Our son-in-law is a big city police officer (not Seattle) and recently was involved in a situation that will never make the news. He was in the second wave of officers responding to a 911 from a mother whose bi-polar teenage son was off his meds and threatening the family. He entered the bedroom, observed two other officers standing there watching the boy with a knife, ordered them get out their Tasers (and guns I’m assuming), and then he disarmed the young man, with no injuries.
As mentioned, this will never make the news. It’s not what most people want to see or hear.
In the Wizard of Oz the wizard is behind the green curtain. So, combining this with the above story, what’s behind your curtain others don’t hear about? Here are five things making your business what it is, for better or worse. Whether you’re selling your business, buying one (analysis of your target), or simply wanting to grow and make more money, it’s the behind the curtain things that really add oomph.
- The big one in 2016, if not always, is the employees. Help wanted signs are everywhere, news stories about how there’s a shortage of skilled workers are common, and schools are implored to send people into the job market with useful skills. Your employees can be your secret weapon, and it’s important to protect them from poaching. It’s not just money, often culture rules over money. With up to 70% of employees not happy with their jobs (numerous reports including the Gallup study) if you have happy people do all you can to keep them, and keep them happy.
- The term “a well oiled machine” refers to an operation with maximum efficiency. If you’ve created or refined a process that improves margins you’ve got something to brag about. I have many clients who are process people. They’ve streamlined their business so everything flows. I do the same thing with my clients. For example, with clients looking to acquire a company I give them a proven system to use (of course it’s up to them to implement their part of it as we implement our part). Like any process or system, it works when you actually do it.
- “Your reputation precedes you” is a term you should strive for. A lot of company’s get jobs/orders without bids or quotes (or be the only company quoting the job) because the customer knows it will be a quality product at a fair price. You want to be the go-to firm in your niche.
- Location is the factor in retail, as we all know from the saying, “location, location, location” as it applies to the three most important factors to success in retail. But it can be just as important in manufacturing, distribution, and many service industries. It’s why banks generally won’t make an acquisition loan for a term longer than the term of the lease, with options. Besides layout, to improve your processes, a huge part of the location question is traffic. Traffic patterns your employees take and, more importantly, the traffic your employees will face if you have crews, delivery people, or salespeople on the road. I know I add more cushion between meetings than ever before given unpredictable and overwhelming traffic.
- Your use of technology is important. I see businesses who are surrounded by technology (computer controlled machines for example) and still track sales, do budgets and projections in Excel. The companies who use tools like Salesforce, ERP systems, and similar effectively and to the highest level possible for their business get more sales per employee than they would otherwise. Use, but don’t become a slave to technology. If it saves you time or money use it. If you find yourself bogged down in its minutia it means you’re overusing it.
Five behind the curtains things that can increase your profits or the value of your business, or increase your free time. Pay attention to them. They aren’t in the headlines like name customers or a well known product but they can be just as important.