Client Story: Strategic Thinker and Doer

Debbie Frith, pictured above, in The Passionate PA based in Poole, Dorset. She’s been running businesses for many years and has a wealth of experience in managing people, planning for business growth and creating efficient operations. In this Client Story we delve into her partnership with DRK Planning…

Meet David Kemp

David Kemp is Managing Director of DRK Planning Ltd, a multi-disciplinary planning and development consultancy practice based in North West London.

With more than 20 years of experience in planning consultancy, DRK Planning provides a diverse range of expertise, adding value to property owners and property development businesses through a wide range of property planning services.

DRK Planning’s expertise brings together planning, development and legal competence, focused on maximising property development value and reducing planning risk, both in public and private sectors.

The Business Coach’s Referral

Debbie was introduced to David through a mutual connection. David’s Business Coach, Karen Murray, was a Passionate PA client herself and with the help of Kate Chastey, The Passionate PA’s Franchisor, matched Debbie’s skills with the business support that David was looking for:

  • Business development
  • Marketing creation and implementation
  • Process improvement
  • Bookkeeping
  • Client and supplier liaison
  • Admin and organisation

After an initial online meeting, David accepted Debbie’s proposal and the rest, as they say, is history. Debbie was to work remotely, but there would be opportunity for face-to-face meetings from time to time – which both parties felt was important to create and maintain a great working relationship and connection.

Debbie has supported David in his business since May 2021. Starting with around 6 hours a month on average, she has since become an integral part of the team supporting David on a day-to-day basis. Debbie’s role is now roughly 16 hours a month helping him and his small team create the success they deserve.

The planning industry is a fast moving and highly pressured environment. Critical deadlines are a daily occurrence and client expectations are managed accordingly; they are often experiencing stressful and financially challenging situations.

David and Debbie meet online weekly, a chance to reflect on what’s happened in the week and plan for the next.

The Partnership

Debbie strongly believes in working with her clients as opposed to working for them. This kind of partnership approach is hugely important to her and allows her to use extensive experience, offering the highest level of business support to her clients.

David says “Debbie and I have been partnering in our approach to developing the business for over two years. Our relationship, and her collaboration on all aspects of the management and development of the business is greatly appreciated and is integral to its continuing success.

Our regular weekly meetings, focussed on clear goals and objectives, together with open and frequent communication on new marketing initiatives and effective client management have been enormously helpful.

Debbie’s unique and adaptive skill set is coupled with an approach which is fun, positive and engaging, collaborative and highly effective – she’s a strategic thinker and doer, totally invaluable.”

The Learning Curve

When Debbie started working with David, she had a mountain to climb. Her knowledge of the planning and property development world was limited but, as always, she was up for a challenge and ever hungry to learn about a different sector. Debbie began by adding value by introducing systems and processes that helped to streamline and future-proof the business, and gradually she gained knowledge, understanding and insight.

Debbie adds “My role has grown to one where I’m a trusted confidant to David, we’ve been through the highs and lows together. He often uses me as a sounding board drawing on my previous experiences of running businesses.

David and I collaborate on the marketing for DRK Planning. He has a significant LinkedIn following, is a regular contributor to industry press and supports many property networking groups with educational presentations about the ever-changing planning landscape.” 

Here are just a few of the projects that Debbie has worked on:

  • Introduced a CRM system and sales tracking process, supporting the building of an important client and professional network database
  • Implemented a client order agreement process strengthening the business’s commercial position
  • Overhauled the DRK Planning website content, ensuring that it is up to date and reflective of the great work the consultancy does.
  • Set up a LinkedIn Company Page and populates with regular content curated from David’s prolific article writing for industry press.
  • Standardised presentation formats creating branded slide decks that are easily interchangeable with the topic.
  • Introduced Calendly as a way of managing new enquiry appointments for David, reducing the amount of toing and froing of diary management.
  • Organised the implementation of the team Dropbox ensuring that everyone has access to files and folders in a central location that is safely in the cloud.
  • Debbie has also saved the business around £10,000 per year in insurance premiums through introducing David to one of her trusted connections in the industry (another Passionate PA client!).

On a week-to-week basis, Debbie now supports David with:

  • Client management
  • Business development
  • Client invoicing
  • Credit control
  • Administration to support the planning process
  • Website updates
  • Planning Portal submissions
  • Diary management
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Research projects

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