About the business
The Grey Matter Group provides web based solutions enabling organisations that specialise in health and social care to improve staff development and performance.
Established by 3 partners in 2006, they have seen consistent growth and continue to work closely with health and social care providers to support organisations to achieve essential standards that impact on the delivery of quality care services. The Grey Matter Group’s key point of differentiation is that they provide online assessments that enable competence recording and critical evidence for health and social care providers. This provides compliance with the Care Quality Commission and for other initiatives like Investors In People, Qualification Credit Framework and Local Authority Contract Monitoring.

The growth journey so far
It was in 2006 that Sarah Knapp was working as a Learning and Development manager for a Local Authority when she had the idea for The Grey Matter Group. With the introduction of new mandatory standards, she continued to grapple with the problem of ensuring individual competency and questioned the validity and effectiveness of face to face training – was it cost effective? Did people come away better able to do their job? How could this be measured and evidenced?
It was whilst she was on holiday with husband Alex that the eureka moment hit. Together they came up with the idea of introducing technology into training for social care. It was a true meeting of the minds – Sarah’s background in social care training and Alex’s in business and technology. To make their idea a reality, they approached Piers Storey, who is now a partner in the business, to understand whether they could actually build an online assessment system that was fit for purpose in the health and social care sector. In March 2007, The Grey Matter Group was formally incorporated. Less than one year after they came up with the idea, Alex left his job to run the business and by September 2010, they had three people in the management team and two further part-time employees.

The challenge
The business had grown exponentially since launch and had reached a point where it was ready to diversify into new offers and really grow as a business.
However, before embarking on this next stage of growth, the founders knew they had to make sure the business was strong enough to take on such rapid growth. They had developed so much, but their focus had primarily been on delivering brilliant results for clients, however, there was a need to strengthen and document processes to enable The Grey Matter Group to expand. This was something that was recognised as a critical need for the business and something that was hard to do from an internal perspective – especially involving a husband and wife team. They recognised that business processes such as project development, financial management and key account management needed to have better focus. The team decided that a third party would bring objectivity and push them to focus on the things that would deliver future growth.

Getting the right advice
An ex-colleague working at the Sector Skills Council, Skills for Care, recommended the GrowthAccelerator service. When they looked in to it they decided it was exactly what they needed.
They were introduced to Growth Coach, Martin Vessey, who unlocked the doors to growth for the business, not only in terms of understanding what they needed to do, but also in his approach to challenging the team to think in a different way. “Martin has been instrumental in helping us focus the business and ultimately grow.”

Implementing change
One of the biggest ways in which GrowthAccelerator has impacted the business is by accessing tax credits for research and development. Martin suggested that the business seek advice from a tax specialist about this, which they did and discovered they were able to reclaim some of the corporation tax that they had already paid.
This cash injection instantly improved the business’s cash flow enabling them to benefit from the GrowthAccelerator matched funded Leadership and Management training. This was vital in helping the company to develop their own skills for high growth opportunities and helped them to set in place more formal reporting, meeting and forecasting structures. They also benefited from sales training which has helped develop a more focused approach to key accounts and sales and marketing strategies.

As a result of GrowthAccelerator, The Grey Matter Group, are a much more structured business. “We have a strong business plan in place, with financial and sales reporting at our core. Martin also supported us in separating job roles within the leadership team. We were aware that we all had different skills and mind-sets and particularly as a husband and wife team, it was sometimes tricky to negotiate a path forward. Martin guided us and gave neutral, constructive advice and vastly strengthened our ability to direct and lead a business in a more objective way.”

What’s next for The Grey Matter Group?
With the help from GrowthAccelerator and the Growth Coach, Martin Vessey, the business has ensured that it is fit and ready for their ambitious growth plans.
The team are looking to continue to increase their profile in the market and solidify their position as a leader in their field of assessment and evidencing competence.
The team has acquired an e-Learning business and developed a training booking system with one of their customers and plan to continue their innovative and pioneering approach to delivering improvements to existing and new customers.
They have taken on two additional staff and appointed a Director of Programmes and Projects to strengthen their Board and are on track to reach a further 40% growth by the end of the year.