Posts

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.

Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting – Part 1

1. What are Toolbox Meetings?

A few supervisors and managers have been holding successful toolbox meetings for many years, but now the secret is out. The reality is that they are easy to run and do produce very good results on a regular basis.

How do Toolbox Meetings work?

The supervisor merely sits down somewhere at work (perhaps on the toolbox, hence the name) and talks over work related issues with his or her employees. This also allows workers to tell the supervisor what is really going on with the job, resulting in a two-way communication flow. This is an informal process and therefore has advantages over more formal meetings where people often feel uncomfortable or don’t think the meeting has much to do with them.

Research shows that business performance increases significantly when people are engaged so it is important to find effective ways to pass on information to employees and receive information back from staff – and toolbox meetings can be the answer.

2. Why are Toolbox Meetings so Important?

  1. Toolbox meetings allow for two things which are quite critical to successful business operations and effective human resource management and employee engagement:
    • They are the best way to give employees more information about the business, about what changes are occurring, how they are doing, what is going right, what is going wrong – both at the broader level and most importantly, at the local level. They can help you manage your human resources.
    • They are often the best way for management and supervisors to tap into the most precious information which employees have and which they are usually willing to share if only we ask them in the right way. All of us understand that the person doing the job knows just what is going wrong and what can be done to improve things and toolbox meetings can be the way to gather this information. Increased employee engagement leads to better business performance.
  2. Toolbox meetings are also important because we now have the evidence that employees are interested in what is happening to the business they work in. That should be no surprise, but somehow it often is. Employees are interested in information about their jobs, changes that are going on locally, how they are doing, their own prospects for promotion, what training is available and so on. Most importantly, they want to hear about all of this from the person they would like to believe before anyone else – their immediate supervisor.

Employees are interested in what is happening to the business they work in and in information about their jobs

3. The Nuts and Bolts of Toolbox Meetings

Over the years, a lot of supervisors have tried ‘having a meeting’ with their employees and many times these have been quite disastrous. Usually, this has been because the nuts and bolts have not been right. In particular, there are four things which have often gone wrong:

  1. They have been held in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  2. The supervisor did not have anything important to say and probably didn’t want to hold the meeting in the first place and that quickly shows.
  3. The supervisor didn’t know how to run the meeting and it became an embarrassing shambles.
  4. The employees had been through these sorts of meetings before and thought they were a waste of time. They had offered ideas before but nothing happened, so they figured why bother?

For more on Toolbox meetings and how to tighten those loose nuts and bolts and avoid disastrous or simply ineffective meetings, look out for Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting – Part 2.