On Deal Talk, we often hear from former business owners who have sold their companies or professionals who are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs sell their...
How Does Improving Human Performance Translate to Increasing Your Company’s Value?
Human performance directly impacts your company's bottom line and overall value. But how do we get the most and best out of ourselves and our team? Expert Darrell Gunter, president and CEO of Gunter Media Group, shares his knowledge and insights on improving performance in order to achieve the success that you desire for your business.
Questions Answered For You
- Will improving my team's performance lead to measurable business growth that will also improve the value of my company?
- What is SWOT analysis and how does it work?
- What can you do to improve your business’s performance if you already feel like you’re giving 110%?
- How does a business get from where it is now to the level of performance that you’d like to see?
You’ve got to establish a performance dashboard for yourself, you have to measure yourself, you have to set goals for yourself, and measure yourself against those goals.
Key Takeaways To Remember
- A business needs to compare itself with the best in class and understand how the company is performing against them.
- When customers have a better experience through the purchasing process, they will come back and recommend other people.
- It is important for businesses to look in the mirror and take both an internal and an external view at the company.
- An internal look at your company notes the strengths and weaknesses, and an external view looks at the opportunities and threats.
From our studio in Southern California, with guest experts from across the country and around the world, this is "Deal Talk," brought to you by Morgan & Westfield, a nationwide leader in business sales and appraisals. Now, here's your host, Jeff Allen.
Jeff: Hello and welcome back to the web's number one content source for small business owners committed to building a business for eventual sale. Here on "Deal Talk" it's our mission to provide information and guidance from our vast, growing list of trusted experts that you and all small business owners can use to help you build your bottom line and hopefully improve your company's value.
This idea of human performance and the idea of getting more not only out of yourself but out of your people. We're wondering how does that translate to increasing the value of your company or certainly making it more productive. We've got somebody on the line today who I believe is going to be able to really give us some true insight into this idea.
If you are wondering about how you might be able to improve your performance, improve the performance of others who work with you in your organization to get the best out of them and to be the best that you can be, you've come to the right place. This show is for you.
We're joined by our special guest today. His name is Darrell Gunter, he's Digital Publishing Executive, Executive Coach, M&A advisory, he wears many hats, as the President and CEO of Gunter Media Group. Darrell Gunter, I want to welcome you to the program. Welcome to "Deal Talk," sir, it's good to have you.
Darrell: Thank you so much, Jeff. It's a pleasure to be on your program.
There's something in the psychology term called Johari's window. It's the side that other people see that you don't see, and that's what a business wants to do, a business really wants to have someone to help them see their Johari's window so that they could address those particular issues.
Jeff: I was looking forward to chatting with you, Darrell, because we deal with so many tangibles on this program. We talk about the process of selling a business, the process of the M&A process, and the different stages and steps. We talked to people about how others can improve their businesses by things that you can almost touch, feel, taste and hold, the things we know about: financing, capitalizing and equipment purchases, real estate, lending, all of these things, and how to get legal, and how to do things properly, and how to grow your business, take it to the next level.
The idea, though, of improving performance, this is something that is a little bit different. I know a lot of people may have different views on it. This is your specialty. Tell us a little bit, first of all, about yourself, how you got into this area, and how you've actually seen it work to improve those companies that you have consulted with.
Darrell: Absolutely. I'm a Seton Hall graduate, born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey, grew up in my family's grocery store business. I went to work for Xerox. I wanted to get the training from the best. That was back in '81. After two successful years at Xerox, I went to work for Dow Jones Financial News Services, which deals with the news wires, which becomes The Wall Street Journal the next day.
And after a very successful year at Dow Jones, I was recruited over to be one of the first managing directors of Elsevier's regional sales office. They have four regions across the world, and I was interviewed for the Americas position. I was there for 11 years, led sales globally. After 11 years at Elsevier... I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I decided to launch Gunter Media Group, focus on helping businesses to scale.
We've been in business now for over five years, and I'm also an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University, where my colleague and I, John Hoffman, we teach Consultative Sales to the MBA program. I also lecture at Rutgers-Newark, and I lecture to their Entrepreneurs Pioneers Initiative Program. And what I've been lecturing to them over the last five years is how do you build a high-performing team.
Jeff: Well, Darrell it's really fantastic getting to hear your story, and we appreciate you taking the time out to be with us today. I'm a business owner. I'm interested in taking my business to the next level. Tell me, is there any proof to show that improving my team's performance can, in fact, lead to measurable business growth that can also result in improved value of my company?
Darrell: No doubt about it. I'm sure if your audience is not familiar with the net promoter score, net promoter score is a device where you have folks give you a rating, one to ten. And nine and ten is what is considered positive, whereas six to eight is considered ambivalent. And of course, anything five and under is considered to be not good. And you always want to have a positive net promoter score.
And what you'll find is if you look at the particular critical path of your customer, and if you really look in the mirror and be honest with yourself, and you ask yourself, is it easy for people to do business with us? And when you look at that and get a look at how easy is it for someone to do a transaction with you, if someone is purchasing an item and you have to ship it to them, are there any glitches along the way? Are your folks being polite to your customers genuinely so that the customers would want to come back and also recommend?
What you'll find is that folks who are suffering from problems from their folks being polite, knowing processes and procedures, and managing the customers’ critical path through your business, when you find that that is not going well, you will see that your performance will be greatly affected. If you were to greatly improve all of those various different factors, you're going to speed up the process by which customers do business with you. You're going to get more transactions. People are not going to, as they say, get out of line and decide to buy it somewhere else. So absolutely, there's no doubt it.
There's a lot of different studies where folks have shown that when folks have a better experience through the purchasing process, with the service process, that they will come back and they'll recommend other people.
Jeff: Many business owners may already feel that they and their teams are giving it 110% every day. Just touching on some of those things, for example, that you just talked about, about understanding the true significance, the value of the relationship that you have with your customers, and the regular nuts and bolts thing, the pencil pushing that we have to do, and the calls that we have to make, the orders that we have to fill, the people we need to speak to. We're trying to cram as much stuff as we can into every day that we go to work. How can we possibly give more than that, Darrell?
Darrell: I think each business has to really look in the mirror. I’m always talking about looking in the mirror. They need to compare themselves against the best in class. If you compare yourself against the company that's best in class, you're going to find some serious warts on your own business that gives you the opportunity to address them.
There's something in the psychology term called Johari's window. It's the side that other people see that you don't see, and that's what a business wants to do, a business really wants to have someone to help them see their Johari's window so that they could address those particular issues. And sometimes those issues, especially in small businesses, family-owned businesses, it could be a relative that is underperforming but no one wants to talk to Jimmy's nephew because they're afraid there's going to be some repercussions. Or it could be a husband-and-wife team, and of course, you have those dynamics that you have to deal with. And then there's the inconsistency of managers, how they might treat one employee one way and another employee who's doing something similar a different way.
It's a lot to look in the mirror and say, "What is my SWOT analysis, what is PMI, my pluses, minuses, and interesting points?" Because, as you know, we're all humans and we're all capable of making many mistakes. But what does Einstein say? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
Jeff: Darrell, Einstein was right. I believe that absolutely to this day, and I think about that every so often because I can do some pretty insane things. Quite frankly my wife will make sure that she lets me know about that. But tell me, you talked about SWOT analysis. I've heard about SWOT analysis. There might be members of our audience who aren't familiar. Can you tell me what that is and how that works with you and your clients, and how you use that SWOT analysis?
Darrell: Absolutely. Back in the day when I was at Seton Hall, still in the School of Business as an undergraduate, we were not taught SWOT analysis. I did not get that until graduate school, at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Now they are teaching the SWOT analysis in undergraduate business school, and I think it's very important.
When you look at a business, a proprietor needs to look at whether there's strengths, whether there are weaknesses. And this relates to their product, their pricing, their process and procedures, all of the different dynamics that make up a business, and that's an internal look. And then the opportunities and threats is an external look. Whether there are opportunities in this marketplace that we’re currently not taking advantage of that we could take advantage of if we do some things differently, or after some new blue ocean space, and then what are the threats.
And we think about threats, threats, of course, you're competitors, it could be technology, it could be government sanctions, it could be a host of things depending upon your business. I'll give you an example. You know those hoverboards that people are riding now?
Darrell: Now people are saying, "This is a great business." However, the government has started to clamp down on those particular products because they're not safe and they're catching on fire. When you look in that particular business you really need to understand the macro and microeconomics of your business. And so your strengths and weaknesses focus on your internal look, and then your opportunities or threats is an external view in regards to how you have to look at your business as well as your competition.
And you need to understand and look at everything from, like I like to say, a macroeconomics point of view, and microeconomics in regards to your local environment that you have in your city, state and county government. And so it allows the individual to do the self-analysis.
This is going to be a day-in and day-out process. But with a road map or with a plan you'll be able to mark that improvement, and see that improvement, and see that improvement drops right to your bottom line.
Jeff: Darrell, how do we get from where we're at now, from the level of performance that we're seeing not just in our people and in ourselves, but at the end of the day the level of performance of our company. We're bottom-line type folks. We look at the dollar signs at the end of the day, the amount of money that we have in our bank accounts. We know where we're at. We also know where we'd like to be. So how do we get from point A to point B?
Darrell: You’ve got to establish a performance dashboard for yourself, you have to measure yourself, you have to set goals for yourself and measure yourself against those goals. Just recently I was talking to a gentleman, David S. Rose, who has a great book called “The Startup Checklist.” One of the things that he said is very key and applies to everyone is that you have some people who talk about starting a business, then you have people who start a business. It's about the business of doing.
But in the business of doing, you have to establish performance goals and measure yourself against those performance goals. And then you need to understand if you set a particular goal and you overachieved it, so maybe the goal was a little bit too easy and you need to set a tougher goal. Or if you set a goal with a performance measurement of 10 and you only got 2, maybe you made it too hard. What are the particular nuances about that particular performance measurement?
And what you do is that you say, "OK, in this business that we have we're going to use these measurements to gauge that success." And then you have to measure that every week and determine where are you in that process. And then you see that you're achieving your goals, then you need to establish higher goals for yourself.
Jeff: But I think the thing here that is important too to follow up with, Darrell, and I'm sure that you'll agree with me, and we can come back and talk about it after the break, is the fact that if you're going to make this commitment toward improving the performance of not only you but your team, and you're going to be checking these goals and you're going to be finding out how you're doing, and you're going to be doing a lot of self-evaluation, you need to stick to it. You need to be consistent about it. You need to follow a routine schedule, and like you said, regular commitment to this is really, really critical in order to make sure that the process works and you can, in fact, get to where you want to go over time.
My name is Jeff Allen. We're talking about the correlation between performance improvement and increased value of your company, how you go about it, can it, in fact, be done, and what in fact you need to do in order to put all of these things in place in order to have the success that you want for your business. My name is Jeff Allen. I'm going to be back with Darrell Gunter, he's CEO of Gunter Media Group, when "Deal Talk" continues right after this.
If you'd like to share your knowledge and expertise on any subject related to selling businesses or helping business owners improve the value of their companies, we'd like to talk with you about joining us as a guest on a future edition of "Deal Talk." Interested? Contact our host Jeff Allen directly. Just send a brief email with "I'd like to be a guest" in the subject line. In a brief message include your name, title, area of specialty, and contact information, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, that's email@example.com.
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Jeff: I'm Jeff Allen. Welcome back to "Deal Talk." My guest is Darrell Gunter. He is in New York and he is head of Gunter Media Group where he's President and CEO, a lot of experience as an M&A adviser with some of the biggest names in the industry. And he's put together high-performance teams that have led their industries.
And he's joining us today because the idea of performance is something that is near and dear to his heart and he has been able to over the last 10 years work with a number of organizations both small and large across the country, coast-to-coast, to help them get the most out of their people, the most out of their organizations as a whole in order to take the performance of the companies to a higher level, and in the process, by the way, increase their values.
Darrell, I wanted to continue our focus on getting the most out of our teams. How can we begin the process once we know that we can, in fact, do better? Let's take a look at our teams. Let's say I've got it all together, I've got things figured out as the owner. You come in and maybe you'll evaluate and say, "Yeah, Jeff gets it." So how can we start to address the issues with our team in order to make sure that we are performing at the highest level possible?
Darrell: As I mentioned before, I think it's important that you have to really compare yourself to the best in class, and understanding where the top company in your particular business, where they're performing, and how you're performing against that.
There's a great book called “How to Outthink The Competition.” And it's all about comparing yourself against the best of class. And then doing a gap analysis on your own business and being honest with yourself in regards to where you're doing well, where you're not doing well, where you could do better. And then seek out the various different tools and mechanisms that you can utilize to help you to achieve that, and realize that you're not going to change your organization overnight. This is going to be a day-in and day-out process. But with a roadmap or with a plan, you'll be able to mark that improvement, and see that improvement, and see that improvement drops right to your bottom line.
Jeff: Have you seen instances, Darrell, where a business owner, or a CEO, or C-suite executive maybe at another level, will go in and he'll talk to his team, and have trouble getting buy-in right away because a lot of folks might think, "You know what, I'm doing as much as I possibly can do. I'm doing everything you're saying that you need me to do and then some.” But you just at first have trouble getting others on the team convinced that there are changes that need to be made in order for the company to perform at the level that really would benefit everyone.
Darrell: That's a very good question. You have to look first at… you got to have the right people on the bus. In Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great,” it's hard to get the right people on the bus. Which means that you really have to have your business well-defined in regards to what is the business that you're in and what type of people with what skill sets, and knowledge, and experience that you need to help fulfill that vision.
And then, of course, meeting with your team and working with them. Make it a group think type of project where they're going to have input and they're going to be able to provide you with their feedback. And when you do that, when you're working with them hand in hand, it's coming from the ground up, which is a very, very good thing.
You might have heard of Total Quality Management. Taguchi was the godfather of Total Quality Management. And it's really helping everyone who is in that value chain of events for your customer having them to be fully versed in regards to what their role is, and how they need to interact and communicate with their team members.
You do it in that type of way. You're going to get buy-in. And then for those who, let's say don't want to do it, they have the skill but not the will, they will most likely self-select out of the company.
Jeff: That sometimes can make somebody, a hiring manager's job, actually either easy or really, really difficult depending on the needs of your organization and how prepared you are to fill those shoes. Darrell, let me jump into something else right now. Actually, it's not completely disconnected because I know that you have some experience as an M&A adviser and you have had a chance to witness a number of deals and transactions over the years, and play a variety of roles within that.
Have you seen situations where in your experience, a sell-side company, for example, may not have gotten all that it wanted to or expected to out of a deal, or thought that it might mainly because there might have been one issue somewhere down the line that actually was a flaw that was easy to fix but maybe the business owner or the people in charge were just too close to it? And maybe this has something to do with performance-related factors.
And you were there and you thought, "Gosh, if they had only taken care of this and addressed it years ago or even last year before we sat down today they could probably be getting a heck a lot more out of this deal than they're getting today.”
Darrell: I call that the pebble in the shoe syndrome. As I walk to the train from South Orange to the train station to get to New York, sometimes a pebble will jump in my shoe. And I feel that pain, but because I'm trying to make that train I don't take it out. But when I get on the train I take the pebble out of my shoe. A lot of times businesses, they know where the pebble in the shoe is, but for whatever reason, they choose not to deal with it. And that pebble in the shoe doesn't go away. So when it's time to sell the company it's one of those issues that to the buyer is a huge deal. And it can really, really hurt the valuation of the company.
Let me tell you a true story. There was a company once, and I'll leave the name blank just to protect the names of the innocent. The company didn't have a CFO. And one board member said, "If you don't have a CFO by April, I'm going to resign from the board because your processes are way off. Your pricing doesn't make sense." The CEO eventually did hire a CFO. But unfortunately, the CFO started drinking the CEO's Kool-Aid. Therefore the pricing was still not consistent.
Let's fast forward. We're now in a meeting with a company to acquire us and they asked the fundamental question about our pricing metrics. And the CFO could not answer the question. I think that company that day lost $5 million off of their valuation because of it.
When you think about it ― if the CEO had truly addressed that issue that that board member had complained about... And by the way, that board member eventually did resign. He was just fed up with the inconsistencies. But had that problem been addressed, that company probably would not have needed to sell at that point, and if they did, they certainly would've received a higher amount.
Jeff: Absolutely. But right there that's a sobering story and a sobering reminder about having that pebble in our shoe, take the doggone thing out. You'll probably make your train anyway.
Darrell: That's right.
I think each business has to really look in the mirror. I’m always talking about looking in the mirror. They need to compare themselves against the best in class.
Jeff: Darrell, we're starting to wind down this program and I really enjoyed this conversation today. But what I like to finish off with today is to find out maybe a thing or two or three that you can share with us that you yourself practice in order to perform at your very best each and every day.
Darrell: Number one is that I have a couple of mentors and I have a couple of mentees. I often take a course in Coursera once or twice a year on something that I know absolutely nothing about, which allows me to what I call to sharpen my blade. Then I always try to teach someone something, because if I believe I know a particular topic I could be more effective in doing it if I can teach it.
Jeff: I don't think we can end on a better note than that. And with that in mind, I think it just serves as a final thought that if there is someone that we can help or someone that we can help improve, make their job easier for them, or help them perform at a higher level. And there's something that we can share that we know might add value to their life, to their job, to their company, and to others that they touch, that we're foolish not to share that with.
Darrell, I just want to thank you so much for that. I know that we have a number of people who might be very interested indeed in talking to you about how you can probably help them in their particular situation. We know that everybody is different. Every situation in every company is different. But if they'd like to reach out to you, how can they connect?
Darrell: Two ways, one is my email address which is firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our website, guntermediagroup.com. I'm available on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. I can be reached at 973-454-3475.
Jeff: This guy is real, he's grounded, and he knows a lot of stuff, folks. Please if you would, get in touch with Darrell when you can. It's going to be a great conversation you'll have with him. And I'm sure that he can answer some basic questions and his service is also there, of course, provided for you. If you have reason to call upon him for the purpose of seeking greater performance out of you, your team, your company as a whole, he'd love to talk to you more about what he can do for you.
Darrell, that's it for our time today. I want to thank you again for joining us on "Deal Talk," really enjoyed it.
Darrell: Thank you so much, Jeff, it was a pleasure.
Jeff: Darrell Gunter, CEO of Gunter Media Group, has been our guest today. He is a digital publishing executive, executive coach, and M&A advisory, and I hope that you enjoyed our conversation.
"Deal Talk" is available at morganandwestfield.com where you can find the complete show notes from this discussion. So after listening to the program if you'd like to go ahead and print that PDF and have it where you can find it and get access to it, look up some important key points from this discussion and share it with others, it's right there for the taking. Once again, the website is morganandwestfield.com. You can also listen to "Deal Talk" in any one of three other channels, available at iTunes, Stitcher and Libsyn.
"Deal Talk" is brought to you by Morgan & Westfield, a nationwide leader in business sales and appraisals. Learn more at morganandwestfield.com, or by calling 888-693-7834. I'm Jeff Allen, I'll talk to you again soon. Here's to your success.
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