Guident Newsletter – May 2018 – Issue 25

If it’s not wrong, it must be right, right? As a business consultant, I’ve been privileged to work with business owners who wanted to improve their operations and increase their bottom line results.   During this process, I get to know their businesses intimately, and in doing so, we often uncover inefficiencies and sometimes errors in tasks performed by employees who are doing what they feel is “the right thing.” Once these errors are uncovered, “The Boss” often wants to react quickly with disciplinary actions or other penalties which they feel are appropriate for the mistake.  I caution them to first “look in the mirror” with regards to their own miss-steps. When I talk with the employee(s), who have been doing these tasks they often explain that they didn’t fully understand their job because of a poor onboarding process and/or poor training practices.   They told me they really were not sure if what they were doing was correct and “The Boss” was often not around to ask. This will happen in smaller companies where “The Boss” wears several hats and is often “on the move” to get things done. The employee will say they did what they felt was best and […]

Guident Newsletter – April 2018 – Issue 24

So you want to start a business, throw out the Jokers! When I was a child, my sisters and I would like to play a card game called Rummy 500.  Those of you who know this game understand the goal is to reach 500 points before anyone else.  In Rummy all cards are counted as their face value except the Jokers.  They were considered “wild cards,” and we could make them equal to any card in the deck. When I was in college, my buddies and I would like to play Poker.  When I played with them, we were serious and played for money.  Because we were playing for money, we didn’t have “wild cards,” and we didn’t use the Jokers. I often advise people who are considering starting a new business to throw out the Jokers, eliminating them from the deck.  When starting a new business, the Jokers were not “wild cards” but “failure cards.”  The thought of failure is not an option when starting a new business.  You cannot even have the “Failure Card” in the deck because when the going gets tough, and it will, you don’t want to be tempted to throw that “Failure Card” onto […]

Guident Newsletter – March 2018 – Issue 23

Does Your Company Have A Solid Foundation? I have the privilege of helping many business owners set-up their management teams.  A company’s management team is the foundation from which The Boss builds the business.  I have found that three positions are essential for success in an organization, they are; a good controller, an excellent operations manager, and a good sales manager.  I like to describe these three positions as the legs that hold up the company as depicted in the drawing of this stool. Imagine your company as this stool, if the legs are weak and wobbly, your company is in danger of collapsing.  Let’s look at each of these key positions and in what order of importance I place on each.  In most of the organizations I work with, The Boss is experiencing stress and anxiety over various cash flow issues.   I see cash flow issues as “referred pain”, there is a pain in your wallet but it is coming from somewhere else in your organization.  Most of the time the root cause of cash flow problems are a combination of; inconsistent sales, overstock inventories, or just plain poor money management by The Boss.  How do you fix this? […]

Guident Newsletter – February 2018 – Issue 22

Does it matter how the towels are folded? Once in awhile, I get a chance to ride along with a project manager or foremen to visit a job site.  This gets me out of the client’s office and onto a job site, but more importantly, it allows me time to talk with employees in a neutral environment, usually a pickup truck.  On my last ride-a-long, I heard about a business owner who was a micromanager.  He set the policies and procedures for all areas of his company.  Now he has every right to do so, but at times it could be counterproductive. In this situation, I asked the employee how he would change a procedure to improve a problem area we were discussing.  He gave me a comprehensive outline that seemed to have a lot of merits and could improve efficiencies.  I asked if he suggested it to The Boss.  He just smiled at me and said, “When was the last time you remember ‘The Boss’ changing his mind?”  Well, I thought about it, and he did have a point.  The Boss didn’t change his mind often, ok seldom if ever.  I thought about this ride and the lessons the […]

Guident Newsletter – January 2018 – Issue 21

Understanding financials, as easy as riding a bicycle? Imagine being introduced to a bicycle for the first time as an adult. You are told all you have to do is hop on and start peddling, it’s easy! You think about it and you have your doubts. After all, you have had classes on Newton’s Law of Gravity and you understand that the force which caused the apple’s acceleration (gravity) must be dependent upon the mass of the apple. Common sense tells you that with your mass, you will hit the ground hard when you tip either to the left or the right. Yet, you see small children enjoying riding their bicycles without falling. How does this work, the rider should tip and fall, this riding a bicycle just doesn’t make sense. It won’t make sense until you are taught how to ride the bicycle and more importantly until you believe you can balance the bicycle and NOT fall to either side. I am suggesting you think of financials like riding a bicycle, they will not make sense until you are taught how they work and more importantly until you believe you can understand them. I have worked with several artists […]

Guident Newsletter – December 2017 – Issue 20

You are the “Subject Matter Expert” promote yourself! One year, my wife and I were toying with selling our home, which we lived in for twenty years.  She is a farm girl with a horticulture degree.  Needless to say, our backyard looks awesome in the summertime, so I said if we do sell we would have to sell in the summer months because I could get an additional $10,000 for the house just because of the plantings.  I’m one that has learned to really appreciate the different colors and how the plantings add to our home’s ambiance but I in no way would have the vision to create it myself.  My wife is “The Subject Matter Expert” in our family when it comes to plants.       Most business owners are “Subject Matter Experts” in their fields.  More often than not, I am working with business owners who have great technical ability but need help developing the management skills to achieve their goals in a fast-growing business.  I like to suggest that they volunteer on the radio or speak at Chamber events promoting themselves as “Subject Matter Experts” in their chosen fields.  Many of these types of organizations are looking for […]

Guident Newsletter – November 2017 – Issue 19

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) well worth it! One of my clients wanted to know how to increase profits without raising prices. I asked if they had established SOP’s in the various departments. The Boss said that would be impossible and way too costly and time-consuming. I then asked if they had any SOP’s. The answer was no. The Boss said if one of his managers wanted to set up SOP’s with me that would be fine as long as it didn’t take away from his productivity. I found this statement to be curious as SOP’s more often than not will enhance productivity and efficiencies. The service manager volunteered to work with me as his department was always lagging behind the other departments which were granted more resources. Our job one was to observe the current procedures and then talk with the crew members asking how we could improve their processes. During one morning break I showed up with a Starbuck’s cardboard coffee carafe and a dozen donuts and we began to talk. In the fifteen minutes we had during their break period we came up with many procedures that, when implemented, had the potential to improve efficiencies. The manager and […]

Guident Newsletter – October 2017 – Issue 18

Culture: Enablement or Accountability? The business owner, “The Boss”, establishes the culture in an organization.  It can be a culture of enablement or a culture of accountability. Often when I am asked to help with a company I discover the culture is one of enablement.  Even worse The Boss is the worst enabler of them all.   Enablement hurts productivity, causes safety issues, and undermines company morale.  Here is an example that drives the lesson home. I was working in my office one day and I got a call from Dave, he was our area OSHA representative whom I knew well.  It is important to get to know these people before they show up at your door for an official visit. I knew Dave from some volunteer work we did together for the area YMCA. He was a good guy and we were on a first name basis.  Well, he called me to tell me he was sitting in his office looking out the window and he saw one of my service technicians working in the bucket truck fixing a lighting fixture.  He said the technician had his lanyard hooked to his belt, not the bucket.  Of course, this was an […]

Guident Newsletter – September 2017 – Issue 17

By the numbers; “Where do Discounts come from, revenues or profit?” Many of my clients have sales staff and pay sales commission on “top line” revenues. I often get the question regarding my opinion on offering a “discount” to close the deal. I usually give The Boss a typical consultant’s answer like, “It depends.” I begin the discussion by asking The Boss where the discount is coming from. They look at me with a somewhat puzzled look and ask, “What are you talking about?” Most of the business owners I work with see discounts coming solely off of “top line” revenues. For example, they may have a $10,000 proposal that is in a competitive situation and their sales person believes they need to discount the job in order to get the work. Together they may believe a $1,000 discount is necessary to “close the deal”. A 10% reduction in price to get the job and reach their revenue goals, keep their people working, and possibly steal a competitor’s customer is acceptable in their minds. It very well may be but we need to understand the full impact of the discount as it pertains to net profit not just “top line” […]