Optimizing Operations to Grow Profits

Apr 16, 2022 | Business Pains, Case Studies, Process Inefficiences

APEX Wood Floors President John Lessick wanted practical advice he could implement quickly for tangible results. GTS delivered a strategic plan for operational change, more than tripling APEX profits in just 2 years. If you own a business, this case study will demonstrate how a business consultant can help you grow profits.

Setting Goals

APEX Wood Floors President John Lessick always makes a point to learn from the best. Lessick joined APEX as an apprentice in 1985, learning every aspect of the business before purchasing it in 1994. And then, the race was on: “I ran super hard, super fast, until I realized I needed to slow down and focus to get to the next level of leadership, to help myself and the people around me be better,” John says.

Of course John wanted to grow his business, but he wanted to be smart about it. He reached out to Growth Team Strategies President & Senior Consultant Doug Howard for the tactical help he needed. “There’s this widespread misconception that to double profits, you have to double revenue. But that’s a narrow view,” Doug explains. “There are lots of variables and many different paths to growth. We just need to find what works best for your company.”

John and Doug hit it off quickly. “Doug just gets it. He’s been on – he is on – my side of the table as a business owner. But he also has the Wharton degree and knows business strategy,” observes John. Together, the two collected company data, reviewed processes, and set goals. They fleshed out 8-9 objectives with action items for each.

John Lessick, President, APEX Wood Floors

Seeing the Full Picture

The overarching goal was optimizing operations while upping APEX’s strategic planning game. The first step was getting an accurate lay of all the land. John had always been more keyed into sales metrics. Doug helped him set up production budgets and started meeting with the leadership and sales teams regularly, even providing on-site LEAN training.

“Doug builds bridges. He makes financials understandable and digestible. He listens, communicates clearly, and is always an advocate for the next step in the process.”

Now, APEX has dashboards tailored to each department. Each person gets real-time access to the 4 or 5 key metrics they need. The leadership team can track throughput, and everyone has a shared language for measuring progress to desired results.

John and his team realized they were focusing too much on sales’ numbers and production’s processes. Flipping that paradigm led to real breakthroughs and productivity gains. “With more planning, efficiency and communication upstream, you can radically affect downstream results,” John marvels. That revelation kicked off a series of operational changes.

Optimizing Operations

APEX undertook a digital transformation to ensure all its systems could talk to each other and staff could easily communicate with them. TSheets came in 2019 with mobile time tracking and employee scheduling. 2020 brought a commitment to preparing proposals and estimates in CoConstruct. Goodbye, Word docs and one-off spreadsheets! Everything plays nicely with QuickBooks and Pipedrive CRM, and sales processes have never been so efficient.

Not all optimization was digital. The APEX team undertook a hands-on initiative that sparked employee engagement and fun. After years of making custom samples on the fly, they built a woodshop within the warehouse finishing shop to streamline sample creation. The project took just one month from concept to reality and has made a world of difference in sales and design.

Cultivating Culture

Alongside all the operational improvements, APEX has grown interpersonally as well. With Doug’s guidance, John transformed 2020’s disruption into strategic change, encouraging employees to play to their strengths and embrace project ownership. There’s a renewed emphasis on professional development and innovative allocation of resources.

“Sometimes it’s not about more revenue; it’s about the right revenue,” explains John. We’re choosing the jobs we are uniquely suited for. As a company, we’re having different types of conversations. We’re focusing on mission-critical, major-impact work, and it’s energizing everyone.”

Keep on Growing

John characterizes Doug as “part trauma surgeon, part Navy SEAL and part entrepreneur.” He has a collection of Dougisms, the witty turns of phrase Doug uses to drive home his points and make sure they stick with you.

John is pleased with APEX’s progress thus far and eager to continue the journey to data-driven company. “We’ll keep refining processes, mining data, and making necessary changes,” he says. “Clarity is a sunrise, not a light switch.”

Sounds like Doug might have some competition for his Master of Metaphor title!

 

Source: Remodelers Advantage, 2022

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