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A minute with a Boost mentor: John Woodruffe

A minute with a mentor

Through the fully funded Boost Growth Mentoring programme, business owners and managers can access a wide variety of professional experts to help them develop and grow their business. We highlight some of the mentors working with Lancashire businesses behind the scenes. So take a break and read about John Woodruffe, a manufacturing expert with 40 years' business experience from the factory floor to managing director.

Why did you choose to become a mentor?

Over the last 40 years I have worked all over the world and now want to give something back to industry by offering my experiences to Lancashire businesses.

How do you make a real difference to Lancashire businesses?

There are a number of businesses I have helped transform during the last 20 years working as a consultant. The majority of them have been through the implementation of Lean tools and techniques, but now supporting the senior management team with strategic support.

What is your area of expertise and why is it an important area to for business leaders to address?

Manufacturing is my bread and butter and while running a government program called MAS (Manufacturing Advisory Service) I was fortunate to implement Lean tools and techniques in a number of businesses.

 I have also managed sales and marketing department, I've got a good understanding of finance and not forgetting the 15 years of mentoring experience I have already completed.

What has been your most inspirational moment as a mentor?

I have worked with many companies was lots of successes, but one that comes to mind was a company in Crewe, where the company had a £20m turnover but making a loss of £500k and the managing director was struggling to know where to go.

We developed a five-year plan to build and sell the business and had regular meeting to discuss progress. Five years later the business had turned over £50m and £5m net profit and the company subsequently sold.

What are the key challenges for Lancashire businesses at the moment?

The current challenges for businesses are:

  1. Recruitment of skilled staff and the retainment of existing staff as there is now more jobs available to fill than candidates, not forgetting the significant reduction in Easter European candidates.
  2.  Availability of imported parts whether from Europe, China or USA, this can make the difference of many weeks, this is why I work with companies to help manage their parts correctly.
  3. Lack of strategy for moving the business forward and ensuring that the company is working in an agile manner and can adapt and pivot quickly.

As a mentor, what are your three business growth tips?

Always have a plan, it doesn’t have to be a 10k word document, just enough for you to be able to plan quarterly activities and enough detail that you can monitor some KPI’s on a monthly basis. Each month, actions need to be monitored and every quarter, plans need to be reviewed in case they need to change.

  1. Make sure that you have an aligned management team that is fully bought into the plan and should also have had input into developing the plan.
  2.  The team need to take ownership of the plan and closes the actions down. This team also needs to be capable of questioning the plan and ensuring that the direction may need to change.
  3. Sales and marketing departments need to have their own plan too and these plans should align to the corporate strategy.

 John Woodruffe John has been in business for 40 years, continuously developing his skills in a number of organisations. He has worked as supervisor, purchasing manager and operations director in a number of organisations. He has also operated several companies as the managing director.

John has worked in large organisations like Coca Cola, GSK and Warburtons, but enjoys the challenge of working with SMEs where he can utilise his full range of skills and experience. 


Boost is helping Lancashire businesses. We have a range of funded support programmes and a team of business advisers you can talk to. To speak to someone from the Growth Hub about business support, contact Boost online or call 0800 488 0057.


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