Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Operations Management: Is What Runs A Business

Walking through the business section of Barnes & Nobles I was not able to count all of the marketing, sales, how to improve your sales, market your business or any of the other books written on marketing and sales.  There just was too many on the shelf.

Now, Operational Management that was easy…there were five.  Now there were probably many more, but none of them had in the title anything that told me that it was about Operational Management or Business Operations Management or anything that spoke out on how to operator a business.

Could it be that those publishers read the books on marketing and sales to find out how to market their book on business operations, which was to say nothing about operations management?  Probably.  But what a mistake they have made.  And is usually the case in every sales oriented business.

There are two things that take place in a business that most owners and managers go about doing that sets the business up for failure.  The first is they want to bring in someone who is strong in sales.  Why, because the business has something they want to sell that nobody wants, or they think a lot of people want , but really they don’t.

You have seen these type of people.  They were the ‘want-a-be-seen” person, a no detail type person that probably was the person in school that when around joining every club or getting involved in every social aspect of society just so people will have to look at them.  You know them the cheerleaders and school mascots, or the Jocks and drama queens.  People who like to be up front but never had to do or complete anything, because there were always someone else who would be forced to clean up their mess or fix what they tried to start. 

So the first problem in business is that they are started by one of these people who feel that they can sell anything just because they are who they are and how they have done this type of business management all of their life and are very comfortable with, which is that Sales comes first at all costs.

Then the second type of person is the ones who are overly educated and have read every word of every book on marketing and the techniques to use to improve on sales…more of the nerd of ‘selling by the book’. 

The key character traits of these two type of business managers is that their training or personality pushes them to thinking that a business CANNOT survive unless it has a powerful sales and marketing organization. 

Now, if you go back and re-read that again, you will notice that not a word in that statement or in the definitions mentioned anything about how or what it was they are selling.  And there is a reason you did not see or read anything about how or what they are selling, and that is these type of sales oriented businesses don’t care.

Their feel is, if you don’t have a strong sales and marketing operations it doesn’t matter what it is you are selling, it is not going to sell, because they are the company or the business, not what they are selling.

I thought for many years that this kind of thinking was just held up in the corporate world or to Used Cars and Yellow Pages sales techniques, but I found out that what was being created in the corporate world was being mimicked by small businesses and taught by business colleges. 

Well, I think you are getting the point, there are way too many business set on a sales platform and not an operations platform.  And what is an Operations Platform?  A business that builds a needed product/service first and continues to improve upon the product and focus on the product and how it is manufactured is an Operations Platform business.

And just like in the description of the sales oriented businesses, in this definition of operations platform type businesses the only mentioned of anything to do with Marketing or Sales was the word “needed”.  But the big difference here is selling a product of a company that is totally focused on quality or on the image or what the product does, make selling it easy.

Of course, if the product was something that nobody wanted or needed then no mater what quality is was made of and how good of sales and marketing you do, it just is not going to sale.  But that is not the case if the business is built around a product/service that is “needed”.

Too many times businesses are started and then perpetuated by thinking they can make it on Sales Only.  How do they do it, well they figure in a high percent of non-returning customers who were sold a low quality product; a high percentage of employees not staying with the business because they get fed up with dealing with mad customers; and a high percentage of vendors not renewing supply contracts due to having to wait to long on payment of their invoices due to cash flow problems.  All of this is what I have tagged as a “disposable” customer, employee and vendor base. All of this is how a sales oriented or sales lead business has to be run to survive.  And most of the time they survive only for a few years.

An operation oriented or business, run by its COO, operations management, goes for quality standards and if they have any, they usually will only have very small percentages of non-returning customers, employees and vendors.  And in most cases has some sort of process in place that determines the reasoning for any negative aspect to their operations.  Selling for this type of business is easy and combined with a strong sales group are unstoppable.

The sales oriented business find the operation platform business a threat and usually try to discredit them by writing more books and going on lecture tours to speak out on what they see as an costly quality standards.

The operational platform business will stand tall to these allegations since it all comes down to what YOU think… do you want something you need or can use that is worth the money you spend, or a firm hand shake, a smile, a pat on the back, a bag full of brochures from a product your don’t need, want or will fall apart before you get it home?

If you want to find out why your business is not improving, look to your operations, bring in a good Chief Operations Officer, or challenge the one you have to run the company like he/she feels need it needs to be run to make it profitable.  Invest into your businesses operations.  You will see your profits will go up from that change.

And, don’t waste your time reading the five books at the books story on operations management…you just read the entire library on all you need to know about operations management…well, almost.  I could write more, but this should get you heading in the right directions.

Let me know how I can help.

Scot Duke,  President of Innovative Business Golf Solutions, and Host of the Mr Business Golf podcast, provides over 31 years of corporate management experience to helping small businesses improve their marketing strategies. As author of: How To Play Business Golf, Mr. Duke outlines the steps to sucessfully using golf as a business tool.  To learn more about Mr. Duke, IBGS or to purchase How To Play Business Golf visit



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