I have been helping companies develop their strategies for growth and profitability for over twenty years. As with many consultants, I started helping companies plan in a very traditional manner by developing 3-inch thick plans that would make any coffee table or bookshelf proud. I am being a bit sarcastic, and I know sarcasm is not a true form of humor, but bear with me for a moment as I make my case. It is not that the work we did together did not produce valuable plans with real substance. Actually, part of the problem was that there was too much substance in most cases, so the plans became overwhelming and extremely difficult to execute. I would come back quarterly, or in some cases annually, and as we began to the review the plans, I would hear comments like, “Oh yes, now I remember talking about that in planning.” Laughs would emerge around the room, but the truth of it is that it was not really that funny, considering the lost opportunity and lack of results.
It is important to grow the top line of your business on an annual basis, but you also need to make sure the bottom line is healthy which can help fund that growth. This is particularly important if you are a manufacturing company and need to be efficient in your production process. In most cases, the two biggest expenses in your manufacturing business are labor and raw materials. There are exceptions, of course, in machine intensive automated manufacturing plants, but let’s focus on the former. So how can we make sure the production line is running at peak performance? One very effective way is to put the right balance of production KPIs in place. Some of these are leading indicator KPIs that help provide insight into future performance and some are results KPIs that tell you how you have done. It is good to have both, although I always prefer giving my production managers a good set of leading indicator KPIs as these manufacturing metrics drive the results.
Here are some of the most effective manufacturing KPIs and metrics:
So, you had a great planning session with your team. Everybody left the 3-day session pumped up and ready to hit your targets for the year and move the company one step closer to achieving your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and other long term strategic goals. You've done the strategy work extremely well? What could possibly go wrong?
Unfortunately, even with everyone’s good intentions, running the day-to-day business can get in the way of making progress on your annual and quarterly rocks if you are not intentional about your execution or operation planning of all of your important projects to help you achieve your vision. These strategic planning tips should help you execute on your 3 year strategic plan while keeping track of your day to day activities. As the experts in mid market planning facilitation we are often asked for our best strategic planning advice, so here you go!
I facilitate a lot of strategy and execution planning sessions throughout the year. The majority of the time, I do this on-site with a client at a hotel or at their facility. Meeting face-to-face is great if logistics, timing, cost and the environment support it. However, there are times when everything does not align for that to happen, and it is more effective for the team to meet virtually. Current environmental conditions have created one of those times. Keeping people safe and healthy has never been more important.
Two key concepts in manufacturing that often get misconstrued or even used synonymously are productivity and efficiency. Do you know what the difference is? Despite these two words pertaining to improving the production process of a manufacturing, agriculture, or service sector company, they refer to different things. Once you think about the differences, you can better utilize productivity and efficiency in your business. Read this blog to better understand productivity vs efficiency and how it impacts your manufacturing business.
Great question right? But before we get to that, let’s define what a core customer is. Robert Bloom, author of The Inside Advantage, defines it as the customer most likely to buy your product or service in the quantity required for optimal profit! Your WHO is the customer you can’t live without and who will help you be successful into the future.
So, in order to sell more to your core, you need to clearly define who they are and understand their deepest needs, not just their wants.
One thing to consider about your core customer is that he or she is a real person, with wants, needs and fears – not a lifeless profile on paper. Your core customer is alive and is just like you and me – AND has specific reasons, emotions and interests in your product or service.
According to a joint study by Bain and Harvard Business School, “(we) showed that in industry after industry, the high cost of acquiring customers renders many customer relationships unprofitable during their early years. Only in later years, when the cost of serving loyal customers falls and the volume of their purchases rises, do relationships generate big returns. The bottom line: Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”
One of the things I have to do as a business consultant is to be a great listener. This is a key leadership and communication skill for anyone. Sometimes effective listening can be a challenge because, like most people, I can fall into the trap of thinking about my response and how I would like to help the individual with whom I am communicating. One of my pet peeves has always been that many people begin developing their response as soon as the other person starts speaking rather than truly listening to the message spoken to them. As I was going through some information this weekend, I came across a great one-page paper on four steps to effective listening, a key tenet of developing accountable leaders and teams. Permission was given to use the information as freely as possible and so I am sharing the main points with you.
I grew up in a manufacturing family. My grandmother had her own manufacturing company, and my father was a partner in a local manufacturing company. I still have very fond memories working in and running the business. It was like one big happy family - most of the time, that is. We had employees that stayed with us pretty much from the beginning and that would be close to forty years in some cases. How do you get employees to stay with you for the long term and contribute to the best of their ability? One of the answers is to ensure they are treated with respect, appreciated, and given the opportunity to be fully engaged in their work environment. Employee engagement for factory workers is the key to creating a high performance manufacturing culture. Being fully engaged means different things to different people, but here are some key approaches to consider for manufacturing workers.
I previously wrote a blog titled 21 Production KPI Examples to Improve Manufacturing Performance, and many people were interested in learning more about how to measure and improve on-time delivery, one of the specific KPIs I mentioned. I am often asked how to improve on time delivery in manufacturing companies. The on time delivery KPI time as one of their most important Key Performance Indicators as it is directly related to customer satisfaction and repeat orders. So, let’s dig a little deeper into effective ideas to improve on time delivery.
Does your who do what? It sounds somewhat funny, but this is really a serious question. Many people know what these terms are, but for those that do not, here is a brief refresher. These terms come from author and management consultant Jim Collins. You can find some great BHAG examples on our middle market CEO blog.