With an annual output of £192 billion, the UK remains the 9th largest manufacturing nation in the world.
Overall the UK’s industrial sector has shown sustained growth since 1948 and according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this can be down to:
- Better quality
- More skilled workforce
- A shift in production from low to high productivity goods
- Improvements in automation and technology
- Increased investment in R&D
- And a more integrated global economy
Although this is positive and heartening news, our own studies show that there is a growing concern at the moment amongst many manufacturing businesses of not only an economic downturn but the pace of change faced by leaders to run a successful and profitable business is daunting.
It is also clear however that organisations who can embrace this change and can adapt and build for the future will be able to capitalise on this growth opportunity and outgrow their competitors.
The six strategies discussed below highlight key areas that successful companies we spoke to have in common and are addressing to stay ahead of the game. Not all the companies have everything perfectly aligned but they all seem to have the right attitude, mindset and leadership in place to make small changes to get the greatest returns.
1. Clear vision, mission and culture:
At the centre of it all is clear leadership that promotes innovation and a can-do attitude, and an organisation that has managed to remove any barriers in the lines of communication amongst top executives and employees.
Dynamic and growing companies have a common mindset that is crystal clear in all their decision making and actions. This we believe is driven by everyone in the organisation believing and constantly reviewing the 3 key aspects below of the big ‘Why?’ of the organisation and their people.
Manufacturing organizations should clearly define the company’s ultimate goal to the employees, stakeholders, customers and the world at large constantly. It should not be wishy-washy and people who read the vision statement should clearly understand the sentiments, philosophies and the penultimate objective of the organization. Of course, as the organisation gets closer to this vision then the horizon expands!
The mission should clearly express the practical approach and methods the company will adopt to achieve the end objective. An employee working in the company will get a better insight into the methods his company will follow in the future to get the things done. Everyone who is associated with the company will show a sense of belongingness when the mission is projected properly.
The result is that not only do the employees know what the company is really all about but so do the customers – so don’t hide it!
The culture within an organization plays a predominant role. A well-structured and organized company will bring out the best from every employee working in the organization. Every employee working in an organization should strictly adhere to the rules, regulations and terms that are framed by the company. Good corporate culture and group cohesion is the need of the hour. It sets out the behavioural standards of your company and what you expect from your people, your customers and your suppliers.
Collectively these three areas should be used to help measure your strategies against – for example does your new strategy fit with your Vision, Mission and Culture of the company.
2. Customer-centric operations:
A company should think everything from the customers’ perspective and not from their point of view. Your ultimate aim is to satisfy the needs and requirements of every customer. Even if one customer writes negative comments or messages about your company then you will start seeing a downfall in sales.
Your approach towards every customer should always be positive and straight forward. If you are longing to have a long-lasting relationship with your customer, then think about everything from their perspective. Once a customer-centric approach and operations are in place then your company will grow exponentially within a short time. To achieve this objective and bring-in revolutionary change within the organization think about the tools you could put in place to provide a positive customer experience
- Access to client information – all teams (in sales, marketing, customer care, production, dispatch and finance) should be able to share a common platform for information so that everyone has access to the single truth. This will give the customer a joined-up and pleasurable experience of doing business with you.
- Chatbots for multichannel communication: Artificial intelligence is gaining popularity and this is the right time to use AI technology. It is easy to start installing powerful AI tools for integration, communication and business development. Every department should understand the difficulties and emotions of dissatisfied customers. Business organizations should include AI-enabled chatbots and tools in their existing software for customer interaction. The automation and extra information will improve productivity and provide for extra intelligence to make fast, fact-based decisions.
- Access to customers dashboard and social networking sites: Employees working in an organization will understand the thought patterns, views expressed by the customer and also their buying habits of the customers only when you give access permission to the dashboard. Simply by applying this straightforward method sale, marketing, customer services, dispatch and finance will improve their commitment and dedication levels to a great extent.
3. Sales, marketing and customer services:
It is a well-established fact the sales, marketing and customer service departments are the backbone of a growing organization. There should be a mind sharing platform in your organization where all the employees working in the above departments can share their productive and creative ideas that can help in business growth. A strong, healthy and helping team can generate maximum leads for your company. Always keep customers on top of your mind while discussing business plans and strategies since they are the ones who give business and support you in your growth.
- Identify the right customers: Sales and marketing department should ideate proper marketing strategies bearing in mind the buying patterns of the customers. Respond to customers emails properly and provide a fast and clear solution to their problems. You can grow leaps and bounds and touch new peaks in business when you build the best professional rapport with your client
- Retain the customer: Retaining the right customer as we all know is cheaper than acquiring a new one. You should make all efforts to retain the existing customers since they were the ones who helped you in your business growth. You should get in touch with them regularly by sending relevant information, news updates and marketing emails.
4. Integrated Systems and processes and productive teams:
With increased pressures on profit margins, it is imperative that all our teams and processes (such as below) are productive and efficient and help in improving the bottom line.
- General Management
- Warehouse & Inventory
- Customer Care & Maintenance
- Design (BoM Generation)
- Production Control
- External & Internal Sales
- Quality Assurance
- Planning & Scheduling
- Package &Desptach
- Installation Teams
Streamlining & systemising the business brings along other benefits such as the ability to rapidly replicate during growth or expansion. It also avoids constant intervention by business managers as the systems run themselves. Joined up process and team works sets an environment of smarter working rather than just harder working.
5. Fast access to real-time information:
A company can create a positive rapport in the minds of new and existing customers only when they act quickly and provide a solution to their problem. To achieve this objective a company should implement innovative technological solutions like AI and big data that can extract useful information to allow quick and fast decisions.
6. Manage their resource well:
Underlying all of the strategies, systems and processes we found that the most successful companies have a deep understanding of the importance of handling the and managing change within their organisation.
The most expensive assets of an organisation (the people) determine the success of any change being deployed through the company. Hence an investment in the people is as important as the technology and processes.
Successful leaders and companies develop their skills to proactively support as well as encourage and empower the correct behaviour in others to deliver this change
Wish to discuss and explore some of these points further and their relevance to your company?
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Very interesting – guess it applies to most companies these days