MONDAY MADNESS DOING THE SAME THING AND EXPECTING A DIFF RESULT.

Is there anything, anything at all this week that you should stop doing and do differently?

Give yourself permission to let go of a strategy that deep down you feel doesn’t work. Or maybe it is time to acknowledge that it doesn’t work?

And it’s only a week – just try something diff this week in your business.

Here’s a few very simple things clients of mine changed and they experienced significant improvements/results:

– Put the approval checklist for projects on a big white board instead of a spreadsheet on the computer. The problem with computers is the info is out of sight, out of mind. No one could quickly see where approvals were at for projects so there were delays and this meant cashflow delayed. Now its on the white board, no one can escape it and projects are getting approved 40-80% faster = more revenue/month.

– Stop preparing and sending quotes for orders under $500. Just send a pricelist. It was taking time preparing quotes and for anything under $500, there just isn’t enough margin. This has freed up time to spend on the larger quotes and win more of those.

– Followup emails to enquiries that have come in over night were not getting done the same day. The culprit was continuous interruptions. The change in strategy was to ban anyone talking to the admin person between 830-9am. Now she has no problem getting replies out first thing which achieves their customer service goal. It wasn’t a hard change or complicated change but the results are significant. Note: recent research found that it takes 23 mins to get back on task after an interruption. Hence the reason they are so destructive!

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The key point here is that small changes can make HUGE improvements to your business.

Don’t delay on doing something different because you feel it has to be ‘large’ to make a difference. If you analyse the difference between good and great companies, it is the small things that they do differently that sets them apart.

3 Keys to Effective Meetings to Help Turn Your Business Around

I’ve facilitated over 15 meetings with clients in the past couple weeks, and hundreds more with all the businesses I’ve worked with over the years and there is a trend.

Businesses that are NOT achieving their profit targets or have productivity issues, are not having meetings.

And I mean ‘effective meetings’.


When I ask why a business isn’t having meetings, the two common reasons are: they take too long and they don’t work.


If you have this belief and are looking to turn your business around, here are my tips for effective meetings:


> Set an agenda/checklist of topics. You may or may not need this and it can be the same checklist every month so you don’t have to rewrite it. But it can help add certainty to the team. No one is wondering if their question/issue is going to get raised etc. And can keep you on track and prevent you missing important bits. If you, as the boss, don’t discuss it, then the team will assume it isn’t important, and you can’t blame them for not taking it seriously either. Note my points below to add weight to what you think is important.


> Focus on outcomes and what needs to be done. It is quite natural for everyone to want to explain the background or talk around the subject, and about the people involved. It’s human nature. However in order to keep your meetings short and sharp and prevent people from blaming meetings for taking too long, you need to encourage the habit of allowing just a couple sentences on the issue, decide if it needs fixing and then just go straight to the outcome you want and what needs to be done to get it. Short a sharp. Issue is raised, “great, what do we need to do about it? Who’s going to do it? When do we need it done by?” Bang, done. Next topic.

> Make sure you write down and clarify:

  • What needs to be done – outcome needed, what it looks like, how you will know it’s done
  • Who’s going to do it – check the person is comfortable doing it, knows how to do it or needs some support/help/equipment/training
  • When does it need to be done by?
  • Give permission to get it wrong. New procedures may not work and that is ok. You don’t want people fearing taking action to improve things.

The above prevent staff losing faith in meetings because they ‘don’t work’.

Communication breakdown is a major reason businesses fail. Effective meetings are essential.

Contact me if you need help identifying the kind of meetings you need or to facilitate the first few to coach everyone on how to have effective meetings.

Fixing a Business is Easier Than You Perhaps Think

Just finished doing a turnaround consult on two businesses and I’m posting this to give encouragement, perhaps hope, to those of you running a business that is driving you nuts or sucking all your time for little financial reward.

If you think fixing your business is going to take ages or cost a lot, I can almost guarantee you are wrong.

Yes, there are some businesses that just can’t be fixed. But the majority can quite easily be ‘fixed’.

For example these most recent two businesses took 6 wks and one started implementing important changes in week 3 and is already operating like a different company! Wonderful to see the changes.

Both businesses had good products and service but were failing to make profit despite turning over $1.4m and $3.7m. They also had staff performance issues and the wrong people in the wrong roles.

My turnaround service involves an auditing process I’ve developed over the years and includes my own questionnaire, staff interviews, audit of processes, audit of financials and if required, customer interviews.

I then make recommendations on priority things that need fixing and how. Often this is enough. Sometimes the business needs me to support and facilitate the changes. I’m here to help for as long as required.

To emphasise again, seeing the way out when you are in it can be impossible. However this doesn’t mean the solution is hard or impossible! Quite the opposite!

I tried renovating a one bedroom apartment once. After 12 months of no rent, my wife made me get a builder in and we finished it in a week. I was spending nights after work in that apartment looking at the mess I had created pulling out the kitchen etc and I was paralysed. I didn’t know where to start or what to focus on so I just dabbled at fixing this and that. The builder came in and immediately knew what to do. He made it so easy.

Same in business. If you are having issues or want to take things to the next level, give me a call.

Tip for Improving Staff Self-Management: make the invisible visible

Making the invisible visible.

This is key.

Here is a wonderful example how a client did this recently.

Issue:
Major bottle neck happening getting projects through the lengthy approval process so they can start work. They can’t start work and make money until approvals and insurances are sorted.

Cause:
The spreadsheet for tracking where the project was at in the approval process was inside a computer. It was a nice spreadsheet, had all the info including coloured boxes.

BUT! It was invisible!

Solution:
Make a huge whiteboard with all the columns for approval steps and hang it where everyone responsible can see it.

They have coloured magnets they move along the columns as steps are completed.

In an instant, project managers can see which projects are dragging. There is no escaping reality and this is what you want.

Staff responsible for chasing approvals, permits, insurances, contracts etc can immediately see which projects they need to focus on.

Results have been instant.

BUT!  There was one extra bit missing that added the final icing to the cake, and boosted performance even further.

Project managers and the business owner couldn’t quickly see how many projects were ready to start that week. This is a key KPI that needs to be tracked because it directly influences cash flow.

The solution was to add a 3wk forecast of jobs due to start. This means they can clearly see how many jobs are starting each week. As a result they can slow down or ramp up efforts as required. In the past it required the business owner to spend a lot of time digging into the details and hassling them to make follow-up calls.

With the new columns added, the business owner can set the team targets for how many jobs need to be starting in Weeks 1, 2 and 3.

As a result, the staff can self manage, and don’t need the business owner to waste time monitoring what is happening and pushing them.

This is key! It is an important step towards holidays for the business owner!!!!

When targets and progress are visible, staff are more able to manage themselves. Plus, visible scoreboards satisfy a core need to contribute and feel a sense of achievement/progress = improved job satisfaction.

Less time needed for the business owner ‘in’ the business!! Win-win.

Don’t Ask for a Meeting or Reply!

SITUATION: YOU ARE NOT GETTING REPLIES TO EMAILS OR REQUESTS FOR MEETINGS.

This can be due to several reasons, but here is one that you may not have thought of or considered.
A client today had a lightbulb moment regarding their issue of prospects not returning their calls or replying to emails.

It highlighted how easy it is to be more in OUR world instead of being more in THEIRS. And as a result we get ignored.

My client was telling me:

“I’ve asked them many times to meet so we can explain our service, I’ve even invited them to come to one of our sites and see our work firsthand! And I’ve given them names of clients they can call to confirm we are good.”

I translated this for him so he could understand what the prospect may be hearing:

“So you want me to interrupt my day and give you time I don’t have in my overloaded schedule, to help you, a stranger, make money?”

The penny dropped. Yes he’s got a good service but everyone is busy. And he was approaching his business development from the perspective of himself. So every email or phone message was asking the prospect to agree to an action and add yet another task to their already overflowing to-do list. Even replying to an email is an extra task they don’t need.

The solution was to brainstorm a range of ways he can remind them he exists and how he can ‘give’  value before asking for something from them.

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