When an established company is failing there is usually a few very good reasons. Often you have to consider if it’s worth saving and can it be saved before you invest time into the work. The irony in saving a company is that it’s usually an internal people problem rather than an external situation. However if you are reading this article you probably know all too well how internal people problems can lead a company to doom.
Repairing a broken company is done by isolating the symptoms. Followed by isolating the cause of the symptoms. Then attempting to fix the cause of the problems which is usually the hardest step.
1) Identifying the symptoms
You may be tempted to start naming names but instead try writing down the problems every one can agree upon. Here are some example below.
Then company is not getting enough sales or sales are declining
Job profitably is low or money is being lost on jobs
The company is low on cash, has too much debt or has general cash flow issues
Customers are not paying their bills on time.
Employees are disgruntled and people are arguing over petty issues
People are calling in sick, showing up late or generally don’t care about performance
Work is being completed incorrectly according to job specifications
Management or the businesses owners think they are entitled to act outside of the companies best interests
(This is a construction company and your product is your personnel not the actual building. People don’t pay you to build a building, they pay you for the use of qualified and trained personnel. Don’t forget that. If you have a product issue it’s a personnel issue)
2) Isolating the Cause of the Symptoms
Ok, now here is the part where you start naming names. You have a list of the problems and somebody is responsible for each of these things…? right? If your company is so disorganized that you can’t hold someone accountable for an issue then you need to change that right away. The owner is responsible for everything but the companies employees need to take responsibility for reporting where the source of a problem is coming from. Understanding is key and if the accountant can’t clearly explain why the company is loosing money then they are either too afraid to tell you face to face that you are an angry moron or they don’t know. Either way it’s a huge problem. If the project manager can’t hold employees accountable fire him and get someone who can. If the estimator, sales person or company owner can’t make sales then cut their salary in half and hire a marketing company.
3) Fixing the Problem
A) Cut expenses
– Lay off the worst one or two employees
– Make a list of monthly expenses and cut 25% out no matter what
– Owner operators must make the exact same salary as their next highest employee under them. NO EXCEPTIONS
– Stockholders get no dividends on profits (if there are any)
– Task the accountant with creating (2) ideas for reducing company expenditures each week
B) Increase Sales
– Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! Get out there and sell people things they need! Not necessarily what you have been pushing these past few years. If you are a residential contractor then advertise commercial and vise versa. If you are a deck contractor and no one installing decks than start advertising other woodworking installations.
– Get those sales number out by reaching out through new advertising methods. Stop paying your old advertisers…if you had any and find something new.
– Figure out how many jobs you need each month to survive or flourish. You need at least 4x that amount in new leads!
-Become an expert at marketing. Read or study every book on the subject. Learn web design and computer programming. Or hire a marketing consultant.
D) Incentives for Employees
-Create and incentive program for sales for every employee. Give 6% commission to an employee for every lead they bring in and give them all marketing materials to take home
– Employees work just hard enough not to get fired. But they will work harder if their is potentially additional money to be earned. Allow the general manager or project manager to give a $200 bonus every week and announce it ahead of time. If you have many employees then give away 4 $100 bonuses. What you wan’t is for employees to feel they have a chance at some extra cash if they show some hustle
– Inspire them by having the boss take the blame for the companies problems and promising to work nights and weekends to figure it out. Tell them you are taking a pay cut and show them that the problem is real but that everyone is in this together.
-Tackle small problems one at a time. Create monthly goal such as no tardiness, early completion of tasks or a reasonable increase in sales numbers. Make the task a common goal and make it achievable.
SPECIAL NOTE TO THE READER
Often times at failing companies there are issues with family businesses, a companies owner and founder who has lost the “Midas Touch” or an upper management person who is faltering and hiding it from the boss. Simply by reading this article you have shown that you are looking to solve the problem, however I can suspect there is someone else at your organization in denial or actively trying to stop you. Whatever your position is know when it’s time to cut your losses. If you are the employee then sharpen those job skills and leave. If you are the boss then it’s time for some heads to roll.