Garry Bartecki, CFO of employee-owned Illini Hi-Reach and Material Handling Wholesaler Bottom Line monthly columnist Garry Bartecki

Ready–Get Set–Do Something

Technology Rules. Every business or industry publication you pick up states….IF YOU DO NOT START TAKING ACTION NOW YOU WILL QUICKLY FALL BEHIND. Makes sense. But once you are in GET SET mode you have serious issues to deal with.

  •             What should you do?
  •             Who should do it?
  •             Can you fund it?
  •             Will the results improve profitability and cash flow?

If you take steps to improve the business and it does not work, you may be in worse shape had you done nothing. Nothing is easy these days.

Interestingly, those three books I referred to you last month deal with the doing and measuring side of the project. As a reminder the books were BUSINESS WEALTH WITHOUT RISK, HOW TO LISTEN WHEN MARKETS SPEAK AND NOT HOW BUT WHO.

The Wealth Without Risk book covers ways to find and buy businesses and how to increase the size of your business with minimum risk. Buy small businesses because the multiples are MUCH smaller. Buy two or three small businesses and suddenly you have a large business that provides much higher multiples. Not interested in buying a business then enter joint ventures or partnerships where different businesses can bring added value to the table for minimum cost. In other words, what else could your customers buy from you? You can sell it directly or via a referral program. I always liked the “menu” approach to help customers where I share in the profits resulting from my referral program. And the menu is a great way to lock in your relationship.

One more comment about the Wealth-Risk book.

If you have someone living in your basement that needs to go out and make a living, I would provide them with the book and tell them to find something to buy that can be paid for out of the seller’s cash flow. A lot of targets exist. How many times have you heard that Joe or Mary is giving up the business because their “kids” do not want to work there? So, do you think Joe or Mary just want to walk away and sell off the hardware, or would they prefer a sale for one year’s profits and not have to deal with the liquidation?

If you want to find something to focus on, I suggest you sign up for all the Distributor Strategies Group presentations, which seem to pop up every other week. I participate in about everyone and find they can help distributors increase sales, margins, and profits. For example, they reviewed a customer survey program where they must see how customers relate to their products and services. They asked for input regarding direct contact, inventory levels and fill rates, logistics, relations with sales personnel, and how company technology impacts the customer experience. The survey covered all “touch points” with the customer, from the purchase dept to the CEO. What was interesting and probably an issue all of you should consider is that the lowest grade from every customer touch point was directed to the company website. After all the work companies put into their website this result was unexpected, which means you may want to evaluate your website to see where you stand. Be a shame if you lose business because of your website. I suggest you sign up for DSG and force yourself to listen in to their presentations.

So let us assume you come up with a plan to update or create new revenue sources, or you decide to take your initial shot at AI. Now all you must do is get it done. We are assuming and you should know that this project you have in mind will produce a meaningful result when it is completed. But you are a busy person that is asking yourself “How am I going to get this project done?”

This is where the NOT HOW, BUT WHO book comes into play. The premise of the book is that folks will procrastinate because they do not know what to do, and if they finally get around to it, the work will extend beyond the original due date. So, the author suggests you find a WHO to complete the project without constant interference from the person asking “HOW”. Have a team scout out an expert who is qualified to complete the project and let them go at it. Of course, you will have to pay that person, but if the project has provided the original goal, it should provide a reasonable ROI to justify the cost.

I guess the bottom line here is that there is just too much discussion going on about how a company could lose customers because they cannot service their accounts like the dealer who upgraded their technology or value-added services to the point where they are a better option for the customer.

This would be a good time to discuss ideas and challenges with your OEMs to find the WHO’s who can do the work or who can put together a program to improve dealer bottom lines using some of the cost-effective ideas found in the WEALTH WITHOUT RISK book.


About the Columnist:

Garry Bartecki is a CPA MBA with GB Financial Services LLC and a Wholesaler columnist since August 1993.  E-mail [email protected] to contact Garry.

Author: Garry Bartecki

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