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Business owner John Davidson felt exhausted from 100-hour weeks… that was until he met ActionCOACH

Business owner John Davidson felt exhausted from 100-hour weeks… that was until he met ActionCOACH

Now, the Edinburgh-based property management brand has created massive efficiencies and has continued working with the business coaching franchise

Image: Action Coach Alan Smith (left) with the SouthSide Property Management team at the BizX Awards

After nearly two decades in the corporate world, Alan Smith found himself yearning to escape the constraints of the daily grind to regain precious time with his family. The answer came to him in 2014 when he launched his own ActionCOACH franchise. Now, Alan is earning more than he could have dreamt in his previous career, while also enjoying the difference he’s making within the local business community.

One such business within this community is Edinburgh-based SouthSide Property Management, which was founded by John Davidson in 2009. Like Alan during his corporate career, John found himself devoting upwards of 100 hours a week to work, meaning he was missing out on precious time with his young family.

Having previously used ActionCOACH services, John decided to act by seeking the help of his local Action Coach, Alan. “I’ve always believed in the advantages of internal staff
development,” says John. “Unfortunately, I regularly have too much on my plate to devote the time I’dlike to it, so introducing the quality service that ActionCOACH delivers to the team was a no-brainer.”

Learning to delegate

The primary objective for Alan’s coaching direction was to influence the leadership qualities within the team. Cat Dalrymple, head of development at SouthSide, has worked closely with Alan since the start of coaching.

“At first, Alan came in and delivered monthly leadership sessions. These had a tremendous effect on my colleagues, Cat and Leah,” says John. “We’ve enlisted Alan’s help since late 2016 and continue to invest in his support due to how successful it has been.

“I’ve always looked forward to Alan’s leadership sessions. I consistently feel like I’ve walked away from them gaining valuable information.

“Sometimes it may be a simple tip, but you can see the benefits of putting it into practice straight away. One of those things is maintaining an up-to-date schedule just so no task gets forgotten, no matter how busy it gets.”

Alan also brought on board the assistance of fellow Action Coach, Yvonne Webb, to provide the SouthSide team with an array of new perspectives and valuable business insights.

“Working with Alan and Yvonne for a long time means the advice they can provide is more specific to our business and ourselves,” says John. “Now we know each other so well, they know our strengths and weaknesses and we can really work on what needs to happen to ensure the business continues to run smoothly.”

Returning to the brand

Since establishing itself as a major player in the Edinburgh property market, SouthSide has aimed to stick to its key brand values: safe, happy, and sustainable. “Sticking to your
principles in business is vital as they serve as the foundation for your identity and reputation in the community,” says John.

“We’d noticed, around the same time as Alan joined us, that we’d strayed away from them somewhat. That’s not to say the business had lost its identity, but I don’t think we were implementing them as much as we could. With Alan’s help, we reintroduced our values into all aspects of our day-to-day operations at SouthSide.”


Action Coach Alan Smith changing the lives of business owners at his monthly group coaching session

A work-life win

The priority for John was to improve his work-life balance so he could spend more time with his family. From starting the business to the birth of his first son in 2013, John had been putting in more than 100 hours per week. Action Coach Alan aimed to help John in scaling down his workload as he looks to gradually step back from the helm.

“The hard work definitely paid off. We’ve grown every year since we started in 2009,” says John. “Even during our toughest time through Covid, when a fifth of our properties were vacant for around 2-3 months, we still managed to achieve 2% growth.

“Now I’m looking to decrease my hours to 50-60 a week consistently. I feel confident we have built a team who will continue to be successful with less and less input from me. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the business flourishes while I can enjoy more time with my family and on other projects.”

Propertunity knocks

SouthSide’s business model and its standing in the community has been central to it winning the award for Best Service-Based Business at BizX 2023. Now, the focus has shifted towards two key developments: expansion and futureproofing.

“We’ve come a long way since 2009 but we don’t want to stop there,” says John. “It’s so important to establish a solid foundation for the future – whether that be through bespoke software systems or the professional development of our people. But one thing is clear, if you want to ready your business for a successful future, you should be working with experts.”

The coach’s perspective

Since working with SouthSide, Alan has been able to understand how John has made the business such a success – and where ActionCOACH can help elevate that further.

“It was clear very early on how much of an exceptional businessman John is,” says Alan. “When coaching at SouthSide, I knew I wouldn’t be a knight in shining armour, coming in to make drastic changes to turn the business’ fortunes around. Sometimes there are more subtle changes that elevate a good business to great.”

*This is paid partner content.

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