Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Business Development MarketingBy Justin Fugère

Before joining the electrical trade, I had the chance to work with over 20 companies as a management coach. During five years of consulting, I saw some companies that were doing great, some good, others not so good, and a few that were just trying to survive until the next order. Now what is the difference between the ones that were thriving and the ones that were barely surviving (or about to close)?
Sometimes taking a step back from our day-to-day grind is not only refreshing, but often essential in determining our next step as a business.


When we look at most companies, three majors principles summarize the efforts we put in every day:

1.    Operational excellence — how can I reduce the cost of what I’m producing today?
2.    Business development — how do I grow my current clients and who will buy from me tomorrow?
3.    Innovation or product leadership — what will clients be buying tomorrow?

In a company like Stelpro, these three principles are challenged every week. Our production team along with our continuous improvement team look at our supply chain process continuously to understand how we can improve safety issues, quality control and work methods to not only improve the cost of each part made but to also do it in a safer way while continuously improving quality.


Our sales team is dedicated to serving our distribution branches network, pleasing the end user (contractors) and always looking to understand why some contractors buy from us and some don’t.
Our R&D department will look at market outlook, technical innovations and equipment improvement to come up with new, better and cheaper ways to please clients with electrical heating needs.
With over 430 full-time employees, it is necessary to have a micro and macro view of the organization. But how can electrical contractors improve their business with the same approach?


Operational excellence


Three aspects will influence your operational excellence:
1.    Management system — the entire management tools in your organization
2.    Communication structure — when, what and how do I communicate with my management and employees
3.    Management behaviour — is the behaviour of my management value-added or non-value added (proactive or reactive)

The details of these three aspects will be explored further in my next article. For now, understand that they all contribute to one goal: reducing the cost of what I’m producing or offering.
The best place to start is to look at lost time. How much time do my people spend waiting for parts? Is everybody ready to go in the morning? Are my people working on the right priorities? Any good manufacturing excellence book could teach you a lot about solutions to these problems: optimizing the tool belt, optimizing the space in each contractor’s truck, making sure we have a secondary assignment list if the project stops. Do I have the right person working on the right job?


The oldest and best way to find lost time is to stand with a notepad and watch your people work. Write down how much time they spend working and how much time doing other things, such as pacing, searching, trying to understand, etc.), write down the result (biggest lost time), and brainstorm for solutions.


The golden rule of operational excellence is “What we do not control, we do not measure.” A good place to start for a contractor would be to create categories of calls (e.g., service call, emergency call, project) and categorize the hours worked by each electrician each week. Quickly (after a few weeks), a trend will appear. The same guys will tend to do the same kind of calls. Also, the number of calls will trend from electrician to electrician.


Once you have a few weeks of data, start setting a measurable and attainable objective. For example, a 10% increase in overall number of calls done per electrician. Financial compensation can be attached to the goal attainment but contrary to popular beliefs it is not necessary. We are simple as human beings: having a simple goal is often enough to improve our performance.


This video offers great insights in what really motivates us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc


Once your employees understand what they need to do to improve and why they need to improve, everybody will be working in the same direction and thus make it easier for change to happen.
Salaries are often a company’s #1 expense.


Business development


So many avenues are offered to every type of business these days: postal mailing, internet ads, newspapers, etc. The key is to never stop. If you haven’t had a meeting with a new client in more than a week, than your business is not going to grow in the long run.


The first step is to understand who is in charge of business development in your organization. If you have less than 10 employees, chances are it’s the founder/owner. Small business tends to see business development as a cost. It should be seen as an investment.


Just as with operational excellence, business development should be measured to understand the best investments. You don’t know how to measure it? Ask every new client how they heard about your company. I promise that come December 31, you will know exactly where to invest in the coming year.


Best indicator to start: what is my return on investment for every dollar I spend? This year I spent $2,000 on a newspaper ad, $6,000 on a radio commercial, and $2,000 on flyers for a total of $10,000. These ads combined to produce $120,000 of new business. So, for every dollar I spend on publicity, I get $12 back in business. If you make good decisions and review your strategy, this number could go up to $20, $30 even $100 for every dollar spent. If you sleep on it and never think about it, this number will dwindle down and pretty soon you will be throwing money away.


Always remember those horror stories of small companies who start dealing with Wal-Mart. After a few months Wal-Mart is buying close to 100% of their production. When you have a client with over 50% of your business you are overexposed. Keep yourself diversified and always keep meeting new clients.


Sales should always be a top priority. The day you stop developing your market is the day your company starts dying. Business owners often see this as a useless expense because they do not measure the return on investment.


Innovation or product leadership


Remember all those primary school art classes in which you started with a blank piece of paper, a pot of glue, a pair of scissors and the whole world in front of you to create something spectacular? The result may not have always been impressive, but applying creativity to your business could mean the difference between thriving, simply surviving or slowly dying.


We often hear, “I’m a technical person, not an artist” or “I’m not a creative person.” FALSE! Creativity is linked to the elasticity of the brain, meaning, just like your 1 rep max bench press, it needs to be exercised to improve. How do I exercise my creativity? Let you walls down, try new things: drawing, reading, brainstorming with your team, take a different route to work tomorrow. All those means and hundreds of others will take you out of your comfort zone and train your brain to come up with new ideas.


Creativity and innovation can be applied to all aspects of any business. In the case of an electrical contractor, ask yourself, “What will make me different?” Think in terms of customer experience. Do I present my company the right way? How do I thank my clients and get feedback on the job we did? What is a prospective client’s first impression when meeting me or someone from my company?


There is no magic recipe for spontaneously stimulating creativity. Some will find it while doing something odd like gardening or yoga; others, while exchanging ideas with their peers. Whatever works for you is the right solution.


Here is a great video on “creative confidence.” It helps us understand why some people apply their news ideas and some don’t:
http://www.ted.com/playlists/11/the_creative_spark.html
To find news ideas, you need a new setting.


Conclusion


When looking to improve your company’s profitability, focus on the basics. These three simples principles should help any business in achieving steady and solid growth. Always remember: “The day you stop growing is the day you start dying.” Next month: more on the different aspects of operational excellence.

Justin Fugère is Stelpro’s Territory Sales Manager — Electrical Distribution for Quebec. Before joining Stelpro, Justin served as a business coach, management consultant and financial planner; Tel: 450-441-0101450-441-0101, ext. 208; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Hubbell

 

The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland has named Hubbell Lighting executive licensee of a technology that can suppress bacteria in the air and on surfaces using a narrow spectrum of visible light. The high intensity narrow spectrum lighting technology has been shown to reduce bacterial pathogens in the environment at a far greater rate than cleaning and disinfection alone.

“Our agreement with Hubbell Lighting opens the door for the food and beverage industry and other sectors to benefit from our continuous disinfection technology, helping them keep consumers even safer,” says Scott MacGregor, vice-principal of the University of Strathclyde and leader of the research team that developed the technology.

Read More

 

Study


A confirmation: the winds of change are now howling.

Several years ago, in a workshop at Electro-Federation Canada’s annual conference, a roundtable session described and debated the numerous disruptive technologies that are forcing us to think differently.

Read more

 

 

Michael Gentile, President and CEO of Philips Lighting Canada, has had a long and distinguished career in the electrical industry and more recently the lighting industry. None of this is by chance. Always in decision-making circles since beginning his career, Michael spends the first 10 years first at Siemens, and subsequently in lighting at Osram as Vice President Finance and Vice President Sales and Marketing. After that, he joins Philips Lighting.

Michael agreed to share a few moments with us to discuss his career trajectory, the industry, trends, worries, and wishes. A tour of his career is also a tour through a key period in the industry and a reflection of its adaptability to new technologies — from an expert's point of view.

Read More

Changing Scene

  • Prev
Flextherm Celebrates 25 Years With a Big Bang PHOTO: EIN-37/CEW-18-CS-Flextherm-400.jpg The floor ...
Electro-Federation Canada’s 6th Annual Future Forum, Thinking Smarter — Channel Products, Energy, ...
In partnership with Habitat for Humanity Québec, Convectair is donating two heating units ...
Do you know an industry member who has greatly contributed to the Canadian electrical industry and ...
Kendra Smith will be joining the company’s Nationals Accounts team as the Key Accounts ...
Blueway has been added as a division within Sonepar Ontario, reporting directly to Sonepar Ontario ...
Pilz Canada has added Marcus Graham to its family. Marcus is now serving a wide base of customers ...
Christopher Balleine has been appointed Stelpro’s Sales Representative, Maritimes, ...
Based in Ottawa, Lafontaine will be responsible for building on Schneider Electric’s ...
Bill Smith from Electrozad Supply Company Limited has been selected as this year’s recipient ...

Peers & Profiles

  • Prev
Sales of electrical supplies from full-line electrical distributors capture the geographic ...
I've known John Sencich since CEW began publishing. He agreed from the outset to be part of the ...
Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for ...
Michael Gentile, President and CEO of Philips Lighting Canada, has had a long and distinguished ...
Gordon MacDonald is a cheerful, driven individual who loves to be challenged, a trait that suits ...
  Jordan Prins is an account manager at Wesco Distribution in Abbotsford, British Columbia. ...
Mike Marsh, President and CEO of SaskPower, has been a leading figure in Saskatchewan’s electricity ...
I didn’t wake up one day and go, “I want to work for my dad!” Actually, it was ...
    Ouellet Canada is celebrating 50 years in the Electrical Heating ...
  On February 27th Lumen opened their 36th branch in Ottawa, Ontario. ...

Laura Dempsey

Owen Hurst

Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for over 15 years, and is a member of the BCEA U40 network of young professionals. She lives in Langley, BC and is proud of her position and work with E.B. Horsman, particularly as she is the second Dempsey generation to work for the company.

Laura’s mother Shelly has worked at E.B. Horsman for over 25 years, and instilled in Laura a determination to succeed. Laura followed in her mother’s footsteps after witnessing how much her mother enjoyed her work and the people she works with at E.B. Horsman.

Read more: Laura Dempsey

Laura Dempsey

Line Goyette

I've known John Sencich since CEW began publishing. He agreed from the outset to be part of the newsletter’s Editorial Board. His contribution was regular and sustained. Always present to answer my technical questions, and refer me to the right person for additional information as needed. Always available despite his role as senior leader of an influential company.

Over the past five years, many industry insiders have cited John Sencich when I asked them to name someone who had made a difference in their lives or had inspired them as a leader.

Read more: John Sencich

Looking Back

  • Prev
  As 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we take a look back at an aspect of ...
The resource-based industries of the Maritimes are looking to electronics to make their operations ...
  Electrical distributors must remain in both the electronic and electrical ends of the ...
  The public’s strong interest in energy-saving products should continue in the ...
  Even in a principally agricultural province like Saskatchewan, the impact of electronics ...
Electrical distribution companies operating in British Columbia will continue to get larger while ...
Golden anniversaries are celebrated by the mature, and our industry is allowed to celebrate ...
The last 50 years have been exciting ones for the electrical industry but they won’t compare to ...
The ceiling that had been placed on membership fees remained a point of contention among ...
The year 1982 started on a relatively good note for electrical distributors. Sales in the first ...

DIgitalDigitalization is set to take a strong hold of all business models, transforming how companies access, monitor, engage with and service customers. Today’s customers are not passive consumers; they rely on real-time digital access to information to make purchasing decisions. Businesses must consider how to apply digital technologies and digitized data to connect with customers to help reshape their paths to purchase. This digital lens provides improvements to business functions, operations and overall processes by creating stronger insight and knowledge so businesses can take action.

The path towards digitalization has put the electrical supply channel at an important crossroad: the entire electrical value chain (suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, customers) will need to strongly consider how to move from a traditional model that has served the market well for decades, towards a new model that is connected, smart and highly efficient. But how does the industry evolve from a traditional model to an integrated ecosystem?

Read More

 


 

EFC 2018 Scholarship Program

This year Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) will award $156,250 across 62 scholarships supported by manufacturers, distributors and associations.

The annual EFC Scholarship Program reflects an industry that understands its responsibility to attract future talent. In the face of technological, demographic, and socio-economic evolution, the employment landscape is in constant transformation resulting in substantial challenges for companies as they work to define and redefine their recruitment practices. Furthermore, as competition for the brightest and the best of the next generation of business leaders intensifies, it’s more important than ever to engage young people. 

Read more...

 

Copper $US Dollar price per pound

Produced with the support of Electro-Federation Canada
Kerrwil Publications Electro Federation Canada

538 Elizabeth Street, Midland,Ontario, Canada L4R2A3 +1 705 527 7666
2016 All rights reserved

Use of this Site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy Policy (effective 1.1.2016)
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Kerrwil