Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Know All the Passwords on Your Computers

     A business owner told one of our consultants an interesting story the other day.  The owner told his secretary that he needed to know all of the computer passwords for the many spreadsheets that she created and used in the course of the workday.
      Instantly, the secretary told the business owner that she would NEVER surrender her passwords, that he had nothing to worry about, she was a faithful and honest employee.  Well, in many instances, this encounter could become very ugly very rapidly.  This business owner, knowing that he was being held hostage by a recalcitrant employee elected to solve the problem another way.
      The business owner directed his information technology staff to "back up" the computer of the recalcitrant secretary each evening without her being aware of what was being done.  This action was accomplished, however, the business owner became weary of "what might happen" or "what has happened" that he may not be aware of.
        As life happens, the secretary collapsed and died about 9 month later while at home.  She was in apparent good health, however, she did expire.
        The business owner spent the better part of 8 months trying to recreate many of the spreadsheets that the former secretary had password protected.  Special software was used to try and "crack" some of the passwords.  In some cases, it worked.  In other cases, time and much energy was spent rebuilding the spreadsheets.
         The MORAL to the story-- Know all the passwords on all of the computers, especially your financial data.  Do not be held hostage by a recalcitrant employee over password control.
         The best part of this story is that the business owner did not find any misappropriation of funds in his accounts, however, he wished that he had demanded full access to all accounting and financial spreadsheets several years earlier.
          Know your numbers and know your budget.  Don't be held hostage by employees.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ship Shape isn't just a Navy Term!

           Does your facility look old, dark, or dingy?  New lighting, a fresh coat of paint, and clean windows do wonders in a facility that hosts customers on site!  But such an environment doesn’t affect only the customers. Often times, when one works in the same office or facility for many years, it becomes “second nature” not to notice a degraded facility.  If a new employee or new customer comes in, he/she immediately sees how downtrodden or worn the facility appears.  Your image isn’t just  products or services but the sum total of your facility, as well.

            Don’t allow a diminished image!  Begin by throwing out all of the old magazines, catalogs, and outdated brochures – ones no one has looked at in the past six months.  If brochures or magazines are important, keep one sample in a file. Remember  the web has almost everything that you need!  No reason to have a wide variety of paper materials cluttering your space.

            Perhaps new flooring is required. If the carpet is soiled or worn or if the color is no longer in style or suitable, spend some money and update the flooring.  Coupled with newly painted walls, doors and cleaned windows, a new floor will really make your facility sparkle!  People will notice—your employees, your customers and your distributors.

 You’ll get questions like “Are you moving?  Did someone else buy the facility?  Why all of the 'fancy' work?”  Enjoy the conversations that follow. You’ll feel better about your facility, and the plant will manifests the pride and professionalism that you always possessed when it is a sharp-looking facility.

Let us help you make your facilities "Ship Shape!"  We have the experience to help you improve your facilities.  Contact us here or call 817-386-3032 to talk to one of our consultants.

Step 3 To Making More Money in 2017

Really get to know your customers!   By taking a look at your full customer lists to see which customers are most profitable, you’ll most likely determine that they comprise approximately 20% of your customers, the ones who generate about 80% of overall sales!  This is Praedo’s rule (80/20 rule).

            Next, see what kind of service you provide to the other 80% of the customers.  Does every customer need 1 day turnaround service?  Do you need to stock some high value, low volume item that only sells occasionally?  These are the kind of questions that you need to address.  Here is what you will probably find:

·         Some customers are perfectly happy with 3-5 day turnaround service
·         Some customers only require weekly service
·         Some employees might be reassigned to do other tasks that might require additional staffing. This adds additional employee capability without actually increasing staffing headcount.

         A good customer analysis review at this time of year will allow you to begin the New Year with new ideas and new service expectations that will allow you to generate more profit.

          Customer service analysis is one the most important tasks that any business owner can perform!  Knowing which customers deserve and demand the best service is important.  Now, don’t get us wrong—every customer deserves the best service possible—no question there.  However, some customers, in fact, more than you might imagine, are perfectly happy with “great” service as contrasted with “extraordinary” service.

            Great service may mean a 3-5 day turnaround on product delivery, not being available 24/7/365 and not needing overnight delivery of every product ordered.  Of course, you must determine the needs and preferences of the client, and this is one time that you cannot unilaterally determine what is best for the customer without asking them!  Have a constructive conversation with your customer to determine current and projected market needs.  (And if you haven’t done one in a while, consider a quick customer survey, just here or four questions, via a digital platform like Survey Monkey.)
It may be that a customer has been a long time, okay customer, but with a little extra care, he/she may become an “A” level customer.  Has anyone ever asked them how your service could be improved or enhanced so that they could consider buying more of the product or service from your firm? Ask!

            Asking starts conversations.  Conversations develop relationships. And customer management is all about relationships.  If it has been some time since you had a visit with anyone in your client base, now is the time.  Doing so, we'll bet you’ll find:

·         Nobody ever thought that you really cared, because no one ever called to check on the customer.
·         The customer has an unfilled need that he/she would like to have fulfilled, but was not exactly sure how or whom to ask.
·         The customer may have an idea about a referral that you did not imagine or expect previously
·         The customer may have ideas about new products or services that you did not previously consider recognize or realize.

            So year-end becomes a fertile field for reviewing your customer list. You’ll identify how you can improve service to everyone, even if it means service level reductions for some.  Robust customer analysis will actually increase sales and profitability. That sounds like a solid plan for 2017. 

              We know and understand customer service.  Contact us here or give us a call at 817-386-3032 to help improve your customer service today!

Step 2--To Making More Money in 2017

Accurate product pricing is critically important in today’s environment.    

            An understanding of product pricing is with a complement to knowing what it costs to run your business.  After all expenses are accounted for, you must add a profit margin  to derive a profitable sales price.  Calculate the profit so that you are able to sell the product and make money.  This underscores  the importance of knowing your books and basic accounting principles and how that knowledge interacts with pricing.

            For many businesses, competing on price is a fool’s errand in business operations.  Anyone can sell something at a cheaper price than you can.  Most if not all of those vendors eventually go out of business, a direct result of inability  to make money on their product or service.

            Trade publications, industry studies and comparison checks of your local competitors will help you determine  the ideal price to charge for a certain product or service.  Before you run those traps, however, you must know all of the fixed and variable costs that you incur each month to run and operate your business.  Knowing your costs allows you to determine a reasonable profit level to add to derive the final selling price of the product, good or service that you provide.  Often times, the price of some competing service or product may be vastly different.  The logical question is, “Why?”  Perhaps a dentist has a new building and equipment; she must pay for that new building and equipment, so it only follows that she may have to charge more than an established service provider whose office overhead is less, perhaps by being located  in mature part of town. Yes, she  provides the same level of service or product delivery.  But here, you can beat her on price and still make money. Pricing is critical to a successful business operation.

           If you are not sure of your pricing strategy, let's begin a conversation.  Contact us here or give us a call 817-386-3032 today.