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How to Focus on Selling without Projects Suffering

In talking about mistakes my mentor pointed out, that fateful day 1996. He noted staff were running around 50+ hours a week, yet still taking 4 days to return calls from customers. I was working hard and still losing money, what could be done.

You may have the same challenge, busy on projects one day, then scrambling to find the next contract, back and forth with no end in sight. Everyone is pulling twice their weight, really earning their checks, but every week you dread payroll for cash flow is still tight.

That's exactly where I was, facing the roller coaster income syndrome. I've already shared solutions to receivable problems, length proposal processes, profitability and other issues I faced. At first I thought I needed more people but my burden rate was already very high.

My mentor showed me that while staff looked busy, they weren't really. The sad part was that I really couldn't tell my mentor what they were doing, but they swore they were busy.

While some of these ideas may be obvious to the successful manager, they were foreign to me. Here's what was suggested and it made all the difference to my business:

Now some of these ideas seem down right autocratic, but lets not forget that you're a business, not a charity. Staff come to the office to work and will if you provide clear guidelines. The problem is when your office is so unorganized that people are literally slaving away to catch up (or worse, frustrated and screwing around.)

You'll find that many employees will push back some of the ideas shared here. That's a real shame because after the second year, I didn't lose a single employee until the company closed in 1999. With this advice, I had a small core staff with contractors responsible for the bulk of my production labor.

My IT consultancy started out as a service shop, then transformed to a marketing company. As a marketer of IT consulting services, it seemed I had an unlimited supply of labor and could drive revenue more quickly. If you want to be a leader in your industry, you can own your market by outselling your competition. In effect, I owned my competition in 8 states because my firm provided most of their regular contracts.

After putting these ideas in place, I was able to maintain a staff of 5 who in turn managed 27 subcontractors, each with 10 to 75 technicians in the field. Margins were significantly improving as the company grew in size until the dot.com bust.

In future letters I'll share with you contract mistakes I made, errors in collection, and what happened when I forgot about our number one objective. Until then, your questions are welcome.

If you are facing a specific challenge in your company, reply with your comments. Just remember, we're not pen-pals, so keep responses brief and to the point.

© 2008 JWH Consolidated LLC, All rights reserved.

Justin Hitt turns struggling information technology consulting firms into profit generating dynamos. Discover for yourself, visit https://www.justinhitt.com/
/ business-strategy | management-strategy /

By Justin Hitt at May 1, 2007 10:15 AM  Subscribe in a reader

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