BBC the Fixer at Alf Onnie

I recently appeared on the BBC show called “the Fixer” where I assisted in the training of the directors at the Alf Onnie shop in London’s East End. I started where I usually advise everyone to start, which is at the end. What I mean is, ask yourself the questions, “What do I really need to get from this?” and “ What are the really important questions for us as an organisation?”. Here I explain how I helped Alf Onnie and you can view some previously unseen footage from the show by clicking on the picture to the right. The clip is about 3 minutes long.

Alf Onnie is a family business which has over 90 years of trading history.The company primarily trades in curtains and fabrics. The current incumbents are the Freedman brothers, Lawrence, Kevin and Jeremy. The questions above will be different depending on your type of organisation. Generally speaking the answer involves performance tracking. It is useful to learn from the past to assist our decision making, to improve future performance.

John with the Freedman Brothers

The next step is to ensure we capture valuable information. Try to only capture the relevant information. It can sounds obvious but I often find people typing endless amount of information which will never be used. For Alf Onnie it was important to discover which marketing efforts were producing the best results.

Once you have built up a significant amount of data it is now time to make it work for you. You need to slice and dice your way through the data to find the hidden gems which will reduce costs, improve turnover or just make your whole organisation much more efficient. In analysing the data there are many tools available but few handle the job better than Pivot Tables in Excel™. Pivot Tables allow you to efficiently analyse the data. In the case of Alf Onnie pivot tables clearly demonstrated which marketing effort drove the best returns. This analysis meant we could redistribute marketing budget according to the findings.

If you are not familiar with Excel™, it really is worth your while investing in some training especially about Pivot Tables. I have created a short guide which ran alongside the training I did for Alf Onnie which was really successful! You are welcome to download a copy so you can learn about how to create your own pivot tables and other analysis tools just like Alf Onnie. Just send me an a email at and I will forward it together with some practice files to get you started.

Good luck and I hope to hear from you soon