I often get asked how long a fractional COO engagement lasts? The answer is, it depends! I know that’s not what a business owner wants to hear but the reality is I can’t answer that until I know more about the business. Let me take you through one of my first engagements and how a part-time gig that was supposed to last a few months turned into a 6.5-year partnership.
I knew the owner of a consumer goods company who asked me to come in on a part-time basis to have a look at his business. They were struggling, revenues were down and the company was no longer profitable. Furthermore, the owner was very focused on developing new products and wanted assistance running the day-to-day operations. What an interesting challenge as right away I saw plenty of opportunities to improve production, workflows, sales, marketing but most importantly how to rethink how they talk to the customer. Not to mention it was in an industry that was very appealing to me, they manufactured and distributed licensed sports collectibles with a big chunk of revenue coming from trading cards. Initially, I was to have a look around and provide recommendations. However, we had such a good working relationship that I continued to plug away and started implementing. My goal was simple, turn the company around.
Over the next 6.5 years I accomplished a lot, here are a few key achievements:
- Halted 2 years of declining sales by implementing new policies and procedures leading to an immediate 7% increase in margins.
- Developed & executed the strategic business plan which included 3 straight years of 10% year or year revenue growth & increased estimated market share from 12% to 17%
- Leveraged leading-edge technology to overhaul the customer service department improving customer satisfaction & generating new businesses from customer referrals.
- Conceived and launched a B2C loyalty program and eCommerce platform which gave us more consumer insights and intelligence leading to better product development.
- Refined manufacturing procedures that reduced production timelines and lowered labor costs by 15%.
- Reduced raw material costs by 10% by renegotiating contracts and insourcing key production steps.
- Launched over 30 products during a 6-year period – with all but 2 achieving immediate and profitable market success – that generated $20M in cumulative revenues.
- Built, prioritized, and maintained relationships with strategic partners which resulted in growing the total number of key accounts by 12%.
- Initiated a strategy that eliminated the use of wholesalers for approximately 10% of all products and improving EBITDA by $250K annually.
These efforts resulted in the company becoming an attractive takeover target & it was sold to a competitor.