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A free monthly newsletter about improving your
people, processes, sales and marketing, financial
performance…and other interesting stuff

August 2012

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Culture reflects its leaders

Energy, life, efficiency, initiative, satisfaction, focus… words that describe company culture. A group of people, systems and thinking that reflects great leadership.

Complaints, lateness, lethargy, incompetence, disorganisation, dissatisfaction – a culture just the same but reflecting poor leadership.

A company culture with all of its elements reflects the leadership given her. Leadership means having followers. Wherever you as a leader are - in terms of your thinking, actions, work ethic, speech etc so will your people be. Expect great things and be the corresponding exemplar, you’ll get great things. Low expectations, bad modelling with a haphazard approach – you’ll still get something but I can assure you it won’t be great.

History is replete with examples of leadership that led people either to life, think Abraham Lincoln, or leaders that led people to death eg. Jim Jones and the mass suicide of 1978. 

In whatever leadership role you find yourself in, know that:

- people are following you whether you like it or not
- you set the ‘tone’ of workplace culture
- drift happens easily
- high performance just doesn’t happen on its own
- like water flowing out of the lowest point of a container, people will adjust to the lowest level they can (which is often comfort related)
- workers will hear what you say but do what you do
- if you don’t keep people accountable they will do their own thing

Case study

A company had some major issues with the workers in their administration section. Slow and lethargic, the workers did what they wanted, when they wanted, with little (actually no) accountability. The owner of the business would complain continually about the situation. She identified the person who was infecting the rest of the team and implemented a plan to issue the worker with an updated position description and corresponding performance measures. They would then begin working with the person to bring about the change required. At implementation, the owner faltered and wouldn’t proceed with the process, preferring to leave alone what was at least, working to some small degree. Later, a fresh energetic person was employed into the mix and interestingly, within a small amount of time, the newcomer – having imbibed the culture they were immersed in, soon began to operate like everyone else.

The summary... your business is a reflection of you. Happy staff, high customer satisfaction, energetic and inspired people, efficient processes all say something positive about your leadership. Sloppiness, unhappy customers, lack of disciplined work, constant moaning and groaning…yes,  your leadership.

Instead of pointing the finger outward to apportion blame first, look in the mirror and observe the person you see there.  Most of us don’t like to think that the fault could rest with us but, if our outer world is in fact a reflection of  the person, then there’s every chance that you’re looking at the perpetrator. After all, a mirror doesn’t lie.

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 Financial Performance
Greater Value, Greater Revenue

Why is it that we become satisfied with a stream of revenue when, with a little effort and thought, that stream could become river like? 

Increased value creates greater revenues. Here are some thoughts you might be able to apply to your own business model.
  • Always provide options for the buyer to choose from. If no options are provided it's either a yes or no response. If options are listed it then becomes a matter of "which one"? 
  • Options should contain increased value with corresponding pricing also providing perspective to the buyer as to the range of pricing and value
  • Add a guarantee to your service or product if you don't already have one. This reverses the risk from the buyer to you, helping them in the buying process
  • Initial budgets stretch to accommodate for higher perceived value (experienced I am sure by all of us)
  • Ensure you have a sales process that leads the buyer to using your services that includes the additional value and pricing options
  • What other product or service would your client or prospective buyer benefit from? Here are some examples:
    • Accountants - aside from tax returns what about ongoing business advice, bookkeeping,  quarterly 'budget against actuals' analysis etc?. 
    • Trade services - audits of the clients existing expenditure eg. heating, water, power 
    • Hairdressers - products (missed by many)
    • Lawyers - Wills and asset protection 
    • Retail - complimentary product or service eg. extended warranty, gift card
    • Restaurants - place the dessert menu on the table without asking, saying you will return. (I wasn't going to have dessert until I saw the menu!).
The keys here are options, choices, value. Many of us have the extra offerings already but as with a well kept secret, well - it stays a secret. Broadcast your expertise. Build in processes around these offerings to deliver them to your clients and prospects. 

By increasing value and providing options with greater benefits, sales and corresponding revenues naturally increase. And, as a final point, (and this is very complex) - follow up quotes, tenders, expressions of interest and...ASK FOR THE SALE. 
It's amazing how many neglect this.

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Efficient Process 


Waste in the form of litter, time, space, materials and efforts appear at every turn. Waste is to a business what human hair is to a drain pipe. Layer upon layer over time simply clogs things up.  Similarly, slowly, in the hidden recesses of our business systems, obstructions enter the scene. It might be a new receptionist lacking in detail, ageing technology, decrease in administrative diligence, the low running tide of workplace enthusiasm and passion, a change in process that was never evaluated for its effectiveness. These and a host more contribute to waste in our businesses. And even the best and brightest find to their dismay, waste happening in pockets where they never dreamed they would find it. 

A good way to identify waste is to work your way through a process that I have created below from an example of a plumbing company. 

First, document the current process in the area you are concerned with listing every single step as per the outline below. Then, take a highlighter  and identify the areas where things seem to be backing up, where the process is taking too long, where most customer complaints are coming from etc and then ask the following questions:
"How can we speed up this process"?
"What are the key obstructions in the way here"? 
"What multiple steps can we can combine into one"?
"What steps don't we need at all"?
"Who and what systems are the major contributors to the bottlenecks"?

You will notice from the following example that from the initial customer request to the invoice being sent is 35 days with the internal process time for each job being 162 minutes. Plenty of waste in this example and not to dissimilar to many companies. Add another 60 days on for customers paying their bill (if there is no debtor follow up in place) and your cash conversion cycle then becomes 95 days!

 Identifying Waste Table - Example 



Ave Time in Minutes

Ave time in days

Customer calls office to book job        
Take call and writes on loose paper
Put paper into tray for plumbers
Collect paper and calls client back to book job, writing into diary



Travel to start job
Job started (no time ascertainable)
If  parts required go to supplier and travel back



Job completed (no time ascertainable)
Travel to next job
Job card completed 
Job card given to receptionist to type up invoice



Type invoice
Place invoice in tray for checking
Invoice checked
If error – discussion with receptionist
Invoice re-typed
Invoice put back into tray for checking
Invoice re- checked
Discussion with receptionist that invoice is good to be posted

Invoice printed and prepared for sending


Mail (inc this invoice) taken to the post office



Total Time Taken




For further reading and process tools go to resources

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The Cellar Notes


Last night I shared a bottle of D'Arenberg Custodian Grenache with a friend at the wonderful Vine Restaurant in New Farm. Pleasant drinking on its own, I decided to match it with Venison which was shall I say, sensational. Savoury and earthy with a rustic finish, its a perfect winter red. Mind you, I would drink this all year long. If you want something a little different that doesn't take all your cash, it's certainly worth a try.
On The Lighter Side

Listening to some live music in a country hotel, this conversation took place.
Woman -"are  you gay?"
Me - "do I look like I'm gay?"
Woman - "I don't give a  *&%$ if your gay, are you gay?"
Me - pointing to my wedding ring I said "married to a WOMAN."
Woman - quiet and somewhat satisfied with my response
Explanation from my client the following day - 'its because of the way you dress'!!!

In This Issue:
Ray Hodge is the Director of Ignite Business Consulting. He speaks and consults to businesses & organisations, a notable event being the Department of the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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Car Lovers - getting customers to return

Having a filthy car from my travel in the country and disliking the process of washing it, I decided to call into a car wash I'd never been to before - Car Lovers,Toowoomba QLD. It was my first time and won't be my last time. Why?

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"I have to say that having Ray consult to us resulted in a more streamlined business with  processes in place that has made it possible to hire office staff . What's all the more pleasing (given that Ray is no longer consulting to us) is that I am now working less hours per day, overseeing the operations, with the business continuing to do exceptionally well."

Joanne Miller : Switch Group - Perth

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Copyright 2011 Ray Hodge. All rights reserved.


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