Improved Quality Control

Improved Quality Control: These are methods to improve the measures of quality control. These measure inspection, testing, and engineering which are used to oversee and positively influence the quality of a product or service with the ultimate goal of satisfactory, appropriate, economical and reliable quality.

When Your Expertise Feels OBVIOUS, the Risk of Condescension Increases

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Reflecting on year end strategy sessions, I recall reminding several clients that the base of your competitive advantage comes in the form of capabilities that your customers do not have but do need in order to handle something that is important to your customers.

Because our clients have long been accomplished accountants, electrical wholesalers, architects, programmers, facility managers, association executives etc. several somehow now take their expertise for granted.  So many tasks come easy to them.  The thing is, just because a task seems easy to you doesn’t mean that it is easy for everyone else; and certainly doesn’t mean that it is not important or valuable.

When there isn’t an appreciation of the capabilities of one’s own business, cues are missed during strategy formulation.

Maybe your competitive advantage is your ability to both train and learn from new employees.  Could your competitive advantage be the speed, consistency, accuracy and ease that you deliver?  Or, could your competitive advantage be that your team doesn’t make customers feel stupid?

We probably all know CPA firms that file extensions more than others, don’t explain their logic, or talk down to customers. Having CPAs on staff who can explain Dodd Frank and its implications to customers in a way that doesn’t make customers feel stupid is a stronger competitive position for a CPA firm than having one of the authors of Dodd Frank legislation on staff.  Condescension is not a great choice for competitive advantage.

One way to reduce the risk of condescending attitudes is to help your employees gain appreciation for what your customers know how to do that you and your team don’t know how to do…and vice versa. Mutual appreciation of your customers’ and your capabilities pays off.

 

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST®. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. She owns and operates a suite of companies that help privately held midsized companies achieving accelerated growth with sustained profitability® through opportunity & resource analysis, 4 approaches to strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing, and targeted search.  2013 is Ambler’s 9th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer syndicated on line talk show that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr.) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. An archive of over 300 interviews is available at www.GrowthStrategistShow.com. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.   

[video post] The High Cost of Unethical Vendors

The High Cost of Unethical Vendors

Recent market research conducted for two clients in completely different industries revealed that being ethical people was one of their greatest differentiators. As much as we are glad that our clients are ethical people, it seems sad that being ethical is a unique selling proposition (USP) these days.

Some industries are burdened with bad reputations that may have been earned a long time ago.  Our construction industry clients know all of the jokes and the stories about pay to play plus they still occasionally have to address a prospective customer’s assumption that they use wire-taps to learn competitors’ prices.

Would you have expected that ethics would be a compelling differentiator in international payroll processing?  Accuracy and full disclosure is expected from accountants handling payroll…right? A recent survey of 500 (titles) conducted by Secor Relocation and the Forum for Expatriate Management surfaced that less than 20% of the responding mobility professionals fully trust the accuracy of the payroll numbers being done for their expatriates.

It’s a mobility industry-wide dynamic that can easily cost any single company millions of dollars every year while also putting the organization at significant compliance risk,” shares David Leboff President of Expaticore Services LLC.  “Incredibly, the effort to raise the visibility and magnitude of the costs and risks to appropriate levels of an organization is typically underwhelming.  And no fix can be initiated without the backing of those with the authority to do so.  Some of the responsibility for this shielding can be placed on accountable internal resources who may not have the budget or horsepower to fix on their own.  But it also rests squarely on those advisors who are concerned that raising the issue may tar them with some responsibility, or even liability if they are paid and profiting as part of a defective payroll process. “

Would you have expected that being ethical would be a differentiator for a legal search firm? There are lawyers involved. And maybe recruiters aren’t always known for their transparency either. OK, maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised.  I’ll give you that.  When I asked the President of Princeton Legal Search Group, Inc., David Garber said, “It still seems amazing to us how many of our clients (law firms, universities and large corporations) view us as being SO different because we say what we mean and mean what we say.  Ethics, integrity and honesty are very important to our clients. We now provide our clients with copies of our code of conduct (which goes well beyond industry standards) and we have adopted a client bill of rights.  Not everyone can work in a firm like ours, but professionals who value ethics and honor do seem to gravitate to us.”

How much money does your company spend on… or should I say LOSE TO… unethical vendors?                           

 

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST®. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. She owns and operates a suite of companies that help privately held midsized companies achieving accelerated growth with sustained profitability® through opportunity & resource analysis, 4 approaches to strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing, and targeted search.  2012 is Ambler’s 8th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer syndicated on line talk show that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. An archive of over 300 interviews is available atwww.GrowthStrategistShow.com. She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at Aldonna@AMBLER.com.    

Is the “Family Owned” Sign in Front of Your Business Actually a WARNING?

My sister likes jewelry, so I went shopping at a gemstone store recently.  Trust me on this.  The fact that this business is family owned was NOT a benefit to me as a customer.  The jewelry designer’s mother is clearly tired of catering to his demands.  But she is his mother and apparently feels STUCK there. His wife was equally miserable!  Apparently the purpose of this family owned business isn’t about gemstones, customers, money, or family.  It was all about a prima donna jewelry designer who had enslaved his relatives.

I know another company President who insists on paying all 7 of his offspring the same salaries despite the fact that one son is the full time CFO and one daughter is a part time marketing clerk. Can you imagine how non family staff members feel and how they view their compensation?

I know a Mid-Atlantic based company that has a Colorado branch now. They were sending so much money to support his snowboarding, why not throw a bit more money at it?

Sometimes the real purpose of being “family owned” is to provide jobs for otherwise unemployable offspring.

As the New Year starts, pause for a second and reflect on the BIG decisions made by your family owned business in 2010. Which ones were made to compensate for non-performing relatives? Which decisions were an attempt to force accountability and fairness?

If the purpose of your being “family owned” translates into honesty, excellent customer service, informed employees who truly understand products/services, a sustained commitment to quality and innovation, etc…then the public will care that you are “family owned.”

90% of privately held companies view themselves as “family” businesses. So this year, I’ll be emphasizing growth strategies for family owned businesses and sharing ways to make sure that “family owned” is an attribute…and not a warning.

Collect and Address the List of Worries and Concerns

What would you do if you had recently invested time and money on

  • obtaining absolutely current market research that revealed exciting opportunities despite and because of the economy
  • recruiting, selecting, hiring, orientating and training two new executive positions
  • upgrading management positions, including replacement, training, increased compensation and incentives
  • participative strategic planning
  • upgrading the physical plant for a few key locations
  • updating your operating systems
  • organization-wide training in marketing, sales, and customer service

Follow through!!! Right???

Yes, but what if you have recently seen doomsday reports in the newspapers and on television? And what if you attend an industry conference and the speakers suggest that this is the time to play everything safe?  And what if one of your long time friends just got audited and the IRS is after him?  And what if your executives and managers are feeling a bit overwhelmed or scared?  And what if you’re in a regulated industry and the government doesn’t feel like your friend at the moment?

YES…still follow through!!!!

AND

Compile a list of everyone’s concerns and worries.

Why not?  If folks are too worried, they might not follow through when you need enthusiastic execution on the plan.  A great strategy weakly implemented is set up to fail!  There may be a legitimate question your strategic plan missed.  Why not address it now?

Include board members, investors, executives, managers, line employees…everyone! Then ask your executive team to make sure that the strategic plan appropriately addresses each concern.  Write up the answers.  Make sure everyone knows you are listening, care, and are being thoughtful.  There may be a few areas where you are taking a calculated risk.

Collect worries. Make sure the strategic plan addresses each one. Convey how the strategic plan answers each concern.  Get back to people in a timely way.  And move on to implementation.  This is not the time for analysis paralysis or timidity.

Growth Strategy Tip

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