The reviews I undertook were pretty much focussed on the operational and financial side of the business, in very broad terms. The process was simple, in as far as my people were constantly on the look-out for ways we could not only improve our product, but improve how we did business. The model worked well and it became more of a work in progress rather than something that happened once a year or every few months.
I was reviewing some reports that had sent through to me from the Chief Fanatical Operations Manager. There was a highlighted note in the email. ‘Have a look at travel’. At first I thought he might be alluding to something like it was too high and we need to review that area of business expenditure, but that wasn’t the case. The figures were actually lower than last quarters and lower than the same time the year before. Perhaps we weren’t doing enough travel and building the business profile up. But that wasn’t the case either. Sales were up and market research was showing positive gains in the area of brand recognition over that of our competitors.
So I wasn’t all that worried about it, and in fact thought very little of it after that. I put it down to the fact that the CFO wanted to bring the fact to my attention as it was a positive result.
Now I see my senior team almost daily and we achieve a lot as we walk down the corridor talking. I’m not a big one for meetings. I like to employ the right people for the job, give them the authority and resources they need then let them get on with it. If there’s a financial issue in operations, then the finance department deals with it. There’s no need to get advertising involved, or anyone else for that matter. The problem gets solved without any meetings involving all senior executives and having them sit through a meeting which has nothing to do with them and spending time away from what they should be doing.
Anyway, I met the CFO on my way out for a lunch appointment one day a few weeks after I had seen the highlighted note and asked him what it was all about. Turns out that the travel department, which was responsible for organising all travel, accommodation and function details for promotions, staff travel and seminars, had set up Albany holiday accommodation audit last year because they felt travel expenses were too high and we weren’t getting value for our money. So instead of letting it get out of control they made changes to the way the department operated. The change made it more like a business travel agent might work. In effect we had our own travel agency, not just a travel department.