Before we get into a discussion about 2018 ….I have to say that the November issue of Material Handling Wholesaler was one to the TOP THREE since I have been involved with this publication. The cover story about warehouse technology driving costs down, Dave Baiocchi’s discussion of how procedures can lead to greater efficiency, and the columns covering a “manager checklist”…“how people do fail” and even my suggestion of the benefits of having outsiders help you analyze your business results…basically provides each and every one of you a discussion agenda for your next two or three management meetings and perhaps even helps you zero in on your Top Three Challenges for 2018.
IF YOU DID NOT READ THE NOVEMBER ISSUE….STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, GO FIND IT AND READ IT!
The lead article is what got me thinking about 2018 and beyond, especially in terms of how warehouse technology can both increase revenues and decrease cost, and how that same premise should apply to dealers who supply warehouse related products
The way I see it is if a business can both increase revenues and reduce costs…..they can most likely become a more competitive alternative in the marketplace, increase their top line and take market share. Which of course means you will eventually have to deal with them by meeting their pricing and lowering your profits if you have not reduced your costs to offset the pricing differential. And the world goes round and round.
I personally believe that this scenario will play out as noted above because too many companies are doing exactly what I suggested….finding ways to reduce costs via technology, system upgrades, and internal audits to reduce “manpower” requirements related to clerical tasks. Improvements are all there for the taking, but will require some time and money to make things happen.
What I worry about are dealers who are thinking about transitioning out of the business, recognize their shortcomings, but refuse to correct them because they don’t want to spend the money. Twenty years ago you could get away with that. But now, with the current rate of business change brought on by the IofT, the “put your head in the sand” approach will cost you because your operating results will generate a lower company value compared to what it could have been if required improvements were made to improve the bottom line. This is easy to understand…if other dealers on the sale block have both increased market share and reduced costs because of improvements they have made…which company will receive a higher value multiple…..yours or theirs….I think you know the answer.
So, let’s assume you want to take action to improve both top line and bottom line results. Here is a plan to consider.
- Read the November issue…it will get you thinking along the correct lines.
- Get the latest MHEDA Disc Report and see where you stand.
- Have your industry specific computer system folks audit your use of the system…..to find ways to reduce time working on paperwork or how to eliminate paperwork
- Have the system folks review how management reports available in the system are being used (in many cases they are not.)
- Get a couple of successful dealer CEO’s you know that are not competitors and ask them to sit down with you for a frank discussion on how you compare to what they are doing.
- Make a copy of the Manager Checklist and review your managers against that list.
This should get you started on the cost analysis piece of the puzzle, which should result in both lower outside costs and well as reduced labor costs. And so far, as I like to preach, you have not spent a lot of money.
- Next, review your use of current technology to manage techs and customer fleet data.
- Also review your use of technology to communicate with customers.
- Next, see how your company marketing and sales programs compare to what others are doing.
These steps may take some investment to get them going, but again the cost recovery should be in terms of months…..not years. OEM’s should be able to supply assistance with the fleet data and how to use it. From the marketing standpoint I have been using Winsby and am quite pleased with the results….low cost, dealer expertise and a ton of useful data to generate leads and manage accounts.
If you take these steps you will wind up with a lot of potential upgrades to consider for not a lot of money. Now all you have to do is understand what your learned and how to use it to reduce costs and increase revenues. Can you do this on your own? Do you have the internal horsepower to identify and prioritize what changes should be made. Can you get the management “buy-in” to push the changes and get the expected results? Well, if you are the CEO, that is your job and if you can’t handle it get some input from your board, other dealers, your OEM or whoever. Winding up in the same place a year from now IS NOT AN OPTION.
So what are you challenges for 2018?
INCREASE THE TOP LINE
MEASURE VALUE OF COMPANY
PLAN IT OUT AND WORK THE PLAN
Have a great 2018….and may the value of your efforts result in greater profits, cash flow and value.
Garry Bartecki is a CPA MBA with GB Financial Services LLC. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to contact Garry.