Tag Archive for: fractional COO

Having cash in the bank doesn’t mean your business is making money.

I’ve worked with many business owners who closely manage their cash flow and bank account balances. That’s great. I do the same thing both for my personal and business accounts.

Unfortunately, some stop there. That’s a mistake.

I’ve met business owners who have never looked at their P&L or balance sheet. Focusing on whether you can pay the bills or if you have money in your account does not tell you the whole financial picture.

For example, can you answer these questions:

  • Are your COGS too high?
  • How much did you invest in that last project?
  • Which of your products, services, or divisions are making money and which ones aren’t?
  • Are you incurring expenses that you can reduce or eliminate and use that money better to grow the business?
  • How much are you putting toward the bottom line?
  • How long can you fund operations if your business took a major hit?


As a fractional COO, I value the insights and know the importance of understanding the financial side of your business (and the KPIs that go hand-in-hand). Not every visionary or business founder likes looking at reports and numbers, but there are things we have to do even if we don’t enjoy them.

I’ve convinced clients that numbers matter, and once they see it, they get it, and they wonder why they didn’t look at them before.

If you aren’t sure where to start, we can help.  Contact us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/ or https://www.linkedin.com/company/opal-partners-group/or use our contact form. CONTACT US

I recently received an email from a new vendor telling me they were going to miss an appointment. I couldn’t have been happier.

Not the usual response, is it? The vendor was making a schedule change for all clients due to weather conditions. They informed me of the action they were going to take so we could be on the same page for a common goal.

I terminated their predecessor because they didn’t communicate, weren’t proactive, and didn’t do a good job. As I onboarded the new vendor, we discussed my expectations and asked how they provide their services. We had a mutual understanding from the beginning.

This got me thinking of company culture. There are many articles and blogs currently about culture in light of work from home (WFH). People worry that culture won’t be maintained.

I disagree with that view. Vision and values are the first components of culture. Those should be firmly entrenched in the minds of the team and the company DNA.

Just as important are the expectations of how you work together, desired results, and processes. These should be known throughout the organization too.

The real change with WFH then is how you communicate and interact using technology rather than in person. You can’t just drop in at a co-worker’s office or go to lunch together. Maybe new expectations need to be set and identified or done differently. (Virtual lunch on Zoom or Teams?) Managers and teams can work on this together as new behaviors are learned and tested.

I challenge leaders to make sure their vision, values, and expectations are clearly known. Ensure your strategy is still relevant. Make adjustments so your tools and processes maximize your efficiency and output. These steps will go a long way toward maintaining your culture in the midst of change.

Make sure your culture drives decisions and behavior regardless of how your team works.  If you need help, you can CONTACT US  or find us at LinkedIn.

There is a huge difference between possessing and being able to use tools effectively.

One of my friends bought a new set of golf clubs. This is nothing new – he does that every couple of years. It prompted a mutual friend to sarcastically comment, “you have the best golf game money can buy.”

The point he was making is that having the latest and greatest equipment is just one part of the road to success.

I understand the attraction. I like to fish. Some basic equipment is required to start and having a selection of lures or rods can legitimately make a difference in the final outcome. But at some point using them correctly is more important than having more options. The new shiny object or technique reels us in – pardon the pun. The promise is alluring.

Having the right tools can make all the difference in the world. They can save time and produce much better results than not. But just having the tools does not guarantee success. This is where patience and wisdom come into play.

Learning how to wield a tool, be it a golf club or a circle hook, is vital. You must be patient, learn how and when to use it, and give it time for it to become effective for you. If you don’t, you are wasting your money and possibly getting worse results than you would otherwise.

Our businesses are the same. There is a constant flow of new management theories, fads, software programs, and other shiny new objects that promise to save time, generate revenue, or simplify business. But you have to master the basics, understand when and how to use these new tools, and employ the right ones for your specific situation. Just like in golf or fishing, you may need to hire a coach or a guide to help you get the best results.

If your business is struggling to select and use tools effectively or you need help in general, CONTACT US here or find us on LinkedIn.

Some part of your business isn’t working.  The hard part is identifying where the problem lies.

You may know that your products may need to be refreshed, or that you need to invest in new software to support critical functions.

Sometimes the problem is more elusive.  You can see the symptoms but can’t determine the cause.

It can help to evaluate what I consider the seven essential functions common to all businesses:

  • Leadership
  • Revenue Generation
  • Production
  • IT
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Business Preparedness

Critically, honestly, and holistically evaluate how well your business performs those seven functions and determine if your weaknesses lie in just one area.  Once you identify the issue and its root cause, you may be able to make improvements.

If not, you may need to go deeper.  You may have an organizational problem executing one layer of the OPG Operations Hierarchy.

All seven business functions have their own operational processes that can be broken into three layers:

  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • Process

If you struggle with one of the Ops layers, you will see problems in all functional areas.  For instance, if you have great plans and goals but never reach them, perhaps your team struggles in the Process layer; you aren’t able to create effective and efficient ways of doing things.  But, you could have a Structure problem – you aren’t good at implementing and driving accountability for those processes and you see that across the board.

Identifying and correcting your ability to execute all layers of the operations hierarchy are more challenging.  You must step back and really get to the root cause of the issues.

But, once you know the problem, you can address it.  What part of your business isn’t working?  If you need assistance finding out, you can CONTACT US here or find us on LinkedIn.

As a kid I learned about balance.  I once made Kool-Aid without putting any sugar in it. Add the mix to water and stir. The results were not good.  The reason is the ingredients weren’t in the proper proportion or were missing altogether.  Companies without balance between autonomy and accountability have the same problem: bad results.

So what do we do?  First, let’s define the terms.  Accountability means being held responsible for results and actions while autonomy is having self-directing freedom or being self-governed. Leaders and managers want the former and employees the latter.  Below, you will see a high-functioning team requires both.

The Results
  • Disengagement – Employees with little control over how they do their job and a lack of clarity on the expected outcome won’t be highly engaged.
  • Chaos – Giving employees complete freedom with no guidelines or expectations results in results and processes that are all over the board.
  • Micromanagement – Employees feel they are being micromanaged when there are strict results expected but they have little say on how to do their job including making decisions and suggesting improvements.
  • High-performance – Employees who have reasonable discretion on reaching meaningful, realistic goals create the sweet spot for producing high-performing team.

As you can see, it is crucial that companies balance autonomy and accountability.  First, you must create accountability for people to know the desired outcome and how they will be measured.  And you can only give autonomy to employees who demonstrate they can handle it; this makes hiring the right people important.

Start your journey to high performing teams by first determining what success looks like for the company.  Next, do the same for individual departments and team members.  Then build on that by giving feedback on slowly giving people more freedom in their roles.

If you need help with accountability and autonomy, you can CONTACT US.  Also, you can connect with us on https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

The hill was more than I bargained for.  It was a struggle and I should have realized earlier that is was time to act now.

I had all kinds of excuses: the weather was bad.  I didn’t have time.  It could wait another day.  I had other plans.

No, I wasn’t hiking up a steep section of trail or riding my mountain bike up a hill.  I was mowing my yard. If you have ever used a manual reel mower in a bermudagrass lawn, you know what I am talking about.

You can’t put off cutting the grass or the work required to cut it goes up exponentially.  The grass grows taller and thicker every day.  It is much easier to stay on top of it before it gets out of control.

The issues we face in business or life are the same.  Avoid, ignoring, or putting off the issue rarely makes it easier to deal or go away.  Usually it just makes it harder to deal with later.

For example, an employee who isn’t a good fit isn’t going to just change.  They will create friction with others on the team or not produce the results you want.  You either must intervene through giving feedback, or you have to remove them from the team or the company.

And while you wait to take action, the damage they cause continues to mount.  Bad attitudes become contagious.  People leave to find

Decisions and actions about upgrading your infrastructure, replacing your software, adding or removing products and services you offer are no different.  And you aren’t going to magically get in better shape physically or strengthen relationships with inaction.

If you need to make a change or address a problem, act now.  Don’t let it become a bigger challenge than it has to be.

OPG can help you assess your situation and walk with you as you take action. You can reach out to us here CONTACT US or connect with us on https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/

Sometimes you initiate change, and sometimes it is forced on you.  Regardless of how you got there, you must deal with it.  Facing change isn’t always easy or wanted.

Key employees leave.  New technology disrupts the market.  Your exit strategy or timeline changes.  Maybe your business has grown beyond your capacity to manage it all effectively.

As a business grows, business owners eventually come to a point where they need a leadership team to share the load.  Depending on the where the company is, hiring full-time executives may not be needed or even financially realistic.  The decision to expand the leadership time is a change you initiate.

The sudden loss of a key leader is but one change that is forced on you.  You must decide how to re-organize the workload and responsibilities or to find and replace that leader.

In all these situations, a fractional COO can step in.  They can be a part-time resource to bridge the gap until you are ready and need a full-time executive.  They can also help define the COO role so you can find the right candidate.  Whether you need someone for a few hours per week or several days per week, you can keep the business moving forward.

Opal Partners offers COO Bridge as a way to help businesses bridge the gap when they need to add to their leadership team but aren’t ready for a full-time resource.

If your business is facing change and a fractional COO can help you, CONTACT US  or find us at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

 

It’s lonely at the top.  We’ve created a myth of the confident CEO or business owner who has all the answers. Deep down, you know you don’t have all the answers.

The truth:  no one does.

CEOs of larger businesses may have a proven executive team who can act as a sounding board.  They can bring different perspectives to important issues.  Together they develop strategies and implement plans to grow, strengthen, and increase the value of the business.

Small business owners may not have the luxury of an experienced leadership team.  The need to have others challenge ideas and talk through issues is just as real.  An outside advisor may be the answer.

Fractional COOs can fill that need in a few hours a month.  They bring real-world experience from other companies and industries building on past successes and lessons learned.  They give the business owner a confidential resource to discuss real problems with someone who understands.

If you own a small business and need someone to bring a new perspective, challenge you, or just bounce ideas off, consider engaging a fractional COO as an advisor.  They can help you explore ideas and options when you don’t have all the answers.

If you are interested in OPG’s COO Advisor services, contact us at CONTACT US or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

Business owners can be idea machines.  Your business started as an idea, and ideas keep the business fresh and relevant.  By themselves don’t accomplish anything unless you turn ideas into reality.

Unless you can accomplish something by the stroke of a pen, you have to dedicate time, staff, and resources to a project to bring ideas to life.

Do you have more ideas and initiatives than you or your staff have time to actually execute? You aren’t alone.  Augmenting your team with a temporary resource may be the answer.  Engaging a fractional COO for a project is often a business’ first foray into the world of fractional executives.

Fractional COOs have the experience to understand the goals you want to achieve, provide leadership to the project team (both internal and external), and guide the project from planning through execution.

Hiring a fractional COO for a project gives you the additional horsepower you need when you need it for as long as you need it.  It’s a cost-effective way to do more with less.  At Opal Partners, we have a service called COO Project to fill that need.

If  you need help to turn ideas into reality, contact Opal Partners at CONTACT US. You can also check us out at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

Recently, I had two very different experiences with customer service that proved to be a master class in how to deal with customers.  Both situations concerned lost packages, and I spoke with the shipper rather than the company selling the product.  The difference was stark and provides insights on how a company views customer service.

Company A is a large well-known online store that uses its own delivery personnel as well as other carriers.  Company B is a quasi-governmental entity that delivers to every address the U.S.

Interacting with the companies

With Company A, I was able to chat, submit an inquiry online, or ask for a callback.  The response was prompt.  After explaining the situation (lost package), the company immediately sent me a replacement and extended my membership with them by two months for free for the inconvenience.  They took responsibility for contacting the seller and handling any transactions between them.

Company B only gave me the option of filling out an online inquiry and asked for information that I, as the recipient, did not have.  I received a call the next day and was told nothing could be done until the shipment had been delayed for 30 days.  The person I spoke with said she could help me if the package was lost in the city she was in but since it hadn’t been received from their initial shipping facility, she couldn’t help me.  She suggested that I should just have the originating company send me a replacement.

The results

The first company was quick to address the problem and make it easy on me, the customer.  The second suggested that someone else pay for their mistake by replacing the product, had rules that prevented them from helping me, and ultimately yielded the same result as if I never contacted them.  They checked the box and closed the issue without accomplishing anything.

Which company do you think improved my opinion of them and which one didn’t?  Easy call. I will go out of my way not to use Company B.

What does this mean for you?

As you think about your business and its interactions with clients, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do our processes and policies improve or damage our reputation?
  • Do we make it easy for customer to work with us?
  • Is our goal to check the box or resolve the problem for our customer?
  • Is a customer problem an annoyance or an opportunity to build a relationship?
  • If you were a customer of your own company, would your view of your customer service change?

You can improve or damage your reputation with every interaction with your existing customers.  Which are you doing?  Let OPG help you make improvements.  Connect with us at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/ or click here to CONTACT US.