Business Turnaround Example – Manufacturing

Turning a business around doesn’t have to take a long time, or a lot of hard effort. In fact it can be quite quick and easy.

I rarely need to work with a business more than three months to turn things around.

A common example I come across in the manufacturing sector is a business that has a good product and the owner has been doing it for 20+ years, but the profits just aren’t there anymore. Staff are the biggest headache. The next headache is sales. I’ve had many that are ready to close the doors they are so ‘over it’.

The top reasons I see for these headaches are:

  1. Poor hiring processes so less than ideal people are taken on.
  2. Poor induction and training processes so the less-than-ideal people (or even the good people) are not effective or are kept too long. The business runs for too long with the wrong people. Staff are like the wheels on the business vehicle. Wrong wheels and it is a bumpy, draining and even dangerous ride!
  3. Poor management with a lack of clarity on KPI’s and lack of proper enforcement of KPIs.
  4. Too many staff operating by unwritten ground rules rather than the desired rules. In other words they have figured out what they can get away with and keep doing it. This doesn’t mean they are ‘evil’ or have malicious intent. It is human nature to figure out what ‘works’ and staff just do what the others do and what appears to be ‘acceptable’.
  5. Vision, mission, values, benchmarks, and processes are hidden, assumed, imagined – they need to be visible and documented and regularly referenced.
  6. Sales headaches can be due to many things, and are often due to failing to change fast enough with changing customer demands, inadequate business development strategies, inadequate communication of benefits, poor product selection, and incorrect pricing.

The solution that I find works, is quite simple and consists of:

  • Confirming the vision and values of the business.
  • Communicating this with the team and making it visible.
  • Staff interviews to get their take on what needs improving and their career goals.
  • Regroup as a team and go through the improvement suggestions and immediately start implementing changes.
  • Implementation of a good hiring, interviewing and training program.
  • Coaching and training on leadership for the business owner and managers.
  • Making the ‘invisible visible’. Too many businesses hide processes, KPIs, vision statements, values. These need to be visible.

Time to see improvements is often within a week and even the same day I hold meetings with staff. To implement priority improvements is usually a one to three month process and in some cases the changes continue happening well beyond this period – which is what you want. You want your team to be continually improving things. Better to be green and growing rather than ripe and rotting!

If this sounds like something you’d like to explore or if you have questions on whether it would work in your business, I’m more than happy to come and meet with you and hear about your issues and how things are run. From this chat I can confirm if I can help and what the process would be.

Give me a call (0400 520 471) or contact via this contact form.


Technical or Value Innovation Trap

Technical innovation…or value innovation? Stop…don’t make this mistake…

Are you innovating in your business to stay ahead of the game and to stay fresh and relevant?

Be mindful of technical vs value innovation. I’ve made this mistake more than once.

More than once I’ve focused on technical innovation because I love technology and I’ve got caught up in the excitement of achieving a ‘technical outcome’. One example was a bladder rainwater tank I spearheaded the design and development of.

Long story short, we spent close to a million on developing it, and we got it into Bunnings, but it bombed. The customer just didn’t see value in the innovation. It was a great technical innovation, but didn’t offer enough increased ‘value’.

iPhone sales are dropping drastically for a similar reason. The increased ‘value’ of new versions isn’t there compared to early days.

We buy value. So…if you are innovating, and want a sufficient number of people to buy it, please do a stock take and make sure you are adding plenty of ‘value’.