SBM #12 - St Cyrs Pool and Spa getting organized - Part 2

If you aren’t organized, growth creates chaos

‘The Small Business Mentor' exists to tell insightful, interesting stories about initially successful small businesses that faced obstacles and somehow found a way to overcome them through whatever means necessary. 

Last week we learned about how St. Cyr Pool & Spa decoded the growth formula and unlocked the potential of their business. 

This week we’re still with Jay and his partner Brandon focusing on how they struggled to scale their operations at the same rate the business was growing. 

📓 The Overview:

  • Business: St. Cyr Pool & Spa

  • Barrier: Lack of structure

  • Learning: Without organization, growth creates chaos

📓 The Story:

Last week we talked about how Jay and Brandon had to find a way to decode the growth formula. 

Something all founders face. 

And they managed to find the answer. 

Maintenance. 

But growing a business is not as simple as just finding new revenue streams. 

As you find new revenue streams, you must ensure your operational efficiency keeps up with growth. 

If it doesn’t, growth can turn into a nightmare, reduce profitability, and in some cases threaten the overall business. 

As St. Cyr Pool & Spa grew, Jay and Brandon realized that their operations were built on the classic hub and spoke model. 

This is common in many small companies. 

The owner or a few high-level people are essential to making all of the decisions. 

All the other employees are simply spokes feeding into one or just a few hubs.

That was fine when there were just five employees but after growth and acquisitions, St. Cyr had over 80 employees during the peak of the summer season. 

That’s a lot of spokes going to two hubs. 

The hubs were getting overwhelmed.

The key for Jay and Brandon was building their mid-level management layer. 

They needed to take good employees off the line and have them become managers of their former peers. 

This can be a fraught process because: 

  • You are down a bunch of gooddoers

  • A good doer might not be a good manager

  • Team members might resent a peer getting promoted over them

But I don’t think St. Cyr had many options other than trying it out. 

It’s very difficult to hire experienced mid-level management at that size of a company. 

Also, that approach would have incurred a lot more cost.

But as Jay pointed out in our podcast conversation, selecting the managers and promoting them was only half the battle. 

They then had to train those managers and build the processes around them to make them successful. 

To add to that complexity, St. Cyr had never been an 80-person company before.

They were doing this for the first time and on the fly.

Welcome to Scaling a Small Business 101. 

You’ve never done it, your employees have never done it, but you need to figure it out or the whole company is going to be a mess. 

As Jay pointed out, it’s been a year-long process that has only stabilized after month 9 or 10.

My guess is Jay and Brandon will start to see that some of their promotions will work out better than others. 

No one goes six for six.

As soon as you get things stabilized, my guess is they’ll need to start thinking about what team will get them to $28m.

We will check back in with them in 6-12 months to get an update on how the new team and the business are doing. 

🧑‍🎓 The Lessons: 

  1. Growing your business creates chaos. 

  1. The key to surviving is focusing on improving operational capacity and efficiency.


  2. Building the management team and the process to support that capacity takes time. 

📅 Next Week:

In the next edition, we’re going to cover Nikolas Hulewsky who is a seasoned entrepreneur who has had a lot of success in acquiring businesses. Nik is a hustler extraordinaire and specializes in what I call, “growth hacking for boring businesses.”

Keep growing,

Alan

P.S. 
The most recent episode of The Small Business Mentor Podcast is live. My guest this week was Patrick Ditcher, owner of Appletree Business Services. We went into much detail on his life and journey as an acquisition entrepreneur. 

Check it out here: 

P.P.S. 

Do you have a small business growth story and want to be featured? Ping me on X @apentz, or submit at http://www.fame.so/sbp-story

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