MD Viewpoint – Things are looking tickety-boo: A banker told me…

Things are looking tickety-boo: A banker told me…

danny-williamsI have now met this chap twice and, despite being an investment banker he was jolly good company.  The first time we met he intimated that his company was actually looking at investing in certain companies involved in the home improvement window market. Of course, I gave him the full benefit of my lengthy and much admired expertise and industry insight and we all had a very enjoyable time.

Recently and around a year after our first conversation we happened to be drawn together again for another Primary Industrial Strategic Summit – Universal Planning meeting. Now, my new friend’s firm is the proud owner of shares in three high profile (geddit?) window firms, and he is very happy indeed with the performance of said investments; one share has almost tripled in value since his company brought in and I suspect they’ve got more than a handful of them.

This heartens me no end as indeed it should both of you reading this: whilst I and probably most of my contemporaries run our businesses by the seat of our pants, using the same highly honed instincts and intuitions to run our businesses as we use to choose our horses, these banker boyos are surely working with something a tad more professional and calculated (although the banking crisis would of course suggest not).

Either way, although far from the days when orders fell from the skies like confetti, things are not too bad either, as measured by our own trading figures. I have experienced worse, much much worse. But now that my banker friend has confirmed his exposure, even in broad terms, I departed from the occasion with an even warmer and rosier glow.

Why didn’t I think of that…?

A touch of genius by one of our primary suppliers, which has at a stroke, dramatically reduced and even eradicated quality and shortages claims from its customers. All claims must now be reported within three days of delivery, reduced at a stroke from two weeks. Simple eh?

You can lead a horse to water…

My regular readers will know that as my own business has undergone considerable change in the past year or so, I have become interested in the dynamics of what is a management discipline in itself. ‘Change Management’ is a process that requires and has received a great deal of study and for its proponents, considerable training in order to help those less able to implement key revisions to their businesses.

As is the way of things those with smaller businesses and without access to such sublime skills tend to look to larger organisations and the people that run them for insights as to how to deal with problems they may be facing, and for which they believe the solution lies in a chat over coffee. That happens frequently in my own humble world and often a quick chat serves to confirm what was being considered anyway.

Recently however one of my punters was bemoaning the Internet and how it was killing his business, despite the World Wide Web hardly being a new phenomenon. Previously this company was always a cut above the rest: great products of course (mine!) but marketed, sold and installed well and with great follow up marketing and customer support too. But they are stuck in a time warp and, whilst they are still effective they are losing out to what they believe – and probably is – inferior competition.

I was asked why I thought they were struggling and of course, I identified the one glaring area in which they are lacking, in my view. No website and nothing therefore that follows – certainly no social media, Facebook page or anything that should be put into place to develop and drive customer relationships and loyalty and ultimately of course, new orders, recommendations and repeat business.

My customer has of course ignored my observations and advice and carried on regardless; he may well survive though with reduced sales and will of course continue to blame the Internet rather than embrace it. An extreme example these days but a prime one of Luddite behaviour; I wonder if he allows his fitters to use power tools…

Talking of technology…

I LOVE new technology; can’t get enough of it. But this week I have experienced conflicting results of my embrace of all things new and especially those that blink and buzz.

Good tech…

Just last week I was visiting me old mum in Scotland and called in to the motorway services on the M74 near Douglas where I was impressed to see a row of Tesla charging points, made even more significant as they are in such a relatively remote area; often such new technology tends to be restricted to trendy parts of London, never to find favour further than the Home Counties. But here they were, a row of Tesla Superchargers, miles from the Smoke and surely, most rich lefty tree huggers.

So I looked into Tesla and against pretty much against every one of my instincts an electric car is now at the top of my Christmas list. They have performance that can outpace a supercar, in absolute silence and you run it for free if you choose the Model S, which is a good looking if slightly anonymous motor.

I also love that someone with no background in motors has created Tesla from scratch. Elon Musk, who has made a couple of bob from PayPal, from what I can see has made greater advances in the development of electric cars than any of the giant car producers. And frankly to get me, a committed petrolhead, to even look at the things let alone poised to buy one, is amazing.

Behind all of this of course is my innate desire to save the planet and do my thing for the environment. That electric motors are tax efficient and fuel is free is neither here nor there of course but does reinforce the case. An electric motor plus my recent change from a motorboat to sail will do much to ease my green conscience; the Rangey must go too – offers anyone?

Failed tech…

I was persuaded to upgrade the iPhone to the latest model, the 6S…and whilst I was about it, I thought the ‘+’ model would be the way to go…only the biggest and best for Danny boy. Almost from taking it out of the box begins the evidence that confirms biggest is not always best. The phone rings and if it’s in my jacket pocket it’s like removing a bedstead; and the only time I put it in my trouser pocket I nearly gave myself a sex change when I sat down. If it’s on the desk, however I try and pick it up I need two hands; and when using it it’s like holding a tea tray against my ear. Forget typing: only the fingers of a mutant could possibly achieve any sort of speed using this thing.  Enough is enough! Now which one of my clan hinted they wanted a new phone for Christmas…?

All of which brings me nicely on to wishing both of my loyal readers, my many customers and friends in the industry and of course, my ever tolerant and forgiving editor, a PC uncensored ‘Very Happy Christmas’ and of course, a Prosperous 2016.

See you next year.

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