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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Are You Stopping Your Business Growth With This?

If a company is bumping along with the same profits year after year it often lacks one or more of:

  • strategic growth plan
  • marketing plan
  • appropriate sales approach
  • project scheduling
  • monitored customer service
  • Unplanned operational processes

Missing just one of these leads to wasted effort for the whole company. Sometimes with costs that are hidden by "just doing business."

For example, think of Mr. ringing to report a problem with the tap on his bathroom suite...

XYZ Customer Service Agent (XYZ CSA): "Hello The Sunny Bathroom Company.How may I help you?"

Mr Smith: "Ah, good morning. I bought one of your Kon-Tiki bathroom suites and you installed it for me last week. Unfortunately one of the taps doesn't work and we didn't realise until your plumber left and we couldn't get hold of him to ask him to come back."

XYZ CSA: "Oh that's a shame. Unfortunately I don't do the scheduling for the plumber so I've no idea when he can get back to sort it out for you. I'll ring his department and find out a time and ring you back?"

Mr Smith: "Great thanks"

XYZ CSA then puts the phone down and starts to note the request. Another call comes through XYZ takes the call and then forgets to finish the note.

The next morning ....

ABC CSA: "Hello The Sunny Bathroom Company.How may I help you?"

Mr Smith: "I rang yesterday about getting a plumber to sort my tap out."

ABC CSA: "Oh. There's nothing here about that. Just give me your details..."

And of course this ties up another employee on the same problem. And is a hidden cost. Plus the customer is annoyed that he's been forgotten and is likely to tell others of his misfortune. These are all hidden effects of poor customer service.


"How You Can Find Out How TO Grow Your Business"

Get an outside consultant to come in and go through it.

Often the directors and owners are too close to the business and day to day work so can't step back as easily as they might like to.

That means that problems get left to one side. There they fester and eat away at growth and profits.

Whenever I go into a business I always find areas that a business can grow profitably. Equally I can see where the business has unreasonable costs or poorly performing people.

Like almost anyone who goes into companies as a consultant you can find a sales approach, operational process, marketing strategy, product, service or customer type that can either be improved or needs removing.

The reason any consultant who goes into businesses can identify problem areas or those with potential is not because we're better than the owners or directors. It's because we come with objective judgement and our analysis is based on knowledge of other companies we've been in.

The other thing is that a consultant can report hard truths that must be faced without having to dress them up.

I've only ever found two companies who didn't want to grow their business! And a recommendation I made to one of the companies would have doubled their turnover, with practically no work on their part!

You don't need to let hidden opportunities or threats stunt your company growth. It's simply a matter of having the courage to employ someone who can stand outside your business, whilst understanding its principles and give you an unbiased report.

"Who Should You Employ To Act As The External Observer?"

To get the best from your consultant you need someone who:

  • Is willing to investigate the company and do the necessary analysis
  • Has been into at least 5-10 different companies
  • Has worked for at least one blue chip company as a permanent employee at some stage
  • Is not a specialist, such as an accountant, lawyer or banker

The reasons you need these criteria to help you choose a consultant are:

Consultants can come with the "one size fits all" approach and their strategy is a very rapid visit followed by a boiler plate report. In which little that will help the company is detailed. leaving them exactly where they were before. The positive side to this is that it doesn't cost much. The downside? It's a waste of time.

Another consultants approach is to flood the company with bodies (so called "leveraging"). The resulting report is more likely to be tailored to the client. However, the downside is the enormous cost and as the consultancy is likely to want further work in the company the worst areas may not be highlighted as they should. Or the consultant may push their own solution, involving their resources, when there's an easier, cheaper approach.

If the consultant hasn't worked in at least 5 other companies they're unlikely to have seen how other operations run and to understand that whilst every company is different there are some common lessons that can be drawn.

Working at a blue chip means the consultant has had great training. Their approach should reflect this training. From the initial meetings right through to the final report.

Specialists can often be blinkered by what they see at a company. Yes they're likely to see at least some of the problem areas for the company. However, their relationship may hold them back from being candid. In addition they are unlikely to see the opportunities that a company is missing.


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