As businesses grow and evolve, management needs to change as well. This is true for small and large companies alike, regardless of the product or service a company provides, and applies to almost all layers of management including top-level employees and owners.
Many changes can take place in a business that can create a need for outside input, perspective, or advice, among them:
- Dramatic growth in a short period of time.
- A significant drop in top-line revenue.
- The sudden and unplanned departure of a key employee.
- Integration and implementation of a new ERP product or operating system, such as EOS.
- Training or coaching programs to develop new or high-potential employees.
- Temporarily filling a need while a search for a full-time person is conducted. This can often relate to IT or financial roles.
- Strategic and business planning.
- New market opportunities.
Let’s touch on these in some greater detail.
A small business owner came to Alliance seeking help with his growing business. He had managed YoY growth exceeding 25% for five consecutive years and he felt that he needed help to maintain and accommodate that growth. Alliance Advisors was able to step into what he defined as a co-CEO role to assess his business and establish a plan to help manage his continued growth. In this role, there wasn’t a piece of the business that Alliance didn’t engage with, including financial planning, personnel, and even plant layout and capacity. It was determined that his current outside accounting firm, while very competent and well respected, was not the right fit for his needs. Other firms were interviewed, and a new firm was ultimately recommended that better served his needs. Alliance collaborated with the client to build out a CRM product for better communication with customers, sales, and management teams. We helped him identify, interview, and hire new salespeople. When our engagement concluded his growing business had the right team supporting his efforts, the infrastructure and communication to deliver, and the resiliency to manage future change. He recently moved into expanded facilities and has purchased an expansion operation outside his home market. He is now a more self-aware owner and manager and is better able to manage his growth.
Sometimes companies must deal with a very different problem, a managed business contraction. A client that recently purchased a highly reputable decades-old company that manufactured precision roller tooling for the high-speed printing industry. With the inevitable decline in the newsprint industry due to virtual information access, the company needed help determining other industries and markets they could target without an excessive Capex investment and increased debt. Our team started by performing an extensive evaluation of their manufacturing operations including plant layout, machine capabilities and condition, inventory management and control, sourcing relationships and supply agreements, and employee morale. After data analysis Alliance was able to conclude that the client ran a very clean and efficient operation. They exceeded our expectations by having one of the best performing Kanban inventory control management systems we have ever seen. We were also able to determine that their large CNC machine tools could produce tooling and rolls for any number of additional markets outside the printing industry. Alliance saw an opportunity and prepared our client with a curated list of potential consumers and trade shows that they could use to expand sales and brand awareness. All of this could be accomplished with very little additional capex, and with little training among their present workforce. The right team is important for this type of initiative, so Alliance recommended bringing on a senior sales manager with experience in some of these new markets.
Some things in business can’t always be planned for, such as the sudden departure of a senior employee. This can occur due to the person being recruited away, being terminated for cause, contracting a serious illness, or even passing away. Companies can’t plan for these situations, but engaging with a fractional management team through these transitions can be an effective and efficient way to mitigate the shock to the system. A healthcare client suddenly lost their head of IT, and Alliance was able to bring in one of our senior team members as a fractional CIO who quickly assessed the condition of the department and provided a go forward plan to address their long-term needs. Alliance contributed to the overall evaluation of the department’s effectiveness, key performance metrics, and a gap analysis. A revised job description was created, and Alliance helped interview and select a replacement for the head IT position. We found an ideal candidate for the company, and as a result, our client bridged a gap that could have been very painful and costly to the organization. Instead, they used that opportunity to transform a weakness into a strength and successfully plan for their immediate future.
In today’s fast-changing world of technology touching exponentially more components of a business every year, companies are embracing cutting-edge operating products that enable them to keep pace with industry and overall changes to how companies run their business. Two of the more common of these are Enterprise Resource Planning systems, or ERP as they are referred to, and Entrepreneur Operating System, or EOS. These products and systems, and others like them, are rooted in common sense but require extensive integration into a company’s thought process and a committed buy-in by corporate management and ownership. They can be very expensive to integrate, but the savings more than offset that if the integration and implementation are managed properly. Within our Alliance Advisors team of professionals, we have senior employees with decades of experience with these products and systems. Our team can manage this process for the client and train employees to ensure the most valuable result.
Among our Alliance Advisors team of professionals are partners who bring more than 150 combined years of experience in senior corporate management and successful entrepreneurial startups.
In other words, a ton of dirt under the fingernails. Accordingly, we are often asked to come in and coach/mentor new or high-potential employees for whom companies have high expectations. These are usually ongoing engagements where we take the time to understand the company and its culture by working closely with top management, thereby allowing us to best inform, nurture, and develop the employee(s) to the mutual benefit of themselves personally and professionally and the company. These are very gratifying opportunities as they afford our team the chance to see how impressive these upcoming leaders are.
Another area where companies, most often smaller businesses, need fractional help is with assessing their current situation, developing a strategic plan to grow, and then putting together a realistic forecast to target that growth. Many small businesses have never had to do this degree of planning and forecasting as they have been able to grow organically, but that changes as their cashflow needs begin to increase and they need to avail themselves of SBA loans and lines of credit. Banks want to see that businesses have a plan, and with no experience as to how to balance presentation with realistic objectives and targets, many small businesses need help to get it right. Our team has extensive experience with formulating business plans, sales forecasting, and overall business planning, and we can step in to streamline the process for the client very cost-effectively relative to bringing in a full-time employee.
These are a few examples of how we embed with clients to offer our decades of senior leadership experience and expertise. Please reach out to discuss any of these needs you might have as we are ready and able to be of assistance.