The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 24 August 2007

Kilmarnock travel agent celebrates
top customer satisfaction score

KILMARNOCK-based travel agent Julie Muldoon is celebrating after she scored an overwhelming 100% in a recent customer satisfaction survey.

Picture shows: Julie Muldoon

Julie is one of over 800 professional Travel Counsellors located throughout the UK and overseas, running their own home-based travel business as part of the Queen’s Award-winning independent travel agency Travel Counsellors Plc.

In the survey Julie’s customers were asked just one question - how likely they would be to recommend her services to their friends and colleagues -responding with a score of between one to ten. It is clear from Julie’s impressive score of 100% that her dedication to going that extra mile for customers is a proven success.

“The fact that my customers want to recommend my services to their friends and colleagues confirms to me that I am doing things right,” says Julie Muldoon, who has over 27 years experience in the travel industry. “I am thrilled with my score. It is very rewarding and it’s a great feeling to know that my customers are happy.” 

The survey, taken from business expert and bestselling author Fred Reichheld’s ‘The Ultimate Question’, is already used by a number of major brands including computer firms Apple and Dell, Southwest Airlines and Virgin Mobile. Travel Counsellors is the first company to achieve an impressive overall score of 96% after surveying over 7,000 customers across the UK, beating the previous record of 81% achieved by Harley-Davidson.

Working from home using the company’s award-winning technology allows Julie to be available at the time that is most convenient to the customer, including during the evenings and at weekends, providing a unique personal customer service to each and every customer. Contact on 0845 058 7221 or

Julie adds; “My business is based on customer recommendation, so it is very satisfying to know how highly my customers rate me. Providing my customers with the best possible service always comes first, and that is what makes my business a success.”

Travel Counsellors PLC is one of the UK’s largest independent travel companies with turnover at the end of its last financial year of £175 million, a 17% increase year on year.

Founded in 1994 it currently has over 800 travel consultants who work from home with the support of over 170 staff at the company’s head office in the UK.

The company also operates in Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Australia and the US.

Travel Counsellors was the winner of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2003-2008, the technology category of the 2005 CBI Growing Business Awards and was voted 2006 Travel Agent of the Year by readers of the Guardian, Observer and Guardian Unlimited. In 2007 the company won the Accenture Innovation Award and the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Travel Weekly Globe Awards.

Julie Muldoon's website:
Ballantrae twins make tracks to success

OVER 15 years ago, two brothers from Ballantrae in Ayrshire began a local business removing roadside and railside obstructions for the local council after receiving a business loan and grant from the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust.

Picture shows: Danny and Billy McCulloch.

Today, the family-run business W & D McCulloch Rail Division has grown to employ over 40 people, and is recognised as the UK’s leading rail installers and providers of re-railing services.

Added to which, the brothers have just begun a brand new venture and opened a garden centre, Craigiemains Home and Garden Centre in Ballantrae, on land they purchased a few years ago.

Twin brothers Billy and Danny McCulloch (41) who live in Ballantrae, set up W & D McCulloch Rail Division after winning their first contract from First Engineering to remove scrap rail.

It was during this project that the two brothers saw a niche in the market for a machine that would greatly enhance the amount of rail that could be moved in one shift.

With this in mind, W & D McCulloch designed and built the Trac Rail Transposer, and it is now being used across the UK to make the re-railing process more cost-effective, quicker and inherently safer for crews working on the rail tracks.

The Trac Rail Transposer was put forward for the category of Innovation in Engineering and Information Technology at The Railway Forum/Modern Railways Innovation Awards in June earlier this year and came second out of 130 entries.

The company, which has recently won a new contract with First Engineering as part of a £350 million project to install two new additional tracks near Lichfield in Staffordshire, also provides services for rail maintenance companies up and down the UK including transposing rails, switches, crossings and sleepers, installing single line rails, the burning and recovery of scrap rails and the removal of scrap rail, concrete or wooden sleepers.

Engineering director Billy McCulloch comments: “When we first set up the business in 1992, we never imagined we’d have designed, built and patented our own piece of machinery - let alone be running a business with over 40 employees.

“It is never easy setting up your own business, and it takes an awful lot of hard work, but if you are prepared to put in the time and energy and to believe in yourselves, it is possible to build a successful and sustainable business.

“PSYBT helped us in the early stages of establishing our company and we appreciate the help this gave us in setting up the business.

“W&D McCulloch is still growing as a specialised rail services business and our aim is to continue to win new contracts and expand our services and our team further. It has also been a challenge starting up the garden centre in the last year or so, and we are pleased things are going so well with that, so much so that this summer we are already planning to extend its coffee shop.”

PSYBT chief executive Mark Strudwick said: “Billy and Danny’s business is a real success story. They have shown themselves to be true entrepreneurs by capitalising on the opportunities in front of them and taking their ideas and making them happen. They have obviously created a truly unique business and designed a highly successful product specifically for their marketplace. It is wonderful to hear that after many years in business they are still growing and expanding. We are delighted that we were able to help them at the very beginning of their business and continue to wish them success in the future.”

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Business coach Barrie Grant offers
his expertise to Ayrshire companies

AFTER a successful ten years working in HR for companies including IBM, Tarmac, Abbey National and T-Mobile, Ayr-born Barrie Grant (35) is returning to his roots to offer small and medium-sized enterprises in Ayrshire his experience and expertise as a business coach.

Picture shows: Ayrshire business coach Barrie Grant.

Barrie has bought the local franchise of ActionCOACH, which claims to be the No.1 business coaching firm in the world.

Educated at Mainholm Academy, Barrie started off working in accountancy in London, but subsequently returned to Scotland to study for his BA honours degree in business and management at the University of Paisley, to which he added certification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) and a Diploma in IT from UCLA in California. To round off his impressive array of qualifications, Barrie has just recently returned from the United States, where he completed the final training for his latest role as a business coach.

During the course of his business career to date, Barrie has successfully managed projects and organisational change to positively impact business success. He has coached business leaders at executive and director level, bridging complex reporting and management relationships, and acquired a proven track record of innovation, cost reduction and improving performance standards. Now Barrie is committed to consistently raising the performance of SMEs in Ayrshire, as well as promoting their business through his network of contacts.

Barrie says: “I will be working in five key areas: sales, marketing and advertising, team building and recruitment, systems and business development and customer service.

“My goal is to help small business owners spend less time working in their business and more time working ON their business. In the end, they'll be spending less total time working and will be making more money. I’d also like to help them put the fun back in their business and their life.

“As a small business owner myself, I know what it is like to worry about the day-to-day survival of the business and making the amount of money needed to run my business and personal life. I understand what it’s like to put in long hours and wonder what happened to the dreams and vision I had for my life and future.

“I am here to help you change all of that. I will work with clients to redefine their dreams and vision, and then help put into place the necessary systems, strategies, and tactics that will allow them to turn their business venture into a thriving, successful one.

“I define a successful business as a commercial, profitable enterprise that works without you. As a business coach, I will function as an unreasonable friend who tells it like it is and keeps clients working on the path toward their dreams.”

Barrie offers a free introductory coaching session, and you can find out more by telephoning 07984 643326 or e-mail:

Barrie Grant's website: CLICK HERE