After leaving the work force as a VP of Supply Chain and Operations with a successful track record, I knew I could help executives improve business performance; however, I had no idea how to find clients. Thus, I immersed myself in the keys to success of starting a thriving consulting practice. I discovered that referrals were much more important than a “nice-to-have”; they would make or break success. Fast-forward 11 years, and I have built my business on this tenet – it is a relationship business. At least 95% of my business has resulted from repeat business and referrals.
What do referral sources want? Results. If I can help ensure success, they will bring me back – and tell all of their friends. Thus, although process and systems expertise is required, the key to success goes back to people – culture change, change management, and leadership.
Unfortunately, the best strategy or plan becomes useless if not executed effectively. If your team isn’t on board, you will not succeed. Similarly, if your customers and suppliers aren’t on board, it is not likely you’ll succeed. Similarly, if you communicate the plan but don’t involve people in the design, ask them for feedback, and give them the chance to try out new ideas, you won’t have long-term success. If you don’t address poor performers, your stars will lose their motivation.
Earlier today, I saw an amazing piece of technology and a substantial upgrade to warehouse operations. It expands capacity for growth, provides efficiency improvements, speeds up the process (shortens lead times) and provides a host of other benefits; however, it will be similar to hiding a new Maserati convertible in your garage if the people don’t come along for the ride. Remember to focus attention on culture change – and people.