Protect Your Company’s Value By Sharing Your Wealth Of Knowledge
Last month, I discussed the increasing amount of dialog I’m having with business owners about management transition, liquidity events, and exit strategies. To review, the three critical components of a successful plan are:
- Processes & procedures;
- Vetting of partners; and
- Knowledge transfer/transparency.
Of these, the one that quite surprisingly has the most significant impact on the value of a company’s transaction is knowledge transfer. So often, even among successful businesses, the project/client relationship knowledge is wrapped up with one (or maybe a few) key individual(s).
How & why does this happen?
Well, for starters, the best client relationship people in any organization are typically leadership types who take ownership of ensuring a value-added relationship for the project owner/client. While that’s great for developing and nurturing the best opportunities for your business, it can also place the business at significant risk if you are not careful.
Ask yourself this – how would each of your top project owner/client relationships be impacted by the loss of the one individual in your organization that is most closely tied to it? Put another way, if all of your organization’s goodwill and “secret sauce” for a client relates to one person in your company, you have a significant business risk hiding in plain sight.
Listen to episode 85, “Collaborate, Integrate, Automate: Customer Relationship Management & Profitability,” on Rea’s award-winning podcast, unsuitable on Rea Radio.
What are the best practices to combat this risk?
- Knowledge Portal – Cloud computing technology has made it quite inexpensive to store and leverage your data. With the right digital tool, you can easily create, build, and maintain a centralized data base for your projects and client relationships. Employees can then instantly reference past jobs, client relationship notes, and related organizations/contacts. The onus is no longer on one individual to reach out and pass along relevant project/client information – it’s easily accessible for any team member to see. This data repository captures years of experience in a digital format that may be used on an ongoing basis, even if that particular expert moves on or retires. Simply put, your best practices, expertise, and experience can live on for the greater good and health of your company, regardless of personnel.
- Leverage & Connect Employees – If used properly, a good customer relationship management (CRM) tool opens a multi-pronged internal communication pathway. This allows different team members involved in the project or client relationship to see everything that is going on, and quickly identify opportunities to add value. The project or client relationship plan you create when you build consensus across your entire team both improves efficiency and reduces risk. More importantly, you will grow your company’s experience and understanding, empowering everyone to continuously improve through a collaborative effort.
Too often, business owners fail to think about the how they might transfer their own knowledge or that of key team members until it’s too late. Taking advantage of some type of industry-centric, inexpensive CRM technology will eliminate the loss of veteran knowledge and transform your company in a way that gives it a ‘no fear—we captured the years’ belief.
If your advisors aren’t encouraging and having these discussions with you, give me a call to discuss.
By Doug Houser, CPA, MBA, CEPA, principal & director of construction & real estate services