There are two questions every business owner — large, medium or small — has asked:
How do I grow my business?
How do I make more money?
Especially when the economy is down, these questions are being asked more and more.
Coming up with the correct answers to these questions can be crucial for a company in order to compete successfully or survive altogether.
Pinnacle Partners, based in Tennessee, believes it has the answers to these questions. For more than 20 years, Pinnacle Partners has dedicated itself to helping and facilitating clients to improve business performance and maintain these improvements over the long-term.
For the first time ever, Pinnacle Partners gave a half-day seminar Tuesday, sponsored by the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, to help businesses apply specific tools and techniques to real situations in their companies to improve performance. A way to measure these improvements, as well as how to develop an action plan for becoming the best in their industry, were also covered.
Presenters included Paul Clipp, senior consultant, Sheila R. Poling, managing partner, and George Sivess, senior consultant.
These expert consultants listed the first specific questions business owners or company representatives needed to answer to start on the road to success as:
— What are the biggest issues your company is dealing with today?
— What are the problems that seem to never go away?
— Where are you feeling the most pain?
And to answer these initial questions, you have to have a plan. But not just a any, old plan, but a WRITTEN plan.
“Without a written plan,” Clipp said, “it doesn’t exist.”
The second situation that must exist to make a plan successful is that everyone must be headed in the same direction.
And the third is that the most important issue or situation must be the one being worked on. Now, remember, the audience was told, important doesn’t necessarily mean the most urgent. It may be “urgent” to get a particular project done by noon, but it may not necessarily be “important” in the overall scheme of making the company successful in the long run.
Some other questions businesses need to consider include:
— Do you have any ongoing issues in your company that need to be solved or improved and what are they?
— Are you looking for breakthroughs to improve any of your processes? If so, which ones and by what means?
— What would it look like if you could make those improvements?
— And, what could it mean to your organization?
In addition, presenters listed some typical problems that a company may struggle with that can be solved or dealt with using the tools and techniques given in this seminar. They might include: a lack of specific industry knowledge and how to get it, employees not having a clear-cut guide as to their job duties, resistance to change, and the use of outworn standards, etc.
Although solutions are available, Clipp said, there is “no magic bullet.”
Some of the first guidelines companies need to develop are to decide what areas or “benchmarks” they want to consider when measuring the success and effectiveness of their company. Each company will, of course, have a different set. A minimum of 24, however, should be considered, including such items as customers, speed, waste, quality, profit, continuous improvements, as well as guidelines for how to measure them, to name just a few.
One way, for example, in which to deal with some benchmarks might be to “know what you are good at and work on that,” Clipp said.
But this is only one possible solution out of an unlimited number.
Another benchmark to consider is the bottom line profit figures. Managers have to ask themselves if their profits measure up to other companies the same size, scope and, if not, what do these other companies know that you don’t.
The list of areas to consider are many.
For example, how do you measure if your customers are happy?
What target date do you set to see improved results?
How are you working to get new customers?
Does this mean moving into new markets?
Other business plans and/or procedure areas discussed in this seminar included: a 5S safety checklist; a “Lean” culture, meaning to operate without waste; OEE plans or Overall Equipment Effectiveness; Six Sigma, which tries to improve the quality of outputs by identifying and removing the causes of errors, as well as minimizing fluctuations; and CEDAC, or Cause-Effect Diagram with the Addition of Cards, groups, etc.
CEDAC is a powerful tool used to provide a fact-based, idea-driven methodology that facilitates problem-solving with employee involvement in the improvement process. CEDAC provides accurate, fact-based communications among all who have a vested interest in the situation.
“The most successful companies are those whose employees act as if they are the owner,” Clipp said. Working together through projects like CEDAC can change how people act and feel.
That’s why one of the more important interactive lessons of this seminar involved joining forces with members of the audience in four different groups to solve the same posed problem through CEDAC.
And although it might take some guidance to learn the exact ways in which to use CEDAC properly, it has proven hugely successful, according to presenters.
“The world keeps changing,” said Sivess, “and if you don’t change to keep up with it, you won’t have a place in it in the future.”
As a special offer never done before, and as a result of attending the seminar, some of the companies present will be given a free, one-day “quick-start” session to identify specific improvement areas that will give quick and tangible business results within 30 to 60 days.
“It’s a one-day, facilitated, improvement opportunity,” Clipp said.
For more information, call (865) 482-1362 or check out www.pinnaclepartnersinc.com.