Customer Service Evaluation News 1/1/12

How to plan for growth by taking an investor’s look at your company 123

Whatever their long-term plans for a company may be, owners and investors are interested in increasing the value of their companies. When an owner takes the perspective of an outside, objective investor in looking at the company, he may see more clearly opportunities to grow value.

This type of analysis gives a company the ability to identify opportunities to increase long-term value and creates an important roadmap to help increase the likelihood of success. This strategic roadmap, coupled with a long-term tactical plan for increasing value, is critical for any company that wants to succeed in today’s highly competitive global market.

This means looking beyond your five-year plan and considering what your business will look like and how your customer base will have changed 10 to 15 years from now and beyond.

“Companies that have the highest value are those with a track record of sustainable growth in sales and profitability, and that both understand their customers’ needs and meet those needs as effectively and efficiently as possible,” says Cathy Roper, director of financial advisory services at Brown Smith Wallace. “They know what they do better than the competition  — whether that’s speed of delivery, customer service, or low pricing — and really focus in on refining and communicating those differentiating factors.”

The tried-and-true SWOT analysis is an important evaluation tool. Identifying the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can help an organization define a path toward success in the new economy.

“Other less time-consuming options can also provide an organization with actionable insights,” says Tony Caleca, member in charge of audit services. “Tools such as competitive benchmarking can help expedite critical changes in the short term.”

In addition, trade publications are often a great source of information on what best-in-class companies in your industry are doing and what important trends are occurring that may impact your business in the future.

However they get there, companies need a strategic plan for how they will address industry disruptions, changes in the work force, global competition, and the online business world and its lack of borders. There’s also the question of, “What’s next?” and figuring out how to execute a succession plan, particularly considering the aging population and its effect on future management at all companies, especially private and family-owned businesses.

“A big part of figuring out the next step is to carefully assess your key managers and your entire work force,” says Bill Willbrand, member in charge of industry services. “Do you have the talent pool in place to take your business to the next level? And, more important, what does that next level look like? Who are your customers and what do you offer them? How will you get to where you want to be from where you are today?”

Accomplishing all this is admittedly a big task, but having the support and guidance of a team of professionals who can bring independent, specialized perspectives on these business issues can help position a company for accelerated growth.

“Whether the long-term plan involves selling the business, growing it through acquisitions, or any number of strategic moves, business leaders need help looking at their companies with an investor’s critical eye so they can make the best decisions to reach their goals,” says Ted Flom, member in charge, risk advisory services. “This means facing up to the hard questions, answering them and executing the answers. It’s a challenging process, but it’s essential to ensure sustainable growth.”

Smart Business spoke with this team of professionals at Brown Smith Wallace about how to position your company to succeed.


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