|Strategic Planning Information|
Invalid Excuses for Poor Business Results - The Economy
Note to Rite Aid and CVS: It's not about the economy
When Bill Clinton successfully unset the first President Bush, he focused on a sign in his Little Rock office: "It's the Economy, Stupid". His point was to focus his campaign on economical issues. Although the president has an impact on the economy of the nation as a whole, blaming the economy for poor sales or lost profits is nothing more than unmerited whining.
In the state of Michigan, unemployment was the highest in the nation. At the same time, job growth was the lowest. This is not an economic scenario that normally leads one to invest heavily in a market.
CVS and Rite Aid decided to ride out Michigan's economic storm, setting aside little capital to revitalize or grow their Michigan stores. Although seemingly an intelligent viewpoint, it does not display a passion to compete and grow over the long haul.
Walgreen's Pharmacy saw Michigan through a different paradigm. They saw the opportunity to invest heavily in the state, taking advantage of the weak economy and depressed prices. Rochester Hills, Michigan, is an example of Walgreen's strategy. Only a few years ago, this city of 70,000 did not have one of their stores. By 2006, Walgreen's will complete a strategy to have four stores within city limits. The strategy was to locate stores using a parameter mentality, and a merchandise mix recognizing the local economy.
Both CVS and Rite Aid have experienced lost market share, greater than the increase in competition. Neither chain is growing in Rochester Hills, although CVS did move one store from the center of a strip shopping center to a new location in the parking lot.
According to high-ranking sources in Walgreen's Michigan region, there is a strong belief that by moving in now with the right merchandise mix and locations, the chain will be strongly positioned once the Michigan economy rebounds.
Where CVS and Rite Aid see a need for cautious survival strategies, Walgreen's sees an opportunity to grow and thrive. The lesson is obvious. Instead of whining about the economy, looks for ways to adjust your product offering to the times, and position yourself to thrive once the economy rebounds, or your competition succumbs on their unsuccessful pathway of survival.
Many Michigan-based companies are finding ways to attract out-of-state customers. At Max Impact, a human potential development company has made two strategic moves to thrive despite local economic conditions. The company has aligned itself with Macomb Community College to offer online customized corporate training programs, carrying CEU credits for the participants. They have also increased marketing of executive and professional coaching, which is done via the telephone, outside of Michigan. While many of their competitors struggle, the Max Impact is seeing double digit sales and profit growth.
It's not about the economy. It is about seeing the total business environment and developing a strategy to position for the present and future.
Rick Weaver is President of Max Impact, a national leadership and organization development company based in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Rick is an accomplished business executive with experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain and project management, team building, and process improvement. He has worked with hundreds of companies to improve sales, processes, and bottom-line results. MaxImpact offers leadership and organizational development services along with employee assessments and background checks. Contact Rick at 248-802-6138 or via email, email@example.com. MaxImpact is on the web at http://www.getmaximpact.com
GOT MEME? How to Attract Your Clients and Customers Attention
No "meme" isn't a typo and Got Milk, the more commonly know phrase, is actually a marketing meme. If you've opened up a magazine or watched TV in the last ten years you've seen the fun and memorable Got Milk ad campaign using celebrities with a milk mustache. Chances are it got your attention and you remember the phrase, "Got Milk".
Urban Flight in Ohio
Many of Ohio's downtown areas are in need of upgrading as folks pack up and move to the suburbs. Many downtown revitalization projects are currently going on there. Competition for sales tax, real estate, middle-income housing and quality of life is a power struggle, urban flight has been growing in Cincinnati and we do not see that stopping, but the expansion in the suburbs is very strong indeed.
Is Your Company Growing Fast Enough for You?
Are you frustrated by the lack of growth in your firm, or the effort required to squeeze any up-tick in performance? Are inadequate policies and procedures a root cause? To find out, take this simple self assessment to see if this may be inhibiting real growth at your company.
The Importance of Value Mix
( * - the word 'product' can be substituted to mean 'service' too; and vice versa )
Sales Planning and Business Plans
Writing a business plan can be tricky when all the books on the subject fail to keep updating their editions. One significant factor is the sales planning in business plans, yet few books show examples of how to explain online sales which will contribute to your over all stores sales in your retail outlet. Additionally many service companies take orders online and dispatch their units from there. Even Dominoes Pizza often takes credit cards over the phone, many companies now allow online ordering.
How To Prepare A Business Plan That Guarantees Big Profits
It is always said "If you Fail to Plan, you Plan to Fail"
How to Develop a Successful Board of Advisors (...and Why You Should!)
In today's rapidly changing and highly competitive markets, many privately held companies are creating outside advisory boards to give owners and CEOs fresh, knowledgeable advice. Even for small businesses, setting up an advisory board can give you a significant advantage over competitors that are relying solely on internal talent. An experienced and well-connected board of advisors can help your business grow and prosper in ways you've never imagined. What is a Board of Advisors? An advisory board is an outside group that is informally organized to provide business owners and corporate leaders with support, advice and assistance. While formal boards of directors have legally defined responsibilities and fiduciary duties, advisory boards have no formal power or binding legal authority. They serve at the pleasure of the business owner or CEO. Benefits of an Advisory Board There are several advantages that companies with advisory boards have over their competition. A board offers your business: An unbiased outside perspective. Increased corporate accountability and discipline. Enhanced CEO and management effectiveness. Greater credibility with investors, vendors and customers. Help in avoiding costly mistakes. Rounding out skills and expertise lacking in current management team. A sounding board for evaluating new business ideas and opportunities. Enhanced community and public relations. Improved marketing results and effectiveness. Strategic planning assistance and input. Centers of influence for networking introductions. Crisis and transition leadership in the event of the death or resignation of the CEO. Help anticipating market changes and trends. Steps to Creating an Effective Board of Advisors: Analyze the strength and weaknesses of your current management team. Look for critical areas of expertise and knowledge that your company could use help with such as marketing, legal, finance, eCommerce, and research and development or information technology. If your company is planning on going public within the next few years, seek out advisors who have successfully taken companies down that path. Set clear, written goals and objectives for your board of advisors. Getting maximum value from a board of advisors begins with clear objectives and goals. Board members must know why they have been asked to serve and what is expected of them. Before establishing the board, the CEO and senior managers should sit down and ask some of the following questions: 1. What are the main areas we need advice and guidance in? 2. What specifically do we need the board members to do for us? 3. Who are a few potential candidates for board membership? 4. How do we avoid giving away too much control to outsiders? 5. What will be the powers and limitations of the board? 6. What will setting up the board cost initially? Annually? Will it be worth the cost? Determine the size and structure of your board. Advisory boards range in size from two members to over thirty. The right size depends on many factors, such as your company's size, complexity, stage of development and individual skills needed. My experience and research has found that for most small to mid-sized, growing companies or start-ups, a 5 to 7 member advisory board is an ideal size. Smaller firms can start with just one or two members and add new members as they grow. Recruiting Candidates Determining whom you invite to join your board is one of the most critical decisions in setting up a board of advisors. Often a business owner's first instinct is to ask friends, family members or professional advisors to sit on their board. This is usually a mistake. Unless your friend or family member is a recognized authority in an area of expertise lacking by your management team or a highly successful entrepreneur, they are probably not the wisest choice. Another reason to avoid asking family or friends to join your board is lack of objectivity. Often advice from a friend, family member or management insider is sugar coated to protect relationships. An outside advisor can give you a much more objective and honest assessment of the situation. Using professional advisors such as your lawyer, banker or accountant as board members has it's own pitfalls. These advisors are already working for you and may not be as objective as you need, due to having an interest in generating future business from your company. Some critical action steps for recruiting a dynamite board of advisors are: Develop a candidate profile. After you have determined the areas of expertise your company is in need of, create a profile of candidates that successfully fit these needs. Take care to address knowledge and skills that your company will need to meet projected growth and future challenges. Seek out experts. Search online and offline for experts and proven leaders that meet your candidate profiles. Contact them and begin discussions about possible board membership. Ask for recommendations. Solicit recommendations from the experts you speak with that cannot serve on your board, of collogues of theirs that they feel would be a good fit for your needs. Begin networking with your attorney, accountant and other professional advisors. Once you have successfully recruited an advisor, he or she can often lead you to another good candidate. Find your candidates motivation. Most of your candidates are not going to be motivated by money alone. In fact, if money is their primary reason for joining your board, they may not be what you are looking for. The most effective board members are motivated by the challenge and intellectual stimulation of building successful companies. They serve because they are already high achievers and enjoy the challenge. Have variety in your board. Try to include experts and successful entrepreneurs from several different disciplines. Often board members who are successful marketers, CEOs and business owners from different industries can bring a fresh perspective to your business. These individuals can often help you incorporate best practices from other industries, into your own industry, creating revolutionary changes and opportunities. Look for a proven track record. Find the leaders in their field. The best board candidates are successful CEOs, business owners, professionals, university professors and consultants who have achieved success in their own businesses and careers. Clearly communicate your goals and objectives. Invest time in talking to and meeting with potential members. Communicate to them what your goals and objectives are. Let them know that you are not looking for "yes men" and that you want advisors who will challenge you and hold you accountable for your businesses growth. Board Compensation Board members expect and deserve to be compensated for their time, efforts and advice. Typical advisory board compensation includes a stipend from $5,000 to $25,000 per member, per year. Some companies pay their board members per meeting, with payment ranging from $500 to $3,000 per meeting, with a monthly retainer of $500 to $2,500. Companies should also cover transportation, meals and lodging for members when attending meetings. Most successful boards also give or require members to buy stock or some form of equity in the company. This gives the board members equity participation and a vested interest in the growth of the company. Pitfalls to Avoid Some potential problem areas to avoid when setting up or working with your advisory board are: Members missing meetings. Because board members are usually running successful businesses of their own, they may not always be available for every meeting. However, board members should be made aware that attendance of board meetings is important and expected. If a member is chronically absent, the value of their membership on the board should be reviewed. Insecurity of senior managers. Some company insiders may feel intimidated or threatened by the involvement of outsiders. The CEO or owner must make every effort to communicate to his staff the benefits and importance of having a board of advisors. Incompatible personalities. This is a challenging situation, because most members of your board will be strong willed, achiever types, who have gotten where they are by taking charge. Many will have strong convictions about their opinions and may find it hard to defer the leadership of the meetings to the CEO. You must determine when a member's personality is "too strong" and becoming disruptive. Excessive number of board members. Because of their strong personalities, if you have too many members on your board, the more assertive members often dominate the debates, depriving you of the contributions the quieter members may have made. Lack of CEO communication. Withholding company information or not regularly communicating with the members of your board of advisors destroys trust and effectiveness. Regular communication between meetings is essential to maintaining an effective board. Inadequate compensation. As I mentioned, you do not want compensation to be the determining factor in a candidates membership on your advisory board, however successful individuals of the caliber you seek expect to be fairly compensated for their time and knowledge. Keys to Board Effectiveness If you build it, use it. Owners and CEOs who invest the time and money in creating a board should be committed to soliciting and using its advice on important issues and decisions. Value their input, even when they disagree with what you want to do. Sometimes a board is at it's most valuable when it recommends against a course of action the CEO wants to take. If you recruit a good board, often they have already been down the path you are on, and their experience (and past failures) can help you to avoid costly mistakes. Communicate with your advisors. Keep the members of your board informed about what is happening in your company and industry. Counsel with individual members on the phone at least monthly and send them information well in advance of your meetings, to help them prepare and keep the meetings productive. Hold regular meetings. Most boards meet once per quarter. However, boards should meet more often during times of rapid growth or if company needs merit additional oversight and guidance. Have an objective for each meeting. Your board members are busy people and their time is valuable. Make the most out of your meetings with them, by having a clear agenda and objectives for each meeting. Make sure to cover the most important items of business first, in case the discussions take longer than planned or some members have to leave early. Annual assessment of board performance. Periodically assessing the board's effectiveness is a critical factor in ensuring a good return on investment. Each year the board should set performance goals and define their criteria for success. At the end of the year the CEO and the board should assess it's performance, compared to its goals and criteria for success. Over 80 percent of all private companies are operating without a board of advisors or board of directors. Odds are your competitors do not have one. Because of this, developing a board of advisors can give your company a distinct advantage over your competition. This is particularly true for start-ups and family run businesses. There is tremendous value in receiving objective, knowledgeable advice from a board of advisors who share in the financial and equity growth of your business. I encourage you to begin recruiting your advisory board today!
Top 10 Tips to Create A Business Plan! (For People Who Hate Business Plans)
One of the key challenges for any business is to remain focused and invest resources for maximum pay-off. It's said that 80% of a business's activity accounts for only 20% of total profits. In plain language, most of the work we do is unfocused, poorly designed and ineffective. In today's competitive world, no business, whether it's an individual professional or a large manufacturing operation, can survive with that much lost time and wasted effort. A business plan can help, but most small business owners (and some managers/supervisors) hate doing them! In the spirit that any map is better than no map, here are my top ten keys to creating your own map to success:
The Accountability/Alignment Process: Three Steps to an Accountable Organization
The Accountability/Alignment Process: Three Steps to an Accountable Organization
Water Conservation and Water Issues for Mobile Car Washers and Auto Detailers
Obviously, there will never be an actual water shortage since two-thirds of our earth's surface is water. The problem is distribution. One problem is getting water to the desert before it evaporates. And why do people plant lawns in Las Vegas? Another problem is that people and plants and animals need fresh water not salt water. Fresh water comes from rain and salt water comes from our oceans. So how do we separate out the salt from the ocean water? The method called desalinization works best. But this isn't free. It costs an average of $3.33 per unit of water. Almost double what you pay from your tap at home. As Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Riverside, etc. expand, we will get into a supply and demand situation. When the price per unit of water reaches $3.00 plus, we will then be able to afford to build adequate infrastructure to handle our water needs through desalinization. The cost of the new infrastructure can be amortized and paid for by us on a unit of water level.
Making a Decision to Outsource: Strategic Constraints
Many companies are reluctant to dive into outsourcing ocean because of various reasons of strategic nature. As far as strategic goals are touched upon, managers are concerned with the following issues:
Are You Ready To Go International?
Although North Americans were the dominant population on the Internet, that has now changed, and the rest of the world has caught up rapidly. And while English is still the most widely used Internet language, it's not the language of choice for many, many Internet users.
Restaurant Startup - Part 1: Market Research ? What are Potential Competitors Doing?
The first step in starting a restaurant is proper planning. One must lay out a plan complete with goals, priorities, and the tasks that he will need to complete in order to achieve these goals. The biggest mistake first time restaurant owners make is improper planning. Ambition, while absolutely required, is simply not enough to succeed in the highly competitive food service industry.
During the election we heard about Ohio?s Economy
Much of what we heard in the mass media about Ohio and the down and out economy was the fiction of spin-doctors of politics who wanted to oust the current sitting President. On further review and first hand observation and experience Cincinnati has people moving in and economic expansion. It is in a good spot with decent quality of life, plenty of jobs and an expanding set of suburbs. Just cross the river into KY and you get a glimpse of the reality.
The Magic Of Exponential Business Growth
Is there a 'magical' way to exponentially grow your business?
The Impact of Price Popularity on Profits
The goal of almost every business owner is to generate a profit either for themselves or their shareholders. This can be challenging at best. So much thought and effort go into running a business, accounts payable, accounts receivable, dealing with vendors, customers, etc. Because of this people sometimes do not focus on one of the most important factors- pricing. Knowing how much you can charge for your product or service is invaluable information. Businesses typically want to increase volume and prices at the same time. In a perfect world that would be easy to accomplish, yet we do not live in a perfect world. So just how do businesses go about deciding how much to charge for a product or service?
Why Six Sigma Will Work in Healthcare
If ever there were an industry where we want zero defects, it's healthcare. Patients, medical professionals, and healthcare administrators all want mistakes eliminated and quality and efficiency improved. Although most industries have undergone some type of data-supported, systematic, quality-improvement process, healthcare still has not. Medical and technological advances continue to outpace process and education adjustments. Demand and expectations for medical care are increasing. Inefficiency also leads to(causes, brings about, etc.) overcrowded emergency rooms, customer complaints, and lost revenues.
The Power of Planning
I am surprised how few sales professionals, independent consultants, and small business owners take the time to plan the strategy for their business. Most people spend more time writing out a grocery list or planning a vacation than they do planning the direction or outcome of their business. Many will determine a vague or general idea of what they want to accomplish but very few actually identify the specific action steps they will need to take in order to achieve their goals. I'm not suggesting you create a 25-30 page business plan like a good friend of mine writes every year, but I do recommend that you begin outlining the goals you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there.
I Always Play by the Rules and It Stinks!
This week I coached a wonderfully lovely woman I'll call Jill. She's a bright woman, very compassionate and sweet. She's at one of the corporations where I am an outside consultant/coach. This was our first meeting but within seconds I could tell she had a lot on her mind.. and her plate.
Sony?s PSI Project
In 1989, Sony founded its Institute of Wisdom at the request of its founder Masaharu Ibuka and former chairman Akio Morita.
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