The Pack Smart Group - ActionCOACH Warwick

The Pack Smart Group

Seánna Holland and Nick Walker are founders and directors of The Pack Smart Group. Having come together many years ago in their former jobs, a mutual respect and admiration developed, ultimately leading them to launching and running their distribution and logistics company, The Pack Smart Group, based in Coventry and Kenilworth. Although there’s no doubt the two work well together, they felt they could benefit from a third party who could act as a sounding board and potentially propel their business forwards.

The pair had enjoyed steady success in the past decade, the pandemic sparked hurried growth giving rise to intense pressure to keep up with demand. Nonetheless, The Pack Smart Group were keen to capitalise on this surge in uptake of their services.

“We weren’t looking for a business coach, we were so unbelievably busy when lockdown hit as the demand for e-commerce delivery went into complete overdrive. We were obviously grateful that our business hadn’t closed like so many were forced to, but with our required output skyrocketing, we started to feel overwhelmed,” explained Seánna.

“When Kevin Riley from ActionCOACH Warwick approached us, we were hesitant to even entertain the idea of a business coach. We were concerned about the time we would have to invest in the sessions and the subsequent actions or homework we might be given to complete.

“However, we agreed to a joint session and whilst we went into it open, we did both think it wasn’t the right time. We quite quickly realised that Kevin was someone who could help us see the wood for the trees! He really understood us and our business. We thought having an extra person to bounce ideas off during the peak season we were heading into could be a valuable asset. Our first session convinced us it would be time well spent.”


The initial improvements

“We started our one-to-one weekly coaching in April 2020, when the world was the early stages of getting to grips with lockdown. We were in full-on fire-fighting mode, desperately trying to keep pace with our orders, ever changing restrictions and concerned workforce. Kevin immediately pointed out some quick wins that would have long-term benefits.

“Nick and I were often covering the same roles, both of us getting involved in finance, HR, operations and so on. Kevin suggested we concentrate on separate areas of the business. Now, I manage sales and the Client Service Team whilst Nick heads up operations. Before, clients weren’t always sure who to go to, now they know who to approach for each specific element of business.

“Taking Kevin’s advice has completely revolutionised our efficiency. Nick and I had both been feeling worn down and actually quite frustrated – I’d certainly lost my passion for the business. With Kevin’s advice and guidance, we restructured our team, putting two new people in customer service and promoting internally a new Operations Manager. Doing this has meant we’re less involved in the day-to-day business with more time to focus on our strategy and growth.

“Jack, our Operations Manager, has been with us since he was 16, and we’re delighted to offer him this promotion at 22. Nick has taken him under his wing and has been an excellent mentor to him. Ironically, Nick was concerned at first, telling Kevin he didn’t have it in him to develop people – he thought it sounded fluffy. He’s now unbelievably good at bringing the best out in our team. On our first-year anniversary of working together, Kevin even bought Nick a pink tutu, symbolising his ugly duckling transformation into the caring and thoughtful mentor he has been to Jack and the rest of the team!

“Kevin’s also been coaching Jack, who now has the potential to step up if Nick wishes to spend less time in the business in the future. We also have team leaders and assistants at all three sites, as well as an Operational Co-Ordinator who liaises with our Client Services Team. In the short term, it was imperative we had this team in place due to COVID-19.  Protecting our team at each site through bubbles and shift patterns was essential as our workload increased. But now we’re set up with a team that can take the business forward in the long-term.”


The results so far

“Both of us are open and honest enough to say our business is dramatically different since Kevin started coaching us. Our team is better, our roles have changed, and just look at our continued growth. We’ve been pushed out of our comfort zone and challenged along the way but when I look at how far we’ve come, it’s been worth every bit of hard work.

“Kevin gave us the confidence to push forward with our plans to market our niche fulfilment services in September last year. We now target the music, drinks and sport sectors as well as general SME businesses, launching our new website to support that development.

“We fulfilled 67,000 orders in November 2019, but in November 2020 we managed 100,000 orders on the same staffing. We’ve experienced 118% growth in the last year – I’m extremely proud. We also have in place a structure that will allow us to identify new niche sectors, gain new clients and open new sites to dedicate to fulfilment of their services.

“It’s not just significant change we’ve seen in the business thanks to Kevin’s coaching. Nick’s home is near Cambridge, and he now only has to travel into the office two or three days a week, down from four or five (six or seven!). He gets to focus on new projects and strategic planning for our business’ growth. More importantly, Nick has a young family and I know how much it means to him to be with them more.

“I work from home 3 days a week and I’m rarely involved the day-to-day operations anymore. I get to do the things I really enjoy in my spare time which includes leading five separate gym classes a week! I used to speak to other business owners, and I’d sit there and think, ‘This person is so clued up and I feel like I’m just here winging it.’ Kevin has completely changed my mindset. He points out my skills and encourages me to utilise them – my passion for the business has returned.

“Kevin has shifted our focus from working IN the business to working ON the business and it has made a difference to not just our work and personal lives but those of our staff too.”


The coach perspective

“Seánna and Nick are such an impressive team, they’ve been willing to challenge themselves and give up control of some things to their team – it’s a hard thing to do, but they understood it was important for getting where they wanted to be. They were under immense pressure when we first spoke, but their growth in the last two years speaks to their adaptability and their personal drive. It’s been a delight to coach them and help them achieve their dreams for the business and themselves.


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Pack Smart business owners Seánna Holland and Nick Walker

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