what others say - testimonials
I was tired, lost, never had any money, had no financial plan, my staff were doing what they liked and family life was taking all the brunt. But hey, my turnover had doubled, so I must be killing it right?? My name is Jason Curtis and I now run a very successful electrical business thanks to the Actual to Ideal (A2I) program and the support it offers.
I started in 2005 and spent the next 8 years battling away, building my business. In 2013, I hit rock bottom and needed help. I was referred to an Independent Government Assistance Reviewer who analyses businesses and he identified” I had “Key Man Syndrome”, “No business or financial structure” and in fact, “I was flat out – going broke”.
Turnover had doubled and I had lots of staff but at the time I didn’t understand, that if we didn’t turn things around, the outcome was bleak. I was referred to 3 different business coaching programs to gain assistance. I wisely reviewed all 3 and decided to look at the Actual to Ideal program and met with Mack and Jeff.
Due to their down-to-earth and honest approach, I instantly felt comfortable talking to them. They don’t use big words to try to confuse you and in fact offered relatable sayings and phrases and even the odd joke to get us all on the same page. They kicked off the program by telling me what to expect and the fact, that it might not be pretty.
They engaged with my team who in turn, constructively reviewed the business and myself. They then gave me a comprehensive breakdown of their findings. They have owned and managed many successful businesses, including some that failed, so they know really what it’s like to be in a small business. Not like some grad student fresh out of a business degree from Uni.
They were so knowledgeable and totally understood where I was at within my young business career, and they gave us a plan to work through the issues. The difference Actual to Ideal made to myself and my business is why we are still in touch nearly 10 years later. I had done many business seminars and coaching but as a busy owner/operators know, no one actually helps you! They take your money, tell you what to do and move on, which leaves you frustrated and confused in your day-to-day work life.
Mack and Jeff locked themselves in and assisted with their program and applied that most important thing to a business owner, ACCOUNTABILITY. They gained the respect of my whole team and held each and every one of us accountable, “to do – what we said we would do”. That was the difference.
My team grew happier as they had a voice as we progress through a structured program. Importantly the team were engaged in positive change. Income grew and grew and for the first time, so did the net profit. I received customised support and tools to manage my business finances and at the same time, they gave me praise as I was progressing.
As fellow business owners know this is rare but wow it feels good to see growth, make money and be patted on the back for your efforts. Mack and Jeff have long finished their program but have continued to assist me on and off for over 10 years now. I remain very very appreciative to have been recommended to them.
We still use their program documents to recruit, onboard, manage and review our team and have made a few changes ourselves along the way. My advice: “Their program is not easy, but you will be supported. You will laugh, cry and even get frustrated with them but honestly, it works. The support you get from this type of program and the way they learn your business to assist you to my knowledge is unmatched in the WA”.
I am more than happy to discuss my success with anyone that needs Actual to Ideal support. Hopefully, I can help someone in the same manner that I was helped back in 2013.
Managing Director – Curtis Electrical Contracting Pty LTD
As Arborists we are passionate about the environment, the benefits of trees and our people. When we engaged Mack and Jeff from Actual to Ideal (A2I), we weren’t looking for experts in Arboriculture but rather someone to help us sustainably grow our business and plug the gaps that where hindering growth .
Conducting the free A2I business diagnostics before commencing the program, gave us absolute clarity around what was going well and what we could do better or differently. This led to the implementation of a review and improve program, which along the way gave us the tools, skills, knowledge, confidence and independence to be the best version of ourselves and the business.
Having Mack and Jeff working in and on our business for 12 months exposed the entire team to constant expert feedback, challenged our core business decisions and guided us to achieve an extraordinary team culture. A culture that gives us an advantage over our competitors.
Although the program was concluded in 2017 to this day, we use the A2I principals, templates and best practice documentation every day. In addition, the A2I excel Financial Dashboard gives us the critical information we require to make informed decisions and timely forecasting. We quickly learnt – Sales is Vanity, Profit is Sanity.
As Mack says: “You should not have to be an accountant to understand your financial reports”
In 2013, Tony and I bought a small family-owned timber crate, case and pallet manufacturing business. We had 2 factory staff and only the previous owners and ourselves in the office. Fast forward to 2022, and we have moved to larger premises 3 times and currently have 35 staff on the books.
As a husband and wife team, with a rapidly growing customer base and workload, we recognised that we needed extra advice and guidance with the structure and forward planning for our business so that we met our customer, staff and legal obligations.
In 2020, we engaged Mack from Actual to Ideal to assist us to tweak the structure of our business and help us with forward planning.
While there are many elements to the A2I program, the three areas that assisted us most were:
Best Practice – documented guidelines for all areas of the business that all staff have input into and agree to follow.
Recruiting Process – getting ‘the right people on your bus’ is so important! Mack guided us through advertising, interviewing and recruitment processes.
Financial Dashboard – an excellent tool (designed by Mack) that shows the business accounting information from 2013 to our current figures. The Dashboard also assists with budgeting and forward planning.
Mack has been consistent with his mantra of ‘following through with what you said you would do’. This has been great advice for accountability for all our staff – and is role modelled by the directors and other staff on our leadership team.
Our daily pre-start meetings and weekly Review and Improve meetings are also excellent tools for our staff to be informed about information that they require to do their job properly. These meetings also provide a platform so that staff are given a voice within the business and recognise that they are part of the MT Crates’ team.
We thoroughly recommend the Actual to Ideal program to anyone that wants to set up more efficient structures and forward planning in their business. As Mack says, “business owners need to be working ON their business and not IN their business”.
Tony and Leonie Cecich
Actual to Ideal
Confronting initially, our Actual to Ideal journey has been a fantastic addition to our business.
Like many in small business we were, and perhaps still are, time poor.
More particularly so when it came to finding dedicated time and resources for in depth business improvement and processes. There are always seemingly more important things to keep the business wheels spinning.
Going through the A2I process was not only a reality check, but a very inclusive process that teased out many unknown and unrecognized challenges and perhaps even in denial of at times. It is not a flash in the pan process, rather a toolbox of tools to have a good hard look at the mud flinging off the wheels, handbrakes and much more.
Once understood the inclusivity and uptake by our team has been outstanding, bringing many benefits along with that.
Whilst it has changed considerably over time, the A2I processes soon became and continue to be a key integral part of our operations nowadays. Just like our business dynamics, requirements and demands, they are continually evolving.
Actual to Ideal is a program that brings enjoyment to the workplace for both owners and staff, and something that I would strongly encourage any business to engage in, small and large.
I would be more than happy to discuss A2I to any that are considering the program.
Well done Mack and Jeff, outstanding!
Thanks for your effort over the 2 days. Everyone has told me, when I asked them the question, that they really enjoyed the time and got a lot out of our workshop.
Your ability to relate to the situations that we find ourselves in, with real life experience, and to provide alternative ways to think about these situations, with the knowledge or models that support the alternative thinking, was a major factor in enabling our workshop to be so successful.
The other reason main reason for our success was, as you have said, the fact that everyone came with an open mind and a can-do attitude. Thank you to everyone that attended and contributed in such a positive way.
The Actual to Ideal program our organisation undertook, did many great things, but ultimately, it changed the culture in how we communicate within all the levels of our business. It set up the framework and discipline to ensure everyone was able to be involved in getting the correct message to each other and understand the priorities required to make us successful. This is no easy task in a 24-hour operation, but the systems set up by the team from Actual to Ideal made it a smooth and seamless transition. We continue to see the productivity gains from these changes year after year.
Thompson & Redwood (T&R)
In 2012/13 Mack & Jeff from Actual to Ideal were engaged by Curtis Electrical to assist us with improving our business practices. They provided our business with materials & tools to help us improve, create & implement practices to assist us to run our business in a most effective & efficient manner.
The one thing that was instrumental for me was the introduction of the ‘Financial Dashboard’. This is an amazing piece of work that was created by Mack and adapted to suit our business. It provides us with statistics for cashflow, projected finances, the ability to forecast and make decisions on future purchases with confidence. It is a great tool and one that I know gives our business a great ability to make plans for the future.
It is comprised of spreadsheets & charts that will give you all the information you need to make sound & sensible decisions for your company. I believe it has helped our owners immensely with the progress of the business and we owe that to Mack & Jeff.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Actual to Ideal to anyone wishing to improve their business practices & looking to achieve financial goals.
Curtis Electrical Contracting Pty Ltd
If you are looking at this, you are considering the value of engaging with a business coach. You will already know that growing a successful business involves continuous learning and improvement. We expect this from our staff, and then can easily overlook that perhaps it’s the Business Owner and Leadership Team that will benefit most from this focus on learning.
Actual to Ideal provided us with a complete structure and effective processes to guide and support our personal learning about how to establish a positive culture and a productive team to generate more profit.
Because the model is so clear, it is easy, as a business manager, to see how the Actual to Ideal tools and processes will work. The unexpected benefit was how the model supported every staff member to contribute to improving the way things are done. The staff “buy in” led to our operation becoming more efficient and more capable of delivering optimal Customer Service. When people talk about cultural change it is often said that it will take years. Because the Actual to Ideal model focuses on staff behaviour and working towards “Best Practice”, it has had an impact on the way we do things almost immediately.
As a leadership team walking through the model together during workshops, we developed a shared understanding and shared commitment to the Actual to Ideal processes. What we weren’t prepared for was how beneficial the on-going coaching would be. The coaching is available to us all whenever we tackle something different or want to get feedback. This has helped the leadership team to internalise the model and make it our own.
What is perhaps different about WT Hydraulics is that staff work across multiple sites and Branches, with a one team approach. The clarity of the Actual to Ideal Model and the functionality of the tools and processes has supported us to develop a consistent approach by all Branch Managers, to how we discuss and manage situations. The model has supported us to make a “positive paradigm shift”. We have been able to move beyond positioning problems as typical staffing issues, to a focus on where and how to make improvements within the business.
And It is the coaching that continues to sustain our energy and learning.
And that is where the Actual to Ideal Team provide the most powerful assistance. If you are going to engage a coach, then you want one that you can trust. Both Mack and Jeff have years of successful business experience and have managed some serious budgets and difficult staff issues. We were open to their support. We trusted their advice. We set up opportunities where they could model how to manage situations and we could see how they responded positively to any push back.
Equally important, the guys bring an experienced, fresh and neutral perspective to looking at our finances. Our investment in them has been rewarded many-fold. In the end you want your business to profit from your hard work.
They are a team that:
- you can trust
- will support you to develop your own self-awareness and leadership skills
- enable you to focus on the things that grow your business
- get staff to take ownership and work as a team.
I truly recommend, if you want to strengthen your business, develop a positive culture and retain your staff, then engage the Actual to Ideal team.
Manager – People & Culture
- 65business improvement model Our guess is that like most business people, you would like to...Improve staff competency and commitmentIncrease sales and marginsDramatically reduce errors, rework, and wastageImprove your business systems, procedures, and standardsHave less reliance on you personallyMake your business (and staff) easier to manageReduce conflict and resistance to changeKnow your business is sales-ready when you are ready to sellGet out…
- 55who we are We are Kevin McDonald & Jeff Austin – the founders, owners and lead consultants of Actual to Ideal™, a business review and improve consultancy based in Western Australia that has been successfully operating since 2003.We focus on and specialise in developing a whole-of-business culture of Continuous Review…
- 51what others say - success stories “Actual to Ideal is a program that brings enjoyment to the workplace for both owners and staff, and something that I would strongly encourage any business to engage in, small and large.” Geoff Glenn – Managing Director – Prime Supplies“They have owned and managed many…