Change management to improve EBIT and company culture

While sales levels and your business’s Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) are good measures of success (or not), they should not be critiqued in isolation. For a small to medium sized business, achieving millions of dollars in sales and a ‘good’ Earnings Before Interest and Tax, does not necessarily mean your business is performing well, or as well as it could.

Take the example of a manufacturing and installation supplier to the construction sector we supported. The company came to us with a $12 million sales level running at 16% Earnings Before Interest and Tax. But they approached us outlining issues with business performance. They understood that the business could be performing better than it was. They required a consultant to take an experienced look at why this was not happening, and importantly, to implement change management to ensure that it did.

Our thorough business review led us to identify significant change requirements for the company’s shop floor management. Accountability and sustainability frameworks were required from the General Manager through to the Production Manager, Workshop Supervisor and Team Leaders. This needed the support of significant training and restructuring to enable shop floor day to day leadership to effectively manage and develop its people. It was also clear that there was a significantly high risk of product failure across production which needed to be mitigated.

While the company was aware that the business was underperforming, it needed support to determine how to achieve the required outcomes and the implementation of this. The experience to design and manage the required change programs were lacking, as was the process and specifics to successfully restructure. Key tried and tested methods, approaches and strategies, tailored to the specific requirements of this company, were applied.

Gibsons Senior Consultants have been supporting businesses with change management, organisational restructure, and training / development of personnel for 50 years.

Gibsons developed key criteria for success at each leadership level within production. With the knowledge of what was required, the leadership structure was addressed to ensure alignment and effectiveness with organisational structure. Human Resource processes were implemented throughout the business with a focus on production personnel. This was supported with training and development programs throughout all leadership levels within production.

Leadership accountability frameworks were established, aligning behaviours and processes, with expectations. These were linked with quality systems to ensure any non-conformance was raised and addressed as required. A Rewards and Recognition program was utilised to acknowledge high performance and behaviour. The change program was regularly reviewed by management, and its successes and results were frequently communicated to the production team.

Program establishment, implementation, and change took 18 months. Through that period, production efficiency and quality were sustained, and staff performance heightened. The leadership structure progressively improved over the change period with most leaders growing into their revised roles with exceptional results. Financial performance continued to improve and was sustained at or above target levels. Earnings Before Interest and Tax approached 20%, an increase of almost 8% over the 18-month period. Importantly, the culture and staff morale on the shop floor and within the business was greatly improved.

Change management is rarely an easy, straightforward process. Identifying a problem within your business can be simple, but knowing the best approach to make the required changes to move your business forward can be challenging.

This is more so the case when you are looking at personnel, leadership, and organisational structural changes, and introducing accountability policies and new reporting processes. Having an external advisor who can take an unbiased look at your business, determine recommendations, and support their implementation, can transform change management to a practical, systems focused process change. Find out how Gibsons can help you map out a better business for your company.

Let us take the following tasks off your list:

  • Strategic analysis and business plans.
  • Becoming an Employer of Choice.
  • Marketing and sales plans.
  • Brand development and promotion.
  • Business process modelling.
  • Improving systems and workflows.
  • Optimising organisational structure.
  • Pinpointing skills gaps and implementing training.
  • Reviewing financial performance.
  • Profitability improvement programs.
  • Managing organisational change.
  • Mentoring to develop executive leadership.
  • Business process modelling.
  • Mergers and acquisitions.
  • Technology strategy and implementation.

From owner dependence to staff empowerment and accountability

When you start a business, it is natural to be very hands-on and want to be across everything. But, as the business establishes and grows, if this approach continues you begin to disempower and demotivate your staff. While perhaps not the intent, you start to heavily micromanage your team. While this management style is typically disliked by staff, it is also a style that creates a lot of problems for the manager. If you always need to oversee all the details and sign off on everything with limited delegation, you end up working a lot more than you’d like. More importantly, time that could be spent on the wider picture – company strategy, direction, and vision – must be set aside, to make space for the day-to-day. Never a good plan for a business to succeed.

This was very much the case for a client of ours. A small manufacturing company that initially came to us with issues involving a poor company culture, and succession – the owner was keen to step back from the business. With a turnover of $2.5 million in sales with a 15% Earnings Before Interest and Tax, from a financial standpoint, the company was doing well. But staff morale was low, and the owner saw no possibility where he would be able to reduce his involvement in the business.

As is often the case, we may be called upon to address a particular challenge with a company, but when we take a closer look, other issues become apparent. Certainly, there was a lack of opportunity for succession and company culture issues, but we also found significant micromanagement in place to maintain efficiency, quality, and service levels. Understandably this was not helping the low morale which was prevalent throughout the workplace. There was an extreme reliance on the owner who as a result had a very poor work/life balance. Systems were under-utilised and human resource processes very lacking. Moderate to high levels of supervision were required because of the skill levels within the company.

Over a 2-year period we worked with this company to address the need for human resource processes, structures, and staff development that were required to overturn a poor company culture and too much reliance on the owner. We defined and sourced a General Manager for the organisation. The owner wanted (and needed) to become less hands-on and this would only be achieved with a highly skilled and experienced General Manager to take over a lot of the tasks the owner had acquired. A suitable reporting structure with the General Manager was enabled to ensure that the owner remained appropriately informed.

We established human resource processes and provided training as appropriate to support this. Staff were restructured in line with appropriate skill levels and cultural fit with the organisation. Training processes and procedures were set up to ensure skill fit with role and upskilling as required. Training reviews and retraining were included within this along with processes for non-conformance. To support staff engagement and to improve morale, human resource engagement and recognition tools were determined and initiated.

As a result of our work, there were significant improvements in quality, efficiency, and throughput across the business with less support from the owner required. Staff morale has substantially increased, the company culture is much improved, and the owner is mostly stepped back from the business. Having the support of Gibsons provided the focus and expertise to work through the solutions needed. Often this can be difficult when you are too close to the problem, or do not even see all the issues in place.

The benefit of having a Gibsons Consultant support your business is having an expert with extensive, hands-on business experience. Not an academic or theorist, but a realist who can provide practical advice and assistance that will deliver increased productivity, greater efficiency, and improved profitability to your business. Find out more about the services we offer and how we can help you reach your business goals.

Let us take the following tasks off your list:

  • Strategic analysis and business plans.
  • Becoming an Employer of Choice.
  • Marketing and sales plans.
  • Brand development and promotion.
  • Business process modelling.
  • Improving systems and workflows.
  • Optimising organisational structure.
  • Pinpointing skills gaps and implementing training.
  • Reviewing financial performance.
  • Profitability improvement programs.
  • Managing organisational change.
  • Mentoring to develop executive leadership.
  • Business process modelling.
  • Mergers and acquisitions.
  • Technology strategy and implementation.

We wish you a Merry Christmas…

…and a Happy New Year.

As 2023 starts to draw to a close, we would like to extend our seasons’ greetings. We hope you get to enjoy some relaxation and fun during the festive time. To all our clients, present and former, it has as always, been our privilege to support your businesses to reach and extend their potential. Our intention is always to work collaboratively with you to meet the goals and objectives for your specific business. We look forward to continuing our work with you in 2024. If you have not engaged our services this year, please know that the door is always open if you are keen to reinvigorate your business performance, as we enter 2024. We can be contacted at https://gibsons.com.au/contact/.

The Gibsons team.

Our services

As consultants each with a career lifetime of industry experience, there’s little we haven’t seen and little we haven’t dealt with in business. Each Gibsons business consultant, in addition to their personal area of career specialisation, has extensive, hands-on practical experience meeting challenges with solutions in a wide variety of scenarios, industry sectors and business model types. We are not theorists. We bring advice and assistance that has been “road tested” and known to deliver productivity increases, improved sales, and increased profitability in a business just like your own. We have a keen eye for the issues and opportunities that need actioning, and we’re here to help you build a stronger business right across the functions of peoplemarketingprocesses and profit.

Let us take the following tasks off your list:

  • Strategic analysis and business plans.
  • Becoming an Employer of Choice
  • Marketing and sales plans.
  • Brand development and promotion.
  • Business process modelling.
  • Improving systems and workflows.
  • Optimising organisational structure.
  • Pinpointing skills gaps and implementing training.
  • Reviewing financial performance.
  • Profitability improvement programs.
  • Managing organisational change.
  • Mentoring to develop executive leadership.
  • Business process modelling.
  • Mergers and acquisitions.
  • Technology strategy and implementation.

Our business pillars

Map out a better business with Gibsons. The first step on the road to success for any business is a strategic analysis. Our analysis reviews your current position, develops a vision for the future, and evaluates the strategy options available to take your business from where it is now to where you want it to be.

Once we’ve determined the best strategy, we’re able to develop a strategic business plan with you. This plan provides the detail needed across those key business pillars we always come back to – PeopleMarketingProcess and Profit.

People – Empower the agents of your success. Many people say their people are their most important resource, but do they act that way? Gibsons Business Consulting offers a range of people management services and capabilities to help you build a team that will drive your business forward.

Marketing – build a market-focused operation. Gibsons offers expert, tailored solutions beyond the scope of most marketing agencies because we approach marketing through the business-strategic lens. Whilst Gibsons excels at coordinating the tactical marketing activities involved in marketing promotion, we’re well known for strategic marketing which is the foundation that effective advertising, public relations and sales promotions should be built on. Ensure that everything about your business is meeting needs and reinforcing why customers should buy from you and not your competitors.

Process – build practical processes for greater productivity, efficiency, and profit. The primary reason for implementing business systems is to build consistency and, therefore, predictability into the quality of outcomes. Better systems and processes also establish the means for day-to-day operational activities to manage themselves, leaving managers with the time they need to deal with exceptions and to work on business development.

Profit – maximise business profit and cash flow. The aim of any business is to generate sustainable profit and positive cash flows consistently. If a business is unprofitable or isn’t cash positive, it can’t survive. It isn’t a viable business. We make sure you have the right measures and review processes in place so you can take informed action when you need to and keep your business on track.

Structure and process change to turnaround business performance.

It’s rare that we are approached by a company requiring assistance where there is clarity about why business performance is not as expected, and what should be done to fix this. Often, there is an understanding of the problem – a drop in sales, financial targets not being met, limited growth and so on – but the ‘why?’ of the issue is not clear, nor are the actions required to turn things around. We may enter our work with a client having been given one brief, only to find that other issues come to light as we investigate the problems that are taking place.

A manufacturing and installation company supplying the construction sector reached out to us for support with cited business performance issues. Sales levels were falling, and the company was experiencing a sharp decline in their Earnings Before Interest and Tax from a level of over 10% to only 2.5% of sales. We conducted a thorough review of the business’ operations and in addition to the problems with sales levels and EBIT, identified an issue with their margins for quoting and pricing. The company simply were not running at a level of margin that was long-term sustainable. They had significant quality and warranty issues which were cutting into profit margins, and there was poor labour management and supervision in place.

Without the right business structure and processes in place, it becomes very difficult to identity the ‘why’ when things go wrong. Clarity is missing, and as such appropriate actions are unlikely to be taken to turn things around.

Our business review identified the key areas to address, and we initially focused on implementing management review practices and reporting within the business to build an understanding of why these difficulties were occurring. We provided training and coaching to the company’s accountant to better analyse and report issues as they arose, and to make appropriate and timely recommendations to the management team. Management and supervision practices were established within production and management teams, and training and coaching of key management staff was enabled. Project management processes were also set up for all new projects initiated. A thorough review of the sales team and sales processes was conducted, and we established a sales management program with a priority to refocus the sales team. Alongside this, pricing and quoting margins were reviewed with a new pricing and quoting policy agreed.

After 6 months of working with this organisation we saw sales return to their normal levels, and after 9 months of sustained implementation of our recommendations, profits returned to 12% of sales. No significant quality issues have occurred for 6 months, and margins are stronger than ever with labour efficiency dramatically improved. The company now has high accountability throughout the management team, reduced stress, and happier staff with more satisfied customers.

Business change takes time, and modifying structure and processes doesn’t immediately impact the bottom line. It is with consistency and perseverance that business transformation is possible.

The question we often get asked is “why can’t a company just do this for themselves – why do they need an external advisor?”. In the case of this company, the management structure and processes were not in place to support the company to prevent these issues occurring. Without a significant and appropriate change to company structure and ways of working, change was not possible. Often it takes someone outside of a business to identify the change required, and once initiated, it can be easier to align with business priorities to meet, and often exceed, performance goals and success indicators. It’s also never an easy and quick fix.

Find out more about our strategic approach to unearth the challenges within your business and set you on the right path for success. Reach out for a no obligation, informal chat with one of our Senior Consultants today to chat about how we could help you and your business, call us (07) 3025 3220 or email [email protected].

[Photo credit: Minku Kang]

What’s holding your business back?

When you’re looking to grow your company but it’s ‘stuck’ it is useful to conduct a full strategic analysis to determine what’s going on. It might not be what you think. Far too often, businesses will make assumptions on the issues preventing their company meeting goals and achieving desired outcomes. These assumptions are rarely based on anything substantial, or there’s a focus on one key issue at the exclusion of all others. To truly understand what’s holding your business back, an objective analysis of all the issues, and the company overall are essential. This can be tricky to conduct in-house, where objectivity can understandably be somewhat clouded. You may believe that you have the right structure in place and the right team to achieve the profit margins you’d like, but often this is not the case.

Take the example of one of our clients – a small manufacturing and installation company operating within the construction sector. Gibsons were approached to conduct a strategic and business plan, with the objective of determining the issues at play that were preventing sales and profit growth. As soon as the planning process was in full swing, we discovered key factors that were holding the company back. Primarily these centred around people and processes. Key staff were modelling poor values and performance, there were manufacturing and installation process inefficiencies, and there was the absence of clear and consistent communications across the business and the management team. People were unsure who was accountable for what, they were disengaged, and were struggling to see a distinct company direction.

Once you have the right people in the right place doing the right things, a business can tackle operational and process issues that might also be holding them back. But you must get the people bit right first.

In our experience, people issues are often the cause of the most serious business problems and can be the most challenging to resolve. However, if ignored they can significantly endanger a business, or at the very least, leave it with a performance and success level far below true capability and potential. We often see attempts to ‘fix’ staff issues which in turn create more problems as structure and processes are used to ‘work around’ people difficulties, which rarely resolves the concerns, and instead adds significant cost and time to the situation.

To address these challenges, Gibsons conducted a thorough review of management practices to build a culture of understanding and a process of consistent and regular review. Next, we helped the company to develop the right business structure to support continuous improvement and accountability throughout its personnel. Progressive review of performance of key personnel alongside the company’s management team enabled the rationalisation of staff via retraining, mentoring, role changes to better suited skill sets, and in some cases, retrenchment. A complete review of operational processes and factory layout was then enabled with confidence that the recommended changes could be acted on with best immediate effect.

Build an effective business structure that puts the right people with the right skills into roles that best suit them, is key to ensuring a business with long-term and enhanced profitability.

The results of Gibsons’ work speak for themselves. Over a 3-year period, working closely with Gibsons, this business increased its profit on sales by 8-10%, culture and customer engagement improved, and there was a $10m rise in turnover. Importantly, the owner is now in charge of a highly self-motivated team with an appropriate structure to support the continued growth of the business.

Find out more about the Gibsons’ approach to ensuring your business is on the right path and your team are focused on what matters, through our in-depth strategic review.

Business growth through sales culture change

It would be understandable to think that issues related to sales are down to the sales process, pricing and the overall sales strategy. This is after all what drives a business’ sales levels and its approach to selling in the marketplace. However, dig a little deeper, and you’ll see the massive impact the culture of your sales team has on the implementation of your strategy. Perhaps the sales strategy is strong and appropriate for your offering, but how is it being executed and how is this being managed?

We were engaged by a major player in the Australian construction landscape to implement changes to their sales process and pricing structure to optimise margins. Our client’s construction reinforcing product had been used in most of the iconic structures in Australia including the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge and freeway, and Brisbane’s Gateway bridges. The company was well known and well established (100 years).

It initially appeared that the issues impacting sales and ultimately margins were related to the sales strategy. However, after a period of discovery, it became clear that sales performance was impacted primarily by the people within the sales team. While dedicated and committed, the sales team were agreeing to meet every customer requirement. There’s nothing wrong with putting the customer first and focusing on customer needs, but in this case, it resulted in unclear accountabilities. If you agreed to everything, who is going to follow through with the requests, and importantly can / should they be met? Inefficiencies were the result, as the team lacked clarity on what to prioritise and how.

Develop an effective sales strategy that is fully understood by staff to ensure consistency and accountability, but that also supports an effective management of performance.

In this case, there was no ‘organisation’ behind the sales team effort. To address the culture and performance inequities, Gibsons worked to embed processes and practices designed to clarify accountabilities, and to manage sales performance both company wide, and for sales team personnel. In total, 6 improvement programs were established and implemented over a 6-month period. This phased roll out started with the company’s Queensland team and are being progressively implemented across the rest of the business.

No matter how astute a management team is, often there are issues that from the inside are easy to miss, or people are too ‘close’ to the challenges, to effectively manage them. A Gibsons Senior Consultant who lives and breathes business improvement, will quickly get a feel for your business and be able to identify areas for improvement.

With accountabilities now understood and aligned across the entire sales process, these improvement programs have enabled the sales team to be more focused. An ‘achievement’ sales culture that the company was seeking has been established and revenue targets are being exceeded. The business growth potential identified has been enabled through this sales team reinvigoration. As is often the case, it’s not always that a strategy is wrong for your business. Often, the processes in place for implementation and management are not there; or are misunderstood or inappropriately executed by your team. Ensure your people know what they are accountable for and set up ways to manage this. Support your business’ potential by providing clarity in roles and expectations, and transparency in how this aligns with your overall company objectives.

As with many projects Gibsons work on, the reason we are called in is not always the cause of the challenges being faced. A Gibsons consultant is accustomed to scanning operations from a more objective viewpoint, with the benefit of deep experience gained from scores of business improvement projects. They can almost immediately spot problem areas that you may not be aware of. Find out more about the services we offer to support businesses and let us take the following tasks off your list:

  • Strategic analysis and business plans
  • Becoming an Employer of Choice
  • Marketing and sales plans
  • Brand development and promotion
  • Business process modelling
  • Improving systems and workflows
  • Optimising organisational structure
  • Pinpointing skills gaps and implementing training.
  • Reviewing financial performance
  • Profitability improvement programs
  • Managing organisational change
  • Mentoring to develop executive leadership.
  • Business process modelling
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Technology strategy and implementation

$2.5 million sales growth in only 2 years

While most business owners know the importance of an effective strategy for their company, it is also very easy to be drawn into the day-to-day operations and lose sight of the larger picture. As an owner, you can find yourself becoming far too hands-on and create a position where you are completely indispensable. Without you, things just don’t and can’t happen effectively. This can work initially, but over the longer term, what happens when you go on annual leave, or want to expand the business, or are ready to retire?

This was the situation a construction supplies business found itself in. The owner was looking to retire but the business was not able to operate effectively without him. The owner had focused on daily operations and as a result, over the years, operational health and safety, quality, good processes, organisational structure, and human resource management frameworks had been overlooked. The 3% Earnings Before Interest and Taxes the business was returning was insufficient for the invested efforts.

Business structure and the people in your business are key to any company’s success. Get the structure right, and people in the right roles operating well and cohesively with each other, and the business to create a winning situation.

Our role was to look at appropriate strategic planning with the development of a business and succession plan. The company’s current processes and structures had created a divide among management and production teams, very much to the extent of an ‘us and them’ culture. There was low engagement and limited accountability, with the business reliant on just a few individuals. While functioning, the business was in a fragile state.

Turning this $7 million business into a $9.5 million one, was a 2-year project with Gibsons advisors involved throughout. The first step looked to address the management structure. Existing roles were firmed up, some roles were moved, and others recruited. A new General Manager was appointed, and a mentoring program established to ensure close guidance and a sounding board in the implementation of other improvements. A better framework for management meetings as well as performance reviews and reporting were established. Improvements such as the Gibsons Employer of Choice program designed to invoke culture change and accountability, were actioned.

Get your team right and a structure to support this and you set your business up for success. Don’t, and you find yourself working hard without seeing results.

With the right people in place, doing the right things, the second step was to improve production processes via the establishment of a Production Success Team and the implementation of 5S processes and practice on the floor. Next, we addressed sales and marketing to build awareness of the company offering and to grow their market. Customers were interviewed to determine easy wins and long-term improvement opportunities. A rebrand was recommended and initiated.

The results were a $2.5 million sales improvement (to $9.5 million) with an increase in Earnings Before Interest and Taxes to 12%. Operational performance greatly improved and there is capacity to maintain this performance. Further growth is predicted, and the owner can consider retirement in the knowledge that the business now has a highly accountable and functioning team, management structure and strategic direction.

Find out more about the Gibsons approach to strategic planning to set your own business on the path to success.

Maximising your returns through full product utilisation.

Clients often reach out to us when profit levels don’t match expectations and when there is a sense that the business could be doing more. Inviting a knowledgeable and experienced third-party consultant like Gibsons in, provides the opportunity for a deep dive into what is happening in your business.

strategic review of your business provides insight into opportunities that could be exploited and how. It provides reassurance of risks to mitigate against and the steps needed to do this.

Frequently, when we first engage with a new client, we will take them through a strategic review. This may be a company-wide review which is designed to unravel key business concerns and to determine why things are not working as they should. If the business has a specific goal in mind, we will instead conduct a more specific strategic review designed to evaluate the business and the market; and to outline the steps required to move the business in the direction required. This was the case with SSS Strawberries, a producer of fresh berries who were facing the challenge of how to best utilise their non-premium quality and end-of-season fruit.

SSS Strawberries were not maximising potential returns over the entire growing season and was looking to change this. The owners had identified that freeze drying the fruit would enable an increase in revenues and margins but looked to Gibsons to identify how best to enable this. We were commissioned to develop strategic; business and feasibility plans to advance this new product line and take it to market.

We identified 3 stages to bring this product to market: a research and design phase, capital investment, and finally full production with future growth as sales increased and capacity levels were met. We handpicked a team of specialists across the areas of branding, food product commercialisation and packaging, to support the research and design phase for bringing the product to market. This phase focused on determining a name – Gina’s table, brand identity and packaging for the product.The results of this research were crucial as they would go on to shape the entire marketing and sales approach. They would also provide confidence that the direction and decisions made were appropriate, before significant investment in capital took place.

To determine the feasibility of bringing freeze dried fruit to market, we looked firstly at the target consumer – what were their motivations to purchase and their buying behaviour, what competing products did they already purchase, why would they choose this product over others and how could we influence this. In-store research regarding purchase behaviour tracking and Q&A sessions supported this. We looked at the marketplace – what products or competitors were already selling similar products, what consumer needs were being met, price points and packaging. We went on to consider product positioning in the market along with packaging, Point of Sales materials, merchandising, channels to market and the overall brand – tone of voice and brand personality (essentially the look and feel of the brand).

To successfully determine the feasibility of a new product launch, you must fully understand the product and how it will better meet the needs of consumers than competitors. Without extensive research and clarity around your product’s positioning in the marketplace, as well as a strong and consistent brand identity, you are unlikely to succeed.

It was concluded that the product would be marketed to 3 consumers: wholesalers (for sale to end consumers and processors), retail distributors, and online direct to end consumers. The next steps in taking the product to market is capital investment as well as the development of a robust marketing plan to promote the product nationality through all relevant channels. Expansion and conversion of premises as well as the installation of new freeze-drying capacity and pre and post processing equipment to package, store and ship the product are required. Once production is up to capacity and as sales demand grows, further expansion is possible to include a variety of fruits, herbs and food for sale under the company’s own brand or by other processors. Marketing would be ramped up in support of this.

Preparing SSS Strawberries for a national food product launch and extending its product line was no small feat. It is a great example of the full breadth of experience and expertise that Gibsons Consultants provide to clients across business strategy, human resource management, marketing, process development and profit building. For a guiding hand with your business, contact us for a no obligation chat with one of our experienced consultants.

How to ‘win’ in marketing and make it an investment, not an expense.

A lot of clients who first approach us for help with marketing are looking for ad hoc amplification of their messages, without first understanding what their messages should be. Most businesses have no real understanding of their Unique Selling Points, who their ideal target audience is, or what their winning competitive proposition should be. These are strategic problems that contribute to confusion in any marketing effort, making it an expense.

To ‘win’ in marketing and make it an investment rather than an expense, you need to completely understand your brand, what your customers want and who they are and should be. What makes your offering different and ultimately better than competitors is key. This cannot be successfully achieved in an informal or unplanned way. A thorough analysis of your standing in the marketplace, your product / service proposition (and your competitors) is needed first.

Without a carefully considered marketing strategy and full business review, your marketing endeavours are unlikely to generate the results you want. To make it an investment, a good strategy must sit behind marketing.

Gibsons was commissioned to support an iconic, Queensland owned manufacturing brand who had been experiencing year on year decline. Aggressive offshore product competition and a decision to by-pass a dealer network, had created a cost cutting strategy for a company that simply could not compete on price. The company was taken through a thorough Strategic Review Process which included comprehensive business analysis along with a rigorous customer research project. This review and research provided the insight and clarity to determine the most appropriate future direction and strategy for the business. The need to execute a repositioning strategy to rebrand the business as a premium product was determined, rather than the focus on cost cutting measures that were in place. This enabled the company to reclaim its market position.

A strategic review coupled with customer research can shed invaluable light on where your business is, and where it should be for success.

Successfully enabling a “premium” brand position is a very safe market position to hold. It means the company doesn’t have to compete on price but allows the brand to be the best it can be. Establishing “premium” positioning is well worth the investment.

To facilitate a “premium” brand position, rigorous and sensitive attention to both the visual and behavioural values of the brand are crucial to enable alignment with a high-end position. Brand design needs the expertise and experience of a qualified branding communications expert. A minimalistic “less is more” approach is taken to visuals, supported by a “luxury” or “premium” colour palette and professional photography. All marketing materials must follow the brand guidelines – consistency is essential and must rigorously be adhered to. All brand elements must speak to “quality”, have clean lines as well as superior legibility.

To oversee and manage the rebrand, Gibsons acted as the “agency” and assembled a team of experts across photography, branding, and copywriting. Gibsons brought its extensive marketing knowledge to execute on the repositioning and to ensure adherence to “premium” was established throughout. The importance and the “how to” of maintaining this brand identity was also planned. All too often we see a strong brand unravel over time as off-brand design elements creep in, and corners are cut. Without a strict adherence to brand guidelines, all the hard work and expense of setting up a successful and company specific brand identity can be undermined.

The results speak for themselves: sales rose from a $30,000 – $80,000 range per month, to $80,000 – $180,000 per month during our period of engagement. Also, a strong brand in a competitive marketplace with the “quality and premium” brand elements were maintained. If marketing investment and other initiatives continue at a similar intensity, a sales level of $3.6 million per year (from $1.8 million at the start of engagement with Gibsons) in 3 years while maintaining a 15% profit level is on track.

Find out more about the Gibsons Strategic Review Process and how it can benefit your business.

A great product or service will only take you so far

Having an innovative and unique product or service, that meets a need that competitors are not, is a great start to business success. However, it is a complete misconception to think that this is enough or will see you through. Managing people, sales and marketing, profit and operational performance are just as important as a breakthrough idea or product. The systems that support the delivery of your product or service to its market are critical. This understanding can often be missing, and leaves businesses unsure which direction to take when financial performance is not as hoped.

Gibsons is regularly approached by businesses who know something isn’t working but aren’t entirely sure what that something is. Financial performance is below expected, and the organisational structure and systems just don’t seem to be right. Businesses know something needs to change but need support to determine what’s required and how to implement these changes.

Designed as a deep dive into your business, the Gibsons strategic review brings real insight and clarity into what’s happening in your business and more importantly, the reasons why. 

A highly regarded medium-sized manufacturing business with a very loyal customer base approached us with their struggles to meet sufficient profit levels and to provide a pathway to retirement for the owner. We were engaged to undertake a full strategic review and to develop a business plan. The focus of this work was to understand the root cause(s) of the average profit performance, with a view to turn a good business into a great one and to provide a succession route for the owner.

The strategic review highlighted several issues that were driving the bottom line. There was an absence of a business performance review process. While the company was not meeting its profit goals, there was no formal process in place to identity gaps in performance or to track key performance indicators to bring clarity as to the reasons why. There was also a need to revise the organisational structure as well as to refine what key people’s responsibilities were. Recruitment and the appointment of management personnel to include a General Manager were required, along with the development of members of the team. Shop floor processes to improve quality, safety, and productivity were crucial along with operating procedures, 5S, quality and safety practices. Base shop floor training and sales processes were both necessary.

A thorough strategic review of the business brought clarity to the need for these changes, and we worked with the business to support implementation. The results saw a 40% sales growth over 3 years with profits trebling during the same period.

Strategy is an unending process of review, understanding, strategy development and implementation to constantly improve and optimise results for a business and its stakeholders. This is critical to ongoing success.

Gibsons provide the business acumen to understand and develop the right strategies for your business and situation. We have the expertise to build and implement the plans, and the tactics to execute the strategy to get the desired results.

Find out more about the Gibsons strategic review process and how it can benefit your business.

[Photo credit: Scott Graham]

Most of Gibsons clients with people issues needed a strategic review. Do you?

Did you know that most clients who come to us with people issues discover in our strategic review process that the core of their problem is driven by poor strategy? Inadequate management structures, deficits in skill areas and a team that just isn’t performing or aligned with business objectives; is poor strategy driving people issues.

It’s not just a lack of strategy that can be a problem. It can also be an inappropriate one; or you may have the right strategy, but it is being poorly implemented. We address all of this.

As consultants, we encounter many businesses who have developed unique products or services that often have the potential to fill a need in the marketplace. There is no shortage of innovative ideas developed by highly talented people within Australia’s small to medium enterprises today. However, while businesses exhibit technical brilliance with seemingly great products and services accompanied with operational capability, they still often struggle to deliver successful business outcomes. Often, it simply comes down to strategy, or rather that there isn’t one, or a suitable one, in place.

The importance of a well thought through plan, that is supported by an appropriate management structure, aligned with corporate objectives and an overarching vision of ‘where we are going’ can never be underestimated. People simply work better when they have a clear view of what’s expected of them and where they fit within an organisation. A structure to support appropriate performance, mentorship, training, and retention is paramount.

Gibsons was engaged to support a mid-sized professional services company that was performing badly in terms of profitability. Despite a good reputation in the marketplace and a loyal customer base, the company had been experiencing poor financial results for several years. Before Gibsons’ involvement, the company had implemented several tactics to mitigate losses through cost cutting measures and operational streamlining.

We conducted a complete strategy and business review to fully understand the issues and to develop and implement strategies to address their performance situation. It became clear that the company had an inadequate management structure with poor management practices in place. This was accompanied by the absence of an effective human resource process, skill shortages at all levels within the business, and little review of business performance.

A strategy was developed and implemented to address these human resource issues, which were underpinning the poor financial performance being experienced by the company. Strategic and business review processes were established, along with the development of an effective management team, and a revised organisational structure. Comprehensive training and mentoring programs across supervisory and management levels were initiated.  Human resource processes to support employee engagement and business alignment were enabled.

By determining and implementing the right solutions to correct key performance issues, a business has the capacity to overturn poor financial performance.

The result – staff engagement was greatly improved, and productivity levels increased across the business. There was a significant upturn in profitability levels which has been sustained in the medium term. While the business saw cost containment as a strategy to improve its financial performance, a robust strategic process allowed the business to understand the real issues it was facing. It was able to move from a strategy focused on cost cutting, to put into motion a robust and relevant human resources strategy.

Strategy is at the heart of all smart business decisions. Without it, a business is essentially operating in the dark. Find out more about the Gibsons strategic review process and how it can benefit your business.

Webinar invite: Join us as we chat with Fabric Solutions (22 Oct)

Join us in an AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) hosted FREE online ‘Fireside’ Chat this Friday (22nd October 11am-12pm AEDT). We’ll be talking with Rohanna Abberton, the General Manager for Fabric Solutions Australia, about our transformational work with them over the past 3 years. Learn about how we’ve supported their business to improve operations – enhancing the company culture and profitability levels, as well as enabling the owner to progress down the path to succession. Specific areas that we’ll be discussing include our work in:

Register your place and find out more at: https://www.ame.org.au/email/8ca7da1f-7036-4bd9-b5c1-7175a511dd68/e8178aaa-ff4a-4d5e-82c0-b70f1646f71e?fbclid=IwAR0AGSby86uAoNnsEyI2U_m70tJw2sogESgam97D1fopcflH7UHMQ4xxb4c

Why strategic thinking was a $10m game changer for this client

Even when your business is going well, spending time to take a step back and address the current market climate, and your company’s strategic priorities and direction is a must do for any senior manager. But when turnover is growing and profit margins are good, it can be very easy as a manager or business owner to fall into the trap of becoming too hands on. You end up spending your time focused on the day-to-day business operations without giving much thought or time to the company’s future strategy.

Without a strategy for the future of your business, the company and its management will be ill prepared to address issues as they may arise. A lack of direction and clarity in the company’s focus and objectives can result in poor decision making and inappropriate business systems and processes.

A lack of strategic direction is very common and will undermine the real potential of any business. Without a plan and a deliberate focus on where your company is going and how it will get there, it’s unlikely ever to be achieved.

Gibsons was engaged to support a heavy earthmoving equipment company with exactly this challenge. Involved in the repair, overhaul, field service and spare parts for heavy earthmoving equipment, the company’s National General Manager had become too involved in the business’ daily operations. He had no time to work on high priority strategic concepts for the business. He saw the benefit of having an experienced person to act as a sounding board to challenge and discuss his ideas in helping the business prepare for the future.

The company had built a reputation for high quality services and parts across a diverse portfolio of sectors with another division planned. Turnover was at $8m but the company was keen to grow. The need for an external expert with extensive experience in business improvements was sought. Gibsons was able to bring confident insights, ideas and techniques from decades of experience in supporting clients develop the most appropriate business strategies. Stimulating and challenging management team thinking, and ensuring the best approach was actioned.

Gibsons developed an aggressive growth strategy underpinned and supported by significant organisational changes. A management review process was implemented; and mentoring and coaching for Senior Executives commenced. A new Human Resources structure was embedded into the organisation accompanied by a change in company culture. Several process improvements were initiated to streamline operations and provide staff accountability. The resulting impact of strategic change to this company – a growth from $8m to $18m in only 4 years.

During a period of change management, it is essential to get the structure right – management, Human Resources and processes. This is even more significant during a period of growth.

During Gibsons’ work with this company, a significant risk was identified. The company had a large customer who was contributing a third of the organisation’s turnover. The impact on the company of losing this client was significant, and at the time of Gibsons’ engagement no strategy was in place to mitigate this risk, or what to do if it was realised. With Gibsons’ help, the dependency on this one client was reduced over time and measures were put into place should the client be lost. As a result, when the client did leave years later, the company was able to compensate for the loss due to this extensive planning and preparation work.

Gibsons Senior Consultants bring with them decades of experience and are valued for their extensive knowledge and insight into business improvement initiatives. Providing ideas, tools and techniques to challenge the status quo and enact considered change as needed, Gibsons continues to be an indispensable business advisor to this company.

How a robust business review can support sales growth and profitability

It seems obvious enough. If you fully understanding what’s happening in your business, then you are well placed to exploit your company’s strengths and tackle any key issues appropriately. Yet despite this pretty simplistic notion, many business owners do not have clarity on the financial health and operating complexities within their companies. When sales and profitability levels fall, it can be all too easy to focus on the wrong things particularly if you are a very hands-on owner.

All too often we see business owners taking a cut to their salary and operating their business more from a survival standpoint rather than taking a step back to see where the gaps and issues are. This was the case for a small manufacturing business whose Earnings Before Interest and Tax had dropped to -12%, with a turnover of $1m per annum.

Gibsons helped this manufacturing company to access government funding which enabled a rigorous review of the business.

Through Gibsons’ strategic review the key strengths of the business were clear to see – a small and highly skilled team headed up by an owner with a high level of technical understanding, and a satisfied and very loyal customer base who were not sensitive to changes in price. Customers valued the products and service provided by the company and the owner was very passionate about the business.

The strategic review brought to light some fundamental issues to the company’s operations. No financial performance reviews, coupled with little or no understanding of costs in estimating, were central to the profitability issues the company was experiencing. The owner was only taking a very modest salary and was unable to fund any growth to the business as a result. The company had experienced a poor financial performance for the previous 3 years. However, with no financial review being conducted, the specifics and an understanding of why this had taken place was not immediately clear.

Gibsons set into place some key actions to overturn this downward profitability trend and address the issues identified. An effective system for costing and estimating was developed and implemented, with staff trained in its use. Administration support was clearly defined and set up to better support the owner. Freeing up the owner’s time, he was better placed to focus on sales, estimating and overseeing production. Regular accounting and financial review processes were established so the company was better positioned to respond promptly as issues were identified.

Within a short timeframe, these actions moved the company from -12% to 15% EBIT and increased their turnover by $0.8m p.a. The owner was able to take a market-based salary. Gibsons continued to support the business as necessary to enable this level of performance to continue.

Without clarity on your business’ operations and financial health, it is hard for any business owner to take the appropriate actions needed to overturn a drop in profitability. An independent third-party advisor can bring an objective insight to identify and support the changes needed to enable sales and profitability goals to be met.

Culture has a BIG influence on profits…

…and good culture starts with good management.

No matter how skilled and experienced your staff, without a sound management and accountability structure in place, you’re setting your business up for failure. It is commonly assumed that if a business is made up of a group of highly skilled, degree qualified professionals, that the operation and people should be able to self-manage. This is rarely the case.

Management is a skill and discipline in its own right that is essential for every high performing business.

Without good management practices in place, staff are unlikely to contribute equally, enthusiastically and consistently over a period of time. This can slowly chip away at a positive business culture creating dissatisfaction and disillusionment amongst your team and undermining even the best-laid plans.

As a business consultancy with years of experience and extensive expertise in strategic management, Gibsons is well placed to provide invaluable, objective insight into an appropriate management structure for your business. We provide the support needed to meet your business goals and align with your company values as well as setting up meaningful accountability processes and systems.

An effective management structure with appropriate decision-making mechanisms in place, will support the business structure needed to generate profit, accountability and a healthy company culture.

In demonstration of this, Gibsons was approached by a large and well-known firm in the Professional Services sector to help them deliver a Strategic and Business Plan. With no decision-making mechanisms in place, and little understanding of management as a separate area of expertise and skill, the business had started to develop an unhealthy culture.

It became clear during our engagement that a number of staff were underperforming in their roles, lowering the organisation’s efficiency. With the absence of performance measures and little management of expected standards, there was limited accountability throughout the company.

To overcome these challenges, Gibsons implemented its Employer of Choice program to engage staff, align them to business goals, and to build a culture of accountability based on core values. Personal leadership mentoring for the company’s CEO as well as the mentoring of supervisor staff took place. Select staff were provided with soft skills training around people management, personal performance and project management to upskill. An effective board structure and practice along with sales management practices, Key Performance Measures and a management reporting regime were all initiated.

Changes to management structure and processes can take place quite quickly whereas cultural change within an organisation is something that takes time to have positive influence in decision-making processes. The turnaround in this Professional Services company took 4 years and resulted in an EBIT improvement from 10% to 15%. For a Professional Services firm in its particularly sector, this was a significant increase. The improvements made in the company’s staff engagement, culture, human performance and morale which increased customer satisfaction were able to become entrenched in the business and sustainable.

Never underestimate the importance of having all your people working towards the same goals to shared and agreed standards. People and their synchronised alignment with business goals is at the core of business success.

The right technology solutions can make or break a business

When we think about a successful business, whether large or small, there are some key ingredients which cannot be overlooked. Yes, you need the right people, in the right roles, and a well thought through business strategy with considered objectives.

Matching your IT strategy to your business strategy seems like a ‘no-brainer’ but many businesses don’t perform this step and run the risk of limiting their ability to achieve their goals. For instance, if your strategy is growth then your IT infrastructure must be easily extensible – if it is not then your business processes will falter when you hit the limits. If your strategy is customer retention and growth, then your customer care application software must add value to your relationships, not just perform transactions.

But, even if you have the right strategy, underpinning your success is a need to get your business processes right, and the technology that supports them. Without trust in the data that you have about your organisation and appropriate systems in place, business decision making is based on ‘finger in air’ conjecture. You run the risk of spending time on activities which could be automated rather than time on more strategic endeavours. Financial and administration errors can often start to become more commonplace.

A technology solution that caters for the data and IT requirements of each member of your team, is needed. A specialist consultancy provider like Gibsons has the expertise and experience to conduct a rigorous Business Requirements Analysis to identify needs, and to determine how to best fulfil them.

Often your typical company ‘IT guy’ and even many IT service providers, are not in a position to support a company with the strategic end-to-end technological solution that it needs.

A $120m organisation came to us in need of such support. A national student accommodation provider, their technology solutions were letting them down. Legacy systems were either not scalable or were not an ideal fit for the business model.  There was very little trust in the data in their installed legacy software, and there were significant issues with their accountancy and administration accuracy. Working from the ground up we identified the company’s processing needs in consultation with all stakeholders.

By looking to enable strategic processes, encompass the needs of every role within the business, and heed the lessons learned from the legacy systems, we could ensure the procurement of the most appropriate solutions that would support the business well into the future.  We were also able to identify the real focus for application solutions so that we could specify not just the required features but also the speed and simplicity required in capturing guest data.

Investing in digital and technology strategies for your business that adopt a Whole-of-Business approach, considering both the customer and business outcomes; are crucial for business performance and success.

The technology selection process we adopted was rigorous, ensuring a best fit was sought across managed services for network management, hardware, print, telephony and desktop.

We implemented fit-for-purpose application software and services for the student accommodation industry. We also commissioned general purpose application software for accounting, payroll and rostering that had native integration with the accommodation application. The new technology was implemented at the start of a period of growth at the business and did not required further investment to scale as the business grew.

All too often we see businesses let down by their systems, their processes and the technology that support them. Get these right and you set your business up for greater efficiency and effectiveness across all aspects of your operation.

Get your business fit for retirement

How we helped this business owner double his revenue and retire with confidence

It is possible to exit or sell your business and gain a strong retirement income. For so many businesses, succession planning is an overlooked “nice to have” element of business management; an activity to “get to” when the more pressing matters of day to day management, sales, and business execution are in play.

But, without addressing succession, you can put yourself under too much pressure when things are “down to the wire” with retirement in sight. Your team can be left feeling uncertain about the longevity of their roles and the future success of the business.

As a business owner, keen to retire, sell or otherwise leave the business in a good condition, succession planning is crucial.

One of the key services offered by Gibsons is helping businesses to do just this, and we have many case studies to share. Our experienced consultants can support you throughout implementation and ensure increased business value and success,  helping you exit on the best possible terms.

Over a 4-year succession planning program, we did exactly this. We supported one of our manufacturing sector clients move from an $8m to $18m turnover business, with the transition to a new management structure and clear succession of key management and the owner. This business has since doubled that size, and with a great General Manager and team in place, continues to provide its owner a very healthy income in retirement.

Succession planning can take many pathways and raise many different issues and this business was no different.

The issues were weighing so heavily on the owner, he had begun to doubt he could ever retire and extract the value that his family had spent three generations building.

Working closely with him, we created a business plan to identify key strategies to revitalise the business and introduce succession preparedness activities, like management team structures and formalisation of processes. Mentoring of key management staff commenced. Operations were reviewed and rationalised, and transition plans implemented. Human resource processes and an accountability structure was set in motion.

A future for the business was mapped out, with career paths for younger members of the team and exit strategies for the older members of the team.  A Customer Relationship Management and sales management process were also established, and key management roles were transitioned.

3 years into the plan, the owner/Chief Executive Officer was in a position to semi-retire.

The final year of our succession planning saw a marketing program enacted, to grow attractive markets and position the company as the leading Australian manufacturer in those sectors.

A much larger and more profitable business was created, and Gibsons are still relied on to this day by the owner, to ensure the business remains on track with growth and success into the future. Placing Gibsons in this kind of role can bridge the gap between business owner vision and new management, allowing them to retire with peace of mind.

 

Getting started with Linkedin

It’s no secret, Gibsons is really only just getting started with LinkedIn. Like many of our clients, it’s not a lack of understanding of how important it is, it’s been the challenge of coordinating busy team members and developing an actionable LinkedIn plan with dedicated resources.

However, we coach many of our clients in LinkedIn. Herewith, a summary of our wisdom!

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 706+ million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. It should be a key part of your marketing and sales plan.  Here’s how you get started, and remember, Gibsons can conduct a Zoom with your team at your convenience to walk you through these steps, whilst each team member is at their own computer.

Personal Account

The first thing you need to do is create a personal account on LinkedIn.  To make a company account, you have to also have a personal one.  To begin, just go to www.linkedIn.com and enter the basic information.  When you complete it, just click “Create My Profile.”

LinkedIn Profile

Before you complete your profile, a confirmation email will be sent to your email account.  It will have a link in it – you need to confirm your account by clicking this. It will take you to the sign-in page where you enter your email and password.

LinkedIn offers two services—a basic “free” one and a premium “paid” one.  After you choose the type you want, you’ll be ready to click “Profile” and begin to edit your profile.

Create both your personal and company profiles.  For your LinkedIn profiles it is recommended that you add a lot of information.  All the information you enter is searchable, so the more you have, the better it is for your business, and the easier it is to be found.

When you’re finished preparing them, you can link your personal profile to your company profile. Make sure to add a detailed description of your business!

Company website

You’ll see a field for your company’s site and the type of industry. When you put your site, use the format:  http://mywebsite.com. This will automatically become a hyperlink to your company from your personal profile.  All the members of your staff can use this hyperlink to link back to your company.  It’s a great way to be seen.

Your industry field is searchable, so think before you choose.  It will be a very good way to find potential clients and for them to interact with you.

Get involved

LinkedIn is the same as any social media site.  If you want to be seen, you have to get involved.  As soon as you meet someone new, connect with them. Connect with your existing contacts to start building your network.  The exposure will help lead you to a bigger audience.

After you get set up on LinkedIn, there are several features that it has that can be useful to help build your business.

Here are a few:

    1. LinkedIn Search—Search for others in your industry and/or for potential customers.  The more you connect the bigger audience you will have.
    2. Ads—You can look at several of the ads for businesses in your industry.  This will let you see how they use LinkedIn Ads for paid advertising.
    3. Import your email contacts—On LinkedIn you can import your email contacts from other email applications. This way you can begin to add LinkedIn connections to your existing email accounts.
    4. Post Updates—Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn has a status update field.  You can begin a conversation or post a link to an article you’ve written.
    5. LinkedIn Groups—Like Google+ circles, LinkedIn has groups.  They are members who share a common interest in a specific topic. They help you build a community, so this is great for your brand.
    6. Research client pages in your key sectors and find out what groups THEY follow. You can # these groups in relevant posts, and your post will appear in the newsfeed to members of that group.
    7. Reply to Updates–You can see all updates posted to LinkedIn. Begin conversations yourself or reply to someone else’s update. If you choose, you can elect to only see messages from your connections or even set your own criteria.
    8. Build a following by asking members of your network to follow your page. (One of our clients, Cookon, has achieved a following of nearly 1400 in just 6 months just by doing this regularly. They are one to watch on LinkedIn!)
    9. Banners—You can add up to three custom banners to your company page for free.   You can use them to:
  • Take customer testimonials, highlight them, and link them to your page.
  • Link to and promote an upcoming event or webinar.
  • Improve your target market by highlighting and linking to your blog posts.
  • Promote a video you’ve posted about your business.
  • Let others know of the various social channels so they can reach you there.
    1. Post company updates regularly — every day might be too much for you, and your audience, but weekly is good, monthly is minimum. Post updates during the time of day you get the most traffic. For most, it’s in the morning.  You can try different times to see what works best with your audience.
    2. Send messages to your target market—LinkedIn has a Sponsored Inmail feature that works like email.   You don’t need them on your email list.  It just works from your LinkedIn. This isn’t a free service, but it can be worth it.

Need help? No problem. Contact Gibsons for a LinkedIn starter session with your team.

How to ‘win’ in a market that isn’t growing

How Gibsons helped Pro Powder grow its profit by 600% in 10 months. 

Profit is the one metric that matters most, for nearly all businesses. There are a number of measures that each business should be keeping an eye on, but deciding which ones are more critical for YOUR business requires getting under the bonnet to find out what really makes it tick.

A thorough examination of a business’s operational processes, human resource function, sales and marketing activities, core value proposition and key business drivers is required. While many tried and true theories of business management can guide you on this, the reality is often more fluid, unexpected, and industry specific.

When you are completely immersed within the operations of a business, it can be difficult to see what is actually going on. You are in effect too close to the issues to see them clearly; especially if you, like many business owners, have fallen into the trap of doing too much yourself.

Our work with Pro Powder is a stark example of the great improvements that can be made when a business invites an objective and experienced third party in to help.

A powder coating business, Pro Powder was achieving a $1.4M turnover at the time they engaged with us, but profits were barely reaching the $20K mark. The company’s owner was stretched and feeling that so much hard work just wasn’t paying off.

Despite the company operating at full capacity, its profit margin was still too low to be sustainable without burning out the owner. 

Pro Powder provided our Senior Consultant, Graham Pridham, with full access to the business: its staff, operations and procedures. We assessed financial information alongside insights from discovery sessions, staff engagement and a review of business processes. Because of our extensive experience in supporting manufacturing companies, we could identify how best to support the company very quickly, saving discovery time.

Armed with practical solutions to ensure the team was fully utilised and with insights into more appropriate marketing and sales tactics, Pro Powder were able to invest more time in sourcing and targeting more profitable work. They were able to determine their “ideal” client profile to successfully reposition themselves; as well as focus on sales efforts and accountability.

It can be difficult for businesses like this to choose to invest in getting help when profit margins are so limiting, but the decision to do so can be empowering. The business is now positioned to do well, the owner feels on top of things, and the financial return on investment from third party assistance is very clear.

These are the results Gibsons strives to achieve for its clients, every time, no matter what their size at that time in their journey when they connect with us. We have helped countless businesses to grow and become more profitable, well beyond their own expectations.

Improving businesses is in our DNA.

Plan for the unexpected

Many things can and do go wrong during succession planning, but here are the top 3 we at Gibson’s see during succession planning:

  1. The owner is not mentally prepared. The mind dictates clearly that it is time to hand over, but the heart does not want to let go. It is one of the key tasks of a supporting consultant to prepare the owner for the exit. If the owner is not ready to let go, progress will slow down and can even stop, and the succession ends up in the “too hard” basket.
  2. Waiting for better times. If during the succession planning the business does not perform as hoped, progress can come to a halt. Especially if external circumstances such as market decline or currency exchange rates impact business results, companies tend to put their succession plan on hold and wait for better times.
  3. Different understandings of the same terminology. A classic example is the offer of a multiple (to the profit) for a company. For some, this means all the assets and goodwill, others understand this includes stock, work in progress, etc. The same is true if a business broker is involved: commission on sale price includes for some business brokers, also the value of the owner’s stock. It’s important to be clear about terms and meanings from the start.

You only get to exit your business once, so it pays to get it right. Most owners are very successful managers but have very little experience in selling a business. Bringing in an independent business consultant with the experience and knowledge – one who has no agenda and who doesn’t act as a business broker or legal or financial advisor – can help define the best fit succession plan for the owner and achieve the best overall result.