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Friday, August 26, 2011

WHAT'S THE PLAN?

Contributed by Tom Hetherington, consultant
Business is not meeting stakeholder expectations:  Marketing doesn’t really have a definable direction; Sales are lackluster; Production is hobbling along at 50% of capacity; and it is seven months until April.
Marketing needs to bring more potential new business to the table…easy to say, hard to do, you say. You can accept that it is hard and do nothing with no definable results, or you can say that it will take more effort, more time, and more collaborative effort, and make it happen. Your choice! Remember all of those suspects that were not ready to close the day that contact was made, and we’d put them in the “C & D” piles. Look at the “C & D” piles and start to understand their needs…did not save the “C & D” piles, start. Sales always want the “low hanging fruit,” but they may need to bring their ladder and their skills to the orchard. There is an orchard out there for those who will look: not many apples, bananas, and oranges, but pears, peaches, and figs.  Instead of macro-marketing (B2B), do micro-marketing, i.e., assisting your already clients in creating greater penetration into their market. This direct relationship building exercise will not go unheard and suddenly new suspects will appear, not my magic, but by planned, measurable, and powerful work.

Sales are lack luster not because the potential numbers have suddenly declined, but because “Sales” has been in the orchard of “low hanging fruit” for too many years and did nothing educationally to hone their skills and talents! Why, because there was “low hanging fruit.” We raided others folks orchards, especially those that had apples, bananas, and oranges. The economic signs were there, but we just continued to raid those orchards. Today there is a need for continuing education: understanding buyer’s personalities; product differentiations and identification; and long term relationship building skills (sales agent and company). It is not enough for sales team to engage and close. They must convert that buyer into a reoccurring and sustainable stakeholder with a predictable volume of business so it becomes an integral part of the company’s business matrix.
In most instances, manufacturing has declined by somewhere between 50% and 75%.  We have seen EBITDA numbers become terrifying.  So what has been done, if anything, to make the financials look better: reduction in people and salaries; planned warehousing with just in time arrival of materials and very limited inventory; revaluation of man-hours to profit; four 10-hour-day work­-weeks; vendor evaluations with regard to available materials and payment terms; outsourced services; remote deposits (check with your banks treasury officer); and other tough choices? If the company cannot continue, the hardship is past down to all its members, vendors, and community.
April, the winter is over, baseball is about to start, and the political season is in full regatta: promises, promises, and promises! The uptick in the cycle has/is about to commence, and we can say, “Whew, the future is sure looking better!” The next seven months will have its successes, but it will happen because you planned, not because you did not.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Haven closed its Baltimore headquarters. As a builder of theirs I thought it might be coming. they don't seem to be the same company they used to be. the innovation is gone-they're off looking for the low hanging fruit that has already been picked clean.

William said...

Agree with your post Anonymous - Haven certainly is not the same company today as they used to be. However, that can be said for the majority of the modular companies still operating today. But I think you may be right in tht Haven seems to have lost a sense of direction. They have tried so many things it was great just to sit back and see what they came up with next. And of course their PR people made what they did sound like the "second coming."
Hopefully Haven will survive as will our industry.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, what did you expect when management was replaced by the people from the old Excel factory. Now they are hiring worn out retreads from other factories to sell their homes and that means that all the innovative things you've come to expect from Haven is now gone.

Anonymous said...

Amen William. They not only lost their sense of direction, they lost their common sense as well. Now, instead of being a leader in the upper market, they are trying to compete with the bottom feeders. Dumb move Haven.