Double Revenue and then Sell

CompuWeigh provides bulk weigh scales to the grain industry. More importantly they sell automation services and Smart Truck software that improves through-put and profit at grain elevators. Sales have been going up and the company’s goal is to double revenue and sell the company in five years. The following notes are from a discussion with Robin Sax, owner and CEO.

What has been the most helpful aspect of us working together?
We gave ourselves this goal of [doubling sales] and thought based on reaching that target all sorts of good things would happen. But I don’t think we spent much time on thinking how we were actually, physically going to achieve it. We just thought that if our sales guys sell more, then magically it’s all going to come out the back door to the bottom line. I thought it was a simple thing – just sell more stuff and it wouldn’t require any reorganization of the company or any big systems change. What you’ve impressed on me is that to accomplish this we really will need to change the structure of the company.

Has that been changing?
Certain people are more open to it than others, but yes it has. We’ve hired a few people recently and they are more thinking about project management, and making sure this goes from start to finish.

[One of our people] who was a one man team now has two guys fully engaged. That will free him up to get out of the operations side and have more time to sell.

Is there anything different about what you do on a daily basis?
I’m getting more involved and talking directly with everyone. As CEO I was getting myself out of the loop a bit. Now I’m getting back to managing by walking around. I touch each person more often. It shows that I care which often they don’t realize. It makes them more motivated.

Your introducing me to people in the business of selling companies has helped me in opening my eyes to what it takes to make a company valuable when it’s time to sell – this idea of high margins and multiples.

[Our key sales person] on his own has suggested we raise prices and that’s unusual for a sales person. He’s starting to focus his time more on high margin, unique products that we sell. This will improve the value of the company. By the end of May his sales should be equal to the whole of last year.

Get Rid of Dumb Questions

One client said to me “I have smart people working for me, why do the dumb questions land on my desk?” His chemical company  had 40 people and sales of $15 million. But he was a chemist by training (and passion) not a manager. We implemented better processes saving hundreds of thousands of dollars and paving the way for smoother growth. He now has over 50 people, sales have grown and as importantly, his company structure now allows him to do more chemical research which is where his strength and passion are

Play  More Golf

One of my earliest clients had a goal to play golf twice a week. He had a small law firm with one assistant when we started working together. Today he has 8 people working for him. He once took me to visit three houses. The first was where he was living when we first started working together. The second (larger) was where he moved a short time later. The third, where he lives now, is larger still with a pool and a guest house. I can’t say I helped with his golf game, but he does get out on the golf course every Wednesday and Friday.

Double the Size of the Company

The owner of a manufacturing company had $5 million in sales. His goal was $10 million. An “Orchestra Analysis” showed that several sections were not as robust as needed in a $10M company: Sales and Training were the biggest problems. This limited on his ability to grow, and also kept him on the shop floor not out making deals like he wanted. The next step was to prioritize his investment in expanding the organization. Last year he forecast $6.5 Million but hit almost $8M speeding up his path to his $10M goal.

In Their Own Words

At the time he started working with me, the company was 8 years old and had maintained steady growth.  However, I was anxious to take growth to a new level and this would require a plan of action for which I had no experience.

[John] helped us identify bottlenecks in our processes as well as outline a specific timeline for resolving these bottlenecks.  He has been a very insightful sounding board when I had complicated employee or legal matters as well as business-to-business partnering opportunities which takes time to talk out pros and cons.  These are things I can’t just discuss with anyone and John provided solid analysis to help me work through the issue at hand.

 We are on target to have a 33% increase in sales from last year and I have co-workers that are now employed to take over a bigger role in day to day operations.  My co-workers have absolutely accepted the foundation building exercises and John was instrumental in showing them how important that is to everyone’s success.

– Owner of a Software Company

John Seiffer has helped with two areas of my work — basic time and task management as well as defining my leadership.  John has helped me set up things like a “Why To” manual that maintains descriptions of what we do and why we do it, which helps us with the old problem of “we’ve always done it this way…”.  He has also helped me figure out which work is my work and which work I should ask someone else to do.  I work in a small non-profit and much of my work is done with volunteers and John has been consistent in helping me figure out how to match what people enjoy with what we need done.  John has also helped me with supervising staff, balancing clarity about work with some flexibility.  John is always citing new things he’s read or conversations he’s had that pertain to my current set of questions.  I appreciate that he keeps finding new perspectives while not loosing some of the classics on organization and time management. 

– Minister of a Growing Church

John helped me negotiate an investment in a subsidiary company that returned over 4 times my money in 5 years. 

When I started working with John, I was frustrated with my business.  John helped me to focus, gave me tools to clarify my vision for my life, work, and family in the future, which then began to restore my confidence in my business and abilities.  Plus we grew the company, hired more staff and moved to nicer offices. 

– Owner of a Speaker’s Bureau

I recently sent a copy of your booklet to one of my clients, and intend to use it with several others. I think it will help multiple owners of the business to start talking to each other about what they want out of the business. That comes in really handy when your client is just one owner. I wish I could have offered this tool to my clients back when I was a business lawyer.

– Business Coach

John Seiffer brought decades of business acumen to our small business in a bright and friendly manner and helped us to become more efficient and profitable. John helped us to see what we had yet to pinpoint. More than that, John raised questions that we had yet to consider. That sort of gets to the heart of what he did for us. He helped us to see our company and our staff with new eyes and to determine how best to proceed after 10 years of running a successful small company that we built from the ground up. We did not reach out to John because profits were flat, but like so many Moms and Pops we were so busy running our practice that we were not critically aware of wasted efforts, what new opportunities to ignore, or what positive revenue streams to abandon, because there were richer streams elsewhere. John taught us how to get unbiased information before launching a new service and how to rely on unvarnished numbers to tell the real story. John will start out by asking you to reflect on what you want your company to do for you and then help you to see how to get there. We all found him to be greatly invested in our success and available at the drop of a hat.   
– Sam Rosensohn Founder and Owner, College Planning Partnerships, Clinton, CT