Positive Corporate Culture is Free

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It surprises many clients that, when I am helping them to become more profitable, I spend a lot of time diagnosing, then supporting, the company’s organization. They say, “Why are you wasting your time on how we’re organized? We want financial improvements!” Turns out, the finance department has less to do with getting financial improvements […]

What CNBC’s ‘The Profit’ Gets Wrong

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A few years ago I received a call from a television producer who wanted to verify that I was, indeed, a well-known turnaround consultant. This took me back because “well-known” was not necessarily in my marketing vocabulary. But I figured if someone from TV wanted to talk to me, I could at least become “less-obscure.” […]

The Turnaround Assessment Test

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In 1968, Edward I. Altman formulated a simple, path-breaking scoring mechanism that could predict, with high confidence, the probability that any one corporation would enter bankruptcy within two years. He called the mechanism the Z score and, by publishing in academic journals, allowed it to enter the public domain. It has been, for many years, one of the most-studied […]

Summer Shorts

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This week I had hoped to be on a beach. Not sure if that’s going to happen, but here are two beach-appropriate short reads. Please consume while wearing flip-flops:   I. Capping CAPM A Google search on the Capital Asset Pricing Model returns over 1.2 million hits. This model, taught in finance courses as “Cap-em,” indicates that […]

The Guaranteed Middle Market Employment Stimulus Plan

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Further stimulus of the economy is required. The 9.2% national unemployment rate, leaving 14 million able workers at home, demands it. But there is no appetite to revive the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus, which apparently intended to give states block grants to keep doing what they were doing, or to provide nimble political ear-markers with […]

What it REALLY Takes to Turn a Business Around

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I have been doing turnarounds for over twenty five years, and along the way, I’ve accumulated certain prejudices about what types of businesses are easiest to fix. Wholesale distribution and retail/restaurant chains are among my favorites, because there are usually enough profitable parts of the business — a core product or very profitable locations — […]

What it Really Takes to Turn a Business Around

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I have been doing turnarounds for over twenty five years, and along the way, I’ve accumulated certain prejudices about what types of businesses are easiest to fix. Wholesale distribution and retail/restaurant chains are among my favorites, because there are usually enough profitable parts of the business — a core product or very profitable locations — […]

The Five Rules of Workout

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Because last year’s recession caused such a sudden depression in demand, some middle-market businesses have seen revenue declines of as much as 30-35%. Many of these businesses are still losing money and are close to exhausting their financial reserves. These companies’ banks are receiving the end-of-year financial reports and deciding whether the results meet contractual […]

Succession Planning at Three

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I was recently in a client’s office, and remarked on the photo of his young family. “My boy is three,” the client remarked. “The dream is for him to take over this business.” This gave me pause. I work with a lot of family-run businesses, and have seen the best and the worst of succession […]