Case Study Project Description
Two partners had built a sizeable operation catering to the booming construction market. Sales were double digit and growth was outpacing their ability to manage resources. There was a tight labor market and experienced people were in short supply.
The partners were nearing an age when they had to start thinking about succession planning. And frankly, the stress of keeping it all together without the right people was taking a toll on their health and their working relationship. What would it take to sell they wondered?
Their immediate problem seemed to be their frustration at the lack of self responsibility amongst their managers and site staff. Tempers often flared. Perhaps this was leading to the desire to sell?
We looked at their entire operation from the people issues right through to the way they estimated and sold jobs. Each year, despite increases in revenues and more jobs coming their way, the profit margin was slipping. We showed them how this fluctuating profit margin would affect the sales price. We were able to pinpoint the reasons for the fluctuations and began to set up a key performance indicator system. Reorganizing the company’s roles and responsibilities to get this information reported was critical. The reporting responsibility would be assigned to teams and individuals. A new incentive system would be awarded based on managers’ ability to produce the indicators in a timely manner.
On the people front, we challenged the way the senior managers and owners communicated and taught them tools to start making adjustments in their attitudes, reactions and styles. Managers started to learn how to work to their own strengths and focus on amplifying what they did do well. The reorganization opened up promotion opportunities and suddenly with good role descriptions and incentives, people within the organization were applying. The owners were coached in how to collect useful information and make decisions together while respecting each other’s differences and ways of working. They split up duties so that each played to their strengths.
It will probably take 2-3 years for their profit margins to improve and show year to year consistency and growth and possibly four to seven years to grow the company to the level that would make it worthwhile enough for the price the partners want for it. They have settled into this realization and are already seeing improvement in staff attitudes and the way work gets done, which has brought down the stress levels considerably.
Variances are declining and the focus is on learning to build a better management system so that projects flow through the company in the most cost effective manner. The key performance indicators will soon give the owners the freedom to be away from the office more often as they will have critical decision making data. The management performance system will allow them to build trust and capability through the ranks so that they don’t have to be there all the time. These types of changes are exactly what an investor wants to see.