Case Study – Small Start-up Business Challenge
Company: Small start-up distributor of safety related products selling primarily to government and government agencies. Company is privately held.
Assignment period: June 2005 to present
Number of People: Approximately 25. We work with each individual in the company.
Situation: Company was floundering several years after its start up due to lack of good processes, conflict among employees and resource allocation issues. The company competes with several larger players in its market but is more flexible and aggressive than most of them. When we began working with them sales were less than 3 million US$. The industry is not growing – overall sales are more or less flat.
Scope of Assignment: Working with the Managing Director, we were given a broad mandate to assist them in stabilizing the business, assessing the performance of the people, re-deploying people as needed and developing and executing a strong plan that could ensure the following:
Company will grow and gain share from its competitors
Company will remove people from roles that are not suited to them
Company will develop a sales process
Company will work as a team following the vision that was established at its inception
Company will remain profitable while it grows
Company process will support the needs of the business and be configured to deliver superior customer service
Actions taken: We did a comprehensive assessment of needs. This resulted in the dismissal of several managers who had been with the company since the start up but were unable to keep pace with the growth and had developed problematic attitudes towards other people in the organization. At the same time, we made active use throughout the organization of the DYNAMIX® profile (once it became available). This company served as an initial beta testing site for the development of the profile. We also systematically assisted the management team in establishing robust sales and service processes ensuring that best practices from a variety of industries were applied. We visited their offices quarterly, leaving all team members with assignments to complete prior to our next visit to ensure that the improvements took root. Today, we continue to coach the Managing Director and his direct reports and hold coaching sessions with individual sales team members by telephone. Each team member develops and monitors a personal development plan and a tactical plan related to their area of responsibility.
Outcomes: Company sales have tripled and profit as a percentage of sales has doubled. The various Peak Performance2 sales and team performance principles are part of the organizational culture. The assignment continues as the company plans to grow further and try to make itself an attractive acquisition target.
The initial vision of the company leaders can be lost in the day to day pressure of growth. It is important to keep it front and center. It is equally critical to have fully engaged team members who buy into the vision and behave in ways that reflect it. When this doesn’t happen results suffer and customers can be lost. Poor quality relationships inside the organization can poison relationships outside the organization.
As a company grows it needs to change some of its processes and methods. Knowing how and when to make change is important. Time can be wasted and customer patience can erode if the processes in place are failing to support the business.
Change comes with a measured and consistent approach. Tools (like profiles) are helpful but nothing is a substitute for steady application of sound sales and management principles.