Illustrative Examples - Results Delivered
Food Producer - Turn- Around
This multi-national producer of food products was referred to us by a colleague who was a board member of the company.
During an initial meeting with the Managing Director it was clear that not only did they have growth challenges but they had organizational issues which were the root cause of their anemic growth. I suggested a full 'Internal Due Diligence' effort to ferret out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing this multi-generational family owned enterprise. My proposal was accepted and I began a series of meetings, discussions and operating/financial data reviews.
Initial findings pointed to a significant amount of internal disconnect with respect to communications, operating routines, poor accountability, significant human resource problems, tardy and disjointed financial reporting, poor marketing and sales strategies and faulty execution. Staff were working at cross purposes and all too often undermining each other with a typical 'blame game'. In other words - an operational basket case.
Once presenting the issues to senior management their eyes widened and the negative head-shaking became positive eye opening realizations that there were in fact myriad issues they had not perceived before. I triaged each and every department in the company from the board level down to the shop floor. I was then able to show the Board where their problems were, what was needed to fix them to get the company on track and regain market share.
The Board engaged me further to put my insights into a tactical plan, informed the staff as to what my role was and indicated that all levels of staff were to cooperate with my efforts no matter how unpalatable they may seem.
I was able to work with the client to achieve a variety of crucial improvements.:
Increased EBITDA by over 12% in year one and a net increase of an incremental 17% in year two (over year 1) in a company that had seen EBITDA being flat for over 24 months.
Took unstructured staff meetings to highly structured agenda managed, weekly meetings with department head presentations, improved communications - they went from slack-jawed gripe sessions to effective, professional meetings - meeting time was taken from 1/2 day to a strict 1 hour
Drove finance department to reduce time needed to produce monthly P&L's from 30 days to 5 working days from month-end
Made Divisional VP's accountable for their entire portion of the P&L and sales numbers
Structured professional monthly P&L reviews whereby each VP presented their results, discussed variations to budget and 'fixes' where necessary = accountability
Changed sales and PR department structures by bringing them under marketing to focus accountability for growth
Redesigned all marketing and collateral sales materials
Developed new sales training and control systems
Taught the staff about 'Bow-Tie' marketing and drove it through the entire company from the Board down
Added CRM program which included client visits by senior management
Developed an all employee feedback program so senior management could interact with all levels of employees - also had senior management and Board members meet staff employees for lunch twice a week in an informal very small group setting with the goal of showing the staff that their opinions were important and that they were valued as team members
Reduced overtime by 20% by streamlining routines and eliminating efforts that were not germane to the growth of the business
Sale to Fortune 100 - European Industrial Products Manufacturer
The American/European owners of a producer of industrial products contacted me and said: " We started our business 15 years ago, have grown to be a very profitable going concern with excellent upside potential. However, we feel it is time to monetize the equity we have built and one of us desires to retire. Can you assist us to find a buyer".
Working with the client I established a list of prospective target buyers (both trade buyers and private equity groups). I swept through the company and improved the shop floor image, began to produce financial reports in GAAP format (in addition to required local financial/tax reporting), instituted IT security measures which were quite lax ( backups had been kept in a drawer under the computer in the accounting office), improved the company's web presence, prepared sales presentations and offering documents, communicated with target buyers, prepared owners for buyer presentations and rehearsed with them to get it right, arranged and participated in potential buyer meetings and road-show etc. Also managed the due diligence process from the seller side to ensure clarity in communications.
The result was that the company was sold at a fair price to a US based fortune 100 company. One owner took his proceeds and retired and the other two remained in place and became employees of the buyer ,of course with their proceeds from the sale in their pockets.
Sales Improvement - FMCG
I was approached by a European Consumer Products firm which provided a specific remit: "Our sales are not only down, they are plummeting. We added 50% more sales people, paid them more but nothing seems to work. We need some assistance"
During my 'Internal Due Diligence' I found there was little or no sales training throughout the entire sales organization (from the Director down to the sales people). The Director of Sales had 40 sales people reporting to him; too many to effectively manage. Sales meetings were occasional and non-productive. Sales meetings were more like funeral masses or gripe sessions. Sales support materials were outdated/poorly designed and often incorrect. There was no defined sales process for the sales people to follow. In fact the sales reps were often unknowingly contacting the same prospects thereby duplicating efforts and creating a poor reflection of the company. (the company also had no CRM program). There were no sales objectives or goals, at any level. Additionally, there were no short or long term incentive programs to motivate the sales group (including for the Sales Director). No one was watching the competition. Finally, client billing was a mess and often incoherent and incorrect. A real recipe for disaster!
I prepared and assisted the client in implementing a full reorganization of the sales department. The Sales Director was replaced by a superstar I recruited with the company President. The new Director ultimately became Vice President of the company and she now runs a squeaky clean, highly motivated sales and marketing department. Sales results turned around and the effective execution of our plan has allowed the client to claw back earlier deficiencies and sales are growing at a double-digit pace.
Saving an Event - Pan European Communications Group
A European company contacted me in a frenzy. "We have a mammoth very public event coming in six weeks. We have advertised it in many media outlets and there is buzz in the marketplace. But, we have a critical problem; our Marketing Vice President has folded under the high stress level and is incapable of pulling this off. We have a great image in the community and if we blow this it may take us years to rebuild our image. Can you help us?"
I was engaged to assume the responsibilities of the fallen Marketing VP on an Interim Management assignment. We held our first 'all hands meeting' the first day and found there was a lack of an understandable project plan, a large number of people were scurrying about working on their pieces in a vacuum, there were no internal communications between the marketing department and other departments; in a word, it was chaos.
We immediately created a project plan to hold the event, and assign responsibilities to the appropriate parties in the newly reformulated project team. This created the "missing links "– accountability and mutual dependency. We distributed short daily project updates, developed the public task checklist and calendar and held daily project team meetings to up open up communication. In addition, all operating departments were required to send a representative to the daily meetings so they could be the conduit to their own departments thereby improving internal communications.
The event hosted international actors, local high profile personalities, a public concert and terrific food and drinks. All details of the team's event plan were executed seamlessly, precisely on time and those in attendance were quite pleased. This created new sales opportunities for the company, which was one of the overall goals of the event.
The company President breathed a sigh of relief at the outcome, the project team learned how to successfully plan, prepare and execute a project with a complex structure. And, most importantly, everyone learned the importance of communication and team work. The Marketing Vice President went on to leave the company and was replaced by a more qualified individual we were tasked to find.
Healthcare Client - Hybrid Fee for Service/Subscription Products
Approached by a leader in direct to consumer health care services in the US during the covid crisis in 2020. Their business had basically dried up as a result of both lock-downs and resulting reticence of the market to emerge from lock-down. The result was that this fee for service organization saw an enormous decline in patient visits and revenue producing procedures. Their board contacted me and engaged me to work with their existing senior staff to develop strategies and tactics to re-start the engine so to speak within a well defined target audience.
I was able to do this with the cooperation of the company's marketing and operations staff and within a short time we were able to reactivate patient visits and bring the revenue streams back to pre-covid levels.
During the process it became apparent to senior management that certain staffers no longer 'fit' within the organization and the 'new world'. They realized at the board level that they had not focused on staff skills and development enough in pre-covid times when business was good and life was easy so to speak. It was a wake up call for some.
In addition we established client 'focus/discussion groups' virtually to discuss the state of their business and how we could help them during covid time. We learned a tremendous amount. As a result we developed and introduced what we called the CTC program - short for Covid Test Centers - in brief - some of the client operating divisions/locations had large employee bases where virus spread was happening and staff positions that could not be virtual were having significant problems. Staff shortages. were killing production. To respond, we conceived and built 'pop-up' test centers that were essentially 'clean-rooms', portable in nature and fully professionally staffed - delivered to any company location within 24 hours. In addition, where the client facility was large and had space available internal testing spaces were created. The company professionally staffed the testing facilities and the client managed the logistics of getting employees circulated into testing on a rota basis. We fundamentally created an assembly line for testing - fast in, process, fast out with minimum disruption to staff workflow. There were myriad issues to deal with: medical, hygiene, legal, unions in some cases and so forth however with teamwork things went smoothly and execution was perfect.
2 GAME CHANGER'S - drove incremental revenue to the company, showed clients the company not only understood their problems but were creative enough and fast enough to help them. The amount of good will generated was incalculable.
During this crisis literally all facets of the organization were not only stretched but weaknesses that were previously masked by a 'business as usual' scenario were exposed. This 'epiphany' of sorts allowed management to see that some staffers really did not fit into the 'new world' and a variety of staff adjustments were made to greatly benefit the company moving forward. Sometimes adversity can bring about positive results in many ways.
“We had planned a very significant new product launch project the success of which was crucial for our company to achieve a new product introduction and resulting new margin generation. The arms and legs necessary to pull all of the disparate parts together into a cohesive execution proved to be beyond our experience. I had worked with Bob while at another company and petitioned senior management to allow me to bring on some extra horsepower so we did not miss the opportunity. Bob was able to quickly take control of the project and in the process brought the entire company together and focused them on the target. Glad we did it, whew!!”
Samantha Jones, Project Manager