Category Archives: Executing Your Strategy in a Systematic Manner

July 2017 Newsletter – How to Multiply Your Profits

How to Multiply Your Profits

You may have seen the announcement last week that Amazon will start selling Sears Kenmore appliances. Not only that, they revealed Sears and Amazon will start working on fully integrating Amazon’s voice assistance, Alexa with Sear’s smart appliances.

This will allow people to control things like air conditioners with voice commands that will be synched with Alexa.

Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail said it’s a win for Sears, putting its products where customers are shopping. He went on to say because of Sears falling sales this is good step in finding “Other channels and routes to markets”.

This new relationship will provide Sears additional revenue because the service work and product warrantee services will be provided by Sears Home Services.

What is a Delivery Channel?Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GA

Sears and Amazon’s new venture is an example of a company developing additional Delivery Channels for its products/services. What is a Delivery Channel?

Delivery channels are the methods by which you deliver or distribute your product or service to your Customer. It is important to note there are several terms used for delivery channels. Sometimes these are called “sales channels,” “marketing channels”, or “distribution channels”. All these terms refer to how your product will be provided to your Customer; I will use the term “delivery channel.”

For instance, you could ship your product directly to a Customer, they could pick it up at your location, buy it from a retail store to whom you initially sold your product at wholesale prices, or, if applicable, they could download your product from your web site. Marketing-type delivery channels might involve doing direct sales to your Customer or developing, working with, and supporting a network of distributors.

Developing Multiple Delivery Channels

The more delivery channels you have, the more sales you can have by providing the same product to your Customers via multiple and alternative means.

For instance, the soft drink Coca-Cola® is delivered (sold) to their Customers in three basic ways:

  • Bottles, cans, or other containers purchased at stores
  • Fountain drinks purchased at restaurants, sporting events, or similar places
  • Bottles, cans, or other containers purchased via vending machines

Consequently, the Coca-Cola® bottling company can easily obtain additional revenue from the sale of one product, the Coca-Cola® soft drink, because it has multiple delivery channels. We have all seen this when a physical retail store chain establishes an online retail presence; it is just being delivered via a different channel.

Two Delivery Channel Decisions

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAThere are two decisions that involve this delivery channel area. First, which is the best and most appropriate delivery channel for your product? Second, which additional delivery channels justify their cost? Because there are additional costs to develop and maintain each delivery channel, you must compare your incremental revenue to your incremental costs to verify that the effort of creating additional delivery channels makes sense.

There is an added factor that must be considered when you explore additional delivery channels—will the marketplace be confused using the additional delivery channel so the overall message of your solution becomes distorted?

This issue of confusion is what Starbucks Coffee® faced when it introduced its VIA® product for making coffee at home compared to the product that was being delivered through its retail coffee establishments. That is, would VIA® be viewed as an alternative to going to a Starbucks Coffee® location and therefore cannibalize its sales, or be viewed as another delivery channel of the Starbucks Coffee® product and thereby grow overall sales?

Secondary Delivery Channels Benefits

Besides the additional revenue, there are two related secondary benefits that using multiple delivery channels can bring to your business. First, the same marketing efforts can be used to promote and drive multiple delivery channels. For instance, a television advertisement for a physical store can have a web site listed at the bottom and the words “shop online at” added at the end of the commercial.

Second, there is potential for a spillover effect when promoting one delivery channel when the same product can be purchased from a different delivery channel than the one being promoted in the advertising.

For instance, a soft drink advertisement shows the soft drink being served at a cool, relaxing, and pleasant pool party, which would encourage sales from a physical store delivery channel for take-home consumption. On a different occasion, the consumer passes a vending machine in the middle of a hot city, they remember the advertisement showing the pleasant pool party, and they purchase the same soft drink via a different delivery channel (the vending machine) because of the image that has been set in their mind.

Delivery Channel Assessment

To take advantage of new Delivery Channels an assessment is required of how you are providing your product to your Customer and whether you should expand your Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAdelivery channels.

The determination of the delivery channel(s) for your product and the possible use of multiple delivery channels are influenced by the following factors:

  • How your Customer has traditionally purchased your product
  • The physical attributes of your product
  • Technology involving the delivery of your product
  • The amount of risk involved in the purchase (e.g., buying potato chips, which could easily be sold via a vending machine, compared to an automobile purchase)
  • The demographics/culture/religion of the purchaser
  • How you are able to reach the decision maker
  • The motives of the purchaser
  • The purchaser’s perceptions about your product
  • The ability of and knowledge of the purchaser
  • The attitudes toward your product
  • The lifestyle of the purchaser
  • How opinion leaders shape your market
  • How people’s roles and family influences affect various delivery channels
  • The social class of the purchaser
  • The culture and subculture of the purchaser

The bottom line of completing the above analysis is to maximize your revenue. So, you want to consider and possibly choose all the delivery channels you have available to generate the largest sales volume.

If you need assistance in fully developing your Delivery Channels, please contact us using the below information so we can show you to multiply your revenue and profits.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

June 2017 Newsletter – How to Keep Your Key Employees

How to Keep Your Key Employees

People leave bosses, not companies! And that is true.

An employee’s relationship with their immediate manager is paramount because a Gallup study showed about 50% of employees leave their company as a result of the lack of rapport with their bosses.

Also, research by Accenture showed an 80% correlation between employee engagement and a person’s connection with their immediate manager. Indeed, an employee’s most important relationship at work is with their direct boss. A crucial factor in creating engaged employees is their relationship with their supervisor. People may join organizations, but a chief reason they stay is their manager.

This is a statement that almost every single one of us has heard at some point during our careers, in fact, it might even be something that we have said ourselves.

What Employees Are Looking For

Staff are motivated when they work for a manager they like and respect and who is engaged with them.Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia

By the way, when I use the term “managers,” I am referring to anyone in your company who supervises personnel – from the lowest level up to the top of your organization.

Effective and engaged supervisors are at the core of a successful organization. They facilitate and empower their staff, treat them with appreciation and respect, provide developmental opportunities, and reward them for their achievements.

Engaged managers provide clarity for what is expected from each of their staff, including feedback and coaching, while treating them as individuals. They also handle them fairly by not playing favorites, while showing concern for their personal well-being. It is also key that they design workflows that are organized efficiently and effectively for their personnel.

This relationship includes providing mental and emotional support while communicating the connection between what staff do on a day by day basis and the big picture of what the organization is all about. Thus, an emotionally intelligent manager can motivate their personnel and get them to work as a team to accomplish the goals at hand.

Things Managers Do That Drive Employees Away

  1. They don’t listen when their team members share their thoughts and opinions.
  2. They unnecessarily intrude in their employee’s personal time with emails and phone calls.
  3. They expect big results on important tasks or projects, but they nick-pick on minor things or errors.
  4. In customer disputes or departmental conflicts, they don’t stand up for their personnel, which undermines confidence in the manager.
  5. They are dishonest to their employees and try to manipulate them.
  6. They don’t offer enough congratulations and high-fives for jobs well done – so work is not fun.
  7. They have two standards, one for themselves and a higher one for their employees.

What an Effective Manager Looks Like

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAHaving effective managers is like preparing a dish using ordinary ingredients and then immersing those ingredients in a marinade that will transform them into something extraordinary. The results are even better if you start with great employees, you can create a world class work force. The bottom line is great bosses can motivate, lead, and manage their personnel so that they are able to achieve the company’s Vision.

Highly effective supervisors bring out the best in employees. Conversely, ineffective managers can retard the productivity, contentment, and the stability of your workforce. Some of us have worked for a great boss, someone for whom you would break through a concrete wall just to please. Many of us have also had bad bosses, ones for whom you wanted to do nothing at all because of how they made you angry. What is the benefit of having effective managers? You will be able to achieve the Vision for your organization – and that is huge!

Great Managers Know Their Personnel

A successful manager turns an employee’s talent into demonstrated performance. For a supervisor to achieve this, they must first find out the unique things about each of their employees and then capitalize on these attributes.

To be a great boss you must know your personnel and how they are wired. The use of various personnel tests can be very beneficial in trying to understand and properly oversee your personnel.

To be an effective manager you need to know each employee’s:

  1. Strengths and weaknesses
  2. Motivators
  3. Style of learning (analyzing, doing, or watching)
  4. Preference for receiving recognition (be honored by boss, be honored by fellow employees, honored by customers, awards, certificates).

Attributes of an Effective Manager

Even though effective managers are key to an organization possessing engaged employees who will carry the company forward, frequently there is a lack of training provided to Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GAsupervisors to develop these attributes. Many companies just assume when a person is given the role of a manager they suddenly are endowed the skill set that makes them a great supervisor.

However, both initial and ongoing training needs to be provided to enable bosses to bring out the best in their team. To assist you with the development of your managers listed below are some of key attributes of an effective supervisor we have developed from working with many clients in the past. You can use this list as a quick checklist to see how your managers are doing:

An Effective Manager:

  1. Is loyal to the business, clearly communicates the business’ vision, management’s decisions, and goals of a task
  2. Is able to motivate employees
  3. Creates a team environment that is safe and free from politics
  4. Has sufficient knowledge of the area they manage
  5. Has earned respect of their employees and is respectful of others
  6. Demonstrates leadership to employees, is able to implement changes, and leads by example
  7. Manages in a positive and supportive manner
  8. Makes their employees feel appreciated and valued, recognizes employees for their contributions, and is a “cheerleader” for the personnel under their supervision
  9. Empathizes easily with others – by habit they can put themselves in the other person’s shoes
  10. Is decisive and makes clear-thinking personnel decisions
  11. Treats all employees in a fair and compassionate manner and does not let personnel problems persist
  12. Is a good listener, tries to understand what their employees are saying, and acts upon the input that they receive
  13. Can delegate activities to others
  14. Possesses good people skills and is approachable
  15. Is an effective communicator either by writing or verbally or both
  16. Is proactive, adaptable, and flexible
  17. Is results- and goal-oriented and delivers what they promise to deliver
  18. Is organized, reliable, and is a good time manager
  19. Provides opportunities for growth for their employees
  20. Displays high integrity
  21. Is a positive role model and mentors other people

If you need assistance in developing a program to create fully engaged and productive employees as a result of having effectual managers, please contact us using the below information so we can show you how to truly turn your employees into your greatest asset.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

April 2017 Newsletter – The 5 Tools for Taking Your Company to the Next Level

The 5 Tools for Taking Your Company to the Next Level

Recently I met with a client who has a multi-million-dollar company, regarding the future of their business. Over the past few years they have tripled their revenue and they have big plans to take their organization to the next level.

As we discussed their plans, the close interrelationship between a company’s Marketing and Sales area and its Production area became very clear. In our Business and Innovation consulting firm, Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. we refer to this relationship as “talking a good game, versus playing a good game”. Furthermore, it must be recognized and understood is that there is a chicken-and-egg syndrome between your Marketing and Sales area and your Production area.

Seizing Economic Opportunities

Currently there is a lot economic opportunity in the world and this is reflected in a high degree of optimism for growth in the minds of many business owners. To avail Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaoneself of these potential rewards, it is wise to consider whether a company is ready go to the next level.

The Structure of Success™ methodology and diagram that we use in working with organizations shows that the Vision and Leadership area of your organization leads to your Marketing and Sales area, and that in turn leads to your Production area – how you produce your product or service. A foundational component of both your Marketing and Sales and Production areas is determining and fully developing the attractiveness of your product or service in light of the opportunity that is presented to you via your target Marketing and Sales market.

Marketing and Sales/Production Chicken-and-Egg Syndrome

The above chicken-and-egg syndrome comes into play because – how do you know what you can bring to the marketplace with regards to the attractiveness of your product or service, (talking a good game) without first working on your Production area to determine how you plan to follow through and actually play a good game?

In reality, it is your expertise in delivering your product or service that should drive your Marketing and Sales area. This requires an organization to figure out how it will meet its greater customer’s expectations before it engages in the effort to create these increased demands via its expanded Marketing and Sales efforts.

Taking Your Company to the Next Level

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaWhile it is easy to say “oh yeah, we can take our company to the next level”, a prudent business owner and their management team should do a thorough assessment as to whether they have the systems in place to handle the anticipated growth. Using a baseball metaphor, does the company have the systems and personnel in place to move from “A” ball, to “AA”, to “AAA” and maybe on to the Major League? Can you realistically compete with the other teams (your competition) in the new league in which you want to play?

An evaluation of your Production area involves reviewing your capabilities so you can figure out a go-forward game plan. There are five areas that should be evaluated, namely:

  1. Your Product Cost/Price

Will scaling your business develop a production cost advantage that will enable you to sell your product or service at a lower price than your competition? If this part of your growth strategy, have you done customer surveys regarding pricing to determine whether it is a significant buying criteria?

 2. Your Product Quality

In taking your company to the next level, can you maintain or develop a superior quality product? Or is there a risk that the quality of your product or service may degrade as a result of growing your company?

3. Your Delivery Time or Convenience

The third factor to consider is whether your growth plans will improve your delivery time (via a faster production cycle) or make you more convenient than your Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiacompetition (more locations or closer to your customer)? Before embarking on a strategy to improve one or both of these areas, it is critical to have done customer surveys to determine whether getting your product or service more quickly or more conveniently is a significant buying criterion?

4. Your Customer Service

You need to assess how your customer service will be impacted by your growth plans. Do you have the systems in place to maintain your current level of customer service or could you provide even a higher level of customer service by improving your systems and personnel?

 5. Your Product/Service Uniqueness

The final question to ask is whether your plans to scale you company can produce some unique feature of your product or service? This uniqueness could manifest itself in several ways. Through increased R & D, could you develop products that have patent or copyright protection? Or, could you develop a design feature that makes your product or service different from your competition?

To assure yourself that your organization is ready for and capable of your desired growth, Production systems must be put in place that will either maintain or improve the above five areas. Otherwise, the organization’s reputation will be undermined as a result of expanding its marketing and sales efforts (“talking a good game) without first putting the necessary ingredients in place to “play a good game”.

If you need assistance with getting your company ready to go to the next level, please contact us using the below information so we can show you how to create a strategic competitive advantage for your company as a result of properly evaluating the above five areas and then translating them to your Marketing and Sales efforts.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

February 2017 Newsletter – Creating Experiences Worth Repeating for Your Customer

Creating Experiences Worth Repeating for Your Customer

While at an event recently, I was talking with a Senior VP of Marketing of a Fortune 1000 company and the topic of keeping customers satisfied and happy came up. They went on to share their company was so committed to building long-lasting customer relationships that several years ago they hired a VP of Customer Relations to be the “voice of the customer” within their company.

Shortly thereafter, the actual VP of Customer Relations joined our conversation. As we chatted I shared that our firm has done a lot of work in the area of Customer Experience Improvement and that we described the objective that organizations should shoot for as – Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™. That is, you want to create experiences for your customer that are so good, they can’t wait to do them again. That is how repeat sales and customer referrals are generated.

In working with customers, the most important action is to meet or fulfill their perceived need. However, almost as crucial is the overall experience they have in interacting with your organization.

Satisfying Versus Unsatisfying Experiences

We have all had many experiences where our wants or needs were met, but the overall experience ranged from less than desirable to awful.

The fast food restaurant that was anything but fast, although we did eat. The car repair that cost us more than the car was worth, though the car now runs again. The home repair job that had to be repaired another time. The vacation experience that was anything but relaxing. The tool or appliance purchase that was a trying experience. The meal at a fine dining restaurant that was not a great experience – food but not much else.

Think back to the last time that on a 1 to 10 scale, you personally as a customer had a 10 or even an 11 experience. How did you feel? Did you tell others about the company? Did you become their advocate, not just their satisfied customer?

An Incredible Customer Experience

In working with one of our clients several years ago they shared an incredible example of Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™.

I live in Atlanta, Georgia and a couple of years ago we had a summer with a number of days over 100 degrees (which is very, very unusual for us). So people’s air conditioning was regularly breaking down.

One of our clients is a very large HVAC company and one of their sales people was out completing an order for a man in the hot sun one afternoon. As the sales person was finishing up the order, an elderly neighbor came running across the street saying something empathically – so the sales person thought “this is just what I don’t need.

As the neighbor approached them he said “you have to buy from who I got mine from”. As it turned out, the neighbor had bought their air conditioner from the same company – our client’s company. The sales person was greatly heartened.

Our client had created an Experience Worth Repeating for the elderly neighbor that was so good, that on a blazingly hot day he would run across the street to say – you have to buy from the company where I got mine from!

Five Ways to Improve your Customer’s Experience

Small Business Planning in AtlantaHow do you go about Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer?

Your organization must build this in from the core of your offering. It must be engineered in. It cannot just be something that you add as a veneer or is an after-the-fact add in – to try to create a nicer customer experience.

Listed below are paths you can use to move your company towards Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer:

  1. Ask your customers and then actively listen to what they say they want and how they want to receive it. Many times companies just don’t want to hear the reality of how they are doing.
  2. Be your own customer. Call into your company and pretend to be a prospect. What is your experience like? Purchase your own product and see what your overall experience is like. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
  3. Use focus groups, customer panels and research tools to try to get inside your customer’s mind as to what they want their overall experience to be.
  4. Ask your employees who directly interact with your customers what they think can be done to improve your customer’s experience. If you do this in a sincere and open way they will give you tons of ideas because they see what your customers want on a daily basis.
  5. Take a step back and ask yourself “how ought the world work with regard to my customer getting their need met?” That is, from their point of view, what would an ideal customer experience look like?

If you need assistance with Creating Experiences Worth Repeating™ for your customer please contact us using the below information so we can show you how create experiences for your customer that are so good, they can’t wait to do them again – resulting in repeat sales and customer referrals.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve their goals by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic, innovation, business planning and growth Structure of Success™, Innovation Academy™ and FastTrak Innovation Program™ methodologies. Using the components in these methodologies, each month we examine an aspect of how to transform your business or organization into a true 21st Century operation.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220                                             

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

February 2016 Newsletter – Go Where the Money’s At

Go Where the Money’s At

Recently, at the dedication of Kennesaw State University’s new Entrepreneurship Center I got asked the question, “Without hiring an MBA to do a Return on Analysis calculation, how do I know where I should put my money in my business to get the biggest payback?”

That is a very good question and we all wrestle with that issue because every organization has constrained resources – limited time, money, and talent.

I have found that a great tool to use for making funding decisions within an organization is a Critical Success Factor analysis.

Critical Success Factor Analysis

What is a Critical Success Factor?Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia

They are the most important areas in your organization because they the things that will either make or break your business. They are the things that you must absolutely do, and do correctly. No two companies will have the same Critical Success Factors because they are unique to your particular organization.

The first step in determining your Critical Success Factors is to analyze your company and look for things that must be done correctly and if they are not, your organization will actually fail—they are indispensable to your success.

These are not just nice things to have or do in your business; they are the items that will either make or break your specific company. That is, if you accomplish your organization’s Critical Success Factors and everything else in your operation “falls apart,” will you still be successful.

If it is not a make-or-break item, it does not belong on your list. For instance, re-doing your reception area most likely would not be Critical Success Factor whereas developing and implementing a comprehensive marketing plan or investing in new software to ensure you deliver your products to your customer on-time could very well be a Critical Success Factor for your company.

An attribute to look for in a Critical Success Factor is that it is a leverage point within your organization and if done correctly it will enable you to scale up your company.

Where Are Critical Success Factors Found in Your Organization?

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaIn identifying your Critical Success Factors bear in mind that you must address all six areas of your company. These areas are:

1) Vision and Leadership – What is your Vision for your organization and what Leadership are you providing to drive your business into your Vision?

2) Marketing and Sales – How are you going to market your products/services and what will your sales process be?

3) Production – How are you going to produce what you are marketing and selling?

4) Finance and Administration – How are you going to manage your finances and handle administrative activities?

5) Human Assets – How will you best manage your “Team”?

6) Information Technology – How can you leverage your internal information technology area so that it provides you a strategic competitive advantage?

Critical Success Factors Identify Company-Wide Goals

Because your Critical Success Factors are defined as the things that you must accomplish to achieve your Small Business PlanningVision for your business, they are automatically focused on your company-wide goals.

Without a clear and holistic analysis you may end up achieving various objectives in your enterprise, but not necessarily bringing it closer to your ultimate objective: the fulfillment of the Vision for your organization.

By using a Critical Success Factors analysis approach, you avoid being overly focused on one or more areas of your business that are in reality not as crucial as some other areas of your company.

Utilizing a Critical Success Factors analysis enables you to concentrate your efforts on things that will affect your entire entity allowing you to prioritize the use of your business assets and put first things first in your company.

Critical Success Factors Provide for the Proper Allocation of Resources

Since the Critical Success Factors approach is a holistic approach, you are examining all of the areas of your business to ascertain each of the “make-or-break” areas of your company; all areas are put on a level playing field with respect to what will result in accomplishing or not accomplishing each Critical Success Factor.

The allocation of your organization’s limited resources becomes more properly weighted than if your try to allocate your resources without first identifying your firm’s “make-or-break” areas. Conversely, if you follow a “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” approach to allocating the limited time, money, and talent that your business possesses, you may not utilize your company’ resources most advantageously.

If you need assistance with identifying your Critical Success Factors so that you can most effectively allocate your organization’s resources, please contact us. We can show you how do this in an easy, straightforward way as a result of using a Critical Success Factors analysis.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

December 2015 Newsletter – The Most Powerful Tool Known to Mankind

The Most Powerful Tool Known to Mankind

Picture this – you have a looming deadline on a task or deliverable and you don’t know where to start or you have barely begun the work to accomplish it.

In school it may have been a book report you put off to the last minute. At home it could be a re-modeling project or big holiday meal. At work it could be a new initiative or even starting a new business.

You feel overwhelmed and dismayed at the challenge that presents itself. You don’t want to think about it because it is too daunting and intimidating. But conversely, you can’t stop thinking about it and letting it worry and trouble you and emotionally gnaw at your mind.

We all have been there – many times. And unfortunately we most likely we will face this situation many times in the future.

As we enter 2016 you may have many goals for the New Year. But how can you make these a reality in 2016?

The Second Most Powerful Tool Known to Mankind

I would like to introduce the Second Most Powerful Tool Known to Mankind – The List.Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia

Countless studies have shown the most productive people are list makers and list doers.

But why is this true? There are three basic reasons.

First, according to research, the majority of people are visual learners and even if a person’s primary learning style is not visual, getting something down on paper allows us to organize our thoughts.

Second, creating a list enables us to break a larger task down to a series of smaller doable steps. According to research by psychologist George Miller, because of how the human mind works we are able to understand and tackle tasks or projects that have been broken down into their meaningful components. Once this is done it’s relatively easy for us to piece the components together and develop the game plan to achieve the overall objective.

Third, once we have created a list (either on paper or electronic media) the Zeigarnik Effect comes into play.

The Zeigarnik Effect is the tendency to experience intrusive thoughts about an objective that was once pursued and left incomplete. The unfinished task signals the conscious mind, that a previous activity was left incomplete. It seems to be human nature for us to want to finish what we start and if it is not finished, we experience dissonance.

According to a study by Greist-Bousquet and Schiffman there is a tendency or “need” to complete a task once it has been initiated and bring closure to that unfinished task.

How to Create an Effective List

Small Business Planning in AtlantaSo how do you create an effective list? It involves a mini-brainstorming session where you write down every task or thought that comes to mind related to your goal. Then you take the list and group related items together, combine duplicated items and remove unnecessary items. You can do this by yourself or in a team. Additionally, you can ask someone to review your list to see if you have missed something. The final step is the most enjoyable piece, crossing an item off your list once it is completed.

Having started 9 companies in my life, many times I felt overwhelmed with various goals in front of me. But I am a habitual list maker and I celebrate crossing items off of my lists and I have found that creating lists has been a tremendously beneficial tool in my life.

The Most Powerful Tool Known to Mankind – A Prioritized List

But what is the Most Powerful Tool Known to Mankind? It is a Prioritized List – which is basically taking your initial list and putting it in a logical sequence.

A prioritized list gives you a basic game plan for accomplishing the task. Prioritizing your initial list into the first, second, third… thing that needs to be done enables you to see and understand your prerequisites and dependencies – so that you can figure out a logical, step-by-step strategy for accomplish the objective.

Once the list has been created, for it to be effective you need to periodically review it. Ideally, this should be done daily so that you can align your activities for that day with your overall objectives. Using this approach activates the above Zeigarnik Effect.

I Don’t Have Time to Make a List

But you may say “I don’t have time to make a list”. Then you may end up getting trapped in a situation where you are Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaproceeding on a task in a helter-skelter fashion – causing emotional anxiety. This leads to not using your time and resources most effectively and efficiently.

Conversely, don’t let the lists be your lord and ruler – but instead a useful tool to channel your efforts and resources.

As an Innovation and Business Optimization firm we use some pretty sophisticated tools, but we always have in our back pocket the incredibly powerful tool of list making.

So the next time you are faced with a daunting task or project, take a step back and do a mini-brainstorming session about it and create a to-do list for the project. Next, prioritize it. As you work the list in order you will find the entire project will go much easier.

If you need assistance with accomplishing your business and innovation goals for the New Year, please contact us so we can show you how to take your business where you want it to go.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Optimization firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

October 2015 Newsletter – Why 90% of Businesses Fail

Why 90% of Businesses Fail

According to two landmark studies, one by McKinsey & Co. and one by Harvard Business School, 90% of business strategies that fail do so because of lack of execution. In other words, the vast majority of companies that don’t make it actually had workable game plans – they just didn’t execute their strategy properly or fully.

Well, if these organizations had reasonable blueprints, what went wrong? Incomplete or improper execution occurred.

Let me share a typical example of this. A couple of years ago Tim, an energetic man in his mid-thirties who had a company that provided on-site maintenance and repair services to their customer’s equipment, came to us for help. He had worked for another company as an employee servicing the same equipment and then he decided to go out on his own.

At first things were great. He lined up the customers, ordered the parts and took care of the repairs or maintenance in a tip-top fashion. As the company grew, he added a second crew. Then he added another one. Then another, and so forth. He ended up with 7 crews when he came to us.

Tim’s Problems

Tim told me his problems started with his first crew and then just grew bigger and more complex as he Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiaexpanded. The first problem was that his crews did not have his personal commitment to doing the job right and he ended having to go out into the field many times to fix their mistakes. He thought “they know to do that”. But in fact they didn’t, because no one ever told them explicitly what to do on a service call.

The next problem was his personnel would show up at the customer site without the necessary parts to complete the job and would have to come back a second time with the needed items – thus doubling his costs. Then, he decided to implement a central “inventory” system but no one ever properly maintained it, so it became a mess. Next Tim hired an “inventory control” person and told them – here it is, it’s your baby to control. But this person ended up stealing parts from him and doing jobs on the side.

Tim was ready to pull his hair out when he came to us. He said, “What went wrong?” What happened was he got caught in the “busyness” execution syndrome, instead of executing his strategy in a “structured” manner. What do I mean?

The “Busyness” Method of Execution

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaFrom one standpoint, execution in an enterprise is easy; you just do it (whatever “it” is). However, in reality there are two different types or methods of “execution.” The first is to just get busy doing various activities. I call this the “busyness” method. The activities engaged in the busyness method may or may not be productive activities. As long as people are “busy” working in the company, everything seems OK. The underlying problem with the busyness method is the majority of activities are tactical actions, which are not necessarily tied to the company’s Strategic plan. This is where Tim lived.

Just like the paraphrase from Alice in Wonderland, “the faster you go, the be-hinder you get,” the busyness method can lead to activity for the sake of activity. Its mantra is “just get busy doing something.”

In the absolute, the busyness execution approach can lead to operating in the envelope of the ill-fated “tyranny of the urgent”. This is where a business spends so much of its time in crisis management that it loses sight of the big picture of what it should be trying to accomplish and thereby sees little or no progress toward its long-term goals. The business then starts to operate primarily in a reactive mode where the concept of planning becomes nothing more than figuring out the solution to today’s “crisis du jour.”

Business Leader Burnout

The bottom line of the busyness approach to execution is that it is an unstructured method that is not tied to an overall Strategic plan. This method of execution does not fully utilize systems that are intentionally tied to the business’ overall Vision and Strategy. In the end this approach can lead to endless fatigue where the owner becomes burned out with the business. The enterprise ends up being overly dependent upon the owner and they get trapped doing the same things, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year—the perfect recipe for burnout.

Structured Execution

The second approach to execution is what I call “Structured Execution”, which uses a structured approach Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiathat is based upon the overall Vision and Strategy of the business. The key to Structured Execution is that it is an intentional method of developing and executing its systems in a disciplined manner. There are three keys to Structured Execution.

Intentionality

The execution does not take place haphazardly but there is a definite train of thought behind each action. The visible execution is a result of an overall game plan that has been laid out clearly behind the scenes.

Systems

Structured systems have been developed, implemented, and are being monitored so that the correct actions take on a consistent basis. Actions are not left up to the individual to do as they see fit, but the steps a person or team should take to accomplish a given task have been identified beforehand and optimized to get the desired outcome on a predictable basis.

Discipline

A disciplined atmosphere exists throughout the organization to ensure that once the optimized systems are in place they are followed explicitly, adherence to the systems is rewarded and deviation from them is penalized. The discipline to adhere to the systems in place is not mindless, but is an acknowledgment that the best systems are being used in order to produce the desired results.

By using a Structured approach to execution you gain the benefit of having an actual Execution Plan, instead of operating with execution by busyness approach. Therefore, the business owner does not become burned out because the business is executing based upon a defined overall strategy, not haphazardly – which in turn moves the business closer to its goals. This results in a sense of freedom for the organization’s leaders, as compared to feeling trapped by the next problem that is going to ensnare them.

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaBack to Tim. Over the next number of months we worked with him to implement this Structured approach, which resulted in dramatic results. He told me he was so overjoyed with his new-found freedom that he bought a vacation cabin and started spending weekends there with his family – and being totally unplugged from his company.

So, how can you start down this path? Begin by examining your operations from the perspectives of Intentionality, Systems and Discipline to determine if you need to improve the execution of your organization’s strategy. Then move forward to tie all of your operations back to your overall business Vision and Strategy.

If you need assistance with moving from the Busyness Execution model to the Structured Execution one, please contact us so we can show you how to use this concept to take your business where you want it to go.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

September 2015 Newsletter – Is Your IT Area Truly an Asset or Just an Expense?

Is Your IT Area Truly an Asset or Just an Expense?

The next Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in coming up right around the corner in January 2016 with previews and new product announcements of many electronics products. So the question is, will any new products be introduced that are a “must have” for your organization? The root of this question is, what new technology will make your business operate better?

Many times we get caught up in the quest for the latest technology, newest equipment, or glitziest gadget and Information Technology becomes an end in itself instead of a means to an end. The truth of the matter is that the desired outcome from any equipment or software purchase boils down to the systematic use of technology and information.

Information Technology’s Role in a Company or Organization

Keep in mind that Information Technology is a support function to your company. Your Information Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaTechnology area should be providing the information, tools, data infrastructure, and automated technology to enable the rest of your business to operate properly. Information Technology is necessary because unless your business is very small, in the modern business environment no organization can operate without the appropriate information technology functions and processes.

The Information Technology of an organization serves two purposes – deliver the information necessary to operate and provide technology to automate its processes. There are four foundational assessments that you need to make with regards to Information Technology investments as they relate to these two purposes. The first three of the assessments pertain to obtaining better information for operating your enterprise and last one applies to technology itself.

Do You Have the Correct Data and Information To Operate?

To find out if you have the correct information, first ask yourself if the information that you need to operate your business available? This means that your business must be capturing the correct data itself or the data is available from some outside source for your operations or management? There may be a huge amount of data available but if it is not the correct data then it is next to worthless to you.

For instance, you may have volumes of inventory consumption data but if it does not tell you which of your customers are buying products that have the highest profit margins, then you are missing some vital information.

The first question to ask related to a technology purchase is, will it give me the correct data to run my company? A good place to start is to create a “wish list” of the information you would like to have in each area of your business and research how best to obtain that information.

Is the Captured Information Accurate?

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaThe next question to ask is how accurate, timely, and consistently reliable is the data that you have at your disposal? That is, what is the quality of the data and information available to you?

Not only does a business need correct and accurate data – it must be available to you on a timely basis for it to be of use. Any time the data you get is inaccurate or untimely, you need to ignore it. Inaccurate data is worthless and may cause you to ignore other related data that is accurate and useful.

The second question to ask is, will this expenditure improve the accuracy and timeliness of my information? A good step is this area is go through the information generated in each area of your organization and rate it from a 1 to 10 as to its accuracy and timeliness.

Are You Effectively Utilizing Your Information?

Once you have the correct information and it is accurate, you need to evaluate your processes for utilizing the information. Even if you have a great amount of high-quality information, if you do not have the processes for transforming this into practical and actionable knowledge, your efforts will not provide you with many tangible advantages.

The objective is to have the processes in place to convert your data and information into actionable knowledge you can use to manage and direct your company. Without the proper systems in place to utilize the information, your data collection effort won’t get beyond just the potential of having a benefit to your business.

There are two evaluations that need to be made pertaining to this third assessment. First, will the purchase actually provide or include the “process” necessary to utilize the information you are seeking? Or second, will the expenditure require new processes within your company to use the information?

The next question to ask is, will this item enable us to properly utilize information within our company? To access this aspect, do a review of processes in your company and ascertain how effective they are with regards to utilizing information?

Will This Technology Improve the Processing or Capturing of Information?

While the first three assessments have to do with the actual information and its use, the last one considers Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiathe actual technology itself. The benefit of technology is that it is a tool to augment and automate the systems throughout your organization. The proper use of technology assists with the collection, validation, and automated utilization of information and knowledge. While technology is not an end in itself, the proper use of technology can enable your business to operate better.

The last question to address is, will this technology truly enable your business to operate better? Furthermore, will it provide information to you, improve a process or both? Or is it just the newest equipment, glitziest gadget or latest service that is all the rage and there is no assurance that it will truly allow you to improve the performance of your company?

For instance, let us say you are looking at a new GPS for your fleet of delivery vans and you find a system that allows you to optimally route an entire day’s worth of deliveries and dynamically re-route the vans based upon real time input from traffic monitoring sources. Thus providing technology to automate your processes. Additionally, it tells you whenever a driver goes off their designated route – thereby giving you the information necessary to operate your company better.

In summary, use these four assessment questions to make sure that choose Information Technology that will enable you to truly operate your company better and not be beguiled by the next “shinny thing” in the world of information technology.

If you need assistance with utilizing Information Technology within your company more effectively please contact us so we can show you how to use this concept to tremendously increase your revenue and take your business where you want it to go.

Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. is an Innovation and Business Planning firm. During the past 17 years we have shown over 1,200 companies how to achieve the goals for their business by using our unique, comprehensive and systematic business planning and growth methodology, the Structure of Success™ so they can Work Less, Make More and most importantly Have Fun in Their Business. Using our Structure of Success™ methodology each month we examine one of 12 areas of a business or organization.

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

 

July 2015 Newsletter – Score Keeping Your Business

Score Keeping Your Business

If you were in our office about a month ago you would have found me in a meeting with Paul, a tall, thin man in his mid-thirties who owns an equestrian business. During the meeting Paul said to me, “late last year I changed the direction of my business…” I said “great, let’s see how you are coming along with the new direction”. In other words, let’s looks at the numbers for your business.

Determining and tracking where an organization is financially at, is the purview of the Finance area of a company. Although some business owners and leaders may find finances unappealing and boring, it is absolutely critical to a business because if you do not pay proper attention to this function, you may run out of money and never achieve the dreams for your company.

Bear in mind the accounting, finances and financial reporting of an entity are not an end in themselves, but strictly a means to an end. In reality the true function of your Finance and Accounting area is it provides the “score keeping” of your business. But what are you keeping score of?

  • Are you on track for achieving the Vision for your company?
  • What is happening with regards to meeting the goals for your business?
  • How are you doing with the execution of your business plan?

Three Score Books

This score keeping function involves different score books:

  • Financial Statements
  • Metrics
  • Ratios

Financial Statements consist of your main two financial statements, an Income Statement and a BalanceSmall Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia Sheet – that are in turn produced on a periodic basis.

Metrics are the internal measurements of your business’ “systems” that indicate whether or not your systems are operating correctly.

Ratios are measurements that mainly use Financial Statement information to calculate values that are compared to other companies or industry averages.

For our remaining discussion I would like to focus on the first scorebook and lay the foundation to help you to understand what your Financial Statements are telling you about the health of your business.

With regards to your finances there are five main things you want to know about your company:

  • Are you making a profit or loss?
  • Are you managing your assets (Cash, Accounts Receivable, Inventory…) properly?
  • Are you funding your business in the most advantageous way?
  • Do you have the information to make strategic and tactical decisions?
  • How can you operate your business in the best possible manner?

To understand your Income Statement and a Balance Sheet you need to be aware that your Chart of Accounts, which is the foundation of your accounting system, is separated into six different types of accounts, namely:

  • Assets
  • Liabilities
  • Equity
  • Revenue
  • Costs of Sales (or Cost of Goods Sold)
  • Expenses

Balance Sheet

Small Business Planning in Atlanta, GeorgiaFurthermore, your Assets, Liabilities and Equity are shown on the aforementioned Balance Sheet. To understand how the information is presented on a Balance Sheet you have to know that the Assets of a business always equal the sum of your Liabilities plus Equity. Therefore, using algebra, we can determine that when you take a business’ Total Assets and subtract its Total Liabilities, you end up with the business owner’s Equity.

Obviously your Assets (Checking Accounts, Accounts Receivable, Inventory, Equipment…) are good things. Versus your Liabilities (Accounts Payable, Credit Card Payables, Payroll Taxes, Loans Due, Notes Payable…) are generally bad things and your Equity is how much “skin you have in the game”.

Keep in mind that your Balance Sheet shows its information as of a certain date. Therefore, it is like a snap shot picture of your company’s financial health as of that particular date. If you compare your Balance Sheet from one date to another date, you can see how the health of your company has improved or deteriorated in terms of the changes to your Assets, Liabilities and Equity. This is called a Comparative Balance Sheet and it is like having your lab tests done with your periodic physical and then comparing how your Glucose, Cholesterol and Triglycerides, etc. have changed during that time period.

Income Statement

Your second Financial Statement is an Income Statement and it shows your Revenue, Costs of Sales and Expenses. Its formula is your Revenue minus your Costs of Sales and Expenses yields your Profit or Loss which is the final number of the bottom of the Income Statement, hence the term the “Bottom Line”. An Income Statement always shows financial information for a period certain of time, therefore it is like a movie of your Revenue, Costs of Sales and Expenses for that period of time.

When used together your Balance Sheet and Income Statement can be used to assess the overall health of your business and see what the “score” is how you are doing at accomplishing the goals for your business.

Customer Relations Manager

Lastly, there is one other tool that I recommend you use for score keeping in your company and this is aSmall Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgia Customer Relations Manager or CRM for short. While your Balance Sheet and Income Statement tell you very well where you have been and where you are at, they don’t tell you where you are going. Your sales prospects, sales funnel and upcoming sales predicts where you will be at as far as the health of your company. Therefore, we recommend using a CRM, such as the package by Results Software to systematize your Marketing and Sales functions and keep score of how you are doing in this all important area.

In summary, use your Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Customer Relations Manager to understand what the health of your company is and keep score of how you are doing at accomplishing the goals for your business.

If you need assistance with “score keeping” and fully understanding the health of your business please contact us so we can show you how to use this concept to tremendously increase your revenue and take your business where you want it to go.

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

George.Horrigan@FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

Office phone: (770) 642-4220

 

June 2015 Newsletter – How to Identify and Develop Your Strategic Competitive Advantage

How to Identify and Develop Your Strategic Competitive Advantage

Recently I was at a New Business Launch Event and a presenter was asked “Who is your competition and how do you stack up against them?” They meekly responded, “We have not had a chance to fully do that research yet”.

Why would you want to know your competition and how you compare to them? There are three reasons:

  • To use your marketing resources most advantageously
  • Be able to differentiate your company from its challengers
  • Beat your opposition

The key in knowing about your rivals is to discern your company’s relative Strengths and Weaknesses and use that information to outflank your adversaries.

So how do you objectively and effectively ascertain your business’ Advantages and Disadvantages in the marketplace?

The 5 Elements of Your Strategic Competitive Advantage

In working with over 1,200 companies during the past 17 year my company and I have found that using the five following elements to analyze an organization is an effective way to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

As you proceed through this analysis, it is vitally important that you ask yourself, “Which of these five elements is the key to how you provide or “produce” your product/service?” In other words, what is the one thing that, from a production standpoint, that separates you from your competitors? I call this your Strategic Competitive Advantage.

Keep in mind, when I say production this is not specific to a manufacturing business. For a restaurant its “products” are food and beverages. For a bank, they are banking services.

Product Cost Advantage

Do you have an advantage or a disadvantage with regard to the cost of producing your products as Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiacompared to its competitors? If your production costs are lower, then you have a cost advantage. However, if your production costs are higher then you have a cost disadvantage.

Why is this important? Having a cost advantage means you can sell your product at a lower price than your competitors. For your business to have a sustainable price advantage, you must first have a product cost advantage. This is because unless you do, all you are going to get by selling your product at a price lower than your competitors are lower profits and perhaps put your business at risk.

Product Quality

Do you have a strength or weakness with regard to the quality of your product as compared to your competition? This is the most straightforward element and it lends itself to independent verification of your quality. The most common mistake made in this area is to you assume your perception of quality is the same as your customers’.

There are three ways to assess the quality of your product. First is a subjective analysis based on your sales volume and the input from your sales personnel. The second method is to use independent surveys to objectively analyze your current customers’ perception of the quality of your product. The third method is to have an independent consumer research and testing lab such Consumer Reports® or JD Power and Associates® analyze your product compared to competing products.

Delivery Time or Convenience

Small Business PlanningDo you deliver or provide your product/service sooner or more quickly than your competition? Or is dealing with you more convenient to your customer than dealing with your competition? You want to establish whether you have an advantage or a disadvantage with regards to the period of time it takes from the point an order is placed to it delivered to your customer. Additionally, you need to evaluate whether you have an advantage or a disadvantage when it comes to how convenient it is for your customer to transact business with you compared to your competition.

Customer Service

Next, analyze your Customer Service area and verify whether you have a strength or weakness with regards to what a customer or potential customer experiences as compared to your competitor. Sometimes it is difficult to define what is and what is not included as part of a business’s Customer Service. This is particularly true when your business is a distribution, wholesale, or retail business. The concept of Customer Service can become somewhat fuzzy. Essentially, Customer Service is the overall experience a customer has in dealing with you, which includes the entire shopping experience they have with your business.

Customer Service includes all the interactions that a customer or potential customer has with your business to obtain your product. Customer Service does not include your actual product or the price of that product, but it does include placing an order, inquiring about resolving an order or product issue before the delivery of your product, post product-delivery issues, and problem resolution once your product has been received. Let me underscore – resolution of problems or concerns with your product/service falls squarely within your Customer Service function.

The Uniqueness of Your Product

Lastly, determine whether you have any desirable unique characteristics or features. The uniqueness of Small Business Planning in Atlanta, Georgiayour product is not something that simply happens; you must create or develop this uniqueness

Because your product possesses some desirable unique trait and your competition cannot duplicate or obtain this desirable unique trait due to a patent, copyright, trade secret, or extreme cost to develop, you are able to sell your product at a higher price than your competition. This means you do not have to focus on your Product Quality, Delivery Time or Convenience or Customer Service areas as much because you are the only game in town.

Applying Your Strategic Competitive Advantage

Once you have examined each of the five elements and assessed their strengths and weaknesses, you should ask yourself which of these five areas is the “key” to delivering your product to your customers. In certain situations, your key element can be a combination of two of the elements. For example, “We will produce a high-quality product that is unique,” or “We will produce a low-cost, high-quality product” – which translates to a value approach. However, the key to your production area should rarely include more than two of the elements of your production area.

Using the above you want to determine which factor or combination of factors separates you from your competitors. This becomes your Strategic Competitive Advantage which when properly applied will increase the profitability of your company by separating your company from its challengers.

If you need assistance with using this concept to separate your business from its competition so you can take your business where you want it to go, please feel free to contact us for assistance.

www.FountainheadConsultingGroup.com

Office phone: (770) 642-4220