When Advantage Business Systems, Inc. President Scott Day looks back at the changes his dealership went through over the past few years, he sees a remarkable time that involved alterations to major product offerings, management assignements and everything in between. Success, he says, depended on well-informed decisions and flawless planning; something he knew he would need help with since he was staring down the guantlet of an industry ABS had not been entirely familiar with before.
A few years ago, Scott Day had some key decisions to make on behalf of his dealership. He had recently sold a portion of his business which had generated a significant chunk of revenue. His instincts were telling him to get into the copier arena, and yet he didn’t want to do anything to dilute his success within the mailing systems industry. He is a top Neopost dealer in his area.
“Things like this always seem easier on paper, but when you’re dealing with real people who have real heart beats, it’s an entirely different story,” Day says. “I knew I needed help; someone with an outside perspective who’d tell the truth.”
The truth, from Day’s point of view, would have to be thorough if it was going to help ABS. He attended a few Neopost workshops where he got to know more about benchmarking after listening to Jim Kahrs, President and Founder of Prosperity Plus Management Consulting, Inc. He approached Kahrs after one of those workshops to ask him about his consulting programs. That’s where the Dealership Analysis Program came up, and it marked a turning point for ABS that led to one successful action after another.
Developed for dealers in both mailing and copier systems industries, the program is a diagnostic rundown that allows management to see the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at hand.
One of the major pieces that came out of the Dealer Analysis Program was structural in nature. Day was presented with an Organizational Board, a fundamental blueprint for the dealership that sets the patterns and directions for workflow and communication within the company. It is a key ingredient in the Hubbard Management System and something that raises efficiency, productivity and morale wherever it is used.
“The Org Board has given us the ability to function as a larger corporation, which is something we were going to need as we got into the copier marketplace,” Day says. “Having a structure in place makes it much easier to interface with the larger manufacturers from billing on out. We’re able to communicate and interface on a level they are used to and expect. It’s also allowed us to function with more speed, since key decisions can be made by individuals in charge of specific areas vs. having just one person at the top.”
Another key step in the process was the assignment of three directors at the top of the board (Administration, Operations, Sales). For Day this was a significant departure from previous routines. His father ended to manage ABS from the hub of the wheel with himself at the core. The Org Board identifies responsibilities and decision making channels along more decentralized lines, routing actions and information up to an Advisory Council including Day himself. This helps prevent backlogs and stops since people know exactly where the information should flow, how their post relates to the entire scene, and what they are actually creating as a product .
“It wasn’t always easy to get this implemented,” Day recalls.
“With the mixture of people we had on board, there were some folks who were used to working one way for a very long time. It can be difficult to break down old habits and cliques, but with perseverance and support from the consultancy, we started to get the wins necessary to keep going and grow.”
To illustrate this, ABS copier business has grown exponentially to the tune of 300% growth over the past few years."
“I know in we did the right thing by following the Org Board program as it’s laid out,” Day says. “By having everyone lined up according to their posts and by having a senior team of directors at the top, we were able to implement changes we couldn’t have done before. The Org Board has made the difference because it represents a way of running your company as opposed to a chart of who reports to whom. It puts the post ahead of the person which allows you to hire the right person for the job and get three times the volume of production out of them whether they’re in sales, service or administration. We were fortunate to have learned about this when we did, because in today’s economy, you can’t afford a hit or miss strategy.”