Our Core Services

IntroductionClick to expand or collapse

Note: Any image that contains data, can be clicked on to bring it to full resolution in a separate window.

If you need us to take your through the options and for you to see detail then just use the contact page and we'll brief you properly.

As a rule we do not deploy teams at any cost to you into your business, but we'll do what has to be done with you, using our tried and tested tools and methodologies, some of which are online here for you to go through. Our intent is to walk away with the business better equipped to thrive and grow and knowledge and skill transfer is key to this. Our approach recognizes that although businesses are much the same at a high level, they are hugely different down in the trenches, where practical reality is a long way away from the idealized scenarios dished out in books and seminars. We have a tool set that we apply with you in a deliberate and thoughtful manner. You and your business will execute on your plan, reflecting priorities that you have decided upon based on coaching and consulting input from us. Our approach is to solve problems and address issues with you, doing real work on real business issues, that require a result. That's hard to hide away from!

BackgroundClick to expand or collapse

For information on the team itself and who we are, click here - The Spark team.

Spark's Service offerings for under-performing businesses.

The Business Outcomes diagram above / left (which you can click to enlarge to a separate window), shows the various possible scenarios a debt free business might face once it encounters headwinds and begins to under-perform. In this instance there are no pressing external pressures from outside creditors and servicing debt is not a concern.

Here we introduce two different interventions, and for more detail you need just follow the links to the respective home pages.

  1. We start with our Coaching for Growth service, ideal for firms or individuals that proactively wish to deal with recent under-performance or firms embarking on a period of growth, wishing to avoid the common, costly and very avoidable mistakes that growth unconsciously brings.
  2. and secondly our Business Turnaround Service, which is mostly a coached turnaround for businesses frustrated by prolonged under-performance, but wise enough to act and give them selves some time.

The Real WorldClick to expand or collapse

But in the real world, many firms face instances where they struggle to service debt, which if ignored turns into a crisis.

Spark's Service offerings for businesses stressed by debt.

The Business Outcomes diagram above/left (which again you can click to enlarge to a separate window), shows the various outcomes for under-performing firms with debt burdens.

  1. We have our Debt Workout Service which is Debt restructuring/financing with key elements of our turnaround methodology embedded into it, as done in the US, continental Europe and the UK. Restructuring or refinancing without prior identification of waste and uplift opportunity, through Value Based Management, the application of the most basic LEAN management philosophy, Value Chain optimization, process alignment, balance sheet and income statement optimization, is defeatist, lazy and stupid. We have a fully scoped approach which consistently produces better results than business rescue, and reflects the superior insolvency results of those countries that embrace this approach (at least twice the returns on secured debt compared to SA!!!)
  2. Finally, Of course, there is our Business Rescue Service, which unlike other firms "providing" this service is not an exercise in selling off assets and an orderly insolvency. We do business rescues! Just look at the chapters and sections of our Rescue Plan template. Note: Business rescue formally begins with a Board resolution, after which a Business Rescue Practitioner is appointed, and who then must commit within 5-7 days to in writing to the realistic chance of rescue. 5 days might be enough for an insolvency lawyer who is only going to strip out assets in some divestiture, but it is not enough for someone who is going to try and save the company, save jobs and have the business emerge and thrive! Engage well before the Board resolution.
  3. In certain instances we are called upon to do short-term once off pieces of work and this is the last section with a few examples

Debt WorkoutsClick to expand or collapse

This is not just about negotiating extra time or a reduced debt, its about assuring your creditors that you have a viable plan, with less risk, and greater expected returns on their debt, and a well worked out plan with realistic benefits and reliable execution. This is an approach that adds great value and will reassure your stakeholders and creditors. Our approach, which has at its heart our "economic engine" methodology, offers you a far better negotiating position and removes all arguments for creditors not to support you with tangible plans that report on key metrics that are objective and well substantiated.

Generally longer time horizons (certainly longer than those imposed by a business rescue), allow for a detailed analysis and better planning, and a brad scope, which start off with:

  • Business Stabilization
  • Austerity Planning and Austerity Implementation
  • Balance-sheet Optimization
  • Operating Cash Efficiency
  • Core Operating Model Design
  • The Removal of Waste and Inefficiencies using LEAN Process Thinking
  • Value Based Management & Income Statement Value Trees
  • Alignment of Incentives and People Tactics

Only once these work streams are tackled and usually in parallel, do we begin with:

  • Debt Restructuring - Where we the contract remains, but the terms are renegotiated.
  • Debt Refinancing - Essentially, using a different financial instrument, with a new contract, and new creditor/business partner.

Business RescueClick to expand or collapse

First and foremost with Spark in the planning phase you don't get a Business Rescue Practitioner, you get a team plus 3 Business Rescue Practitioners, with no extra fees! We pride ourselves on doing the best we can, and this means the team will attend to various aspects of the analysis and plan, in order to provide a complete plan with the best chance of approval! It also helps manage continuity risk, if anything should befall any one person, through some great misfortune.

This formal process focuses on survival but in ways you will find innovative and practical. The focus here is on Cash and Value Management initially, with particular attention to building a viable rescue plan that initially finds opportunities in the following analysis streams, where possible:

  • Business Stabilisation and Stakeholder management
  • Implementation of Austerity and Opex Planning
  • The Removal of Waste and Inefficiencies using LEAN Process Thinking
  • Supply Chain and Inventory Management
  • Balance-sheet Optimization and non-core asset disposal
  • Operating and Cash Conversion Cycles
  • Value Chain rationalisation
  • Core Operating Model Design
  • Company Restructuring & Organisational Design
  • Value Based Management & Income Statement Value Tree Management
  • Alignment of Incentives and People Tactics
  • Self-funding tactics and PCF request reduction
  • Debt Restructuring
  • Debt Refinancing

In a later stage, assuming the business rescue plan is approved and post-commencement funding is available (part of the plan approval) we then commence on the sustainability phase, which will cycle through People, Strategy, Execution, with particular focus on adoption of new behaviours and habits. Very few Rescue Practitioners will have either the appetite, ability, experience or personality for this type of work, but if the same situation of distress is NOT to be repeated, then this phase is well advised. (But not essential!)

Follow this link to access the Business Rescue framework, to get a better idea of our approach.

Performance Coaching for GrowthClick to expand or collapse

This is a coach relationship. The aim here is to prepare the business and test its model prior to or early in a period of growth and expansion or immediately after a period of under-performance. We ensure primarily that the operating model is scalable, and that the foundations are in place for the business to handle growth, and to be able to sustain shocks as it starts to dominate its chosen markets. Every business is different but the domains we explore are roughly the same. It just depends in what order and to what level of detail. In one way or another we cover :

  1. the skills and competencies of Cash & Value management,
  2. Strategy & Planning,
  3. People & Organization and Reliable Execution,
  4. whilst also addressing the Health factors of Alignment and Communication, Habits & Behaviors as well as Leadership and Personal Development.

This broad scope forms fine weave between the integration points of these domain modules. For example Leadership feeds back into Strategy through your emerging Leadership vision, and must influence Strategic direction. Likewise Reliable execution will be influenced by the tools we develop with you in Cash & Value Management, and clearly Strategy & Planning must integrate with Reliable Execution. We primarily gauge success by the financial performance of the business, and on those goals that you and your business demand. Naturally, the discipline of focus and the need for structure are applied to the coaching journey, but this is crafted with you and not imposed upon you. Why not get into some of the material used as we coach, right now? We are in the process of making as much of it as possible freely available.

A coached Business TurnaroundClick to expand or collapse

This is a coached relationship with various elements of consulting. In the first stage we follow the Business Rescue methodology together, and after the period of stabilizing the financial situation address the sustainability stage through our coaching frame-work. Go to the Business Turnaround Home page for a rationale on our approach and more detail on the way we conduct the turnaround. We are convinced this is the most cost-effective and sustainable manner in which to produce a business turnaround. Obviously, this approach is better suited to earlier intervention, but by its very nature this turnaround approach is easy to adopt.  Unlike a business rescue, here you'll be given the templates and the tools, and coached through the exact same strategies (and more!) applied in a business rescue.


Specialist Workshops and one-off tasksClick to expand or collapse

There are a number of specialist areas that we are asked to get involved in from time to time on a once off basis. Sometimes we're asked because its unpleasant (i.e. dealing with debt), sometimes its because of who we know (i.e. alternative funding or new investors), sometimes because we're sure to do it properly and better than most (for example, negotiating business interruption cover or identifying process waste using LEAN ) Sometimes we get involved because we have a reputation for creative and innovative solutions, at times (as with key position interviewing or conducting a due diligence/QA) it is because we are objective and impartial. Often its because we're such fine company.....jokes aside, the manner in which we conduct ourselves which we intend to be serious and credible yet fun and not too serious about ourselves makes a big difference in creating an open and trusting relationship.

Here are a few of our workshop presentations

Useful LinksClick to expand or collapse