Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Put all of your eyes on company profitability

     When the economy turns down, the natural reaction for many businesses is to cut costs-- cut advertising, cut part time employees, cut training, cut the flowers, free coffee anything that appears to be a frill or non revenue generating benefit.

       Perhaps another place to look is at the books.  If you are not the bookkeeper or do not use an external certified public accounting (CPA) firm, now is the time to have an outside set of eyes review all of your books to see if they are in order.

        A business that was having financial difficulties brought in an outside accounting firm to review the books.  BAD NEWS!  The bookkeeper had established several "shell" companies and had bilked the company out of $1 Million dollars, in the course of 4 years.  Well, the accounting firm found the scheme-- however, the business owner was out $1 Million dollars.

         If you are not personally doing the books, bring in some outside experts to review them for you.  The fees charged are small as compared to what may be found.  Hopefully, nothing will be found out of order--however, our experience is that normally something can be corrected to improve business operations.

         This applies to non-profits institutions, service clubs as well as businesses.  After all, it is your money-- make sure you keep it and is not being embezzled by a dishonest employee!

The Summer Hire-- A Treasure Trove of Talent!

     Now that school is out, many firms hire summer employees to help in the business.  Some of these hires are interns, some high school/college age students that are working during the summer for some extra money for school in the fall.
      One of the key factors that high school/college age interns provide is a well connected sense of technology.  Most students today are very social media savvy, know about facebook, Linked in, Foursquare, Twitter and any other host of social media platforms.  This is an ideal time to use that expertise to teach the rest of your staff how these technologies work.
      Having a "lunch and learn" where you buy lunch-- OK, pizza, sub sandwiches, Chinese take-out, whatever the team wants is one way in which you are able to learn some new material from the summer hire.  There is not one social media modality that folks over 35 really know.  If the bulk of your team is over 45, I submit that most do not know how to text on a smart phone.
      Now, this can be fun and instructive at the same time!  Your summer hire will be thrilled to share his/her knowledge with the other team members.  The more senior team members may be reluctant to ask the "dumb" question, however, if you don't know, there are no dumb questions!  Perhaps doing this each week during the lunch hour, one day per week, will help the whole team become more proficient with technology use.
       One of our consultants was asked if he knew how to text?  Yes, was the answer, why do you ask?  Well, the student asking the question correctly ascertained that the consultant was older than the students parents, his parents had no clue how to text, so, by inference, our consultant did not know how to text!  Interesting conclusion-- don't count the more senior folks out regarding technology.  We might surprise you!

Is This HOW You Provide Customer Service?

    Steve Scasta of Profit Drivers Sales Consulting is a Fightin' Texas Aggie and good friend of our firm.  Here is  his post on his blog this morning.

Interestingly, one of our consultants had exactly the same challenge this morning.  Our consultant called a hotel for a weekend get away.  The response was, "I am the night auditor, call back when the day shift is here, somebody will try and help you."

     Really?  Now do you know why your business is loosing customers and profitability?  If not, call, we'll help fix it-- today!

Monday, June 10, 2013

OH NO-- ANOTHER store is moving in down the street!

     The turn around in the economy has allowed many new businesses to open.  In the oil field plays of the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin, this is especially true.  Competition for workers is heating up at a feverish pace.  The question that many existing businesses ask, sometimes silently, most times out loud is, "How can we survive" with another competing business.
       OK, the answer is simple.  Out think them! Now, that sounds simple, but how do we operationalize that?
       Well, let's go back to the basic premise of why you are in business.  What does your mission statement say?  What is the mission of your business?  Oh, you don't have a mission statement?  Well, now is the time to develop one.  Why are you in business?  What do you do for your customers?  Who are your customers?  Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to focus your business so that competition is never a factor.
        Panic sets in when the vision statement is either undeveloped or unclear.  Really, what are we all about?  Why are we here?  What do we do, why do we do it?  These are not rhetorical, "stump the dummy" questions-- these are salient, focused questions that really determine the path of your business.
        In most cases, the sharper focus you have on your mission and vision statements, the sharper the business performs and the more money you make.  In some instances, you will not want to take a piece of work because that work fails to comport with your business mission/vision.  There is nothing at all wrong with saying, "that is work that is not within our mission."  We have done that on occasion when the proposed engagement was not what  our firms expertise and talents were not uniquely skilled at.
         Before getting all worried about the new business, put some time and focus into your business--especially the mission and vision statements.  You will see that having those statements well focused will bound your business, provide greater clarity of purpose and allow you to increase your business operations.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Are We Ever "Not Connected?"

   One of our consultants was in San Juan, Puerto Rico recently for an engagement.  One of the astute observations made was that everyone, everyone was connected with a wireless device. 
    It made no difference if it was on the bus (public transportation), hotel lobby, fancy restaurant, the sidewalk, the ocean, the pool, the sun deck-- nobody was "enjoying" the environment-- all were "connected" with someone!
    Now, an interesting question has to be, "why text in the pool?"  Even more importantly, why text or surf the web when you are at dinner, with either 1, 2 or 20 colleagues or family members?  No, these were not all millennial generation individuals-- these were all individuals!!
     Being connected is a hallmark of today's modern wireless society.  Everyone is connected all the time.  This is even more so with millennial generation employees, however, one might think that being in the pool or sun bathing may not be the time to want to be connected!
     Did it make any difference to our consultant?  No, not really!  What was interesting was that all were connected in some form or fashion.
     Do you ever "not connect?"  An interesting question!