This is a guest post by Zarina Naqvi, Founder Maxima Associates
Over the last 2 years I’ve been working with an ambitious client who took over the 20 year old family business a few years ago and wanted my help to leverage what they had and grow, diversify, maximise profits – the whole package.
The sector is manufacturing, the product, a niche component whose sales rest entirely on their ability to be fast, reliable, value for money, top quality etc – reputation is everything for them.
At the start of our relationship, at meeting number 1, we mapped the big picture of their ambition:
• For my benefit so that I could understand the scale of their ambition
• For them so that they could see the relationship between turnover and the connected dependant elements that would be effected to enable growth.
“We only need this £xyz value of new sales so that we can grow, why are we talking about these others issues?”
When I start working with a client, finding the starting point is always an issue and with this company it was clear that if we’d jumped straight into pushing sales, the existing organisational structure and staff couldn’t have delivered. Heard this many times! I’ve seen thousands of pounds wasted on pushing new sales that could never be delivered.
Once it became clear that the product was so niche, and that trained staff can’t be hired but have to be home grown, this became our starting point. Growing staff takes time.
Capacity had to be the next issue and so early on, finding the best building to grown into became a priority and then bit by bit, onto systems , production, and then the additional accounting and back office people to control the growth as it moved forward.
All the changes over the 2 years to this point have resulted in better quality, less reworks, increased orders at better prices, greater efficiencies from systems and management training for staff. Turnover is up 30%, margins are up, cash flow is never an issue, customer retention is 100%, and HR issues are down
So why am I writing this blog? What’s the punch line?
There’s a clue: note that I haven’t yet said anything about a Marketing and Sales Plan. Last week they said…”well we’ve grown without actively doing anything to make it happen”
They’ve worked hard, invested heavily, taken gambles, risks and pushed passed all the difficulties that come with growth…why then do they feel this way? Simply because we still haven’t addressed the sales strategy yet – what they’ve been conditioned to see as the place to start.
Your call to action:
• Identify what you want to achieve.
• Identify the issues your clients most care about and want from you.
• Note down what you think you need to do to achieve it.
• Consider what I’d say. An external view – the friendly critic.
Zarina is a management consultant and non executive director who specialises in owner lead businesses to leverage and optimise the organisation by working alongside the directors and senior team. www.maximaassociates.co.uk