Posts Tagged 'recession'

Increased productivity delivers greater profit…every time!

Read the post title. Are you surprised? Didn’t think so. Question: If increasing productivity is a cinch to boost the bottom line, why don’t we spend more time doing it? Simple answer; most managers are so wrapped up in getting from the beginning to the end of each mulit-tasked day, they will tell you they “just don’t have the time to stop and make changes.” Besides, if you push the conversation, what you’ll hear is…. “people hate to change…it’s always negative.”

So, here we are. Companies that had great 2009 performance did it one way..they became more productive. And you can too! Inertia can be a real negative. Doing what we’ve always done because…well, because we’ve always done it…is silly. Personally, I really enjoyed 2009! That is true because I spent it working with positive owners and managers who chose not to participate in the “hard times”. One point of view explains, nine out of 10 consumers was really not significantly impacted by the recession. If true, we focus on selling what they will buy…value. And we target those with the ability and desire to move forward, heads way, way out of the sand!

And, to a person, my clients found ways to be more productive; often taking a lower top line revenue performance into a stronger than every bottom line! So, skip the push back folks, it can and is being done.

In early December, I will be presenting at the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation’s conference, in Columbus, Ohio. One of my topics will be “How to Increase Productivity through Effective Front Line Supervision.” In the presentation, I’ll drive home four principles; principles learned not from some egg head’s  or psychological survey but from my 25 years of working out in the field, where the action is, with front line supervisors and their senior management.

This is really not the place for excessive details so, I’ll hope to whet your appetite by just listing four principles I have observed, participate in executing and learned to be valid:

1. Individual productivity [leading to team productivity] begins with the hiring process. We don’t spend enough time or energy on recruiting people with whom we can win.

2. Reasonable expectations and procedures must be set, understood and accepted by all. We are task managers. We set the same goals for everyone, regardless of what tools are in their tool kit. We treat people as clones of a job description…a straw man who never really exists. And people struggle, fail, burn out and quit or are terminated.

3. Initial socialization, training and transition to routine [real world] activity will impact results…100% of the time. Why do we believe training is optional? Da! Smart, trained people are more engaged and productive, always.

4. Individual activity and performance [to the smallest detail] must be tracked with appropriate supervisory reaction on a daily basis [using the common sense coaching process]. I know, we don’t have time. Wrong!

So, these are the principles I’ll discuss. Will it matter? If I’m lucky, maybe one in 10 will react. Not very productive, is it!


Two new business articles

Just a note reminding you to have a look at two new articles in the October issue of Landscape Management magazine.

The first, “Apples to Oranges” features several of my clients, all of whom grew top and bottom lines in the middle of this recession. No BS…just honest results. The article resulted from interest created during my recent live LM webinar..the first in their new Business School web series.

The second article, “Nail the Sale” shows how great results are achieved. Surprising to many, my clients have learned to sell value instead of cutting price and profits to the bone! Again, no theory, just great results! Again, have a look and tell me what you think.

That’s the upcoming issue of  Landscape Management magazine.

2010 Starts Now!

This may come as a shock to my friends and clients in the home services industry but…next year is here, now!

Sure, I know, we are just finishing this year…and we deserve a break. Sorry, no break..not now; not when only the best prepared will grow in this economy. So, you just gotta ask yourself, will I or won’t I be on the winner list this time next year?

If you are committed to growing, you have your work cut out for you. Sure, it can be done…I have numerous clients and contacts who have grown significantly this year. But it wasn’t an accident or quirk of fate. It was the result of planning, training, lots of hands-on follow up, tracking and reacting on a daily basis. Nothing short of that works.

But you can grow.

Next, if you are one of those sad soles who feels you’ve paid your dues, suffered through this recession and are celebrating Ben Bernanke’s decision that “the recession is largely over”, guess again. Ben deals with banks. You deal with homeowners and small businesses. And, flash! The recession is NOT “largely over”. Only a politican or economist would say a thing like that. So, together, we wil l face another tough selling season. You have to be ready..that is, unless you are content to backslide…something I find unacceptable.

If you know my history, you know I helped a small, growing service company grow in the recession of the late 1980’s. We learned that it can be done. But it doesn’t just happen. To succeed in 2010, you will need to be 10% better at everything you do. You will need to hire 10% better, train a tad more effectively, lead, track, react and coach 10% more effectively. So, take my advice…strart next year now! Don’t get lazy. Forget about the flush years past…this is a business war we are in and not all will make it. Be on the winner’s list.

My schedule is filling faster than ever…and that is becsause smart managers are preparing now for tomorrow.

Food for thought.

Get off the doom and gloom kick!

Flash! People are sick and tired of this recession. Over 90% of all Americans, those who want jobs, have them! And, despite what you hear, most have medical benefits too!

So, why are we hanging our heads? I’ll tell you; because the media is making hay, driving ratings scaring people to death! I don’t know about you but I’msick of it!

Don’t want to sound successful or anything not PC but…I bought a new 09 general motors car this year. And, low and behold…it’ still running! In fact, it’s a great car! So, life as we know it has not ended and, unless we let the sobbing, politically motivated pundits control our emotions, we can survive!

Let’s all decide to be positive for a change. We’ve been through tougher times….much tougher..and we’ve survived. And we can now. I’ve never Americans so down in the dumps without reason in my life. Don’t misunderstand…out of work is out of work. But, we can work through it if we go forward and get our heads out of the sand.

If you run a company, you’d better be showing a postive face 24/7. If you are an employee, representing a company, you’d better push back against consumers who are being sold the doom and gloom story. If we kick consumer spending in the rear, if we begin, again, to invest in the future, we’ll actually have one.

I know my positve view is not exactly typical but, I was part of a home serivce business during the 1987 recession..a tough time for the service business. I saw people pull in their horns and expect to fail. No surprise, they did! Self-fulfilling prophecy, I suppose. But my company did not! And my clients this time around are growing! Why, becasuse the refuse to buy into the media dribble which, in my view is mainly responsible for the malaise that has overtaken our country.

Good news! Our attitudes are ours! We can choose to be up…or down. Stay in the dumper if you must but, as for me..I’m not taking part in the negative recessionary doom and gloom any longer.

Gee, I feel better already!! How about you?

Teams are out in tough times!

In a football or baseball game, one person alone cannot win. To succeed, people need to combine indivudual skills, ideas and enthusiam for the good of all. But folks, staying afloat in a recesssion of this magnitude is not a team sport; at least not typically.

In times like these, my experience is clear on one point; it’s the strong, persistent individual who succeeds first. Granted, a great individual performance can and and should pull weaker players along, and the team can win. But it is the never say die leader in the group that makes it happen.

So, have your team meetings, talk about working together and helping each other, etc. After that, look for the determined person who simply is not going to be a victim of tough times. That person is your winner.

I know, sounds corny; even writing this I feel sort of corny and old fashioned. But in my consultng work, I am exposed to people every day, looking for two things: first, someone to blame for the current situation. Second, someone to solve their problems. Think about it. I’m betting you’ll agree.

Who is to blame? Our culture; high living standards and the unrealistic, never could have lasted bubble of the last 10 years. Who will solve it?  We will! The same people who allowed this country to get into the hole we’re in will pull us out. The only problem is that most younger workers and managers have never experienced anything like today’s business world. To them, it’s like a bad dream that never should have happened; not to America.

So, where are the answers? The solutions to our business probems are within every organization I work with. That’s right…every one! If we can just get over the shock and awe of realization that, as 9-11 was real, so is our bagged out economy. Once we accept that fact, we can begin to create positive, forward planning and ride the coming bounce out of this mess.

I guess my point is that, when times are tough, we should encourage individuals to come up with ideas and suggestions that we can at least try; creativity that, as in recessions, even depressions past, pulled us through.

One thing is certain, anyone who sits and waits for Washington to save us is in for a long, long wait!

Comments welcome!

All they want is a deal!

Hey, I just broke one of the cardinal rules of living life in a recession…I bought a quality product; and I paid full price for it! Before you conclude that I’m nuts, read on.

After another spring selling season in the green industry, I was almost convinced that the younger sales reps had it figured out. Day after day, all I heard from our sales reps was, “All they want it is a deal.”

For sure, I’d be an idiot to pretend people aren’t looking for deals; they always have, always will. Still, in a recession, the DEAL is king. At least in the mind of my less experienced friends.  When selling gets tough, the easiest thing to do is blame failure on the recession and give away your profit.

My point, simply that there is a lot more to selling than cutting price and, if you are a winner this year, I’m betting it’s because you have learned to go beyond the DEAL to selling what people really want…value! OK, sounds generic and general…value. Let me take it a bit farther. People want satisfaction. They want expectations met! And that, my friends, has zip to do with DEALS.

So, get smart, all knowing sales reps out there…learn to communicate what you have that competitors don’t. Learn to identify what prospects want before you “pitch” what you’ve been told to sell. And LISTEN to what your prospects are telling you. Selling, at its best, is a conversation, not a pitch.

Finally, use the discount to close the sale, never up front! You communicate how you will provide what the prospect wants, then, after differentiating your product or service from the pack, you use the recession focused discount as a closer.

Two days ago, I paid full price for a top quality chain saw. OK, the rep threw in the oil and gave me 10% off the price of the gas can..but I paid full price for the saw. Why? Am I stupid? Gullible? Nope. I paid because I wanted quality, reliability and customer service when the damn thing won’t start! So, I was buying more than a saw. And, to get it, I was willing to pay more. 

The point is, once again, people want and need more than a DEAL! Show them that you have it and you’ll be amazed at what people will pay. And, remember this, most people are NOT unemployed. They are living their lives frugally and making more careful choices, to be sure. But, people are still buying. Sell value. Fill wants and needs and don’t let yourself off the hook, blaming the recession or your boss because you can’t give away your product or service.

Wake up call for Gen Y workforce

Achtung! Wake up kids, it’s a new ball game!  Listen closely now, I’ve got a new word to add to your vocabulary….layoff.

Making my rounds as a small business consultant, in the past 90 days, I’ve noticed a perceptible change in the younger, less experienced workforce…the Gen Y folks in their early 20s. Now, I don’t want to make too much of this observation but…the new generation of workers is getting a rude awakening. No reason to repeat what you all know…times are tough. In some industries, real tough. And, compared to a just one year ago, layoffs are far more common.

Around the water cooler, staff members in the slowing home services business wonder…”Will I be next?”  As I said, to me, this newfound concern for job security is clear.

What does it mean? More importantly, what does it matter?  I believe those of us whose concern it is to manage and lead in tough times, have a real opportunity!  An older member of the management profession, I’ve seen it, lived it all before…backin the late 80s.  Recession then led to job cuts and more work for those who were kept on the team.  And, I must say, we learned alot about productivity, as delivered on a daily basis by concerned workers.

I suppose all I’m saying is….Maslow had it right! His well known “hierarchy of needs” theory is proven to be fact over and over again. Human beings react to the most urgent, most threatening situations in ways that preserve their lives and lifestyles. Nothing new here.  The point is, when people are worried about thier jobs, they tend to listen more closely to those who have the power to end their careers.  “What”, they wonder, “must I do to keep this job?” 

Smart leaders understand that, if only for a fleeting moment in time, Gen Y workers, self-possessed and focused on balance, flexibility and lots of control and immediate gratification in their lives, are going to pay more attention to how they can add value to the company.  This is a good thing!

Smart leaders will sieze the moment!  I’m not talking about grinding an extra 10 percent out of each frightened worker…I’m talking about teaching the new generation of workers how good they can be! Why? Because most have no idea how productive a person can be when focused on the task at hand vs. a consuming belief that life must be fun 24/7!

So, go for it boss! Crank up the training…have more team meetings. Let your best people know that, together, you will weather the recession and emerge a better, more productive team than ever before.

Teach your people to multi-task. Cross train everyone. Show people how good they can be and recognize the positive growth when you see it!

Let’s go America…time to turn off MSNBC and CNN…time to cut out the negative thinking….time to pull you team up by the boot straps! You can do it…your workers can do it….if you understand that it really does take an energized team approach to leading.

Go for it! After all…what is your next best option?