Blair Harley - General Manager and Director, Dark Horse Coffee

Blair Harley 
General Manager and Director, Dark Horse Coffee 
Food and Beverage, Paraparaumu 

Kim: I love creating safe and trusted spaces where businesspeople can be committed and real, and have brave and courageous conversations for the good of each other and the wellbeing of the business. Best-practice starts at the top and I was able to triage very quickly the high-level pain points experienced at director level. 

Blair and his fellow directors were able to analyse key business objectives and uncover where opportunities lay. This enabled me to quickly formulate a high-level action plan and strategy with real impact, which included compiling high-level and detailed action lists where the team could pick and choose from the areas at which they are best skilled to get the highest-value results… fast.

This involved asking the right questions to generate the discussions which produced the best value and ended with the directors working on their individual directorial strategies which came together to align a vision, establish what expansion looks like and working through the business’s unique selling proposition.

Blair bought into the process which also included empowering a team as real ambassadors for the business, improving the financial returns with small capital investment. 

The results led to real outcomes; more money to spend on equipment, as there were some gaps which when filled, and vastly improved financial returns. This in turn improved the capacity and resources we already had in place to focus on online sales which has had a hugely positive impact on the bottom line.

Blair: We received some COVID-recovery funding during the first lockdown and we were struggling to get the specific support that we wanted.  
We were looking for more strategic help and Kim was recommended to us through Wellington NZ. We had a yarn and I thought ‘she’s awesome, let’s get cracking'.  
The strength of the business is that we have a really good plan, but you don’t know what you don’t know, so the thinking was, let’s get someone else in here to put their eyes over things, to check we are on the right track, look at where we can build on what we have done, and identify if we have any gaps. 

As directors, we have a very similar vision [born out of the leadership team’s previous work at Tuatara Brewing, but we have come from very different places in terms of how we approach the business.  

That can be a good thing, but that outside voice was a really good opportunity to ensure that we were fully aligned. And that's where Kim is so useful - adding some real value for us because we have this other expert in the business. 

She figured out quickly the different personalities, what our strengths and weaknesses were, and picked up that there were a few pinch points around alignment - not that we were misaligned - but Kim made sure that everyone had the same understanding of what is important and what we need to be focusing on.  
She's been very direct in her feedback and it is always very clear, but she delivers it in a way that's designed not to offend anybody, and that’s something that I've really appreciated.   
She’s got us moving quickly and moving in the right direction. She provides clarity and helps us focus on the right areas and is an immense help affirming that we’re on the right track. She’ll tell us that we’re doing all the right things, but then suggest a few extra things to try to get there quicker. And it’s a lot quicker with Kim than if we were on our own.  
The beauty with Kim is that we have built a level of trust with her incredibly quickly. With have regular sessions with her and we’re also looking into her doing some sessions with the whole team on strategy and alignment.  
In the future, I would love to have an ongoing relationship with Kim in that mentor role because I know that's where she could add a lot more value for us - just that expertise she has to come in and say, '‘This is all really good, but have you thought about this?’. Her input just helps us to keep driving forward.