Well established rural light engineering company.
I was initially asked to help this business with their marketing. What became apparent within the first two meetings was;
- Sales was more of an issue than marketing, even though on the surface the pipeline appeared strong.
- There was a lack of clarity around who was responsible for the key roles within the business (general manager, business owner, accountant, workshop manager)
- Cashflow was clearly negative.
- Business systems and the lack thereof needed attention.
- There was a need for new marketing collateral and a marketing plan.
One of the main reasons for respecting client confidentiality when creating these case studies is that there has to be a significant amount of trust established between advisor and client and enough rapport to carry through changes to the business.
This particular client became a longer term project as I was able to convince them that there were more urgent priorities in the business than a need for a brochure. Improvements included;
- Changing accountants.
- Developing a strategic plan and a marketing plan.
- Revamping the website.
- A promotional campaign for a specific and niche manufactured product.
- Replacing key members of staff.
- Launching a new brand and service for existing customers.
- Assessing the viability for a ‘going concern’ sale of one part of the business and a possible relocation.
Remembering the original brief was to create marketing material, over the course of two years I was able to;
- Improve the cashflow of the business.
- Improve profitability.
- Create clarity for the business owner and improve his confidence to make key decisions.
- Restructure the company and create clear roles.
Ultimately, the business owner [who was not my original client in this case] was able to take things forward and sell one half of his business. He was also confident enough in himself to bring our working relationship to an end.
Improving marketing and then sales and creating more orders on over generous credit terms would have killed the business stone dead.
More often than not, what a business owner sees as the challenge that they need help with is actually a symptom of some far more deep rooted issues in the business that need addressing. In this case, slowing sales and cashflow pressure was too big a challenge so was masked by attributing blame to the lack of a brochure.
Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, be open and deal with the tough calls.