Red Zebra Business Centre -Management Memos
March, 2009. Making Measurably More For Your Business Since 1985!

Now it really is time to take action!

Max Williams, Principal Consultant

From the moment the US Congress decided to let Lehmann Brothers fail, the US economy was headed for disaster, and by necessary implication, all the rest of us along with it.

It just does not matter in this regard that the Australian financial system is better regulated. One after another, local subsidiaries of overseas firms have been affected by their parents' problems. As the head office people have to get in as much cash as they can to weather their storms, Australian subsidiaries are instructed to stop expansions, cut investments, cut expenses, and return more cash to home base.

For example, when Japan's exports have fallen 50% plus in February against the previous year, it is the overseas subsidiaries that are cut, and as much work as possible repatriated, to keep strong the core activity at home. Naturally. We would all do the same thing.

This has impacted right across the board. Members of our family have had significant job changes because French and German companies have had problems elsewhere in the world. Clients have had trouble collecting from customers, because the customer's overseas parent is deciding where and when cash will be released.

Naturally, the reduction in income from commodity exports effects local investment and expansion too, compounding the serious contraction imported into Australia by its global corporate citizens.

Since last September, when the Lehmann Brothers decision made any other outcome impossible, ?Management Memos' has been advising - indeed encouraging - all businesses to formulate a battle plan. Such as plan has been needed to head off the impact of recession on each individual business. We have seen some clients do that, and now the benefits are beginning to show for them.

On the other hand, it's too late now to start inoculating against the recession. Now it's time to look at the commercial landscape that is really there, and quickly develop strategies to escape the worst impacts.

This month we are making five separate offers of free assistance. Of course, these offers are made in the hope that The Red Zebra will be retained to help in more detail over a longer time. However, these offers are free, and you will not be pressured to accept any services outside the free offers.

It is not often that pain relief comes before the pain gets too bad. This is one time it does.

Visit links to associated companies

Five Free Offers


ustralia's Prime Minister now says Australia will have a recession. At least that's settled. Since last September, 'Management Memos' has been advising business people to prepare for what was clearly on the way. Last month, (click here to see February 'Management Memos') we encouraged all business people to develop a Strategic Pathway to their future. Here are five important steps to take - and five free offers (really free!) to help you get there.

Developing your own Strategic Pathway is a big undertaking, and different enterprises will have different needs. So here are five things to do to get started.

Strategic Review

Some business sectors are mature and in decline, some are new and growing. It is a brave thing to look at this aspect, and make changes as a result. It is a fatal thing not to make the necessary changes when the time is right.

You might be in a mature industry in a mature market, but there are other markets not yet fully matured that offer new opportunities. Identify them. For example, one client found their entire product mix was based on the superannuant market, which has nosedived. A complete change to the product mix re-aligns them with the family market which is still strong. But what a change that was!

Hard to do. Silly not to!

You can get help to realign your strategy - with the Red Zebra BizLine Baseline Assessment. This is Management Memos Offer 1.


Financial Review

No. Not the daily financial paper! A review of the financials of your business. Specifically, this analysis will provide a real insight into what is contributing well, and what is not contributing, in your business.

For instance, you may have retailing and installation arms. Are both parts contributing in a balanced way to the overall outcome, or is one part leading the other or dragging it down? In most cases, it is impossible to say, unless you use something like The Red Zebra ?BizMap" analysis tool.

This analytical tool allows you to see what is really doing well in contributing to your overall profit, and it also shows what is doing badly. One client felt that his service department was a necessary expense, until he found that it is making real money! Not that the client was unaware of his business - it is just that the normal figures don't really show what is what.

If you have a mix of products (and that is almost everybody), or a mix of activities (like manufacturing and installation, or service and sales), it is almost certain that the true contribution of each product category or activity is not clearly identifiable. Today you need to correct the under-performers, and develop the market for the strong performers. The Red Zebra ?BizMap" will help you do this.

This is Management Memos Offer 2.

Marketing Audit

What does marketing mean to you? Is it just advertising? Or just trade shows? Really, marketing is much more than these things. ?Management Memos' has often delved into one or another aspect of Marketing. In January, we looked at what one small business did with its branding - and at almost no cost whatever!

A marketing audit is hard to do, because every business owner has a big emotional investment in the advertising they've created or approved over the last few years. Lots of ego involvement!

There is a very wise saying .... "You can't stroke your own ego ands sell too!" It is probably time to open your marketing program to outside scrutiny. Can save money, and get a better result.

A complete marketing audit is Management Memos Offer 3.

Pricing Review

Pricing is your most powerful business development tool. No doubt about that.

Problem is, that most people don't understand how to price effectively or profitably. Over several years we have seen clients with really good gross margins, so there was no risk of losing money, but  sales that were well off the pace. You could survive that way then. But now?

On the other hand, in one really good example, a client finished a year with 3 percentage points off his target margin, but his gross profit dollars 30% up, and sale well ahead of plan. Time and again, we see clients miss out on getting their pricing right. This is too vital to be left to chance!

A complete pricing review is Management Memos Offer 4.

Organisational Re-Engineering

Staff and labour cost is your most significant variable expense. Things change, and savings could, and should, be made.

A client recently discovered a pricing problem, because some chargeable staff were being paid almost twice similar staff pay rates in competitor companies. Good long term staff, well rewarded in the good days, are now a problem.

World class companies are presently shedding whole layers of management and complete departments so they can work more competitively. Organisation re-engineering for you can make you more competitive almost immediately.

Organisational Re-Engineering is Management Memos Offer 5.

  • Click the link for each offer to register your interest
  • We will contact you to make the required arrangements to provide the service completely free to you.
  • Only one service of the five listed above is available free to each respondent or associated business
  • A service will be provided free at only one location where there are multiple locations for the enterprise
  • Services will be provided in each state, regional location, or New Zealand as soon as practicable, consistent with our regular commitments
  • These offers expire at 11.59pm local time Thursday April 9 2009. (Almost midnight Maundy Thursday, the beginning of Easter.)

McNicol Williams Management & Marketing Services is a Small Business Advisor listed with the Small Business Victoria, and has presented The Red Zebra program under its auspices. This listing requires that the first hour's consultation is always free. So when we say these offers are free, we mean free!

If you'd like to find out more about creating your 'Strategic Pathway', talk to us, or ask us a question here! Remember, there's no charge or obligation.

This same offer applies in New Zealand. Click Here!