We have an inspiring story that will make your heart skip a beat...excuse the pun! Mike and Helen Mander, Business Coaching alumni have made an impact in New Zealand that is saving lives.
Mike and Helen Mander’s business ‘Heart Saver’ supplies, distributes, tests and provides training in Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). They started their business in April 2012 with one unit as a ‘first response’ initiative for those suffering cardiac arrests.
Mike and Helen knew there was a market for what they were doing, there are an estimated 1,500 cardiac arrests every year in New Zealand and responding to them puts significant strain on national emergency service providers. The AEDs Heart Saver distributes can help community members prevent cardiac arrests turning fatal before help arrives. Mike and Helen are campaigning for AEDs to be installed in public areas and encouraging businesses to embrace the technology as part of their Occupational Health and Safety protocols.
“We felt like we were flogging a dead horse,” says Mike, who was driving sales whilst Helen managed the accounts and operations. They were running the business from their home and as parents juggling a busy family, Mike and Helen felt bogged down in the day to day operations of keeping the business afloat, rather than utilising their resources to grow.
“We had no accountability or no one encouraging us to move the business forward, we were just operating day to day with no real long term strategy to grow into our potential,” says Mike. Mike says he and Helen identified they needed a third person to influence the direction of the business and keep them both on track. “Accountability was a big thing for us, as was finding someone with the knowledge neither of us had – after all, we didn’t know what we didn’t know!”
Mike and Helen started working one-on-one with business coach Debra Chantry through The Icehouse. Debra was always there to critique Mike and Helen’s decisions, give feedback and guidance. She constantly drew on her wealth of knowledge and experience when working with them. “We feel quite lucky we were able to learn from her ‘mistakes’. Debra was honest about what had worked in her career and what hadn’t and we could apply her learning's to what we were facing,” says Mike.
Debra worked hard with Mike and Helen often going beyond the call of duty to ensure they didn’t lose direction. “Debra helped us to really refocus and work on developing the business strategically, rather than spending our time on smaller tasks,” says Mike.
Because of Debra’s guidance and the confidence we gained from working with her we were able to hire sales staff and move out of our home into an office space – whilst remaining in the black!” Mike and Helen are enjoying increased profits and have been able to pull a salary from the business. Because of the improved performance, Mike and Helen were able to look into growth opportunities and new product development. “We are considering other products such as First Aid Kits, AED testing services and training. Debra has helped us to become focused on customer care. Extending our range and services reflects our renewed focus on the customer journey,” says Mike.
Debra has assisted Mike and Helen with their pricing and marketing and constantly challenges them to ask ‘why’ when making their decisions or considering new opportunities. “Debra doesn’t give us solutions, but she does help us to back ourselves and our decisions – she is a sounding board for us and has taught us how to address pros and cons to our advantage,” says Mike. “Working with Debra has meant we’ve grown up and moved out of the ‘mum and dad company’ mind set. We have lofty goals and are planning to double our turnover and explore new opportunities.”