Tag Archive: best practices

The Power of WHY And Your Business

September 26th, 2019

I was always the inquisitive, and sometimes annoying, child in elementary school asking the teacher WHY as it pertained to certain math problems as I wanted to understand how and WHY that answer was correct or WHY my answer wasn’t. In most cases it was easy to understand and absorb but on at least 2 occasions my annoying questions of WHY uncovered mistakes in the grading book, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of my teacher. As I grew I applied the WHY to learning and competing in sports…WHY does that method produce better results than that method. So through my 40+ years of executive sales leadership and business ownership I’ve never lost site of how WHY can be used to succeed. So…let’s talk about how WHY may be the most powerful word you can apply to your business.

  • “WHY do customers buy and not buy our products or services?”
  • “WHY do we exist as a company?”
  • “WHY does our sales team continually miss their sales goals?”
  • “WHY did our competitor take away business from our top customer?”
  • “WHY do our employees like to work here?”

These and hundreds more can be the key to your success if you take the time to understand the power of the word WHY and how you can use it to identify business problems and uncover the solutions to those same problems.

Let’s take a quick look at the first question above: “WHY do customers buy our products or services?” Pretty simple and straight-forward, right? Well…in many cases it’s not that straight-forward and requires you to take a deep dive into every aspect of your business and not be afraid of what you might find. From your Business Value Proposition to understanding how each department impacts the Customer Experience, to how you manage warranty claims, to shipping orders on time, to how you handle delinquent accounts without losing the customer, to how your products or services can make or save money, to something as simple as the tone of your voice when you answer the phone and on and on and on. The Power Of WHY is the single most powerful word you can use in assessing you business.

Let’s look at how the Power Of WHY can be used to identify issues in your business.

COMPANY A – Manufactures plumbing products, have 5 key competitors and have declining sales the past 2 years. WHY are their sales stagnant? The CEO sits down his management team and works through a brainstorming and information gathering event they have called Operation WHY. Here are some of the questions and team answers:

 WHY do customers buy our products?

  • We have a vast line of products so customers can obtain most everything they need from a single source.
  • We’ve been in business 42 years and are known as an industry leader.
  • We ship 97% of all orders the same day.
  • Our products have low warranty claims.

 

WHY are our sales stagnant and not growing?

  • We haven’t stayed ahead of the competition who has developed some new products that our customers want and need.
  • Our company has lost it customer-first commitment.
  • We had turnover in Customer Service and have issues with attitudes and lack of relationship building.
  • Competitor A is targeting our key accounts and offering lower pricing on several of our key products.
  • Competitor B offers an extra 15 day terms to all their larger customers.
  • New account and pipeline development has declined.

Do you see some key trouble signs here? Absolutely…Competition is luring customers or part of their business away because they are In It To Win It. Company A has stopped being the industry leader in many critical aspects of their business and lost out to more aggressive and forward-thinking competitors.

Hopefully this exercise was a wake-up call for the management of Company A and they re-commit themselves to being the best in every aspect of their business as just having a great product is only a part of WHY customers buy from you. Like Lean Manufacturing Best Practices, you must constantly evolve and improve as a business and the Power Of WHY is a great place to start.

Another aspect of business is understanding who contributes to a positive customer experience. This is part of your “WHY do they buy from us analysis?”. Since People Do Business With People, the first exposure to your company may be the salesperson BUT…they aren’t the only ones who contribute to the overall Customer Experience. Anyone that interfaces with your customers such as the Receptionist, Customer Service, Delivery Person, Accounting, Technical Support, Operations and more are representatives of your company and your reputation is in their hands. You will succeed by making sure that everyone who interfaces with customers have the same commitment to treating customers as they would want to be treated themselves. If your first cultural business change is the Customer Experience then you are off to a great start.

WHY CHANGE? – WHY NOT?

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Should You Hold a Meeting?

September 3rd, 2019
There is no doubt about it.  More than 80%  of our clients hold too many meetings that don’t accomplish results. Does your company follow suit? Even if you are following a lean methodology with an odd start time and a standing meeting, the key question is whether anything is accomplished. How would you rate your last meeting?
In our experience, sometimes the ‘lean’ organizations actually accomplish less because people believe they are following “best practices”. Take a step back and map out last week’s meetings.
  • What was the objective of each meeting? Do you even know the reason you attended? Often-times, clients go to meetings because they ‘have to’, not because they get something from them.
  • Did you accomplish the objective?
  • Did the appropriate people attend the meeting? Or was an entire group of people waiting on a key person? Or, worse yet, waiting on a non-key person?
  • Did the meeting start on-time and end on-time?
  • Did you have an opportunity to share meaningful input?
  • Did you feel like it was a productive meeting or a waste of time?
There is a reason the book, “Death by Meeting” is popular. Yet without meetings, would we accomplish goals?
As often as we encourage clients to curtail or shorten meetings, we also encourage other clients to hold meetings. The bottom line is whether the meeting will create value. If you use this simple rule prior to scheduling a meeting, we guarantee you’ll be more successful and productive almost immediately.
Consider a few questions for your next meeting:
  1. Is there anyone on your attendee list that doesn’t need to attend? Perhaps think about the meeting invitees as people you are paying to be there. Instead of a fixed cost, assume their time is variable. Imagine what they can accomplish not sitting in an unnecessary meeting, and take them off the list!
  2. Is anyone missing from the attendee list? I cannot tell you how often I end up in a meeting with a client where a key person isn’t in the meeting, so nothing can be accomplished. Why not wait until that person is available, be more forceful to get that person to the meeting or empower a delegate?
  3. Do you have a clear agenda with outcomes? This is less about a physical piece of paper or an agenda on a meeting request and more about knowing what you will walk away accomplishing in the meeting. Think again before ‘hitting send’ on your meeting request.
  4. Will you encourage feedback to make the next meeting better? In my global strategy group, we have started to not only talk about how to improve the next meeting but we are giving each other feedback. We might not want to hear constructive feedback but we are more successful with it.
  5. Is there a mechanism to track actions? Some clients call this a RAIL (rolling action item list) or something like it. Consider not taking notes and instead focusing on action.
Meetings are necessary in driving results.  Yet, do you need as many as you have? And do they have to be as long? I challenge everyone to reduce their meeting time by 50%. Give it a try, and let us know how it goes and what strategies you find the most successful. Also, even more interesting, how many meetings did you cancel?

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Which Business Best Practices Do Top Notch Trusted Advisors See?

October 5th, 2017

In my ProVisors ODAM (Ontario-hosted Distributors and Manufacturers group – don’t you love the play on words?) meeting this month, we discussed business best practices we’ve seen with our manufacturing and distribution clients. It was a fascinating discussion as our group is diverse and consists of the most respected attorneys, CPAs, commercial insurance, business financial advisers, and consultants from around Southern California. Yet, we agreed rather quickly on core best practices. Thanks to Ron Penland for making the meetings engaging and trend-worthy.

Best business practices, this way….

Here are some of the top themes surrounding best practices:

  • Start by understanding financial statements and cost – it’s interesting how often this arises with our clients.
  • Look for the value add.
  • Find ways to scale without increasing costs. There are many options such as leveraging technologies, best practices, trade associations and more.
  • Leadership equals profit improvement. End of story.
  • Don’t start planning your exit “too late”.
  • Consider process improvement techniques such as lean manufacturing, SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning), etc.
  • Be aware of your indicators and metrics.

More Best Practices

Are you reliant on figuring everything out yourself? We hope not! The most successful people find groups, attend seminars and conferences, engage with trade associations and interact with others who are up-to-speed on the latest trends and timeless success traits. If you think you might need to go a step further, feel free to contact us and we’ll suggest a few strategies for you.

 

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Lisa Anderson Releases Book to Spur Business Innovation

June 23rd, 2017

Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, known as the Manufacturing Business Transformer(SM) and president of LMA Consulting Group, released her book, I’ve Been Thinking…Turning Everyday Interactions into Profitable Opportunities, as a roadmap for businesses, manufacturers and distributors to infuse innovation into their daily work practices. The book is packed with over 100 of Anderson’s insights and strategies on how to create bold customer promises and profits by transforming business performance while keeping an eye on the global perspective and seeing what others cannot in order to create dramatic customer experiences and profitable opportunities. Anderson relies on her global consulting practice where she draws on her experience and observations to share with readers practical and action-inducing ideas to help businesses make the leap ahead of their competition.

“Lisa Anderson not only engages us, she enables us to engage others. She’s given herself the ultimate gift: the time to think unmolested and undisturbed, emptying her mind of the daily grind and allowing herself to travel outside of the box, to destinations of creativity, insight, and perspective. To stand on great walls,” states Alan Weiss, Ph.D. is the author of Million Dollar Consulting

Anderson has been publishing a weekly newsletter by the same name, I’ve Been Thinking, since 2014, which her clients find to be an invaluable resource. Wallace P. Brithinee, Ph.D. and President of Brithinee Electric, states “I like Lisa’s column, ‘I’ve Been Thinking‘, because it delivers the right mix of suggestions, prodding, and human interest that I find useful.”

The author says that writing her newsletter has expanded her thinking dramatically, “Now, there are a seemingly endless supply of everyday interactions that can be turned into profitable opportunities.” Anderson further states that she now sees everyday occurrences in an entirely new light — there is always some sort of idea or lesson to glean from the most mundane of topics.

“As president of LMA Consulting Group, as well as her leadership positions in APICS and other organizations, Lisa gets to meet a lot of people and gets to visit a lot of companies,” says Professor Kash Gokli of Harvey Mudd College. “That is where she gets her inspiration for ‘I’ve Been Thinking.’ Her writing on a diverse compilation of best practices is both informative and insightful.” 

I’ve Been Thinking is available as a paperback on Amazon and as an eBook on Kindle. To subscribe to Lisa Anderson’s newsletter, click here or copy and paste this link into your browser https://www.lma-consultinggroup.com/ibt-index/



ERP Project Success: How to Be Part of The 20%

November 2nd, 2016
ERP Success

More and more clients are pursuing ERP implementation projects as executives realize they need better tools to support business objectives – growth, service, margins, cash and the like.

When implemented well, ERP systems can support substantial business growth without the additional investment in resources. Certainly, as the minimum wage goes up and workers’ compensation and healthcare are such significant issues, it is something many executives are thinking about! However, ERP systems can do much more – they can help collaborate with customers and suppliers. Those with the best-extended supply chains will thrive in the end, and so it makes sense to take a look at upgrading ERP.

Thus, finding a way to successfully implement an ERP system is of paramount importance, yet the statistics dictate less than stellar performance. Typically, 80%+ of ERP system implementations fail to achieve the expected results. As experts in this space, we can attest that several of these are due to unrealistic expectations without the associated resources and efforts to ensure success; however, either way, ERP success can prove elusive.

Therefore, understanding how to give you a leg up with strategies for success can be vital. Ignore all the best practice mumbo-jumbo and focus on what will really matter:

1. It’s all about the people: As with almost every business success, ERP success is no different. It goes back to the leader – and the team. Have you assigned whoever is available to lead the project team? Or have you put thought into it? Have you freed him/her up from their regular activities or made sure he/she can dedicate the time required? Are you saving your “A” players for growing the business and your day-to-day responsibilities instead of ERP? Sound odd? Well, we come across this on a daily basis in our consulting business. How about the software supplier’s project team? Why should you be worried about them? You shouldn’t unless you are interested in success.

For example, we’ve been involved in several ERP selection projects lately and have stayed involved to ensure the process designs would support business objectives in the best way possible, and, unfortunately, we can convey countless examples of the 80% that run into issues with people. For example, in one case, the project leader was on top of things – truly much better than the average project leader for the size company yet the project still struggled due to people issues. The software supplier ran into trouble with their project manager. You never know what can go wrong and so it’s smart to remember to keep your eye on the importance of people.

2. Focus on design: The reason we often stay involved with the design process is that this is one of the critical success factors to ensuring ERP implementation success. The quandary is that this type of role requires a broad and diverse skillset, rarely found in project managers.

The skills required include a broad, cross-functional process expertise, an understanding of database design, an understanding of down-the-line impacts of typical system transactions, an understanding of report writing/ programming and the ability to communicate effectively and bridge the gap between the technical and application resources. In our experience, we run across this type of resource 5% of the time in our clients. On the other hand, we run across this type of skillset perhaps 30% of the time with the ERP resources; however, the really bad news is that even though the capability exists 30% of the time, it is used perhaps 10% of the time. The ERP supplier does not want to dictate the design as it will be “their solution” instead of the “client’s solution”, and it is a trick to communicate effectively enough such that the client believes it is their idea or is accepting of the information.

Is it any wonder ERP projects fail miserably?

3. Focus on what could go wrong: It is often rather difficult to keep the ERP project team positive and moving forward because they are causing disruption to the day-to-day success of the business and pushing the envelope with new ideas (sometimes perceived to be threatening or ill-conceived) and process changes which might or might not be accompanied by organizational changes (another key issue with ERP success). Thus, no one wants to create more havoc by deliberately creating tension, thus, forcing practice when mistakes are made and transactions go awry is overlooked. However, this is exactly what must occur to ensure success. Deliberately try to screw up the system when testing. It is not to be a “naysayer” (which can sometimes be the perception) but it is to make sure the team knows how to back out of bad situations. It is far better to “break” the system in test than with your #1 customer!

We cannot tell you how much nonsense we’ve heard about “system XYZ” is set up to perform best practices and so the team just doesn’t want to deal with change. In 95% of the situations, this statement isn’t true. Instead, forget about all the hoopla about best practices and focus on these 3 keys to success; results will follow.

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