Service Network Gets Business Insights

April 29, 2005
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Attendees packed the room for Don Lehr’s seminar titled “What if Jack Welch Ran Your Linc Service Business?”
PITTSBURGH - A business that embodies the principles put forth by Jack Welch is going to be very successful. That was the theme of a seminar presented by Don Lehr, Linc Service Network's senior director of staffing and development, to attendees at the Linc Services' Continuing Education Conference in Pittsburgh.

The seminar was titled "What If Jack Welch Ran Your Linc Service Business?" Welch is the legendary former chairman and CEO of General Electric.

Lehr explained some of Welch's business philosophies to contractors, noting that Welch had "transferred an old manufacturing giant [General Electric] into a leading service business."

He quoted the Welch vision: "You've got to have a vision because you have to rally people around a cause. Your vision shouldn't be complicated, it should be simple, and it should be repeated until you want to gag on it, over and over and over again."

Case Study: Welch's Way

Lehr presented a hypothetical case study of a failing business and asked attendees to form discussion groups to come up with a turnaround plan to make the business a success. He wanted contractors to hypothesize on what Welch would do to make the turnaround.

Here are the key points about the business:

  • The company sells preventive maintenance programs and repair and replacement services.

  • The founder of the company is stepping down after 10 consecutive quarters of declining sales and profits.

  • After topping $5 million in revenues, the company opened three satellite offices and business started declining.

  • Customers are opting out of contracts and turning to competitors.

  • The management of satellite offices has been a revolving door.

  • The founder had micromanaged everything.

  • Customer satisfaction is taking a beating.

  • Morale problems are killing the company.

  • Product knowledge and procedure is lacking across the board.

  • Employee turnover is through the roof.

  • There is a sense of complacency among managers.

  • Communication throughout the company is lacking.

  • The best ideas are being "left on the table."

    Lehr painted a pretty bleak picture of the company - there were obvious weaknesses in every facet of the business. But he noted that despite all of the problems, the company did have some positives.

    He noted that although the company had slipped its market, it was only 5 percent behind the No. 3 company and 10 percent behind the No. 2 company. He also pointed out there is a strong core of quality employees.

    Lehr asked contractors in attendance to develop a turnaround plan that established priorities and implemented transformation of the company.

    Here's the plan that Linc Services' contractors developed, using the "Jack Welch" method.

    1. Promote vision. Ask, "Where do we want to take this company?" Re-establish core values (behaviors) of the company to the branches.

    2. Break down boundaries between sales and technical force. Reach agreements. Reset the tone.

    3. Coordinate a meeting with the branches. Go see the people - internal and external customers.

    4. Create a sense of urgency across the company that would show a need for change. Eliminate two satellite office problems by fixing, selling, or closing. Start over with the core and spread the word/vision/mission from there; start over from the head office.

    5. Establish and align core values (core behaviors). If office manager doesn't adjust to core values, he's gone. Lay out the mission and let general managers fail or succeed. Give them a chance to fail in order to help them succeed.

    6. Fire underperforming managers and then establish one true culture in the company. Look for the 80 percent of employees that are good - and look at them as potential managers.

    Lehr summarized the solutions.

    "Resetting the tone and purpose of the company seems to surface in your suggestions," he noted.

    "The questions of ‘What do we want to achieve?' and ‘How do we want to go about doing it?' are being asked. A realignment of trust and openness seems to come to the forefront. Trust and openness need to be regenerated and a sense of purpose for group buy-in instilled in the members of the company."

    Publication date: 05/02/2005

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