Quickfire with Andy Skinner

Managing Director, AMS Business Consultants
After making a lifestyle decision, I left corporate life in 2019 and launched AMS Business Consultants in April 2020 – at the start of the pandemic - to make Lean and Six Sigma skills and services accessible and affordable to SMEs.

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Winter 2023

About Andy

In the subsequent two and a half years, the business has grown to such an extent that I now have more than 450 clients, and have delivered more than £17 million in benefits.

I am one of few certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts in the UK, and I use my 25+ years of experience to help businesses design, manage and improve their business processes, allowing them to eliminate waste, provide efficiencies, achieve productivity gains and cost savings. AMS helps SMEs create a continuous improvement culture via consultancy, coaching, training and project delivery.

In addition to running AMS Business Consultants, I am the East Anglian Area Lead for the Federation of Small Business (FSB), a voluntary role that sees me support local businesses.

We spent five minutes with Andy and asked him some questions about running a business.

Q&As

What are the main challenges facing SMEs at the moment?

The cost of operations, and managing the increasing cost of services, materials and energy.

What is your advice on retaining employees?

Treat them as you would like to be treated, and listen to them!

How do you maintain and enhance margins?

Focus on understanding your process performance. This lets you understand the true costs of the business and prioritise where you need to reduce costs and make efficiency savings.

How can you put your prices up and keep your customers?

Simply put we don’t put our prices up as AMS, as all our work is project-based. The whole premise is for AMS to make the skill set accessible and affordable. This approach also allows clients to budget better and schedule payments. I like to work with organisations such as the Growth Hub, and local authorities etc., wherever possible, as not only do we get paid, but the businesses get our expertise funded. So, everyone wins!

How do you protect your reputation and enhance it?

By being the best I can be at all times. And, just as with employees, I treat people as I would expect others to treat me.

How do you network to your advantage?

I focus on building relationships and understanding what people do. I firmly believe in going out of my way to introduce connections to the wider business community. I chair the FSB online networking as well.

How do you shut off from the business and manage the work/life balance more effectively?

I coach two grassroots football sides, one as manager and lead coach, the other in a supporting role. It allows me to switch off entirely (and pretend I am still young enough to play!)

How can you cut overheads and outgoings without negatively impacting my business?

Pick up the phone and speak to me! This is a core part of what I do, and I apply the methodologies used with clients to my own business.

For more information, visit www.amsconsulting.com 

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