Business Turnaround
An Interim Management Experience

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Business turnaround, rescuing the company

Saving a business

Overview

The initial spark of interest in Interim Management was engendered, largely by a feeling of frustration and boredom caused by the expected, staying in just one company, doing the same job day in day out. In contrast since starting as a full time interim, each project has been interesting and very different in terms of size, scope and problem type. Undoubtedly the rewards are there, not just the financial and usually come when the plan comes together.

A Difficult Assignment

As the old saying goes 'It is better to have the warm glow in the pit of your stomach than running down your legs'. Unfortunately it usually moves downwards when people are faced with the reality or gravity of the situation. Too many companies in trouble should have involved someone like me much earlier in the process, but only tend to do so at the last hour, when they have really no alternative.

In one company I assisted, the environment was that of confusion and panic, the Finance Director had gone off with stress and the Financial Controller had been sacked, for poor performance. The business faced a plunging cash balance and the very worried MD wanted to know what the 'heck' was going on. After suspending all possible payments, I hastily established a team and set about finding the problems and a solution. This resulted in shortly informing the main board of directors that within two months the company would go bust (this is the point when the warm glow moved downwards!). Not nice to do but it had to be done! But I was also able to tell them I had experienced worse situations and still achieved a result; to give them confidence that there was a way out, which there was and I was able to lead them to it.

We then as a team worked together to produce a result, by imposing the necessary controls and triggers; educating staff as to what was required of them; but the real satisfaction came from seeing everyone working hard as a team and the company gradually move away from 'the brink'

The Unexpected

In this business the one thing to expect is the unexpected. You never know what is going to happen to companies in an unstable position. Inevitably these problems always present themselves through a lack of cash which immediately impacts on not paying suppliers or extending credit on essential supplies ...resulting in the 'domino effect'

Some examples are

  • Personal threats to me and my family for (according to the suppliers) deliberately 'stitching them up'.
  • Hate mail to my home address
  • White Knights coming in at the last minute when 'the deal' was about to collapse
  • One customer committing to pay their bill of £750k, - then 'inventing' a damages claim for twice the amount owed. (This is what resulted in the White Knight scenario above). This would have scuppered our recovery plan if the White Knight had not intervened.

Seeing the Light

This is the most rewarding part of the job, rescuing the company from the edge. The fascination is that everyone wants the company turnaround to work, to see management and staff responding so willingly to a recovery plan where they can at last see what needs to be done to put it right. Even for some to offer to work for less pay to help the process! - That brings a lump into the throat!

Philip Wilson

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