Archive for September, 2006
By Charles Besondy
I was with several well-to-do entrepreneurs and investors last month when the conversation turned to fractional jet ownership. These individuals traveled frequently and were bemoaning the time they wasted at airport security checks, the lack of convenient flight schedules, and of course the “joys” of traveling with the general public.
They admitted an interest in the concept of fractional jet ownership. This is the concept made popular by companies such as NetJets where you purchase a fraction of a business jet—actually a number of flight hours per year—for a flat fee. The jet is made available when you want it and where you want it. For that flight it’s all yours. You have all the benefits of a private business jet for your travels, plus you know exactly how much it’s going to cost. You have no worries about maintenance, fuel costs, insurance, hangar rental, or pilot scheduling. As a bonus, you avoid all the check-in hassles of the public terminals, and you can take on board as many liquids and nail cutters as you can hold.
I enjoyed this conversation of the rich and famous for a while, but soon my mind switched to my favorite business topic, interim management. While these wealthy individuals were talking about Cessna, Citation, and Gulfstream jets, I saw similarities in interim management, or a term I just coined, “fractional management.”
Using Fractional Management for your company’s marketing functions you can arrange to have a senior marketing executive on board for a set number of weeks, or months in a year. You can get exactly the set of skills and domain experience that you need, but you’re not saddled with the high price of “ownership.”
Like the fractional jet, the fractional manager is there when you need him/her. You know exactly what the fractional manager is going to cost you. You’re saving about 25% on benefits, and another 30% on recruitment fees. Stock options and club memberships? Forget about it.
I see many companies who believe they are trapped in a no-man’s land. They desperately need senior marketing talent, but they can’t afford that level of person. So, they comprise on someone they can afford. Generally a year later they’re back looking again because “it didn’t work out.”
The companies should have evaluated the option of fractional management. For example, let’s say the market-based salary for the level of marketer a company needs is $150,000 a year, plus benefits ($180K total for sake of this example), but their budget can only handle $100,000. What they should have done was sign on a fractional manager for the marketing function. Negotiate a contract paying the fractional manager $100,000 for, say, seven months over a year’s time. They’ll have the skills, process knowledge, and domain knowledge they need, without blowing out their budget.
Fractional jets are easily justified by many executives; likewise, fractional managers are an attractive option for many companies large and small.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
By Charles Besondy
I have to admit that I’m surprised that so few people know about this legend. I didn’t expect folks outside of Texas to know about it, but I’m finding that very few Texans have heard of this Texas Ranger legend. This is REALLY odd considering Texans’ infatuation with the state’s rich history. Anyway, it’s a fascinating legend. It’s very Texas Rangers, and oh so Texan.
I selected it as the impetus for my firm’s name because it embodies so much of the characteristics that interim managers must have. And so, I’ve included here an historical excerpt that provides the background for “one riot, one ranger.”
Upon the re-admittance of Texas into the Union in 1876 and the return to a freely elected government, the Rangers played an integral part in restoring law and order to Texas. It was during this period that legend records a Texas Ranger stepping down from a train in a riot-torn town and being met by the locals who said, “They only sent one Ranger?” His reply, “You only got one riot, don’t you?” assured the Rangers’ place in Texas lore. “One riot, one Ranger” personifies the image of the Texas Rangers held by Texans.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Charles Besondy
I recently concluded a fascinating engagement as an interim marketing director for a professional sports team. I’m the first to admit that at the beginning of the engagement I knew next to nothing about sports marketing (and I’m no expert after three months), but I soon saw multiple areas in which my B2B marketing skills could apply.
My two primary areas of focus were the creation of a marketing plan for season ticket sales, and a second plan for the sale of sponsorship packages.
I built the season ticket plan on principles of database marketing, lead generation, outbound telesales–all of which I was very familiar with from years of B2B experience.
The sponsorship marketing plan was built on first sizing the total available market and then defining opportunity pipeline, including specific stages of the sales process and estimated conversions from stage to stage. This provided a model on which to base the plan and measure progress. Again, this is familiar ground for any B2B marketer worth their salt.
I’m not implying that there aren’t important differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing. However, my experience this year has shown me that there are major areas where B2B can be applied to B2C. I’m less certain about B2C being applied to B2B, however.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
By Charles Besondy
It is not unusual for a company to seek an interim executive for a temporary role as CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, or even CMO. Awarness of this option seems to be wide spread. But, why is the idea sound for C-level position but less so at VP or Director levels where the real work tends to get done?
The concept, benenefits and philosophy of an interim manager is just as strong for mid-management as it is for upper management. Yet, most people I’ve talked to in the past three months just don’t think of interim managment as an option for Director-level or VP-level positions. Don’t read this wrong. The people I’ve talked to admitted that interim management makes sense at mid-management level, it’s just they hadn’t ever considered it before I mentioned the idea to them. Perhaps this is just a U.S. thing. I suspect that interim managment in Europe is more evenly accepted up and down the management food chain.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
By Charles Besondy
The value of domain expertise
When a consultant or interim manager has worked within an industry or product category for a period of time they gain through osmosis a knowledge of the competitive landscape, the technologies, the players, the trends, and often possess a PDA chock full of relevant contacts. In short, with domain expertise an interim manager should be able to “connect the dots” more readily, resulting in more targeted strategies, more insightful decisions, and a bit more respect within the client organization.
However, often clients put too much weight on domain expertise without evaluating what the interim manager can do with that experience. Sure, they may be able to talk a good game; drop all the right names in a conversation, etc., but can they make things happen with what they know?
Just because I may have owned and driven BMWs for years, doesn’t mean I know how to tune the engine. My knowledge of BMW cars allows me to talk for hours about the engineering features, the factories in Germany and the U.S, and maybe even my lunch with the company’s lead designer, but open the hood and hand me a wrench and I’m not only lost, I’m dangerous!
The value of process expertise
An interim manager or consultant with deep process expertise knows how to produce outcomes with a degree of certainty. This is a very valuable asset!
If the BMW needs a tune-up, I could care less if the mechanic has toured the factories, knows key executives in Germany, and has friends at Audi and Porsche. Does he or she have the tools, information, and knowledge to efficiently make the engine run better? Does he or she have a record of tuning engines effectively?
In most cases an interim marketing manager or consultant is engaged to achieve a certain outcome for an organization usually in collaboration with an internal team.
Here’s a typical scenario. An interim manager is retained for six months to run a 10-person marketing department who has just lost their VP or Director. During these six months it is common for marketing plans to have to be produced, market requirements researched, lead generation programs created, new products launched, etc. An interim manager who brings best practices for these things into the organization and knows how to best support business goals with Marketing initiatives is going to add tremendous value. The knowledge transferred during the interim manager’s gig will benefit the company long after he is gone.
Not every marketing department needs new processes, of course. This type of individual will be able to readily assess if the client’s existing marketing processes are getting the job done, or if he needs to instill different processes that have proven effective in a variety of companies and product categories. This type of interim manager isn’t going to just manage the status quo if the status quo is inadequate. He is going to recommend prudent changes and help his team through the transition. The end-result is the Marketing function actually improves and sprints forward during the six month period, rather than jog in place.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
By Charles Besondy
The following excerpt from a Department of Labor report points to the trend for non-traditional employment in the U.S. The report deals with the topic in general and doesn’t focus on interim management or temporary executives.
“According to one national study, 65 percent of employers believed that, in the future, firms would increase their use of flexible staffing arrangements. The use of nontraditional workers fits with the evolving perceptions of employers regarding labor costs, competition, changing obligations, and potential litigation. “Just in time” workers mirror the successful industrial model of “just in time” inventories.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )