ClearThink™ Business Coaching Program – Town of Sylvan Lake, Alberta

WINNER, National Champion of Canada 2021 and Silver Medal, International Constantinus Award

Project Lead: Pierre Cormier  CMC, CAC, CAFA

Full Project Team: Ann MacTaggart  CPA, CA, CMC, Cheryl Lockhart  BCom, CMC, Dena Gillies  CPHR, CMC, Keleigh Cormier  BCom, FCMC, CAC, Martin Rybiak  PEng, CMC, Pauline Patenaude  MBA, FCMC, Pierre Cormier CMC, CAC, CAFA

This mini case study is part of a series profiling nominees of the International Constantinus Award, showcasing excellence in consulting. 

Background – The Challenge

Sylvan Lake is a town in central Alberta, Canada with 15,000 permanent residents. The lake has been a popular destination for tourists from around Alberta, with approximately 1 million visitors each year.

Like most towns across Canada, business owners and managers in Sylvan Lake faced devastating economic challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain disruptions, changes in consumption, social distancing, and other factors all contribute to a challenging environment for business leaders.

In 2016, ClearThink™ provided valuable coaching support to business owners in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alberta who were impacted by the Fort McMurray Wildfires.

This experience helped lead to their team being brought in by the Town of Sylvan Lake for assistance in developing a similar coaching program to help business owners during this difficult time.

Engagement Review – The Solution

The ClearThink™ Coaching Program connected business owners and/or managers in the Town of Sylvan Lake (TOSL) with a professional Certified Management Consultant (CMC) for one-on-one business coaching and advice to help businesses take the next best step forward as they navigated the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Program Objectives

  • Provide one-on-one coaching and advice from an experienced CMC who takes the time to understand the participant’s business, unique situation and current challenges.
  • Have the CMC help the eligible business define challenges and opportunities while setting priorities.
  • Together develop a tangible action plan with next steps based on the advice of the CMC.

Program Highlights

  • A minimum of 12 hours of support from the CMC (5 hours of one-on-one coaching to the business owner).
  • Business owners and/or a member of their management team were paired with a CMC who has the appropriate background and expertise to assist.
  • All coaching meetings were held via video conference or over the telephone due to the pandemic. 
  • Free for participating businesses (fees paid by the Town of Sylvan Lake)

A roster of Alberta CMCs was created outlining their functional skills to facilitate effective matchmaking. To best serve business leaders with their recovery efforts, ClearThink™ consultants worked collaboratively to explore the six (6) key functional areas within their business: Strategy, Financial, Operations, Human Resources, Technology and Marketing.

Coaching assignments began in September, 2020 with seventeen (17) businesses completing the program on or before December 31, 2020.

Clients served: Small/Medium enterprises based in Sylvan Lake including Construction, Food Services, Health Services, Professional Services, Retail, Tourism/Hospitality sectors, etc.

Why Certified Management Consultants:

Certified Management Consultants (CMCs) must demonstrate competency across a broad professional body of knowledge and have completed a rigorous certification process:

  • They commit to ongoing professional development and learning.
  • CMCs adhere a strict code of professional conduct.
  • CMCs are subject to an internationally recognized certification process.
  • Businesses owners would have access to a pool of CMCs from across Alberta and potentially across Canada.
The Results

The ClearThink™ Business Coaching Program has the support of the Town of Sylvan Lake administration. Pictured here: Wally Ferris - Chief Administrative Officer (top left), Sean Durkin - Director of Recreation, Culture, Tourism and Economic Development, (top right), Teresa Rilling - Mayor (centre), and Amanda Mercer - Economic Development Offer (bottom right), and Project Lead Pierre Cormier (bottom left).

From being entrepreneurs themselves, the CMC coaches were able to quickly create a trusting environment, which provides entrepreneurs with a clear and practical path to achieving their goals.

The Town of Sylvan Lake was impressed by the CMC coaches who provided clients with business specific coaching services. That included sharing their knowledge and skills with local business leaders, while helping them better manage the daunting task of re-establishing and strengthening their businesses during the pandemic.

“The participant follow up survey had an 82% response rate and results indicated that 100% of the businesses felt more positive/confident about the future direction of their business since going through the coaching program," said Amanda Mercer, Economic Development Officer for Sylvan Lake. "100% of businesses indicated they ended the program with an action plan for next steps; 100% of businesses indicated that they would recommend the program to other businesses."

“We are excited to work with ClearThink™ Group and their team of Certified Management Consultants to provide a fantastic level of individualized support for our business community through Sylvan Lake’s Business Coaching Program," said Sean McIntyre, former mayor of Sylvan Lake. "The program is helping our community’s businesses get the support they need to build stronger more resilient businesses that support jobs and families across our community.”

Several clients also provided very positive testimonials supporting ClearThink's coaching program:

  • "This was an outstanding opportunity as a business, to get a glimpse of the help that is out there at our fingertips! Well done!"
  • "Thank you for caring about my success and for partnering with me as my business consultant to help me move my business to the next level. I appreciate your hands-on approach, preparing a lot of the resources and reports for me, and freeing time for me to focus on other items of my business."
  • "Through this time of uncertainty, we felt the coaching program offered much needed support and direction. The team of professionals at hand, gave us confidence in creating a realistic and practical goals & objectives that are easily implemented."
  • "I can't say enough good things. My CMC-Coach was real and genuine; not intimidating and knew how things work in the real world versus book theory examples."
  • "It helped me pinpoint some of my own corporate values which will trickle down to my whole team to make us feel stronger as a group. If we can share the same vision and goal as a company our customers will get better value from us. Thank you for your guidance. I really would consider this program “therapy for the company”.
Thank YOU TO ALL the participating CMCs who made a real difference in Sylvan Lake.
  • Ms. Ann MacTaggart CPA, CA, CMC 
  • Ms. Cheryl Lockhart BCom, CMC 
  • Ms. Dena Gillies CPHR, CMC 
  • Ms. Keleigh Cormier BCom, FCMC, CAC 
  • Mr. Martin Rybiak PEng, CMC 
  • Ms. Pauline Patenaude MBA, FCMC 
  • Mr. Pierre Cormier CMC, CAC (program leader) 
Moving Forward

With the success of the program, Sylvan Lake has recently re-engaged ClearThink™ Group for an additional 10 business owners to complete the program by end of 2021. Learn more about ClearThink Group here