Small Medium Enterprise Seminar provides food for thought

The latest seminar in the current Growth Guide Seminar series was presented by Dave Lewis of Vantagepoint, an independent research house, in association with Barry Mosley of Winstanley Kerridge and Tony Pratt of Westpac.

The latest seminar in the current Growth Guide Seminar series was presented by Dave Lewis of Vantagepoint, an independent research house, in association with Barry Mosley of Winstanley Kerridge and Tony Pratt of Westpac. The seminar covered 4 main areas highlighted in the latest growth guide report outcomes of the Small Medium Enterprise research recently undertaken.

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The four key areas highlighted by Dave Lewis are detailed below together with some of the useful tips and findings from the research.

• Customer information at your fingertips. “The reality is you probably have a lot more information within your business than you realise”.
- Be clear about what customer information will be useful and what you will use it for.
- Encourage customers to contribute by making it worth their while – offer an incentive if this helps.
- Make it easy for customers to complain and use this information to improve your business.
- Ensure capturing customer information is an easy part of the sales process.
- You don’t need a customised CRM (customer relationship management) system to do this.
- Review the information regularly to monitor trends or recurring themes.
- As you get more sophisticated, arm your sales staff with smartphone apps. Make it really easy to record what is traditionally kept in their heads.
- As you grow this can get complex quickly. Consider using external expert to help with the hard stuff – whether analysing data or running a marketing campaign – it’ll be money well spent.

• Turning staff into stars. “To grow your business, first grow your people”.
- Improving team performance is complex – there is no rule book to suit all businesses. However a couple of key points to keep in mind when you’re developing your teams are;
- Identify what is right for your particular business situation, and for the individuals within your business.
- Develop specific plans and communicate as widely and openly as possible with your team.
- Don’t run hot and cold on people development – stay committed to the plan.

• Embracing new technology. “Change is everywhere. The pace is fast – and getting faster”.
- Question everything – are you truly providing your customers what they want? How is the market changing? What could you do differently?
- Never be satisfied with the status quo. Be hungry for new ideas.
- Staff can be your greatest supporters and often have brilliant insights into the company and it’s challenges. Provide them with an avenue to bring these ideas out as they’ll be the ones masking a lot of change happen.
- Successful change takes energy – lots of it. Often, the energy required is underestimated, so work closely with staff who are most affected to ensure morale is maintained.
- Changes takes time – be patient yet persistent as you implement improvements.
- And finally don’t let whizz-bang new innovations distract you from the important operational work that keeps your business running smoothly.

• Capturing technology benefits. “It can enhance normal business operations through productivity gains, streamlining customer management and dramatically enhance business efficiency.”
- 59% of high growth SME’s now use cloud based systems.
- Nearly 40% of high growth SME’s have job management and tracking systems compared to just 27% of declining SME’s.
- ¼ of all SME’s still do not have a business website!
- 57% of high growth SME’s use a tablet compared to only 36% of declining SME’s.

• Some advice about advisers. “Getting the right business advice can be a minefield”.
- 49% of high growth SME’s most value their Chartered Accountants to help improve business performance.
- 26% most value training and learning courses.
- 22% most value consultants / business mentors.
- 20% most value their Bank Manager
- 20% most value trade or local business associations.
- 8% most value government agencies.
- The key point is that accountants still lead the way as respected advisors.
- As business grows there is an increasing recognition of establishing an advisory board to focus on areas where the business needs to develop and provide guidance on where and how to grow.

Should the topics raised above provide food for thought and you wish to discuss these further please do not hesitate to contact Barry Mosley on 03 578 0180 or email mosley@winkerr.co.nz

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