Case Study: Business Mentoring & Growth Planning
A father and son duo with a shared passion for motorcycles uprooted their lives to purchase and manage the Twin City Harley-Davidson dealership. Armed with their extensive operating experience and guided by business growth planning and mentoring, the two transformed their venture into a resounding success. Their exceptional efforts paid off handsomely, clinching the coveted title of Dealer of the Year in their franchise category, among other accolades, in their first eligible year.
Steve and Jacob Gleeson are a father and son team who set their sights on owning and operating a Harley-Davidson dealership. Jacob had spent five years as a dealership General Manager and his dad, Steve, had two years of working at the same dealership, along with a varied background in economic development, start-ups in agriculture and part of a think tank with the Regional Institute of Australia. With their combined experience and skill set, the two were confident they could achieve entrepreneurial success.
So, when the (now named) Gleeson’s Twin City Harley-Davidson dealership came up for sale, the two leapt at the chance to own and operate a business that combined their shared passion for motorcycles, retail and business.
The dealership would service an area north of Griffith, south of Omeo, west of Deniliquin and past Corryong in the east. Operationally, it would sell, customise, service and repair new Harley-Davidson motorcycles, specialising in engine performance work.
However, the two understood that to achieve success in the dynamic retail market, they needed to forge strong business foundations and be kept accountable to achieve their future vision and goals. Jacob explains;
“We were a new business start-up in the middle of Covid. We had more to do than we knew what to do with. Prior to taking over (the business) we needed to make sure we had everything ticked off and once we started we wanted to remain accountable to our plan.”
They turned to the Cumulus team and enlisted the services of business growth planning and business mentoring. Essentially, Jacob and Steve had the strategy they believed could achieve success but needed the independent sounding board and expertise of the Cumulus team to either challenge their ideas or, make sure they followed them with a well-defined, actionable plan.
“One of the first things asked was ‘what is your definition of success’. This has stuck with me because, for us, it isn’t about being the biggest, the best or any recognition – those things can be part of doing well, but that’s not the primary focus. It was nice to start our partnership with that being understood.
By having to answer that question and the proceeding conversation it helped me learn that it was OK for business success to not be based around growth and profitability. What we worked on was that success for me meant sustainability. This means the business has to be financially solid, but it also has to be enjoyable, and allow a life with faith, family and friends to thrive outside of it too.”
As part of the partnership with Cumulus, Jacob and Steve capitalised on regular two hour planning sessions that covered:
- Their unique step-by-step action plan to achieve their definition of success
- Future planning and risk management
- Ensuring effective management and coordination of operational functions
- Compliance and bookkeeping
“At first, accountability was the main thing. We had regular meetings with Ben, Pat and Sal, focused around ‘did we do what we said we would’. They had a checklist prepared with goals and timelines and we went through and updated it to make sure we stayed on track. From there it turned from startup to success and we are now in discussions on how we manage profits and growth.”
In just two short years of taking ownership and working with the Cumulus Team, Jacob and Steve catapulted leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, hitting their best internal targets whilst also delivering the Harley Davidson dealer targets.
By the end of 2022, they were awarded “Dealer of the Year” in the small franchise category and also joined the top 66 Harley Davidson dealership performers worldwide for an invitational visit to Milwaukee. It was a chance to meet the Head of Harley Davidson.
“Since taking over we have doubled Harley-Davidson sales in our area, built a team of people from outside the industry and were given double the PMA (protected marketing area) by Harley-Davidson Australia. By keeping us focused, accountable and clear on what success means to us, Cumulus has helped us simply get on with what we do well.”
The fast paced success of this father and son duo are testament to the need of a solid business foundation and strategy in the early stages of transition. By emphasising accountability, the two prove that an independent advisor can help keep owners on track to deliver their strategic action plan and accomplish astounding results.
But, this isn’t the end. Jacob explains;
“At only 30 I expect to have a lot of working life ahead, with ups and downs along the way. Working with Cumulus from here looks like locking in the sustainable future of this business, remaining accountable to my original definition of success and stewarding the profits of the business well.”