Management + Review

How your Staff Team help you save, turnaround, and grow your struggling professional client service consultancy, design, marcomm, PR, digital or creative agency business (checklist).

 Save Turnaround Grow Your Struggling Consultancy Practice Studio Agency Business Staff Employees

A twelve-part blog series outlining how to save, turnaround, and grow, your struggling or failing professional client service consultancy, architects practice, design studio, marketing communications (marcomms), PR, digital or creative agency business.

Click to listen to the audio or read the full transcript below and sign up for my Creative Core newsletter and I'll send you a quick-start business turnaround email course complete with 96 point action checklist and business turnaround strategies you can start using today.

Total Business Turnaround
Part 07 | Staff Team

Negativity can spread quickly among any group of employees; and although some people will always find fault with something and complain and spread rumours, it’s wise to take note of the situation and work to keep your business environment, systems, and staff development programs organised and always improving.

You must ensure that your communication is timely and focused and that your employees have a way to communicate their concerns to you. More than that, they have to know that when they do step forward, they are taken seriously and that action is taken if appropriate. Without your employees, you have no business, so treat them right!

Leadership and Motivation

Leadership is about far more than simply being in charge. That is simply being a boss and that won't go very far if you are trying to restructure your business. Leadership is about showing the way and facilitating everyone's journey so that everyone in the company makes it to the same end point at the same time. It means being true to the big picture vision while keeping an eye on the details and giving your people the tools they need to get you there. It means delegating responsibilities and trusting the people you select to do their jobs.

A leader's mood and behaviour impact on how group members think and act, a fact that is directly tied-in to how effectively the group works. Leaders issue verbal and written instructions, yes, but they also transmit their goals, intentions, and attitudes through their emotional expressions, and that cannot be ignored. The group members respond to this cognitively and behaviourally, and that response is reflected in the way the group works. 

A and B Type Employees

You are in business to earn profits and to grow your business. To be on this journey, you need the right kind of employees, but how do you know who and what you really have? You can divide your employees up into four different types: A,B,C, and D. The difference between them comes down to talent, reliability, and performance. A-Type employees are talented and they perform to expectations, at the very least.

Fakers make all the right noises and appear to be taking all the right actions, but their motives and methods are questionable, to say the least. B-Type employees deliver satisfactory performance, even though they lack in ability. All it really takes is a little investment in their development to turn them into A-Types.

C and D Type Employees

If the A- and B-Type employees are at the top of the heap, the C- and D-Type employees are at the bottom and they each present challenges of their own. C-Type employees are unsatisfactory in their work performance, failing to deliver the results expected of them. They are also lacking in ability, work knowledge, skills and values.

D-Type employees are talented, but they are not contributing or delivering and you need to find out why since many D-Type employees have left one Company to join another only to become A-Types. If you can answer the question you can help them evolve into A-Type employees that can be of immense value to your business. 

Employee Concerns

You should be aware of the many likely concerns that your employees will have once they become aware that the business is struggling financially. Threats to their integrity, their job, their pay-check and more all contribute to the worries of your employees. You need to communicate with your people and reassure them in order to keep these concerns in check. 

Employee Tolerance for Problems

Some employees have a high tolerance for problems – mainly because they are older and more experience, but the majority will not. Therefore, it’s advisable to be mindful of this when communicating change within your organisation. The important thing to remember throughout this process is that regardless of how hard it is for you, your employees are feeling it as well.

Their career paths have been very different – no doubt focused on specific tasks and responsibilities – so they are not exposed to the emotional ups and downs associated with a struggling business and the impact that it will have on them.

Dealing with Rumours

In times of intense difficulty, the last thing you want to deal with is an issue like rumours within your organisation. Unfortunately, when business is difficult it’s very likely that rumours will abound, especially if you and your management team are tied up with sorting out the problems and trying to get the business on track.

It’s best to try and spend as little time as possible determining what they are so you can spend your time putting them to rest by communicating regularly with your management and employees so they never grow bigger than murmurs that are quickly and quietly dispelled.

Regular and informative, yet reassuring communication should serve to eliminate rumours. Generally D- and some C-Type employees will propagate rumours with others following suit soon after, depending on seniority.

Communication with Your Employees

You need to communicate with your management team, your IP, the bank, your sales finance company, your solicitors and, just as importantly, with your staff. Depending on the size of your business, you could do it one-on-one, as a team or a department, or to the entire organisation.

Just remember if you choose to speak with individuals or teams, that as soon as the first few people have left the meeting, everyone else is up to speed on what they think is going on as opposed to what’s actually going on, so depending on what you want to say, it may be better to communicate to the team or company as a whole. 

TUPE in Practice

The purpose of TUPE is to protect employees if the business in which they are employed changes hands. Unless employees have been part of a larger corporation that frequently changes hands they are likely to be unaware of TUPE and therefore seek some assurances with respect to working for the new company and some guarantees that any money owed to them from the old company is paid to them.

Once you’ve completed the purchase, you must send a letter letting all employees know the obligations and responsibilities to them under law have now been undertaken by the new company. To put their mind at rest, you can let staff know before completing the purchase that this letter is going to be issued once the company purchase has gone through.

How your Business Team helps you save, turnaround, and grow your struggling professional client service consultancy, design, marcomm, PR, digital or creative agency business (checklist).

 Save Turnaround Grow Your Struggling Consultancy Practice Studio Agency Business Team Work

A twelve-part blog series outlining how to save, turnaround, and grow, your struggling or failing professional client service consultancy, architects practice, design studio, marketing communications (marcomms), PR, digital or creative agency business.

Click to listen to the audio or read the full transcript below and sign up for my Creative Core newsletter and I'll send you a quick-start business turnaround email course complete with 96 point action checklist and business turnaround strategies you can start using today.

Total Business Turnaround
Part 04 | Your Business Team

The importance of your team and teamwork cannot be overstated, but are you aware of who is on your team? It's not simply the members of your management team! Your friends, family, your network contacts, employees, consultants, they’re all your team.

Finding and working to the best effect with those members of your team who can help you the most is a real skill that takes time to develop, but it is well worth it.

Choose people you can trust, that are qualified and experienced to help you when you most need it but keep an open mind. It may not always be apparent which of your team, if any, can help you when you most need it.

Accounting Professionals

Your accountant does far more than simply count beans. Depending on your needs, he can have a wide-ranging role in your business above and beyond generating management accounts including the roles of tax agent and business advisor. Other things your accounting processional will be able to do for you include process coordination as well as helping you to interview candidates for your financial management team.

Your Management Team

A strong management team is essential to making it through a restructuring and coming out of it healthy and profitable. In this section, we will talk about three key areas: The board, your management team and key staff.

The Insolvency Practitioner

If you are insolvent or are considering buying a distressed or liquidated business, your accountant should be able to introduce you to a Insolvency Practitioner (IP) and work with you throughout the process. Remember that depending on how up-to-date your information is, and the complexity of your business structure, there will be a lot of communication before, during, and after the restructuring process.

You and Your Legal Professionals

If you intend to purchase the assets of your old company in a pre-packaged deal, a solicitor will generally be suggested by the IP as he knows how they work and the structure of the purchase agreements the IP prefers to use. The solicitor is, of course, independent. It’s up to you to negotiate the contract with him to the point where the IP accepts it. The IP is legally bound to act on behalf of the creditors, and as such will be expecting best value for the business assets. You will need to consider the fees, agreements and contracts, communications and record-keeping.

The Surveyor

If you intend to purchase the assets of your old company, a surveyor (also known as an appraiser) will generally be suggested by the IP as he knows how they work. The surveyor is, of course, independent and it’s up to you to negotiate the valuation with him to the point where the IP accepts it.

The IP is legally bound to act on behalf of the creditors, and as such will be expecting best value for the business assets. The surveyor will look at the book value of the business assets and take a walk around of the premises. You don’t have to be there for this, but it may be worth it to ensure that items are picked up correctly and not over-valued, especially if they aren’t yours.

Dealing with Banks

It is something of an understatement to say that having the best relationship you can have with your bank manager is a must. You need this person firmly on your side in order to facilitate lending and support when times are difficult. However, this personal also has a responsibility to the bank, so you must be able to provide information and communication to ratify your position when asking for help. In addition to your relationship with your business banker, you should look at issues like using your bank as a sales finance provider, the use of a back-up banker, alternative bank accounts and personal guarantees.

Sales Financing Companies

Sales financing is the practice of receiving funding from a bank or other lender, against a proportion of a company's approved invoices. Usually a company offers customers credit, meaning that between an order being placed and settlement of the associated invoice, the company may have to make clever use of its existing cash-flow to pay suppliers and allow it to make further sales.

Financing via this process provides immediate cash-flow, which can then be used as working capital to satisfy suppliers and meet the day-to-day operating costs. Any company that finds a gap between raising an invoice and receiving payment places a strain on their available working capital may want to consider sales financing. There are two main forms of sales finance, both offering the benefits of a more consistent cash-flow. They are factoring and invoice discounting.

Even Your Competitors are on Your Team

You’ve heard the expression keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Well it holds true in this case. This may surprise you, but your competitors are part of your team as well. They act as a barometer for what’s going on in the market and an indicator of where your weaknesses are as a business. Without competition, getting better at what we do and improving our products would take much longer.

On the other hand, depending on your relationship with them and their general level of professionalism, if given the chance they will make life difficult through you during this period of change and restructuring.

How Business Reporting helps you save, turnaround, and grow your struggling professional client service consultancy, design, marcomm, PR, digital or creative agency business (checklist).

 Save Turnaround Grow Your Struggling Consultancy Practice Studio Agency Business Reporting

A twelve-part blog series outlining how to save, turnaround, and grow, your struggling or failing professional client service consultancy, architects practice, design studio, marketing communications (marcomms), PR, digital or creative agency business.

Click to listen to the audio or read the full transcript below and sign up for my Creative Core newsletter and I'll send you a quick-start business turnaround email course complete with 96 point action checklist and business turnaround strategies you can start using today.

Total Business Turnaround
Part 02 | Reporting

No business can survive without some basic level of reporting. Without it, you have no idea where you are and that can quickly get you into trouble. Problems arise, and while you want to do better, you  have no idea where to start. 

Reports will help you get a clear picture of your business, where it is now and what it will take to get it where you want it to be. This has to be done right, however, and in the most efficient manner possible, enlisting the support of everyone involved. Problems within your business can be so multi-layered that it can be dizzying to follow the reporting path, but it must be done. With everyone helping as they should, the process will be much easier than otherwise. 

The Signs of Trouble

You don't need reports to tell you that you are in trouble. Your business will tell you, if you know what to look for. In the absence of proper reporting, watch out for the following signs as they will let you know you’re in for a struggle and if you need to take immediate action.

  • Phantom Orders and Wishful Thinking

  • Limited Information Flow

  • Disillusioned Staff

  • Insufficient Cash

  • Theory of General Negativity

  • External Signs – Changes in your banking relationships

  • Heavy Discounting

  • Angry Suppliers and Creditors

  • Rumours

The best way to deal with any of these signs is to have all the information you need at your fingertips before you take action, and before its too late. So get on top of your business reporting as soon as possible!

Business Areas to Report Upon

Report on all the specific areas of your business as each requires specific skills,  take different lengths of time, and have different costs associated with them. These areas normally have one person or a team of people who are responsible for them and if there’s just one person in a business, then he must fulfil the leadership position in all these areas and report on each to be able to quantify the return on investment and determine where exactly improvements can be made. These areas include:

  • Marketing and PR

  • Lead Generation

  • Opportunity

  • Tendering

  • Closing

  • Delivery

  • Finishing

  • Feedback

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are easy to understand ratios and calculations that can be tracked over time to determine whether a particular area of business is improving or getting worse. They are generally calculations made from a number of different measurements. KPI can communicate that meaning simply and quickly and point to areas that need attention. Some key performance indicators include:

  • Number of Clients

  • Lead Cost ($)

  • Opportunity Percentage Rate

  • Quote Percentage Rate

  • Hit Percentage Rate

  • Efficiency (as a percentage figure)

  • Slippage (as a percentage figure)

  • Profitability (as a percentage figure)

  • Turnover (in dollar amounts)

Necessary Measurements

To be able to take advantage of key performance indicators, you need to have data from your top down and bottom up measurements – the raw data of your business. The key here is to work in both directions, otherwise the reports won’t join up and they won’t mean anything.

Taking Responsibility

Deciding that you are going to generate and use these data is one thing, but actually implementing it is something else. You need to create spheres of responsibility within your management team with each member knowing precisely what reports they are personally responsible for. In addition, you also have to make sure that the reports flowed in the right direction, from those responsible for generating them to those responsible for acting on them.

By empowering everyone to look out for themselves as well as for the company as a whole because they have vital information, and implementing a robust reporting system to pass that information to where it can do the most good, the search for reasons and excuses for not making decisions and handling problems in a timely and proactive manner is minimised 

Management Accounts

Having an up to date financial picture is crucial for you to steer your business. Management accounts offer this essential information. You should be receiving management accounts at least monthly and preferably weekly, especially during challenging times when daily reporting becomes even more desirable. If you are not receiving complete management accounts on a regular basis alarm bells should be ringing.

Here are the management accounts you need to see:

  • Accounts Payable

  • Accounts Receivable

  • Cash Flow

  • Profit & Loss

  • Balance Sheet

The Wheel of Continuous Improvement

The Wheel is about bringing it all together and seeing how all the aspects of your business interrelate and connect to produce a holistic system that should undergo a process of Continuous And Never-ending Improvement (CANI). Remember, each sector of the wheel is as important as the next, and each should be nurtured and developed to ensure the whole business can operate as smoothly as possible.

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