Graeme as you probably can but he will enable you to get to your end goal faster with a more disciplined approach!
Graeme is very much part of our team and long may this continue.
Alison Smith Director, Brook Financial June 27, 2018