Missing the obvious!
Amar runs 3 businesses – he started the first one 25 years back using the savings from his job. He was in the early 20s back then, brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. He took on the dealership of the products he was selling, as an employee, for a few years. He knew the products inside out and the people who mattered; many of his organisation’s customers would be the ones he used to visit earlier and the Principal was after his old employer.
Amar worked with a lot of energy and all the ideas he had started out with began bearing fruit. When the dealership was on a firm footing Amar decided to take on one more line of activity. He promised the Principals that his maiden venture would not be neglected and business would continue like before. Since a significant portion of his time would have to be invested in the development of this new line, he decided to find a Manager for the first business – and just then his brother, Manu, quit his job and was in search of work. Amar felt that having someone from the family to run the affairs meant he could safely take his eyes off the old line and focus fully on the new one, which he was not so familiar with. But with Amar’s undivided attention and his Sales acumen the new business started growing too. Soon this new line was also achieving decent revenue and providing healthy profit.
But soon news started reaching him through customers that service in his old line was not up to the mark and former colleagues called up to tell him that fresh inventory requests have fallen in recent months – that clearly indicated a dip in Sales. Amar called Manu to find out what was wrong – he was assured that it was only a minor blip and things were under control. Amar also heard from competitors, with whom he was still in touch, that business was booming.
With the first venture still in the positive (albeit with Sales and Service showing downward trends) and the second business achieving stability Amar felt good and soon he experienced that old itch again – “Isn’t it time to start a new line of activity?”
It was then that an old friend of his appeared out of nowhere and asked him to join a venture that was being launched in another city – it meant that he would have to be away from his home-base for extended periods of time. But this seemed like a break into the big league and he was excited – the profit expected from the venture was too good to resist. The friend had also told Amar that he need not put in any cash, just his know-how and sweat equity were sufficient. Amar jumped in with eyes-closed. The reins of the second business were handed over to a second brother, Kumar, who had recently retired and returned to their home-town, after working for many years in another country.
Amar got totally involved with the newest baby and left the affairs of old businesses completely in the hands of his two brothers; they were family after all and things can’t go wrong. But, that wasn’t how it went – the first business had been slipping for quite a while and Sales was now in the red. And while Amar was still comfortably placed with decent returns coming from the new venture he had been pumping a lot of money to keep his old businesses afloat. His brother always seemed to be short of cash to run the business and he generously made good the shortfall.
Kumar, who ran the second business was unfamiliar with the market but wouldn’t take any inputs from the team and they in turn did not his style of operations. They were used to working with Amar, who was more accommodative and gave the team more freedom. The brother was more autocratic and wanted to call all the shots – while he did not know the situation on the ground and was unable to understand the demands of the customers, he wouldn’t permit the team to take decisions. Business stalled and many employees left the organisation.
While Amar’s third business provided returns it wasn’t at the levels predicted by his promoter friend and he was not able to call all the shots in the operations like he had hoped to. His own businesses were in the hands of Managers who were permitting thing to spin out of control – they clearly didn’t seem to have the answers.
Can you help Amar work his way out of the sticky situation he seems to be in right now?
- What do you think is happening here? What went wrong?
- What would you suggest to Amar to help him get things back under control?
I really look forward to your thoughts and suggestions. Leave them in the Comments section of the Sales Coach Blog and I will read each and every one of them.
Part – 2 would discuss your responses and I will throw in some suggestion from my side too.