Meet Trish Thomson

Meet Trish Thomson and Jackie McGrath from Smart Staff International

The Problem

Smart Staff International (SSI) started in 1997 to meet the mining industry’s need for expert writers to document operational procedures and safety manuals. Their reputation for writing materials that workers actually read and used led to growing demand for their services, and SSI grew with it, shifting focus in response to client requirements.

But as the recent mining downturn forced companies to cut spending, SSI began to lose clients. They downsized, acknowledging their reactive approach was no longer working; they needed a robust business strategy. Managing Director Dave Thomson joined a networking group with the goal of helping SSI reach sustainable profitability. That was where he found exactly what he didn’t know he was looking for: the Acceler8 Academy Program.

Smart Staff International provides industry leading, innovative and practical training, safety and work management systems to industrial companies worldwide. With 20 years’ experience and personnel stationed throughout Australia and New Zealand, SSI delivers cost effective, fast and flexible solutions to the minerals processing, mining, heavy industrial and utilities industries.

The Solution

SSI’s leadership group had two willing volunteers for the women’s only program: Trish Thomson, Office/IT Manager, and Jackie McGrath, Finance Manager. The company has invested more than most, with Trish and Jackie flying from Cairns each month to attend Tanya’s sessions. To maximise their return, they’ve set aside time the following day to take Dave through their action items, aligning them with strategic goals, and prioritising them.

Tania also implemented a dedicated inventory management platform that fully integrates with both Xero and their retail sales platform, Neto. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but we’d pushed our old system to the limit. We’ve grown since then, and wouldn’t be able to function on that system now.” By simplifying The Vet Shed’s procurement and fulfilment processes, Tania can now delegate associated tasks to her employees, freeing up time to focus on her business development.

Early in the program, Trish and Jackie identified one of SSI’s core problems: they lacked a strategic vision, which they’d need in order to develop a clear marketing structure around their more profitable income streams and ideal customers. Jackie explains, “We were having trouble describing what our business did, so we focused on distilling the message.”

Deciding that SSI would “efficiently deliver quality documentation to clients” gave the team a clearer picture of what they wanted in a client, which enabled them to identify companies, groups and individuals to target in email marketing campaigns. Trish was surprised by how quickly they saw results. “Our operations staff weren’t too happy about drafting the email. But within three hours, a site manager responded to say he’d been looking for our exact services since December.”

“Now that we better understand what our business offers, we can market it more effectively, and drive business from our strategic vision instead of from operational decisions.” – Jackie McGrath (Finance Manager)

“I now feel like I understand every aspect of our business.” – Trish Thomson (Office/IT Manager)

“I hold Tanya in such high regard—she’s brilliant. It’s a shame she only runs the Acceler8 Academy Program for women!” – Dave Thomson (Managing Director)

The Results

Dave believes the Acceler8 program has highlighted the importance of professional development to business growth, as each leader’s role has expanded to encompass more of the business. Jackie credits the program with her developing interest in marketing, and Trish, who has “never been into figures”, now understands their business finances.

More importantly, Tanya’s guidance has helped the team turn SSI around. With a focused marketing strategy in place, SSI has recently started securing the clients they want. In recent months, they’ve stabilised their income by forecasting and covering low periods, and even begun to re-employ staff. It’s no wonder they’re excited about the future.