Neil and Vicki Espin have over 40 years of corporate and executive coaching experience between them having been professionally trained to coach in 1990. Setting up The Corporate & Executive Coaching Organisation (CECO) in 1996 was a natural progression from their careers as business leaders and in corporate training, their approach has proved to be a winning formula.
The company boasts a number of accolades including winning Best Coaching Programme from The Training Journal for 2008/2009 and Regional winners of a National Training Award for coaching and partnership for 2009/2010 presented at The East Midlands Conference Centre.
Originally the CECO client base was mainly from the financial services sector. They have since diversified into the retail, manufacturing, education and insurance sectors, training a large number of people to be professional coaches as Neil explains. “To date CECO has trained and presented to over 6,000 new coaches, coached over 1,200 individuals at senior level and trained over 400 business leaders to coach inside their organisations. We work with top level managers in businesses and pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality, professional service at all times.”
In the current economic climate, Neil and Vicki redefined their marketing strategy to compensate for the cut in spending by investment banks. “We decided we were not going to join the recession as it didn’t sound much fun,” explains Neil. “This was a deliberate strategy and completely altered our frame of mind to one of positivity rather than doom and gloom and is reflected in the contracts we won.
“Through a persistent contact strategy we are also finding that the banking sector is re engaging with us as organisations recognise the need to keep and develop key personnel, rather than rely on the cheque book.”
Neil contacted the regional Business Link service for information about the Train to Gain initiative and to discuss CECO’s marketing strategy. “We wanted to develop our website to enable us to sell products and services online such as distance learning modules of the ILM programme, our various books and to develop an interactive web presence,” explains Neil.
“We also wanted to understand more about areas such as search engine optimisation and social networking. Our local Business Adviser was a great help and provided details of fully funded workshops which were part of the eBusiness Programme.”
Their Business Adviser was able to help CECO identify and successfully apply for, Leaders First grant funding to help develop Neil’s marketing skills as he explains, “The new skills helped me to work on developing a new web presence for CECO and to take full advantage of social media networking. We have also put a strategic marketing plan in place for future growth.”
With Neil and Vicki continuing their professional development, the company has signed up to the Skills Pledge, a public commitment to investing in the skills of its workforce. Neil has been awarded a Professional Diploma in Executive Coaching from The Institute of Leadership and Management whilst Vicki has achieved a Post Graduate Certificate in Coach Supervision from Oxford Brookes University
“I think we could be the best kept secret in coaching,” says Neil. “With the new marketing skills we are in a great position to raise awareness of what we can offer and to celebrate the awards and accolades we have achieved.”
Neil’s top tips for business:
- You simply cannot operate a boom strategy or sell boom packaged products in a bust market.
- Review your strategy and take action immediately.
- Maintain a positive outlook and frame of mind, it will pay off.
- Seek help. As a business we have always funded ourselves, there is some great advice and help available if you take the time and effort to seek it out.
- Keep in touch with your business adviser and let them know how your funding has helped