Top Business Trends for 2020 Baranski

It’s not too late to take a look at the emerging business trends for 2020! Originally published in January, this newsletter shows why companies should plan for growth (not a recession), and how speed and partnerships continue to be essential. And face-to-face communication makes a comeback.

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© 2020 Rick Pay, all rights reserved.

Should Tariffs Hurt Your Customers? Deluxe

Recently I’ve had a number of discussions with company owners and other consultants about Trump’s tariffs. Many companies are wringing their hands due to the sharply increased costs on many commodities associated with the 25% tariffs, and in some cases, the lack of availability of materials. Do these tariffs need to have that big an impact on your company or your customers?

A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal (My Customers Don’t Pay Trump’s Tariffs – July 1, 2019 p A17), shared the experience of the CEO of a consumer-electronics company that sources 90% of their products from China. Even though his products should have a 25% tariff, the company only experienced a 2% cost increase. How can that be? His purchasing department took a proactive partnership approach to his Chinese suppliers,  appealing to their best interests, and got price concessions that all but wiped out the impact of the tariffs.

There are three key elements you can use to mitigate the impact of tariffs on you and your customers:

  • Don’t use your buyers for buying! – They should be much more than order executers, they should be managing the supplier relationship.
  • Focus on Total Cost Of Ownership – It includes many costs not considered during product development and off-shoring activities.
  • Develop partnerships with suppliers – Focus on a few carefully selected suppliers for speed, quality improvement and cost reduction.

A strong supply chain strategy is vital to reduce or even eliminate the impact of the current tariff environment. If you would like a review of your Supply Chain Strategy, give me a call.


© 2019 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Partnerships – Not Just Outside the Organization

Companies often overlook their opportunities to develop  internal partnerships. How many times have you heard about functional silos, internal politics, ineffective teams and weak communications? Internal partnerships (between employees and departments within the company) often provide the greatest benefits to the organization:

  • Bridging the gaps between departments to improve communications
  • Breaking down functional silos to improve performance
  • Providing strong alignment to help achieve the vision
  • Improving product quality and performance
  • Driving innovation and speed
  • Maximizing profit and cash flow and overall company value

Internal partnerships, just like external ones, are founded on relationships and trust, which require frequent communication. For example, operations and sales representatives should be meeting at least weekly to discuss:

  • Changing market conditions
  • Sales forecasts and major customer commitments
  • Promotions and other impacts to smooth sales flow
  • Production and supply chain status and potential interruptions
  • Other issues or problems that need a planned response

Frequent communication is one of the key supporters of the golden rule of business – Let There Be No Surprises.

To find out more about partnerships both inside and outside the organization, see my book, 1+1=100: Achieving Breakthrough Results Through Partnerships.


© 2018 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Full Speed Ahead Hashisho

How can you create more speed in your company?

  1. Eliminate anything that isn’t needed. Rather than just trying to work faster, assess the process and eliminate unnecessary steps. One way to do this is through process mapping and asking the questions, “Why do we do this?” and “Does this step provide value to the customer and would they pay for it?”
  2. Shorten setup and changeover times in production and distribution. Reduce materials handling and waiting. Reduce part count, number of suppliers, and product assortment. One of my clients cut maintenance technician time by 30 minutes per day by changing the way the technicians’ vans were restocked. The result was over 60 hours per day of savings—15,000 hours per year. Not only did that reduce costs, but often the technicians could do an additional service call per day, which increased revenue as well.
  3. Measure lead times, cycle times, and on-time delivery. These measures drive problem-solving efforts and increase speed. A manufacturing client improved its shipped-on-time from 24 to over 80 percent simply by measuring and posting the results for the staff to see. Knowing the score inspired staff to make quick changes, which dramatically improved results.

Remember to get good first, then get fast. Also, slow down to speed up! Speed is often sacrificed to rework and mistakes or using larger batches to try to be efficient.


© 2018, Rick Pay. All rights reserved

This is an excerpt from Rick’s forthcoming book, Moving Into the Express Lane, coming this spring from Business Expert Press.

Cash Flow: Not Just For the CFO Benjaminsz

Often considered to be the domain of the CFO, cash flow can be impacted by more than just finance and accounting. Sales, operations, supply chain and others can dramatically impact the speed with which cash flows into and through the organization.

Being able to look at your entire business model and see ideas to improve the cash-to-cash cycle requires outside the box thinking. Challenging what is possible and making no excuses can free up potentially millions of dollars in cash flow. How would you spend an extra couple million dollars?

To read more, visit the latest edition of Growth Accelerator.

© 2017 Rick Pay – All rights reserved.

What Explains the Unexpected?

How do you respond when there is a sudden, unexpected shift in either your customer base or supplier base? Recently Prime Minister May of Great Britain experienced that in the election, when she unexpectedly lost her majority in Parliament. She called for an election confident that she would pick up seats for her majority, but instead, she lost the majority. Apparently the people were dissatisfied with the slow speed of change related to Brexit.

Do you control your business throttle to achieve the speed you want to keep your stakeholders happy? In The Executive Command Center, your dashboard of business performance, speed is the big dial. If you aren’t experiencing the wind blowing though your hair, be prepared for unexpected, poor results.


© 2017 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved.

How Can I Make Things Easier?

When asked, “What one thing, when you do it, makes everything else easier?” my mentor Alan Weiss responded, “There are several things: speed, courage, lack of self-censorship and abandonment of perfection.” These are things that apply to business situations as well, particularly in leadership, operations and supply chain.

Embracing speed (and avoiding procrastination) prevents bad situations from getting worse, allows you to beat the competition and provides excellent customer service. In my Executive Command Center™, speed is the big dial on the dashboard and is the most important element of performance.

Act with courage. Know that you might make mistakes, but as long as you learn from them, don’t worry.

Remember: success, not perfection. Keep your eye on the vision or future state of how you want things to be, how processes should work, the results you’re trying to achieve. Trying to be perfect simply delays things.

Business should be fun and things need to keep moving toward the vision of the team, organization, partnerships and community. Speed, courage, and abandoning perfection will make things easier and help you enjoy the journey.

© 2017 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Agility and Speed: Two Keys To Successful Operations

Watching the Rose Bowl earlier this month I saw Penn State’s impressive running back, Saquon Barkley, who has a great combination of agility and speed. The agility allowed him to avoid tacklers close to the line of scrimmage by rapidly changing direction, often several times. Then, once past the first five yards or so, his speed allowed him to outrun the defensive backs to make a touch down. That combination of agility and speed should provide Penn State fans with many good game-watching experiences.

In your business, agility and speed can be significant competitive factors driving growth, profitability and cash flow. Agility relates to how fast you can change. For example, can you respond to short-term changes in the sales forecast, or changes in labor such as sickness or unexpected turnover, or to a crisis?

Speed relates to how fast things get done, how short lead times are, how responsive your organization is to customers, and how soon your customers get their products. Many customers will pay more for speed.

I’ve always said that the key for operations is to keep sales in the critical path. Agility and speed contribute greatly to that.

© 2017 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Are You Ready?

Sutton Foster is a Tony Award winning Broadway star. She wasn’t always in that position, though. In a story on CBS Sunday Morning (Dec 12, 2016), she talked about her days as an understudy for Broadway shows. As understudy, she was the actress in waiting, preparing for her big chance. She learned all of the lines and the choreography, but never actually played in front of the audience unless something happened to the regular actress.

After years in this position, she got her big chance when a director called her to play the lead role in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She won her fist Tony Award for the role. She said, “One of the things I’m most proud of is that the opportunity came and I was ready!” That meant she was prepared, knew her stuff, had worked hard and could step in.

Is your business ready when the role of a lifetime comes? Can you take advantage of that big sale, new customer, or new product roll-out?

To be ready, 1) keep your vision in mind, 2) have a strong business strategy to attain the vision, and 3) have a solid operations strategy to ensure you have the capacity, cost structure, cash flow, speed and agility to meet the challenge.

Are you ready for the role? Can you respond in award-winning fashion when you get the call? If you would like an assessment of your readiness, let me know.

© 2016 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

This famous saying and book title by Marshall Goldsmith, the consummate management coach, applies to many things in our business lives, not the least of which is supply chain management strategy. I recently received a survey from a marketing company seeking to find out how companies were addressing performance improvement and risk mitigation in their supply chains. As I reviewed the survey, two things jumped out.

  1. Most of the issues were internally focused.
  2. The ideas they proposed as “leading edge” had to do with information, communication, tracking, improving current processes, and collaboration; the same old, same old.

If companies want to move to the next level of performance in their supply chains, they need to think differently as they develop their strategies. Otherwise, they’re trying to out-perform their competitors by doing the same things better. To reach world class, top 10% performance, companies need to think differently. How can they partner (not just collaborate) to improve supply chain performance? How can they become more agile to allow quick, dramatic improvements to take place? How can they leverage speed in everything they do?

Companies don’t need to just think outside the box, they need to do away with the box. Trying to do the same things better won’t get your there. Using the power of partnerships and world class thinking will.

© 2016 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved