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Archive for September, 2008

Yesterday the market dropped 777 points. Today, I am hoping to have sushi for lunch.

In my previous entry, I talked about two things in my personal life that have helped me in my business life. The first being my passion for magic, that is, ‘slight of hand’, illusions, card tricks and not Harry Potter making a broom talk kind of magic. The second being how I did a complete ‘180’ on sushi and went from believing that sushi restaurants were the grandest product of marketing ever, since no one could possibly like that stuff, to tracking all the sushi restaurants I have sampled in my travels across the county.

Magic has helped me because it has taught me to look at things differently, how to think about solutions differently and more often than not, how to not ‘over think’ a situation when the answer may be quite simple…much like a good magic trick.

My love for sushi has helped me because it is probably the single most profound example of me being so entirely wrong about something and the reason I am now enjoying the benefits of being proved wrong, is simply that I tried something new.

Another example would be how I was ‘married’ to my old CRM system…until I tried a new one.

My favorite way to book a hotel could not be beat…until I tried a new one.

I believe you see where this is going.

Times are tough for most business owners. The economy is crawling at a snail’s pace and in order to ‘meet payroll’, many companies are going to have to, while they attempt to figure out the ‘magic trick of the day’…order a nice sampler platter of sushi and try something new.

For the past several years, we have been focusing on revenue growth with our clients. In the past year and a half, we have also learned to focus on cost containment. In doing so, we have learned there are many more ways to save money….big money, beyond keeping the thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter.

A few of the more profound ways we have learned to directly impact your bottom line would be:

Wireless/Cell Phone Rate Plan Optimization – Granted this is more towards companies with a larger number of wireless units, be it AirCards, Blackberries, cell phones but we have learned, apart from the United States Federal Tax Code, there are few things as complicated as understanding a wireless bill/rate plan once you get over a certain amount of units. (Hint: There is a reason for this.) We have worked with companies that have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars annually just by getting an expert to look at their plan, recommend changes and implement those changes.

Negotiate Overnight Shipping Rates – In the A/E/C world, getting something there absolutely, positively the next day takes on a whole new meaning. If you are shipping at ‘retail rates’ there are good people out there than can negotiate for you a better rate or you pay nothing. How can you not want to try this?

Office Supplies – Yes, you can significantly add to your bottom line while purchasing paper clips, ‘sticky notes’ and pens. Negotiate an office supply deal with a national supplier but make sure everyone in your company purchases from that contract. (See previous post on ‘The Cup vs. The Straw’)

These are just a few of the ones we are aware of and have worked with and there are, no doubt, others. The trick is, pun intended, to see things differently, or as Apple suggests, ‘think different’. Never, ever stop working on increasing revenue but at the same time, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, “$10,000 saved, is $10,000 earned.”

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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News flash! The economy is hurting just a tad.

OK, so that is really not any news but what may be news are the many different ways companies in the A/E/C marketplace are changing their operations in order to meet the many challenges of the slow down in their industry.

Increasing revenue is always one of a company’s top priorities. When times are good, cutting costs is sometimes put on a back burner and for understandable reasons. But these are times when we must push both our revenue increasing efforts as well as our cost cutting ones.

So what does this have to do with magic and sushi? Glad you asked. Of all my many interests outside of business, the one that has probably helped me the most is my love for magic. I became interested in magic as a young child but in my freshman year of college; I met a couple of guys who were really into magic. They helped support themselves through school by doing magic shows around the state and they sort of took me under their wing and showed me a few things.

When it came to magic, I learned a lot from Sammy and Steve but two of the main things I learned was (1) never do the same trick twice in a row. It makes it too easy for your audience to figure out the trick and (2) most people ‘over think’ the trick when trying to figure out ‘how’d you do that!” The solution is usually very, very simple.

In learning new illusions or tricks, I had to figure them out on my own as they rarely told me how a trick was done. Unless of course it was Sam who sold me a few…he also taught me a fair amount on negotiating and bartering.

Getting back to the topic of increasing revenue or cutting costs, as well as many other aspects of business, I have learned to take those same thought processes that help me figure out how a magician does something that seems utterly impossible and apply it to real world business situations. Just like in magic, it is often the simplest method that is correct one. This way of thinking has helped me to look at a situation, process many ways to figure out ‘how it’s done’ and finally arrive at what is hopefully the best answer. (Unlike magic, in business it usually takes a little longer to know if you were correct.)

Now, on to the sushi…

There was a time in my life when I was absolutely, totally, 100% convinced that the only reason anyone tried sushi, tasted sushi or ate sushi was because it was the ‘thing to do’. No one could possibly like it. It was raw fish for crying out loud!

I held that worldview for many years until something amazing happened. I tried it. You can now ad sushi to the long list of things I was wrong about. From that day forward, I have been hooked and when asked, ‘Where shall we go eat?” my answer is usually sushi.

The point I am trying to make here is that as we look for ways to improve our bottom line, we may have to ‘hold our nose’ and try some things we never thought we would try. We may have to tilt our head a bit and look to see if there is a way other than for the ‘card to be pulled up the sleeve on a wire’ for it to have disappeared.

In my workshop “Building New Business™” I lead off with a card trick. It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest card tricks ever because its simplicity is only surpassed by the incredible effectiveness of the illusion. I start off with the trick not to show any slight of hand skills I may posses but to get the group suggesting ways how the trick is done. To date, no one who has not seen the trick before has figured it out but it has proven to be a great exercise to get everyone thinking…’how’d he do that.” In other words, thinking of different ways to find a solution.

In part II…we will look at a few ‘sushi items’ you may want to consider giving a try as ways to increase revenue or cut costs. Until then…pick a card, any card.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell@cmconl.com

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