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Utilizing The New DiSC Reports To Drive Real Change

Financial data will be accepted by Currie Management from January 16 through March 16.
If you have not received the DiSC Survey, contact the MHEDA office at 847-680-3500 or connect@mheda.org.

Have you ever desired a tool that assists you in asking the appropriate questions about your business/dealership, the right questions that lead to answers and solutions for driving real change and higher performance in your business? That tool has been available to members of MHEDA all along. It is the DiSC Survey! Currie Management Consultants, Inc. will be implementing the DiSC Survey for 2011 results, which will be available in the spring of 2012 to participating members of MHEDA. After careful research and hours of development with MHEDA’s Board members and employees, Currie Management is proud to announce that the new 2012 DiSC Survey will be an enhanced version of an already useful tool that will enable you and your team to ask those questions and manage your business.

Currie Management facilitates 20-plus Best Practices Groups on an annual basis, all focused on industries that sell and service Industrial Products (material handling, engineered systems, generators, industrial compressors, commercial tires, transport refrigeration, construction equipment, outdoor power and agricultural equipment). We collect financial data from over 300-plus dealerships on a quarterly schedule and our reputation in maintaining the confidentiality of both the data as well as the ideas shared amongst members and groups is second to none. Many past and present MHEDA Board members are involved in Currie Groups and would be more than willing to share their experiences with our firm.

Currie Management’s experiences and knowledge running these Best Practices Groups have enabled us to establish Industry Standards & Expectations for running quality dealerships. Expectations are critical to effective management. In our experience in dealerships, setting expectations is a major issue. The article “Demand Better Results and Get Them,” published in the The Harvard Business Review (March-April 1991) is still considered required reading for any dealership that wishes to learn more about the process of setting expectations. It identifies a process of establishing “stretch” expectations and identifies the significant barriers organizations face in implementing these expectations. The article can be found online by googling the title.

Independent of this article, Currie Management Consultants, Inc. has conducted original research with our dealer clients regarding expectations as they relate to accountability and coaching. What we found is that one of the main challenges that a manager faces, and often the entire organization faces, is an inability to confront poor performance. The main culprit behind this inability to confront poor performance is grounded in the fact that expectations are not clearly communicated and/or understood. Therefore, holding employees accountable for expectations that essentially do not exist is nearly impossible. Participating in the DiSC Survey makes it easier for the executive to establish proper expectations for performance and identify gaps that need to be overcome.

Our vision is to continue to provide the measures and ratios that have served participating members well for many years while enhancing the report by helping to establish benchmarks, key performance indicators and Currie Industry Standards that will help you and your team ask those most important questions about your business. We will provide three unique reports: one for Industrial Trucks, one for Engineered Systems and one for Storage & Handling. Each unique report will display the average, median and high performance (top 20 percent of reporting entities based on Return on Sales) dealers. By breaking the MHEDA membership into three distinct segments, it is more important than ever to increase the number of members that participate in the surveys. The more data points received with the surveys, the better chance we have of confirming the benchmarks and standards that you will hold your people accountable for hitting.

Currie Management promises to continue to provide members with well-known industry measures such as Return on Assets, Debt-to-Equity, Inventory Turns, Gross Profit Percentages, Expense Burdens for Personnel, Operating and Occupancy as well as a focus on Sales Mix and Headcounts. But we also are excited to enhance the reports with some operational metrics and ratios, such as Aftermarket Absorption, Revenue Producers to Non-Revenue Producers Employee Ratio, Operating Expense Recovery Performance for Service Vehicles, Parts Freight and Rental Hauling/Transportation. Some of these measures will be added right away, while others will be produced over time. As we gather more segmented data for Engineered Systems and Storage & Handling, the plan is to highlight industry standards specific to those members. That is why it is essential that as many members as possible participate.

This is a short overview of some universal corporate measures and the key performance indicators associated with them. All of these measures and KPIs are critical items for setting expectations. While the fundamental purpose of the DiSC Report is setting expectations through statistical analysis, implementation of changing expectations comes from management training and development. At Currie Management Consultants, we see this integration of technical analytical issues and management implementation issues as the critical execution topic for all equipment distribution companies, and it will be our focus going forward in the DiSC processes for at least the 2012-2015 time frame. We measure our effectiveness not simply by data presentation, but by the increase in organizational effectiveness of our clients.

So I challenge everyone to take part in the new DiSC process. We’ve made it easier by adding an electronic excel template to the reporting option while continuing to offer the usual forms of submittal like fax and regular mail. Don’t wait to see what the new surveys look like in May, be on the leading edge of your industry and take that first giant step in creating real change for your organization in 2012 and beyond.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Robert Currie Robert Currie is president of Currie Management Consultants, Inc. located in Worcester, Massachusetts, and on the web at www.curriemanagement.com.