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During the past year, Kurk Lalemand of Next Level Business Coaching has provided coaching and strategizing support in weekly sessions to Denis Landry, Currently President of Landry/French Construction Company, based in Scarborough.
After starting Landry Construction Company on his own in 2006, he began to think about bringing on a partner, and Lalemand, whom he calls “motivating,” became his resource for finding just the right person.
“Kurk was really helpful as far as what things I should look at and focus on in finding a good business partner,” Landry said. “He mentioned things to consider, and the challenges of a partnership after being the only person running the company from the beginning. He helped me consider things before I started the partnership, instead of after.”
Landry and Lalemand initially agreed to work together for three months to see how things went. The two did a lot of work in that time, Landry said, which was incredibly beneficial to his company.
“This is an evolving process that never ends. After bringing on a partner, I didn’t have a specific goal but wanted to grow my business, so that was the prime focus,” Landry explained. “Kurk helped me figure out how to get there, and how to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”
They also focused on the process of transforming the company over the next several years. Lalemand suggested ways to make Landry/French Construction Company more marketable, and they discussed how the company should look in the next five years.
“Even in a bad economy there’s a lot of good planning to be done. Then you are ready when it is time to implement your plans,” Landry said. “For example, I was ready to create a dress code for my staff but not ready to implement it at that time. We were working on things not necessarily on the front burner, but that needed to be addressed.”
Lalemand also helped Landry determine the need for hiring or not hiring a staff member, including if that hire should be temporary, part-time, or full-time. By having Landry write down everything he did in the course of day, the two determined a part-time administrative staff person would be the most beneficial to the business. Lalemand also assisted Landry with forming just the right interview questions and suggested things to discuss.
Another large project in the works is the development of a procedure manual for the entire company. Landry said Lalemand has shown him the value in a document like this.
“Having a procedure manual will cut down on training time for any position here, and is a great tool and resource,” Landry noted. “It makes the company more marketable, too, so it’s worth taking the time to do this.”
Landry has found Lalemand’s laid-back style to be just as helpful as his suggestions.
“Sometimes when we meet it’s been a really busy week and I am not completely ready with everything we talked about in our last session,” he said. “But Kurk would never sit there and scold me. He just keeps on going and we move onto the next topic. He’s always planning ahead.”
Landry sees the value in Lalemand’s work every time they discuss organization and strategy in business. Lalemand’s strong background in business management and planning provide a solid base for his suggestions and recommendations.
“His vast knowledge of business as a whole and his ability to key in to specific businesses is key,” Landry said. “Kurk has quickly learned what is important to me in my business, and has adapted to my particular situation.”
He also knows he can rely on Lalemand as a resource in a broader sense.
“If I need something I know I can pick up the phone and ask him who I should contact for a particular issue. He would give me not one name to try, but three.”
Acting as a sort of business confidant, Kurk Lalemand coaches Marc Kannegieser, of the Lewiston-based Sprinkler Systems, Inc., to better manage his business and staff. In turn, Kannegieser reaps the benefits of Lalemand’s effective methods in a more efficiently run company.
“I have a vision for my business and we are working to implement it,” Kannegieser, who is President/Chief Estimator at Sprinkler Systems, explained. “Kurk is kind of like a business partner, without having ownership of the business.”
Never having worked with a business coach before, Kannegieser was given an excellent reference from a client, and decided to meet with Lalemand, of Next Level Business Coaching. Lalemand and Kannegieser discuss how Sprinkler Systems is operating, the responsibility distribution, and the power structure, as well as Kannegieser’s conerns.
“It kind of evolves,” Kannegieser said. “We start with one thing and before you know it, we get into a mountain of issues. You need to be human enough to know you can do better in your business.”
Lalemand’s coaching has helped Kannegieser identify problems as well as solutions in his business operations, including staff adjustment. He appreciates Lalemand’s direct, down to earth approach to working with people.
“As a business owner you can shirk your duties if you so choose, so we address problems,” Kannegieser noted. “It’s really him holding me accountable to doing my job. He applies the right amount of pressure to make me aware of the right path.”
The true value Kannegieser sees in Lalemand are the ideas and broad concepts he offers that can be utilized in all businesses. He also finds Lalemand’s ability to listen well and understand the individual and their business a plus.
“Kurk is engaging, has a lot of experience to draw from and makes good points,” Kannegieser added. “He doesn’t settle for what I call the ‘regular excuses’ many people make. Kurk just does his job.”
As their business was becoming more established, Roger and Melinda Soucy decided it was time to take the next step in their company’s development. In 2007, they attended a seminar held by Kurk Lalemand of Next Level Business Coaching, who peaked their interest in actually owning a business, instead of just owning a job.
The Soucys, who own Livermore-based PuroClean, a company focused on restoring properties damaged by water, fire, smoke, mold and bio hazards, said Next Level has helped them to set goals and develop a marketing plan.
“Kurk helps us stay focused on the business aspect of our company rather than everyday tasks,” Roger Soucy noted. “We work on the business instead of in the business, and create systems and procedures to do things more efficiently.”
Melinda Soucy said she finds Lalemand to be “compassionate and caring.”
“He’s just wonderful,” she added. “He really knows how to deal with people, even difficult people, and has helped us in so many situations.”
Roger Soucy appreciates Lalemand’s honesty and thoroughness.
“Kurk is a straight shooter,” he said. “By addressing whatever we bring to his attention, he shows us that he believes in his clients and their businesses. He helps us grow.”
The Soucys also enjoy Next Level’s dependability.
“Kurk is always there for us and I can call whenever I need him,” Roger Soucy said. “It doesn’t matter what the issues are. He deals with whatever comes up.”
The Soucys feel that PuroClean has benefited from Next Level’s coaching in several ways; perhaps most importantly, the manner in which the company has been guided along a definite path to the future.
“Business owners need a coach,” Roger Soucy noted. “You need someone to bounce ideas off of, and Kurk is always there to give his opinions and steer us in the right direction. He’s like a partner in our business.”
After meeting Kurk Lalemand of Next Level Business Coaching a few years ago, Michael Pratt, who had never worked with a business coach, decided to try their services.
As President and CEO of Downeast Networks, a technology consulting services company based in Lewiston, Pratt and his business partner were trying to build their business but also perform time-consuming tasks on a daily basis.
“Kurk helped us to realize that for the company to grow, we needed to get out of the day-to-day work and systematize our business processes,” Pratt explained. “Now, our business is growing and our reputation is starting to take hold in the marketplace. I credit Kurk because his guidance has been really beneficial to us.”
Before hiring Next Level, Pratt said their company was struggling with managing the financial operations, such as paying bills and budget forecasting. Pratt realized that as the company’s volume grew, he was spending a day every week just to manage the accounts. Next Level helped him develop and streamline business processes.
“Kurk challenged me to take a look at all the activities that occurred around these particular tasks and document the steps. This started to build the standard operating procedure in our office,” Pratt said.
“I can’t imagine where we would be now without this system of doing things,” he said.
“Kurk asks good questions and gives us great advice on what things to look out for,” he added. “We’ve been able to bring on quality people directly because of his advice.”
Pratt said that he trusts his coaches’ opinion and appreciates his perspective on things. With Lalemand’s 30 years’ experience in running companies, Pratt feels that he has the background to ask good thought provoking questions and make excellent suggestions – as well as help keep everyone on task.
“It’s crucial to have someone hold you accountable in your own business,” Pratt said. “Kurk will ask why we didn’t meet a goal or deadline. He’ll ask if it’s still important and if it is we get it done right then and there.”
The most notable piece of advice Pratt has taken from Next Level is that at some point, business owners must focus more on working on their company rather than working in it. He has realized that in order to grow his business, he must make a commitment to focusing on the future.
“That’s what is so valuable about Next Level,” Pratt explained. “After all this time working together, Kurk has this understanding of where we have been as a company, and what we want to do next.”
When it comes to receiving personal executive advice, Bill Nason, of PM Company, relies on Next Level Business Coaching to guide him.
As President and Chief Executive Officer of PM, a construction company based in Saco, Me., Nason said that with Next Level’s help, he is able to refocus on things he already knows how to do well.
“We’re not like a lot of Kurk’s other clients. We are a well-established, successful, existing business, but sometimes, I just need someone to talk to,” he explained.
Next Level has also helped PM Company to refine their marketing plan. Kurk Lalemand, of Next Level Business Coaching, helped PM Company design a matrix to track who they are marketing to, and the results of those efforts.
“Kurk helps us to be more organized with that aspect of our business,” Nason said. “He’s also assisted us with presentation techniques, as far as selling to clients in face-to-face situations.”
Nason appreciates that Lalemand has owned his own business, and therefore has the experience necessary to coach others. “He is competent, enthusiastic and professional,” Nason said of Lalemand. “The major thing that Kurk helps us with is an effective way to position ourselves in sales presentations. He helps to manage how those sorts of meetings go.”
In addition to assessing just what is needed in various business situations, Nason said Lalemand is respectful of his time and expertise.
“I like that about him,” Nason added. “Kurk is probably the first consultant I’ve worked with where I feel I’m getting what I’m paying for.”