- Are you saying that a person can lift himself by his hair?
- Absolutely! Every reasonable person just has to do it from time to time!
"The Adventures of Baron Munchausen", Rudolf Raspé.
I remember that the famous baron, having got into a difficult situation, when his horse got stuck in the swamp, was able to save himself by lifting his hair. Unfortunately, Munchausen is alone, and the heads of companies in difficulty are many. And not all of them can help themselves so easily. So what can we do?
To solve such questions there are whole directions in business environment - consulting services. What is consulting and what does a consultant look like with truly phenomenal skills that he uses to save or adjust a business? Let's take a look at these questions in this article.
A Philosophical Excursion into History
Any business as a living organism. Can a company successfully develop "on its own"? You will say that it is real. And the human being? It is not known what would have happened if he had not been able to heal. And he is successfully helped by doctors.
In the business environment, it is consulting, a service that arose according to the law of supply and demand. The emergence of the first consulting firms was facilitated by the development of "Theory of Scientific Business Management", which originated in the second half of the 19th century. The main postulate of this theory can be formulated as follows: "Using observations, logic and analysis, it is possible to optimize most operations and business processes to achieve more efficient execution".
Wikipedia's first consulting companies are "Arthur D.Little" in accounting and "Buuz Allen Hamilton" in management consulting. By universal standards, a century and a half is quite recent. Since then, the European Federation of Economic and Management Consultants - FEACO - has been successfully organized on our continent in 1960. The standards of the world-class profession are set by the International Council of Management Consultant Associations - CMC GLOBAL. At present, it includes 52 countries.
Types of consulting
Consulting is consulting of managers and executives on strategic, legal, financial and other issues. Accordingly, a specialist with expert knowledge and advice in a particular area is called a consultant.
The need for consulting comes not only at the "fire extinguishing" stage. Consultants are also engaged to achieve specific goals of the company: accelerate growth, optimize costs, implement information systems, IPO. Published information about the results of the audit of the company is a necessary image component of the business, affecting its value in the eyes of investors.
According to FEACO classification, the following consulting areas can be distinguished:
- Strategic. Market analysis, business planning, strategy development, management of large structural reorganizations.
- Operational. Integration of business solutions into all processes: supplier relations, customer relations, logistics, research and product development.
- Sales and marketing. Evaluation and launch of a set of measures to stimulate sales. Portfolio management and branding, digital marketing.
- Finance and risk management. Analysis, planning and implementation of management models aimed at optimizing enterprise risks: credit, operational, market and other.
- Human resources and changes. Human resources strategies, personnel development, motivation and remuneration systems.
- Technologies. Strategic support of solutions related to planning and implementation of new technologies for business applications. Including IT networks, as well as security architecture and data center.
- Specific issues. For example, environmental, legal, consulting in the public sector or telecommunications.
Please note that a consultant does not have a "magic wand" that fulfills any wishes of the investor and business owner. A competent specialist will help to understand the pressing problems and show the most acceptable way out of this situation.
Perfect consultant. Who is he?
What does a master of his craft - a consultant in consulting look like? As a rule, this is a person with sufficient experience in the field of management and business development, with analytical mind, operating with common sense and iron logic.
His reputation is very expensive, because it consists of a series of defeats and victories, which he received during the period of building his own business. Now his competence allows applying his unique knowledge and all his experience to build business processes in a consulting format.
Let's imagine a picture: morning, bell:
- Good afternoon, I do not know how to express my need…
- Speak as you are!
- I need to increase sales immediately, and I do not know where to start!!!
The morning call to the consulting company office came from a client who was desperate. It was necessary to sort it out. Already in 3 hours there was a meeting in the office. As it turned out, the client was engaged in the production and sale of swimming pools in several Eastern European countries.
In previous years, managers did not particularly "rush into battle", as the director and the owner had many sales channels based on agreements from the distant 90s. As they say, "If you don't grease it, you won't go". Now, the market rules have become much tougher. In addition, the crisis of 2008 and 2014 hit the target audience hard, because the average receipt of such a purchase is 10-15 thousand euros.
There was an emergency analysis of all business processes and an audit of advertising activity. The analysis of the work performed showed an unsatisfactory situation within the company. Business processes were dispersed, employees worked "in the old fashioned way" - took into account their activity and sales in the form of an Excel table. Production and sales were, in fact, separated and were in a state of artificial competition. One could write about marketing activity in the saga "Fighting Good with Evil…".
All this had to be put in order. The consultants of the consulting company started with simple and clear points:
- building business processes within a company,
- implementation of an electronic management and document flow system, which allowed for increased communication between employees.
A new plan for production and sales was then implemented. All product positions were structured and ranked according to profitability. Those that did not bring profit were removed from the product range. The most profitable products - were prioritized for production, the design of the packaging was updated.
Also, to increase sales, the company's marketing department was created separately, which took over the function of product presentation on all channels where the target audience was, by the way, very fastidious and conservative. A new website, social pages, videos, printed products and other tools were launched to attract customers. The main emphasis in the advertising company was placed on the search networks, which really managed to attract the audience very quickly, to keep it and transfer it to the status of buyers.
It turned out that the consumer was interested to learn more about the products, and in such a convenient format. As a result, customers were quicker to make purchase decisions and the number of requests increased.
Five months later, the result was clear: sales went up and financial performance began to bring joy not only to the consulting company, but also to the client. By the end of the marketing year, the result of the consultant's work was a significant increase in sales in both the regular and premium segments. Or, to be more precise, the pool manufacturing company not only maintained its position, but also raised sales by 70%, returning some of the lost market.
What contributed to success? As one of the factors - a new look at the business processes of sales and marketing of such a conservative product as swimming pools. Competitors simply did not expect this to be possible. And when they realized it was too late to launch a counterattack, and they began to copy. But, as you know, the leader does not stand still, and the pool company has a strategic development plan for the next year, taking into account previous experience.
Geography of presence
Business is growing, and along with it, responsibility and standards are increasing. New technologies are not to be discounted. And with a competent approach, you can significantly reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary costs.
The world does not stand still. Robotic production systems, artificial intelligence, Blockchain and many other modern technologies are increasingly being implemented in companies. It is the business consultant who will help to choose the right tools, to create a strategy of development or modernization, as well as to attract narrow specialists to address all issues that hinder business development and profit making.
What is in the dry residue?
The one who could get himself out of the swamp by the hair has great courage and deserves respect. We can avoid such extreme options. So let me give you a simple advice: when contacting consultants, remember that a correctly asked question is already half of the answer. Even the most ingenious "doctor's prescription" makes no sense without its application by the "patient". And most importantly, do not forget the winged saying of Baron Munchausen:
- I understand what your problem is. You are too serious. All foolishness on earth is done with this expression on your face… Smile, gentlemen, smile.