Igniting the Power of Mentoring (Amy Mooney and John Savage)

Posted on the 10 September 2019

Igniting the Power of Mentoring (Amy Mooney and John Savage)

When Amy Mooney and John Savage met on a scale-up panel at an Entrepreneurs’ Forum conference in 2015, little did they know that it would be the start of a mentoring relationship that would span five years.

Amy, who bought in to home energy company Gas Angel Heating earlier this year, spent her early career as an in-house marketer for blue-chips such as TUI and Sage. With a few years’ experience under her belt, Amy took a marketing agency role and spent the next 10 gaining notable brand, digital and management experience in the region’s best-known agencies.

In 2014, upon finding a gap in the market for a creative service focusing on data and insight, Amy co-founded award-winning marketing agency, Unwritten, which she subsequently scaled and then sold her share in a management buy-out.

Amy recalls, “In 2015 I was asked to participate on the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s scale-up panel, representing a company starting its growth journey. We’d been going for a year or so, approaching the half million mark and had a team of seven.

“John was also on the panel and on track to turnover 10 million. He’d already led his company to great success and with more branch openings planned, he certainly didn’t appear to be slowing down which I loved”.

Founded in 2011, Flame Heating Group has built an impeccable reputation as the North East’s leading heating merchant.

Operating from eight branches across the region, and 4 additional branches in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayr and Carlisle, the company specialises in plumbing and heating equipment, supplying to sole traders, contractors and social housing groups.

John worked his way up through the ranks of a major national merchant - from operating the warehouse floor to becoming the office manager - before setting up his own.

Amy continues, “After the panel, I got chatting to John during the break. I learned how he’d taken Flame from start-up to one of the region’s fastest growing companies.

“He had achieved a lot in a relatively short time but was humble and talked openly about various pitfalls. I came away full of ideas and this was when the mentoring connection happened, it was a really natural process.”

A driving factor in Amy’s decision to change direction was insight gained whilst consulting with engineering and energy sector clients.

But it wasn’t until she began officially advising on her husband’s company, Gas Angel Heating, that a fascination with the heating industry, in particular smart energy technology and renewables, took hold.

Amy reflects, “The more time I spent researching the industry and its growth opportunities, the more my interest grew, and excitement took hold. I had an opportunity too great to ignore, quite literally on my doorstep.”

“Looking back, the turning point came after another meeting with John, this time at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum 2018 North East Entrepreneurial Awards. John was nominated for an award, as was his energy sector client, Kevin Brown of Pacifica Group. It was great seeing two companies from the sector being recognised in our region and hearing their stories.

“Through John I got chatting to some of the Pacifica and 0800 Repair team. Speaking face-to-face with experts at the coalface was helpful, reassuring and ultimately gave me the shove I needed to take the leap”.

Approximately 1.5 million boilers are installed in UK homes each year. As the population continues to grow, so does the demand for housing and the need for smart heating.

Amy continues, “The demand is there but our industry is slow to modernise meaning customers are getting a raw deal when it comes to buying a new boiler. The current process of searching for companies, hoping they’ll turn up and then waiting home for hours (or days for more than one quote), is time consuming, intrusive and uncomfortable.

Customers are made to choose between inflated price tags of large nationals, or local traders unable to offer a robust aftercare, finance or extended warrantees.

“With this in mind, we have developed a smart, transparent alternative to the status quo. Our instant, fixed rate quotation service, website and rebrand launched this September.

“The model works through the implementation of software that quickly analyses customer need and matches to tailored options that suit budget requirements.

“The survey model used by the majority of companies is dated and time consuming. A boiler is a considered purchase with financial and emotional risk and reward. This process requires investigation and comparison by the customer prior to a transaction being made.By removing the need to wait home for a survey and wait around for a quote, Gas Angel Heating makes it easy to get a fixed price for a new boiler. This saves the customer time, stops them being sold to in their home and resolves their heating problem quicker.

Earlier this year Amy and David launched an MVP which they tested on a sample of customers. During this time, Amy continued to contact John for mentoring support.

“John is an entrepreneur through and through.He is focused, studies his industry and his customers and adapts to change when needed. He’s also a really nice fella which helps a lot!

“His advice to a recent deliberation was ‘go big or go home’. It was said in a light-hearted way and made me laugh but stuck in my mind for days after and in hindsight it was exactly what I needed to hear.”

“Having someone knowledgeable and ambitious like John to bounce ideas off has been invaluable.”

Amy continued, “The advice and guidance you’re given through the Entrepreneurs’ Forum mentoring programme is genuine, encouraging and a wonderful resource.

“Connecting with John through the Entrepreneurs’ Forum has a key role in helping me arrive at where I am today; heading up an incredibly exciting energy company with a vibrant future.”

Access to peer-to-peer mentoring support is part of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum membership and includes confidential one-to-one connections, round table discussions and mentoring drop-in surgeries.

For more information, contact Michael at michael@entrepreneursforum.net or 0191 500 7780 or visit www.entrepreneursforum.net/mentoring