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Tony Maynard 

Tony is an innovative management consultant and business advisor with a successful record in exit and succession planning, restructuring for growth, change management, marketing and strategic planning. He is passionate about helping owner managers, he believes if you get the structure right of your business then you will have the ideal platform for driving your business forward. 

Tony is a qualified marketer with extensive director and management experience of SME businesses in manufacturing, retail/wholesale and construction sectors. 

Based in Reading, he covers Basingstoke, Wokingham and Surrey. 

Contact Tony on 0118 9744818 or 07774 982 596, or email him.

You can read Tony’s full profile here 

Friday
Jan032014

Back to the future - how community spirit will add value to your business

We recently ran some articles on the importance of succession planning to add value and to protect against the impact of serious physical health decline of its owners.

But what about that other key aspect of corporate wellbeing - the sense of community spirit?

As mentioned recently, my family originated and developed a strong confectionery business built around the famous Maynards brand name. Maynards was one of a group of quaker families that spearheaded the growth of the UK confectionery market. Names such as Cadburys, Rowntrees, Mackintosh, Bassetts...and Maynards all belonged to such families. Now their products are owned by faceless conglomerates and production has been sourced away from original locations. You will no longer find confectionery products being made at Rowntrees' old factory in York, any more than you will find Winegums being produced in Maynards' old factory in Hanngey, London.

I recently visited the Haringey site, thanks to a local businessman who is writing a historical chronicle of the area. The factory is still there, together with iconic chimney stack. But the site is now a warehouse for oriental carpets - sad and somewhat derelict.

My contact showed me some aerial photos of the site in the 1920s and the factory rises majestically from a sea of greenery and garden allottments. Hardly a house in sight. And then he gave me a copy of the History of Maynards from 1896 to 1982.

This contained something amazing by today's standards: in 1946 on the 50th anniversary of the Company, the Directors were 'surprised and slightly embarrassed' to receive an illuminated scroll from all staff ('warehouse, office and shops') 'rejoicing' in the opportunity to place on record their 'sincere appreciation of the ability of the Board of Directors in conducting the affairs of the Company and of the many kindnesses to employees'.

Blimey! The history shows why they were so grateful. They received regular, well paid employment in an impoverished area. From the 1920s, the Directors paid bonuses in cash and shares; there was a thriving Sports & Social Club; in 1947 the Company launched its staff contributory pension scheme and in 1949 extended it to include welfare - well ahead of any political drive for such radical policies.

Maynards was not alone in this - Cadburys is world-famous not only for chocolate bars, but also for the village of Bournville that provided accomodation for its employees. The only contemporary example of the partnership community culture is probably John Lewis, which has been consistently successful partly because its Director-Partners have stuck to the same social principles upon which it was founded.

Would it not be great if we could recover part of that lost heritage? And in case anyone sees this as antruistic, how often does one encounter situations where there is a need to invest in a stronger internal sense of community to enhance the valuation of a business prior to exit? 'Succession planning', 'Staff Incentive Schemes', 'Leadership Managament' are just some of the labels that focus on these critical issues - all too often it comes a bit too late.

Smaller businesses have the best opportunity to make such investments in staff welfare, and the costs are not all that significant if handled in the right way, and the rewards can be high. But the will has to come from the Directors in the first place.

New Years Resolution anyone?

Monday
Nov042013

How the Grim Reaper can shred your business plans...

Studying the CMC website, you will have noticed a series of pieces on the impact of sickness and death on any business. Many business owners have an innate sense that they are immortal and only start thinking about succession plans when close to retirement.

But what happens when 'retirement' comes early - through death or sickness? The advice to take out 'Keyman Insurance' is sound, but only gives limited breathing space - papering over the cracks. Here are some examples of the heavy impact of sad events:

  • When researching a business prospect recently, I found that two board members were 'Will Trustees' for the estate of the departed owner's wife. They will naturally represent the interests of their client and may pressurise for changes at the wrong time. Likewise, a client of mine - following the untimely death of his business partner - was pressurised to wind up the business so that the estate could be removed from risk as guarantors of an outstanding bank loan.
  • The opening website page of another business prospect is taken up with the death of the business owner in June 2013 aged 56. His son (age 39) has taken over. Who's to say if he had been adequately prepared or indeed if he was up to the task? The fact that the website still majors on the death of his father six months later is not encouraging. Surely the emphasis should by now have switched to promoting his own skills and experience?
  • Ill health recently compelled one of my clients to sell and retire early at precisely the wrong moment in the economic cycle. In the event we helped him secure the best deal and the business is in good hands, receiving timely investment. But they got a bargain - conservative estimates suggest that the sale value achieved was at least 33% less than what should have been possible in a year or so on the back of an economic recovery.
  • And then there is my own business experience. My father was joint-MD of a family business (confectionery: winegums) and it had been agreed that I would spend at least seven years outside the business garnering valuable experience before joining. Sadly, my father died aged 49. My great-uncle as Chairman offered me the chance to come in immediately, after a six months crash-course at Henley Management College, becoing MD at the age of 24! With regret but without hesitation, I turned it down knowing that it was the right decision both for myself and for the Company, which was eventually taken over by Cadburys. My father's death left a managerial hole that rendered the company vulnerable to takeover (since the family shareholding was very low and non-controlling).

It is vital for any business to consider carefully the consequences of such disasters as part of their long-term strategic planning. Otherwise exit values will be poor; and 'Keyman Insurance' will not cover that.

Monday
Oct212013

Minding your 'Ps' and 'Cs' - an idiot's guide to enhanced exit value.

The early development of manuscript copying and evolution into printing has given us several everyday phrases, such as 'Minding your Ps & Qs' and 'Dotting 'i's', crossing t's'. Both point to the need for considerable attention to detail.

These phrases often crop up in discussions on business growth, transition and performance. However, I think it's more helpful to 'mind your Ps and Cs'. Here's how:

There are two simple detail checklists that any business owner/leader thinking about future exit value and operating performance should remember when thinking about selling a business:

Proposition - What is the vision/mission of your business? Does it offer real prospects of sustainable and profitable long-term growth? What objectives must be met to achieve success? 

People - Who will be driving the project? Is the management team experienced and capable? Who will remain in place post-exit, whenever that happens?

Profits - Only if/when propsective buyers are satisfied about the first two P's will they begin to review the numbers. It is often assumed that buyers, investors, bank managers are preoccupied with profit forecasts and assumptions. But would they waste their time going into all that if they did not have confidence in the long-term prospects or the management team?

Everything else constitutes a list of objectives and actions through which the three P's will be fulfilled.

The second checklist concerns the operational well being of the company - the vital signs that must be positive, or else be the subject of intense remedial action.

Here are the three C's:

Cash - All too often, cash is monitored closely in hard times. But it should be watched continuously so that any odd movements (up or down) are explained and addressed. For example, you can quickly see if your customers are paying you too slowly and your suppliers are being paid too quickly or too slowly (yes, it is not good to pay so slowly that it impacts your credit rating).

Credit - Apart from payment timings referred to above, monitoring your credit position can highlight early, for example, where expenditure may be running awry.

Communication - Business owners worry about saying too much to their staff, suppliers or service providers about performance. 'Don't want to give away secrets to our competitors, do we?' or 'It's not a good idea to give out bad news to all and sundry'. Without going into detail, I would suggest that one can communicate important information without giving away vital secrets. The long-term benefit is that all stakeholders may share in the challenges faced by the Company, and may be confident in the skills and foresight of the management team at crucial points in the business development cycle. If you start doing it in good times, there will be no surprises if things go adverse, as they do sometimes.

Stripped of all the management jargon about strategic and succession planning, corporate governance, sustainability aod so forth, these are the basic tools that any business needs to attain and maintain a long-term perspective that will result in a stronger exit valuation and greater security for all concerned.

It sounds easy, doesn't it? So how come so many businesses don't do it? That's another story.

 

Friday
Sep282012

Sorry? I don't buy it!

Have you noticed how the new media age has perverted the simple word 'Sorry'?

When someone comes under the cosh, they are immediately accosted: 'When are you going to say 'sorry'' for whatever apparent lapse has been discovered. And if the apology doesn't come, the victim is deemed to be guilty 'in the court of public opinion'. And if, like Nick Clegg recently, you do say 'sorry' with apparent sincerity you still get castigated for not saying sorry for the right thing - or something like that.

Consequently, those in the firing line are preparing themselves. They find smart but evasive answers to questions. Worse still, the sorrow that they express owes more to media grooming than to any heartfelt examination of the soul.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep242012

Why control freaks are lazy managers.

I don't know about you but when I hear someone calling a business colleague a 'Control Freak' it never seems to show respect for the indvidual concerned.

Why not? And why does it matter so much?

Most, if not all, of the Control Freaks I have met have had several common characterstics:

Click to read more ...