Archive for July, 2009

Improve Bottom Line Profitability (Part 3) by Robert Finkelstein

Posted in General Management, Improve Bottom Line Profitability with tags , , , , , , , on July 31, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

profitI trust by now you’re thinking a little more about that bottom line and how you are able to cut your expenses. At a seminar I attended last weekend, the speaker clarified the old adage, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” He took it one step further…”Work right.” It might seem like the smart thing to do, but you must take the time to analyze whether or not it’s the right thing to do for your business.

Here are few more great tips to help you grow that bottom line while reducing your expenses.

telecommuting-by-fire7. Go Virtual. If your operating expenses are through the roof, and maintaining an office for you and your team is becoming an increasingly financial challenge, consider virtual communications. You know your team, and if you feel that they’ll still be productive working outside the office, then telecommuting might be a great idea. Trust me, they’ll love the work/life balance that it can provide.

8. Buy, don’t rent. This is kind of the opposite of the one above. Just something to consider, if you’re in a different financial position. If you do own a building or are considering buying one for your business, you might want to rent out some of the space. Use what you need, and then have your tenants’ rent help cover the mortgage. Another great advantage here is that you’ll be building equity in your business assets.

dropshipping9. Drop ship. In my last position as VP of Operations for a sporting goods manufacturer and distributor, we rented a huge distribution center (DC). Working with the big box giants like Target and WalMart meant keeping a lot of product on hand and staff to manage daily shipments. When we were able to restructure our deal such that we could drop ship product directly from Asia to their DCs…wow, what a savings…not to mention, one less headache. Keep in mind, you need to be partnered with vendors to trust and are very reliable, because you’re reputation and account are on the line if they don’t deliver the goods. Errors in shipments will cost you a fortune in “charge backs.” The retailers have strict rules regarding all aspects of logistics and they impose serious fees when you don’t comply. Making mistakes will quickly eat up what you’ve saved by drop shipping. Take your time and do this right, and you’ll be very pleased with how it can positively impact your bottom line.

I’ll have a few more tips tomorrow. Keep working out your expenses and you’ll be in great shape.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.

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Improve Bottom Line Profitability (Part 2) by Robert Finkelstein

Posted in General Management, Improve Bottom Line Profitability with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

profit Hopefully I’ve got your mind thinking, “Sell, Sell, Sell…and Save, Save, Save!” Celebrate all the great sales, but keep that bottom line in plain sight. If ever it gets obstructed, good luck staying profitable.

So let’s continue with more cost-cutting tips.

4. Networking. Never underestimate its power. NetworkingFace-to-face marketing/networking beats traditional paid advertising…if for nothing else, it can be free. If you can create good rapport with potential buyers, you’re leaps and bounds ahead of trying to convince someone through an impersonal ad. Find out where to go…and go there. Don’t forget about social networking via the Internet. The only cost here is time…but it can be very effective.

5. Receivables. Simple math here. If you have to pay your vendors before your vendors have to pay you, you’re going to have serious cash flow problems. When I worked for a distributor, we had to pay our manufacturer net-30 (basically, 30 days after receiving the product.) Our big box retails clients paid us net-90. My six-year-old son can tell you that won’t. You must negotiate terms that are mutually beneficial. If you can’t, then you need to evaluate why doing that business makes sense. Sometimes it does, but only you can determine what works best for your company.

6. Mileage. Instead of a car allowance or a company car, reimburse employees for mileage. For example, here in California, the current reimbursement rate is $0.55/mile. This can add up, so again, you’ll have to determine what’s best for your company. If you are tempted to go the mileage reimbursement route, you’ll save on insurance, and maintenance, among other unexpected costs.

At this rate, you’ll be buying a larger piggy bank in no time.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.

Improve Bottom Line Profitability (Part 1) by Robert Finkelstein

Posted in Improve Bottom Line Profitability with tags , , , , , , on July 29, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

profitSales are up! Time to celebrate! Not necessarily. Just because sales are soaring, it doesn’t mean the company’s profitable. When expenses are not well managed, they can eat up your sales in no time. If the company’s not profitable, future growth is highly unlikely…and staying in business will eventually become a challenge.

In the next few blogs, I’ll offer tips that can help you keep expense down and improve you bottom line (in no specific order).

savemoney1. Business Insurance. You gotta have it…but at what cost? Shop around, know your needs, and do a cost/benefit analysis. Rates are very competitive. Don’t buy more than you need. You can always add when the business justifies it.
2. Employee Insurance. If your company can afford to provide this benefit, when it comes to your staff, give them options. This is an important benefit and you don’t want to be perceived as cheap. If money is tight, provide an allowance. Contribute what you can to their insurance costs.
3. Subcontractors. The advantage of using subcontractors is that you only have to pay for the labor you need. When you don’t need them, you’re not paying for bench warmers. The big savings here is also on payroll tax and insurance.

In the meantime, keep selling…and start looking at cutting these costs. More tips tomorrow.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.

Motivating Your Team (Part 6)

Posted in General Management, Motivating Your Team with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

motivationIn conclusion, the easiest way to figure out how to motivate your team is to ask yourself what motivates you. Take a step back and a more global view. Does the environment you’ve created encourage the team to not only be motivated from above, but also from within?

I highly recommend you look at the culture of your company. Write it out. Make it clear to everyone. Motivating your team and maintaining high morale can be challenging, but it can also be fun. Instill a strong sense of belonging, respect, teamwork and fulfillment. When a culture becomes the life blood of all in the company, the team will support each other and you. To understand the importance of this, study the successful companies that have dedicated themselves to maintaining a very positive and nurturing culture. Take a look at Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Read books like Jim Collins’ “Good To Great” that detail how the strongest U.S. companies don’t take this subject lightly.

thumbs upCreate an environment that motivates you, and you’ll create one that motivates your team. Lead by example. Communicate. Be a strong supervisor, stick to your convictions and your team will stick with you.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.

Motivating Your Team (Part 5)

Posted in General Management, Motivating Your Team with tags , , , , , , on July 27, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

motivationConsequences or no consequences, that is the question? The answer is a resounding “yes.” A fearful supervisor might think otherwise, but I can assure you that company is running a muck and morale probably stinks.

It’s equally important that employees know that there are consistent positive and not-so positive consequences for their actions. Without this, your all-star players will look to be traded. They in particular will want to be rewarded for their efforts and, when necessary, those who don’t carry their weight, need to experience reasonable consequences. employee-recognitionAs the CEO of Zappos said yesterday at a conference I was attending, “Be slow to hire, and quick to fire.” When you’ve taken the time to assemble a great team, make sure they’re rewarded. You can kill great morale by allowing unaddressed problems to fester. A supervisor needs to be strong. In order to be successful, he or she needs to make tough decisions to insure the company’s success and the culture maintained.

The team needs to know what is expected of them…and you, as the supervisor, need to know what they expect of you.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.

Sunday Observations – Does excellent customer service mean breaking the rules?

Posted in General Management with tags , , , , on July 26, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

customer-service-720168July 26, 2009. Does excellent customer service mean breaking the rules? Some say excellent customer service is a dying art, but I beg to differ. I just experienced four days of “no is not in our vocabulary” kind of attention. If you asked, the answer was always yes…no matter what. Which begs me to ask, “Does excellent customer service really mean breaking the rules?”

To read the rest of this of blog, please click on the link. “Sunday Observations

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.

Motivating Your Team (Part 4)

Posted in General Management, Motivating Your Team with tags , , , , , , on July 25, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

motivationI’m going to keep this one short but motivational. I’m attending a seminar and my time online is very limited. As I mentioned in my blog “Invest In Yourself,” I highly recommend furthering your education.

As one who has supervised many and been supervised, it’s very comforting to know where you stand. Providing feedback on a regular basis is so important for morale. I’ve always said that an employee should never be surprised if a promotion or walking papers are being deliveredemployeereview. Keeping the team informed about their individual performance is key. It’s hard to keep them motivated if they don’t know how they’re doing. So schedule reviews – I recommend every six months – with the year-end being more detailed. In my book, a review does not constitute a pay raise. If it’s earned, and the company is in a healthy position, an increase can be delivered anytime. Trust me, it won’t be turned down.

Again, communication is paramount if you want to motivate and maintain great morale.

If you have any questions or comments,
please write them below or email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.