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Business Development & Marketing General Turnaround

SMEs have the agility to win customers where big businesses fail

The latest quarterly analysis of consumer complaints from Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has BT at the top of the list for the most complained-about broadband provider. Others in the top ten for the first three months of 2017 included Virgin Media (2nd) Plusnet and EE (3rd and 4th), while Vodaphone was most complained about mobile company for the second quarter running.
Yet, nothing seems to change, although it is hardly likely that such large companies either welcome the adverse reactions or fail to try to improve.
The explanation may lie in their very size but more likely it will be down to some level of complacency and a lack of customer focus.  Big corporations can be very complex structures with strictly laid-out chains of command and processes but they don’t like change, especially when they are booking profits.
Like an ocean-going super tanker that needs something like a mile to alter course to avoid a collision, their size, their segmentation and their systems and processes make it much harder to change their work practices sufficiently to make a visible difference.
If action has to be determined at senior level, passed down a chain of command to the front line and communicated as a new message to customer services it will take time for any changes to be effective or to be perceived by customers.

Agility offers flexible SMEs an advantage over large ones

man demonstrating yoga agilityThis presents huge opportunities for SMEs.
By their nature SMEs tend to be less hierarchical and the likelihood is that there is more direct communication between CEOs, managers and front-line team. Initiatives and new ideas can be rapidly implemented, and quickly abandoned if they aren’t working.
The SMEs’ strength lies in their ability to respond quickly if a problem arises.  If a change in a process needs to be addressed, providing they are nimble enough, they can implement change promptly and communicate it to everyone in the business.
Arguably, SMEs are always looking to improve their products or services and therefore open to new ideas without being hamstrung by a rigid hierarchy or processes.
This gives them an advantage in trying to win new customers, when their bigger competitors repeatedly fail to deliver.

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Business Development & Marketing Cash Flow & Forecasting Finance General Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery Turnaround

Continuous improvement is a must for business survival

financial crisis get aheadAt last! The UK will vote on staying in or getting out the EU in June.
At least there is an end in sight to one issue that has been causing businesses to put potential plans for investment on hold.
In the interim there is plenty that a business can do to ensure it is in the best possible shape for the future, whatever the outcome of the vote.
The next three months provide a breathing space when a business can focus more closely on aspects of continuous improvement that may have slipped down the “to-do” list at busy times, although it should be an ongoing activity for every business, whatever the circumstances.
It may be a good time to consider whether to upgrade equipment whether it is manufacturing machinery or IT hardware.  Is the cost of repairs beginning to outweigh the benefits of waiting before investing in new kit?  Is it possible that new kit will automate some processes currently carried out by employees, who could be more productively used elsewhere? This again applies whatever the outcome of the vote.
There may also be some processes that are currently carried out in-house and could be outsourced more economically.  Again this may release some people for other, more productive activities.

It’s all about being prepared and agile

Introducing more automation or outsourcing does not necessarily mean reducing the work force.  It may offer an opportunity to train people in additional skills that will benefit the business in the future. It may then be possible to offer a wider range of products or services and create another income stream making the company more adaptable and flexible.
The challenge is to determine where to do business, where to grow, inside or outside Europe.
Given the impending in/out vote now is a time to plan for both scenarios so you are ready to embrace the future. Either outcome will offer plenty of opportunities.
The ability to respond to a rapidly changing economic environment is something a business ignores at its peril.  This is why a culture of continuous improvement is essential to any 21st century business.