We are often asked, “Why should we work with The Fremont Group? What could they do for us?” Here is the answer:

Every business owner “owns” a “system.” It is a system that converts market demand for their goods or services into cash. Our Success Partners have “been there and done that.” Together with you they design and implement an “Operating System” for your business. The Operating System brings structure, stability, and mature management to the business. At a minimum it includes:
• creating standards of required performance and proper reporting in all areas (sales, operations and administration) so that proper and meaningful delegation can take place and employees can be properly held accountable for pre-determined results;
• control of the money including a budget that interfaces with pricing strategy, cash flow projections that bring sanity to AR and AP decisions, and implements proper use of debt and capital so that profit is budgeted and cash retention is accomplished;
• a consistent schedule of reporting/meetings with sales, operations, and finance so that things don’t “slip through the cracks” and the development of a responsible management team to shoulder responsibility;
• and a time management component so that the owner is focusing on what really matters rather than feeling constantly “stressed out” and unable to do his or her job which is really running the company.
Of course, every company is unique with different strengths and weaknesses. The Success Partner first surveys and gets to understand you and your business so that a tailored Action Plan can be developed with the owner. Then an implementation plan is developed so that the pace of change matches the ability of the company to assimilate the improvements and to be assured that it can be budgeted into the company’s cash flow.
But it is a two-way street. To be successful, The Fremont Group can only work with small business owners who are truly committed to change. The process is at its’ best with three types of owners: (1) The stressed owner who knows that his company is underperforming but simply doesn’t have control; (2) the owner who is contemplating transition—either to a family member or employee, prepare the business for sale or just to reduce the amount of time and stress that is now required; or (3) the owner who recognizes that he has not realized his potential and that he or she is not where they thought they should be by now.
Depending upon the desired result, the process can take weeks, months or years. The Fremont Group generally works in scheduled half-week sessions with regular contact and established benchmarks in between on-site work. Your Success Partner becomes an integral member of your advisory board of directors and a person that an owner can talk to, learn from and share their success with. Are you ready? Let’s talk.

Fatal Mistakes of Cutting Your Price

Everyone has had the experience of wanted a job so badly that they make the most elementary of mistakes. This is, in part, what keeps management consultants in business. I just experienced this first-hand and it moved me to write this post. (I won’t disclose the contractor). They had sent out a bid for some home plumbing work. The bid was over $750 which was significantly more than I had expected. When they followed up I told them that their bid seemed out of my price range. Then came their error–they quickly responded, “What if I can get it down below $600? I am playing with the numbers and I can shave off some of the time. I always figure extra time in for the “uh-oh” type moments.” Really–that is what they replied. So I guess they just were going to screw me with the original bid! I will NEVER use them again for anything.

So what do you do when you want a job and price seems the issue? Rule #1: NEVER LOWER YOUR PRICE WITHOUT TAKING SOMETHING OFF THE TABLE! Doing so simply makes you a whore. His mistake came up front–his bid should have clearly stated the scope of work. Then he could have lowered his price by “taking something off the table.” For example: the bid includes a 5-year warranty of the parts and labor. He could justify lowering the price by telling me that if he took the warranty down to 90-days the price would be less. That maintains the integrity of his first bid (and of his company!) Rule #2: See Rule #1. You cannot just dicker price with a client and maintain your integrity. If one time McDonalds allowed you to get a Big Mac for 50 cents all you would feel is ripped off for every other Big Mac you have ever (or will ever) bought.

In this case, if he really wanted (needed) the job and since he didn’t have a “fall back” he should have said, “I don’t know if we bid your job properly–let me take another look at different ways we could do it and see if there is a less expensive option.”

To get a review by The Fremont Group and see if there are ways that working with a small business management consultant could make you more money give us a call! 303 338 9300

Free Fall Webinar Series! Register Today!

This fall The Fremont Group offers a series of FREE WEBINARS. Each is held at 10:00 Mountain Time and last approximately a half hour. They are presented on Goggle Hangout.

Accounting 101 for Small Business Owners will be presented on September 11th; October 9th; and November 6th.

Holding Your Employees Accountable will be presented on September 18th; October 16th; and November 13th.

Creating and Using a Budget for Financial Control of Your Business will be presented on September 25th; October 23rd and November 20th.

CALL 303 338 9300 TODAY TO REGISTER

How to raise money

Most business owners understand their product but lack expertise in raising money through debt or equity. Obtaining proper capitalization is critical to growth and the long-term success of your company.
There are basically two ways of increasing your availability to funds—equity and debt. The advantage of raising money through equity is that you don’t have to pay it back. It is infusion of funds—most likely large amounts of funds—that immediately provides cash for your use. The obvious downside is that you give up some portion of your ownership. The first place to look for quick equity is to friends, family (and fools). The owner is the best salesman and representative of the company and they often develop a “deck” to assist them in this venture. A deck is merely a power point slide show that the owner can use in presentations that they are making. For this purpose they are often very good but don’t be fooled—these “investors” are not buying into your company because of your dog and pony show—they are actually “buying” you. They know you, they believe that you can be successful and are willing to invest because of that belief. It certainly helps if you can have other collateral materials to support your cause but chances are you are the reason for their investment. To move to capital markets to raise real money you need the use of a professional investment banking firm that can take your compelling story to another level and attract professional investment rather than emotional investment.
Debt is the second way to raise cash. There is good debt and there is bad debt. Good debt is matching long term needs with long term payments and vice versa. Good debt is a mortgage on your house—bad debt is mortgaging your house to pay off your credit cards. Debt can be raised from either commercial banks or a secondary market. If possible banks are by far the best option. Banks have the best interest rates and create advantageous long term relationships. Unfortunately banks are regulated by the federal reserve and if you do not meet their required ratios or are in an undesireable industry you simply will not be their customer. They may never say no. Instead they may just constantly ask for more information until you give up. Regardless, you are not going to get your money. Secondary markets are in many ways the wild, wild west. Many brokers lack the expertise to get your deal done. The litmus test should be in the information that they require and in how they use those materials in compiling the package that they use to present your compelling story to market. Lacking a professional package you will not receive serious consideration from credible lenders. As a minimum the package needs to include significant financial information; third-party validation of the business plan; market and competitor analysis; demonstrable evidence of management team and operational competency; financial projections; corporate regulatory compliance; and analysis of off-balance sheet assets. Thien this must be packaged in a professional format acceptable to the professional readers. Often times good deals are not financed simply because they didn’t make the investment do the work that is needed to properly present them to market so be wary of brokers who do not speak this language.

Cash, Debt and Equity

Proper capitalization is critical to a business’ success. Most small businesses were started with an idea, a commitment and a credit card. If they survived and prospered they created profit and cash flow but often lacked a capitalization strategy.
Capitalization is the combination of both equity and debt. Equity is acquired through either external or internal investment. Does your company have a strategy for the accumulation of equity? Probably not. The most obvious method of increasing equity is through cash retention. Some percentage of all cash intake needs to be retained—this is the purchase of an asset—the purchase of cash. Cash is just like any other asset—you have to buy it—and it is one of your most valuable assets. Despite its’ value many business owners fail to purchase (retain) cash. It won’t happen by itself. You need a strategy for cash retention if you expect to build a strong, secure business.
Credit is also an important component of capitalization. Banks will not lend you money when you need it—they lend you money when you don’t—therefore you need to actively seek credit when you don’t need it. You should also diversify your credit. Utilize multiple lenders. In today’s environment with institutions combine and your “personal relationship” with your banker is a thing of the past. Just like over-reliance upon a single customer or vendor is a red flag so is your over-reliance upon a lender. Don’t be held hostage.
How much and what combination of debt, cash and other assets should you have? Make this a topic of your on-going planning.

How to Handle Employee Attendance During Bad Weather

Snow and slippery conditions during the winter months may make it difficult for your employees to travel to work. Consider the following guidelines that can help your company be prepared when bad weather strikes.

1. When an employee misses work due to bad weather conditions, whether the employee is entitled to be paid for the absence may depend on the employee’s exempt or non-exempt status.
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not required to pay non-exempt employees for hours they did not work, including when the office is closed due to bad weather.
Exempt employees generally must be paid their full salary amount if they perform any work during a workweek. However, an employer that remains open for business during a period of bad weather may generally make deductions, for full-day absences only, from the salary of an exempt employee who chooses not to report to work because of the weather. Deductions from salary for less than a full-day’s absence are not permitted.
If the business is closed for the day as a result of inclement weather, the employer may not deduct the day’s pay from the salary of an exempt employee. The general rule is that an employer who closes operations due to a weather-related emergency or other disaster for less than a full workweek must pay an exempt employee the full salary for that week, if the employee performs any work during the week. This is because deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.
2. Some states require employers to pay employees for showing up even if no work is available or there is an interruption of work and the employee is sent home.
Although payment for time not worked may not be required for non-exempt employees under federal law, some states do require that employees be paid for a minimum number of hours for reporting to work, even if there is no work that can be performed (such as when the office is closed) or the employee is sent home early, for instance, due to an impending storm.
Often called "reporting time pay," these laws may apply to specific industries (e.g., manufacturing) or certain employees only, so it is important to check with your state labor department for requirements that may apply to your company before implementing any policy.
3. Plan ahead to let your employees know what is expected of them and to help minimize disruption to your business.
Make it a priority to notify all of your employees, both exempt and non-exempt, of your company’s policy regarding employee attendance and pay during periods of inclement weather. Your policy should include information on how your employees can find out whether the office is open or closed, such as by email, radio broadcast, calling in to hear a recorded message, or other methods that all employees can access. Be sure to apply your policy consistently and fairly to all employees.
It’s also prudent to remind employees to use their best judgment and not to put their safety at risk when it comes to traveling to work during or after a storm. If possible, see if you can arrange for employees to work remotely from home on days when the weather makes travel dangerous.

Your company could be writing this letter next year!

Dirk,

Thank you for all your assistance with our business this year.   Your continued support and guidance has helped us identify areas to improve, what is working, and to plan ahead for future growth.  The tools you have shared with us have given us the ability to learn and execute our plan.   You always have a unique perspective when we have a challenge to overcome or a decision to make.   I have come to rely on your advice and humor to get me over the hump when thinks stack up.

That you for your genuine concern for our progress and personal care you put into each member of our group.   I would recommend The Fremont Group to anyone in business.   Your service has kept us on track!

Sincerely,

Dana Beck

Entropy Coating Solutions – ECS

A Division of Construction By Design Group, LLC.

CEO

12/15/15

Year-End Discount on Services

As year ends our non-profit has subsidy money to use.  Existing clients and new clients will all receive a 10% match on all payments received by December 15th!  Those of you with balances can take advantage of this discount and new clients have the opportunity to start at less than existing 2015 rates!  New clients should also be aware that there will be a price increase for new clients starting in 2016 that you can avoid–once you are a client your fees never change!

Act now and let us know if you are interested!

The Fremont Group

www.tfginfo.org
303 338 9300

What do Small Business Management Consultants Do?

Small business owners fall into three categories.  The first are owners who have successfully used consultants or mentors and continue to do so; the second are owners who used expensive, private consulting firms who flew in a couple of people, charged an arm and a leg and left nothing but a binder; and the last are owners who have never used management consultants.

Owners who have a solid relationship with a person who has on-going interaction with them and seem to care as much about their business as they do have found an invaluable resource.  These are generally the most successful of the three groups of owners.  Owners who have been burned discredit the value of the industry but then I once had an AMC Pacer and that didn’t mean that all cars are bad!  The last group generally doesn’t understand what a consultant can do for them.

The Fremont Group is a non-profit.  Our fees are significantly below the private firms such as Legacy Analytics, ABS, CBS, Global Resources, HMMC, and others.  A first rule is that you should never make a major investment in consulting until you have met the person with whom you will be working.  Use our “Search” function and find posts regarding how to hire a consultant.  Recent successful projects completed by our Success Partners include:

Management Committee Development,

Team Building, Forms and Procedures, Taking Your Business to the Next Level, Executive Development and Counseling, Financing Packages, Positioning for Value, Sales Focus, Gaining Financial Control, AR/AP and Inventory Controls, Transition to Family Member(s), Mergers and Acquisitions, Survival Plans, Controlled Sustainable Growth, Management Retreats, and Handling Divorce and Your Business.

Other topics also include:

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No one is perfect—turn your weakest area into your strength and transform your business.  Give us a call 303 338 9300