CEO Tools Book
Archive for June, 2012
Friday, June 29th, 2012
In a continuing look at re-mixing your business for efficiency as well as profit and reputation, how about the area of market segments?
What we’ve seen in the past couple of decades is a minute segmentation of markets, permitting new businesses to develop in the holes left by competition. Take the magazine industry, for example: today there are magazines that focus just on a single aspect of their genre that hadn’t even bee thought of a few years back. Such as for model train hobbyists, where there is today a publication called “Steam in the Garden” which contains articles and ads for live steam locomotives ranging in size from about six inches in length to over two feet in length, operating in complete fire-boiler-steam mode exactly the way the full size locomotives of yesteryear! There are today a myriad of motorcycle magazines offering a particular brand or type of motorcycle focus, such as “hogs” and “cafe racers.”
So, take a look at your business and see if there aren’t niches that haven’t even been dreamt of yet! Ask, “what is impossible?” Or, “what hasn’t been done?” Or, “where might there be a market segment not being served today?” Paraphrasing what Steve Jobs of Apple often said: many times the customer has no idea what they want since th haven’t seen such a thing yet! That was the genesis of today’s incredible I-Phone population.
Again, hope re-mixing helps you strategize innovatively in your business!
Best of re-mixing, Kraig
Monday, June 25th, 2012
Here’s our next installment in “Re-Mix Your Business for Profit.” Analyze your customer mix for those customers that “fit your operating model” best…those that you’re really geared to handling well. This might be customers who have unique applications that your products fit best, or customers who are easier to work with, or customers who want the particular quality-level or style-of-delivery level you’re best at. An example might be customers who like small, rapidly repeated deliveries, or maybe the opposite, namely large, seldom refilled orders. You want to segment customers and your service-level to match each other.
Abnother example comes from the printing industry, where we specialized only in four-and-more color, very high quality annual reports, upscale catalogs and high-end advertising brochures. We printed almost no tw0-color pieces, very few low-volume runs, and no lower quality (known as pleasing color)…only top quality high-coler-content printing. This also made our customer care easier, since we dealt almost exclusively with professional print buyers and seldom with folks who only needed their printing once a year or even less requently.
How might you sort, dice, and slice your customer base to best fit what you do? Do you actually know what you do best? Of course it’s okay to be all things to all customers, but you should then do all of those things extremely well with all of those customers for your own maximum reputation and profit performance.
Hope this is helpful…more to come on product, market segment, and other re-mixing opportunities.
Very best mixing it up, Kraig
Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
We have a NEW updated through-2013 version of the MEASURE-UP DASHBOARD now available at www.ceotools.com in the New Tools Catalog. It is fully usable through December 2013 with an updated, annual-adjusted, and improved version of the Inventory Earn-n-Turn chart. For anyone who got the tool from CEO Tools website in the past, we are offering a free copy of this 2013 version…please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll email the new version by return email. Very best, Kraig
Thursday, June 21st, 2012
Fora ‘tweener to our 12-Seasons, how about we start to look at the hugely powerful tool of re-mixing your business to improve profit? One example is my business: basically I’m involved in a mix of three different products or market segments, namely consulting with CEOs/Senior-Managers plus speaking to small CEO groups, and also speaking to large (100s-to-thousands) of managers. As a recession approaches, I move my mix of business from consulting towards speaking, mainly to the smaller groups (8-20 CEOs or Managers in a group, where I literally do over 100 groups each year). The reason: recessions trigger a typical CEO knee-jerk reaction to cut advertising and consultants (obviously the wrong thing unless ads and consults aren’t working, in which case they shouldn’t have had them in the first place)!
So, how can you change your mix of business? Try looking at the product, market, customer, service, and other segments in which you now participate or could participate. Figure out “What Causes Sales” (WCS) in each, then figure out how to predict how each will behave in the future (see our June 12-Seasons piece on “Looking into the Future”). Next, activate your WCS to emphasize the area you want to pursue in different time periods.
Another way we changed mix was at the printing company: we emphasized sheetfed printing early to dramatically improve profit (it is substantially more profitable) and then followed by building our other segment, web-printing, to “fill up” our plant 7-24-365. the higher margins in sheetfed bought us time to do the latter. Both examples are clearly strategic.
So, what is your MIX STRATEGY? We’ll offer more on this in coming weeks and months at www.ceotools.com/blog — check it out regarding mix change in a number of different categories, such as product/service mix, customer mix, geographic mix, market mix, channel mix, specialty mix, services mix, and others. We’ll also address the three components of gross margin and how to change your mix there between price/volume, and their interplay with mix.
We’re just hoping that these ideas help you in your business!
With best regards, Kraig
Monday, June 18th, 2012
We’ve found that some users just aren’t getting what they could from Trailing 12-Month Charts (T12Ms). Clearly, as pointed out in my talks and these blogs, T12Ms are the only tracking tool that works…yet many just aren’t getting maximum value from them.
We’ve discovered why! Most of us read charts and columns of numbers in drone-zone, auto-pilot, sub-conscious mode. The reason is that somewhere along the way we discovered, sub-consciously, that the conclusioons ordinary charts and columns of numbers lead us toward just don’t always pan out that way. Sometimes our conclusion worked out the way we thought, often-times not. And so we just put charts and numbers in the “maybe” place in our heads.
The solution is pretty simple, we just need to turn on our “analytical brains” whenever we look at T12M charts. Easy to do: just ask yourself three questions when viewing your T12Ms:
1 – What are the T12M Charts trying to tell me?
2 – Why is this happening (why is the chart doing that)?
3 – What could or should I do about it (about what the chart shows)?
The first quesion activates our thinking brain and in a second or two you’ll see what you weren’t seeing before. The second question encourages scientific reasoning to figure out the drivers behind the chart’s indications. And of course, question three causes you to take appropriate action! Trailing 12-Month Charts ALWAYS tell the truth, whereas the usually misleading ordinary charts we grew up with trained our brains to go into sub-conscious, non-acting mode. Hope this helps your T12Ms realy pay off for you!
Best tracking, Kraig
Friday, June 15th, 2012
Please add your “Comments” below about our recent article on “Exiting a Family Business!”
Monday, June 11th, 2012
How about sharing what you memorialize on Memorial Day (just within the past week)? The Indy 500 is special, but what about those you thank? Those you thnk about? hose who keep you safe? Please share (see Comments below)!
Friday, June 8th, 2012
Please see our article on “Innovations” a few days back: please add any innovations that you may have participated in that would help others dream up ways of innovating improvements in their businesses! For example, when did you try the “impossible” and succeed? How do you play “what if?”
Thanks for any and all suggested ideas, Kraig
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Indeed, how do you look into the future to “anticipate” how to run your business better, how to take advantage of good opportunities, how to mitigate gathering storms? All ideas welcome! Please add your “Comment” below…
With best wishes for future success, Kraig
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
Twelve Seasons for June: “how to look into the future?” With, of course, the obvious purpose to run our businesses better because we know what’s coming at us and how to prepare, take advantage of, or respond to upcoming conditions. We are undoubtedly in the most uncertain of times (at least in my almost-70-year lifetime). But please remember, fear of the unknown is much worse than fear of what you can, even only partially, see and anticipate!
Everyone should be looking at www.usdebtclock.org to recognize the more-than-clear signals pointing at another inevitable recession starting probably by the end of 2013 into 2014 or even sooner caused by Europe’s woes and our own untenable unemployment, huge excess-spending on entitlements, and our unaddressed unfunded liabilities (which include over $130 Trillion of national debt plus social security plus medicaid/medicare plus Federal unfunded pensions).
Everyone also should follow: mulitiple economists (my favorites are Brian and Alan Beaulieu at www.itreconomics.org); all economic headlines; forecasts of your industry; forecasts that you do. Everyone should also put their CFOs on the bow of the ship with binoculars rather than the stern, where they’re tracking accounting numbers in rear-view mirrors. Everyone should be asking and enjoining others in discussions of the future, using “what if” and “what do you see” and “what could or is likely to occur” kinds of dialog. Obviously also, there are tools on the www.ceotools.com website under New Tools Catalog that help see the future: the “Forecaster Tool” plus the “Measure Up Dashboard” and of course the “Cash Manager Tool.”
My hope is that your future is more predictable and manageable through these thoughts.
With very best wishes, Kraig
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