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FBP 013: How Many Plates Are You Spinning? with Ray Moore

 

In episode 013 of the Fluid Business Podcast David and Laura chat with Ray Moore to discuss The Levels Blog and in particular, the post “How many plates are you spinning.

Do you remember those circus acts where one man rushed around the ring spinning rows and rows of plates? Interestingly Ray meets many business owners whose daily routine is just like that circus act.

Often getting distracted by unnecessary ‘stuff’ and then having to dash around to keep everything just under control but never having time to finish anything off.

Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner, to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subjects areas in our unique and relaxed way, including: Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

 

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FBP 012: Would You Re-employ Again? Workshop With Andy Sleet

 

If you could ‘sack’ everyone that you currently employ today (without fear of tribunal, notice or termination payments or indeed without any other repercussion) who would you re-employ tomorrow?

Episode 012 of the Fluid Business Podcast is the first workshop in the series. David, Andy and Laura discuss the Values vs. Results Matrix.

Follow along with this workshop to determine if you would re-employ your team!

Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner, to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subjects areas in our unique and relaxed way, including: Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

 

 

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FBP 011: Improve your Team Communication with the DiSC Profiling Tool

 

In episode 011 of the Fluid Business Podcast David and Laura sit down with Fluid Business Coach Hugo Heij to discuss the power of DiSC and how it can be used to improve your team's communication.

Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner, to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subjects areas in our unique and relaxed way, including: Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

 

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FBP 010: Delivery Consistency – With Natalie Moore – Fluid Business Podcast

 

In episode 010 of the Fluid Business Podcast Laura is joined by Natalie Moore, Managing Director at Fluid Business Coaching to discuss the importance of delivery consistency and when the customer experience starts.

This is the Fluid Business Podcast. Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subject areas in our unique and relaxed way, including: Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

 

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FBP 008: Stuck On Business Growth With Peter Boolkah – Fluid Business Coach

 

Are you finding it difficult to grow your business? Does it seem like every time you try, you end up going forward one step and back two?

In episode 008 of the Fluid Business Podcast David and Laura discuss business growth with Fluid Business Coach Peter Boolkah – and the common excuses and mistakes that people make. Peter reveals how to avoid getting stuck on business growth.

This is the Fluid Business Podcast. Our team of professional business coaches share their expert knowledge and experience every single week, empowering you, the business owner, to develop and grow your business the right way.

Join us as we cover core subject areas in our unique and relaxed way, including; Rapid Growth, Family Business, Team, Efficiency and so much more.

 

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Business is Buoyant for Essex Entrepreneurs

Business is Buoyant for Essex Entrepreneurs

Essex is a county enjoying a positive outlook this spring as business continues to grow, and jobs and wages are set to increase.

A poll of 60 leading Essex businesses owners by Chelmsford based business coaching firm Fluid has discovered that the next 12 months will be incredibly buoyant for our enterprising county;

  • 50% of those polled would see their businesses grow by over 50% in the next 12 months.
  • 50% of the businesses polled expect to increase their headcount by four, some by as many as 20 people
  • 90% of firms polled will be increasing staff wages across the board

“It seems that Essex is ‘recession proof' said Ray Moore, Managing Coach at Fluid Business Coaching and author of best-selling business growth guide The Levels, “we’ve been working with individuals and businesses (as Team Results) for eight years now and I am delighted that things look so positive. National figures for Start Up Britain listed Chelmsford at # 20 in their most entrepreneurial cities and this research certainly re-enforces this.”

Continuing Ray said, “The challenge now is for Essex businesses to step up to the growth challenge, and to strive to increase the number of 250+ employee firms based in the county. To this end we intend to maintain a focus on ensuring Essex has a clear template for growth, and will continue to work with our clients and colleagues in local government to achieve this.”

Its good news also for apprentices as over 50% of the businesses interviewed will be increasing their head count or creating an apprenticeship scheme during the next 12 months.

Interestingly the businesses that took part will be using the more traditional offline routes for recruitment: recruitment consultants & offline advertising. Only two companies out of 60 will be using social media routes like LinkedIn.

Encouragingly 90% of the businesses will be increasing wages across the board. With 30% increasing wages by as much as 10%.

Fluid also wanted to get the opinions of the Essex based companies on the wider business landscape: when asked where they saw the most potential for growth in the next 12 months many (30%) attributed it to overseas trade with other reasons sited being organic growth via sales team (5%) & the growth of the UK building industry (10%).

We then moved on to the issue of Essex infrastructure unsurprisingly the businesses polled would like to see investment in Essex’ road & rail networks(45%) namely A12 & A13. Other infrastructure issues that need addressing are improved WIFI speeds and more support for start-ups!

The overwhelming response when we asked our business owners if they would like to see the UK remain in the EU after the general election was a resounding Yes (75%).

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Fifth Waste- Doing More than Needed

In any business we should strive to reduce operational expense AND reduce inventories AND increase throughput simultaneously. Lean management is a technique by which we can achieve this goal as at its core is the identification and removal of waste within the business. There are seven typical types of waste that are found and in this article we explore:

Doing More Than Needed

This is a very common waste that is prevalent in most businesses that I assess. Let me explain a few examples.

When is a Job Finished?

Let’s assume we run a business that builds websites for their clients. We have a meeting at the beginning of the relationship where we obtain the brief of what the client requires in the way of a website. We agree a price for the work and then we get started. Now, when exactly can we say the job is finished? With something such as a website there is always something you can change to make it better. Three people can look at it and have an opinion as to whether the layout should be changed slightly, whether the font should be slightly bigger, changes to the colours etc. This is subjective and can consume a lot of time so be careful to deliver to the customers’ expectations but not go too far in using up our valuable time.

Over Order to Cover all Eventualities

This is a waste that appears again in all areas of the business. If we look at say the marketing department, and assume they have a marketing strategy running where they are going to send out flyers to advertise an event. Now at the beginning they don’t know exactly how many flyers they are going to need so they estimate and add on a few for safety so they don’t run out. They run the campaign and use the flyers they need but invariably there are some left over that weren’t needed, very rarely do we have just the right amount. Now I can understand why we do this, as running out is far worse than having a few too many, however if we go and look through our store cupboards they are often full of old flyers, components, materials, products that have become obsolete and need to be chucked on the nearest skip. All of this has to be paid for in terms of the effort to produce in the first place, the storage costs, the time moving stock and searching in the store for the one thing you do need, and then finally the time and costs in clearing out and scrapping the stuff in the end. By getting the amounts right in the first place we could make huge savings down the road.

Extras to Cover Scrap

Similarly to the example above, let’s say our process doesn’t always deliver 100% every time, we tend to make a few more just in case. The work we must do in terms of waste reduction here is to concentrate on getting our errors to a minimum. We must look at the root cause as to why there are rejects in our production so that we can make one for one each time.

Keeping the Team Busy

How often have we got to a situation where the customer demand has quietened a little and so we have a little extra time on our hands? Now often we love these times because it gives us time to get ahead of the demand. We utilise our team to make stock of all sorts and fill up all the buffers ready for when the big push comes again. This is a natural instinct but can often lead to similar problems as described above. Bulging stores with stock everywhere, no room to swing a cat, and then the big push comes; the customers’ orders come flooding in, the problem generally is that it’s not for the stuff you’ve made but for something completely different. Now with no room to work in, this process becomes very difficult. We should spend more time on getting ourselves geared up to react quickly in these circumstances so we can operate without the huge stock piles.

Productive Avoidance

There is a great temptation when business becomes a little quiet to look at our existing clients and ‘over service’. The main reason for this is that we either don’t know how to do marketing or don’t like doing the marketing to get new customers. At this point our minds own preservation mechanism kicks in and we become guilty of ‘productive avoidance’. To put this in perspective, it’s amazing how busy I can become (convince myself of) when I’m avoiding doing something I know I should be doing and don’t like doing. To make myself busy I generally will look at my existing clients and find extra things that I can do for them. Now I’m an advocate of looking after my customers, however, we need to draw the line somewhere and be aware of this waste of ‘over servicing’. Now as usual, I think if we all look at our own businesses and the people that we employ, there is evidence of this all around. A good ‘Lean’ thinker will become aware of this and be ready to stamp it out.

This is just a few examples again that are visible in many organisations; there are many more. Please be vigilant, take the principles and apply them to your environment to discover the waste going on in your organisation.

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Fourth Waste – Transport (Parts Travelling)

In any business we should strive to reduce operational expense AND reduce inventories AND increase throughput simultaneously. ‘Lean’ management is a technique by which we can achieve this goal as at its core is the identification and removal of waste within the business. There are seven typical types of waste that are found and in this article we explore:

Transport

This waste is one of those that isn’t often discussed but has a huge impact on costs for a business.

Too Much Stock

In many businesses it is customary to hold a lot of stock to bring down the lead times for delivery to the customer. Let’s assume that the customer requires delivery of the product that they’ve bought in 24 hours however it takes 72 hours to make or bring in the product. The common solution is for us to hold larger quantities of stock so that we can deliver inside the 24 hours required by the customer. Now with this large quantity of stock we require a large store room and not only have we tied up our cash flow we also have products everywhere. A customer order comes in and invariably the products they want are at the bottom of the pile of stock so we have to move everything out of the way to get what is required. All this moving of stock around is waste (parts travelling) which is adding no value to the process. Not only that, it increases the chance of the product being damaged. An efficient solution to this problem is to reduce our internal lead-times so that we can make or buy in to order and not have huge stock around.

Workplace Layout Inefficient

If we could put a tracer on any object in our business and then record exactly where it travels throughout it’s time with us, I wonder how far and how many trips it makes. Consider for example the life of a purchase order once placed. How many places does it visit on its way around the organisation? How many desks does it sit on whilst it’s waiting to be processed through various systems? These days many companies have overcome this problem by installing a computer system that passes the purchase order around electronically reducing the physical distance moved. When any object is transported from one place to another it generally take s a person to transport it, therefore we should consider reducing the distance between the places that it is needed so that they are located in the same vicinity and minimising this waste.

Components Ordered

Assume I run a building company. I receive a customer order from a client to build them a new garage. I order the raw materials from my supplier and then have them delivered to my builder’s yard. These get off loaded from their lorry and get moved around and stored on my site. The next day when I go to start building the garage, I load all the materials on my lorry again and take them to the job where needed. Often this will be back in the same direction from where they came in the first place. Now perhaps I should arrange with my supplier to deliver them direct to site so we all cut down on the costs of transport and fuel which are not exactly cheap. In fact if we consider the multiple journeys that most goods take from the manufacturers to get to where they are needed there are generally many people involved in the chain, each with their costs added on.

Transport Costs

Now taking a look at the bigger picture, a final point for your consideration.

We must accept as with all of these wastes that some can’t be avoided but by doing some careful management we can make a significant impact on the margins involved with it. Imagine a business which is almost entirely based around transport, say a haulage company. Yes, effectively there is a lot that we can do about planning routes and making the most efficient use of the transport and this is a given. However, I’m shocked when I visit these types of companies that the one thing that I would have thought that they would measure as standard is the fuel consumption of their vehicles. Now large lorries don’t do many miles to the gallon and when we recently asked the owner what he thought his lorries would get he stated he expected between 5 and 6 miles per gallon. Just off the top of my head that’s a difference of over 20%, so what haulier would like to save 20% on their fuel bill? When we asked the same business to check what the lorry manufacturer believed should be achieved he stated between 10 to 12 miles per gallon! Just measure on each vehicle and each driver along with suitable training as to how to get the best out of the vehicle totally transformed the fuel costs in a business.

This begs the question, what should you be measuring in your business right now?

Transport forms a large waste in many businesses and we need to think about the examples listed about and apply the concepts to all areas in our business to see where it applies and how we may reduce it.

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Third Waste – Motion (People Travelling)

In any business we should strive to reduce operational expense AND reduce inventories AND increase throughput simultaneously. ‘Lean’ management is a technique by which we can achieve this goal as at its core is the identification and removal of waste within the business. There are seven typical types of waste that are found and in this article we explore:

Motion

The third waste in this series is where we have our team members travelling unnecessarily. Let’s look at 4 common examples business owners should consider:

The Classic ‘Work meetings’

Although I’m a great advocate of the face to face meeting it still amazes me the amount of time we have groups of people together from far and wide for the team meeting. Sometimes they’ve got up early and travelled 2/3 hours to get to the venue for the early start, or arrived the night before and stayed in a local hotel, or simply travelled the length of the office to get there. Each of these can be considered a waste as it doesn’t add value to the service offered to the client.
Now I’m not saying that we should abolish these immediately, however I do think that we should challenge old views and think how we can reduce the time spent travelling. Firstly, how important are all these meetings? Is it vital to hold them so regularly? Does anything useful come out of them? Secondly, if we do need them, how can we make sure they are located in such a way to reduce the bulk of the travelling? Could we use a better location or try Video Conferencing instead?

Not Having Everything to Hand

I was recently talking to a car repair garage and they pointed out the huge variety in mechanic performance against standard hours. The mechanic that seemed to take his time and be unflustered in his tasks, had an output on average half as much again as the younger more enthusiastic members of the team. After observing him- it transpired that the wise head would get all the tools and parts ready for the job before he got into the cramped space under the dashboard meaning that once he got into the contorted position to do the job he had everything in hand to finish the job. The younger more enthusiastic heads were so keen to get going that they rushed to the job without everything that was needed, then had to get out from under the dashboard half a dozen times to fetch the other things they had forgotten. All this caused unnecessary travelling and slowed the job down. Each time they got back in position they had to get their head in gear as to where they had got to.

How many times have I started a DIY project at home only to find I need some more materials and end up doing 2 or 3 trips a day to the DIY store? It would have been far more efficient for me to spend a few minutes longer planning and getting all i needed in the one trip!

Travelling to Sales Meet

Salesmen often have the opinion that if they’re on the way to a client it must be a good thing. So how often have we got to the client and found that they’ve forgotten the appointment and are not in the office? A simple call to the client just before we leave could save a whole series of unnecessary journeys.
Maybe we are visiting a potential client. We get there and they are in this time, we spend 15 minutes chatting to them and establish that they’re not even interested in our offering at all. Many salesman use a pre-qualification process which ensures we’re not going out on wild goose chases!

Correct Flow

Let’s think about our work area and how we use our space effectively.

I worked with a business recently that was very cramped in terms of space; in fact, they didn’t have room to swing a cat! When we looked at it there was a huge rack against the wall that was in prime working space. When I questioned what the ‘stuff’ was on the rack, I was told it was all old stock that was being kept because it was valued on the company’s Balance Sheet and could come in handy one day. When I asked how long it had been there the answer came back… 14 years! Now, I can hear you saying, ‘that would never happen in my company’. This was exactly the disbelief I heard from the owners of the company I was dealing with. Because this rack was taking up valuable shop floor space, the operators were having to store the next job to go on the machine in the adjoining factory. It took roughly ½ an hour each time the operator finished one job to go and find the next. Is this happening in your business? We often overlook things we see every day.

Now these are obviously only a few examples of the normal things that are happening in many businesses. The challenge for all of us is to take a step back from the ‘coalface’ from time to time and cast a critical eye over what is actually going on, challenge the status quo and make the necessary changes in a timely manner.