Posted by Matt Register

Steve Senterfit, CEO of Northshore Consulting Group, joins us to talk about finding solutions to complex problems for CEOs.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.

Jay Curry: And we’re back. Hello, Texas. Welcome back to Texas Business Radio. We’re going to take a little break from the program to do kind of special segment here in the next 10 minutes and that’s going to be a program on how to build a growth strategy. Now, I don’t care what size company you are, whether you’re huge because Steve has helped some very, very large companies all the way down to very small shops of two to three people. This applies. This is kind of a how-to section to inform you on how you can do this and of course at the end, we’ll let Steve tell us how you can get a hold of him if you need a little help. We’re going to take these 10 minutes and we’re going to talk about how a business owner should develop a growth strategy. In the studio with me is Steve Senterfit, is that correct.

Steve Senterfit: Yeah, that’s it. That is correct.

Jay Curry: Did I pronounce that correct?

Steve Senterfit: Yes.

Jay Curry: CEO, and founder of …

Steve Senterfit: North Shore Consulting.

Jay Curry: North Shore Consulting. This is a management consulting firm and I’m really pleased, Steve, to have you.

Steve Senterfit: Thank you Jay. And I appreciate you giving me the time to …

Jay Curry: Yeah.

Steve Senterfit: Talk with you.

Jay Curry: Let’s start, take just a minute and talk about North Shore first. What’s that all about?

Steve Senterfit: Sure. I started North Shore Consulting back in 2011. We are based here in Houston. Really focused on management consulting and technology consulting. We support a number of different industries, energy, oil and gas, financial services, and really we’ve started moving in to the mid and local small businesses and really starting to focus a lot within the Texas market. [inaudible 00:02:02]

Jay Curry: Okay. Now, one of your specialties is helping businesses develop a growth strategy. This is kind of a unique niche that you have in the industry. So first of all, tell me what’s this about? We’re looking at “How am I going to grow in 20 years? What am I going to do next week?”
Steve Senterfit: No, one of the things that, especially with the economic environment and business environment in general, doesn’t matter if you’re a Fortune 500 company or just a small retailer with one store front. Business and economic, it changes very, very rapidly. We don’t recommend anyone build a growth strategy that’s going to go beyond three years. And in many cases, really focus on a one to two-year plan.

Jay Curry: Yeah, the next year to …

Steve Senterfit: Right.

Jay Curry: Probably that’s depending upon the resources you have, how big you already are.

Steve Senterfit: Exactly.

Jay Curry: And things of that sort. Well, let’s get right into it and help our listeners understand how you do this. How do you kick it off? What’s …

Steve Senterfit: When we start one of these engagements with our client, we will start with a kick off meeting. It can last a couple of hours, two to three hours at most. Most people don’t have that much time to … step away from their business. We’ll go in, we will work with them, really understanding what are their financials up into this point. So the last two to three years, how have they done, what were their strategic objectives at those times, business objectives. What are some of the challenges that they’ve had over the course of the last two to three years? Issues they may have faced, what are their competitive … competitors that they have in the market place, and things like that. We will give them this information ahead of time.

Jay Curry: So you start by pulling away, I mean, folks, you’ve got to get away from the business. You got to stop working in it and work on it. Pull away what? The C-level people? The top …

Steve Senterfit: Exactly. Business owners- [crosstalk 00:03:50]

Jay Curry: If you’re a five-person operation, it’s probably a couple people, you and one other. If you’re a larger company, it might be eight or 10 key people.

Steve Senterfit: Even with a Fortune 500, we don’t typically pull more than about five to seven people.

Jay Curry: Okay. Five to seven people. You got to pull back, spend a couple hours talking about how you got where you are and what’s working and what’s not working.

Steve Senterfit: And really, where you’re wanting the business to go.

Jay Curry: Exactly. So we have this meeting, we kind of figure that out. What’s the next step?

Steve Senterfit: So as we’re collecting this information, we actually start introducing … one of the things that makes us unique is we actually have some technology we bring to the table where we’re capturing this information. There’s objectives, financial information, what type of risk profile the company may have … and different things like that. We’re working with them to understand really what are the levers and the drivers of that organization culturally and from a market standpoint.

Jay Curry: Okay.

Steve Senterfit: And we look across … There’s four areas and we leverage what is known as strategy maps. Strategy maps have four aspects. Financial, operations, customer and talent.

Jay Curry: Pretty well covers it.

Steve Senterfit: Yeah. And what we find is most people, when they go and do a growth strategy, they look at financials, they look at sales. But they forget about what’s the impact on operations? What’s the impact on your talent?

Jay Curry: Right. You’re going to have to hire people or try new skills.

Steve Senterfit: Exactly. So we- that’s where we’re bringing in really a 360 approach on this.

Jay Curry: Okay. Then the next element. You’ve had your meeting, you’ve done this deep dive …

Steve Senterfit: So from there, we will do deeper dives into each of those areas with respective individuals that need to attend. We’re capturing all of these … we will then start- as those workshops go on, start developing theme would just naturally come out of this. We’ll go back, we’ll do some analysis, looking at all the information and all of the data we have collected, people that have inputted, interviewed, in some cases where people were not able to come in, we’ll actually send out survey where they can just fill the information electronically for us. From there, we will get everybody back together like we did at the kickoff and actually present to them across the different areas. Financial, operations, customer and talent. Anywhere from three to 10 objectives along with potential implications. So anytime you have an objective and a strategy, there’s an implication. If you’re going to reduce cost, what’s the implication of reducing that cost? Or put it another way, if you want to increase profit, what’s implication? You could be reducing cost somewhere, you could be reducing customer discounts, what’s the implication? Something like that. So really getting people to think through all of this.

Jay Curry: Got you. So first, you get together and you figure out how you’re doing et cetera. Secondly then, you do a deep dive in the four areas. So you’re going to get, you’re going to bring in different people?

Steve Senterfit: Yes.

Jay Curry: So maybe your sales manager or whatever, [crosstalk 00:06:58]

Steve Senterfit: Sales manager, on the financials, CFO …

Jay Curry: And you get more serious about what are the alternatives and stuff.

Steve Senterfit: Right.

Jay Curry: Okay. Then the next step. You’ve got all this information.

Steve Senterfit: So we bring this together, go back over and really, they’re going to get a little bit of a home work assignment. So we may have five to 10 different objectives and implications across these different areas and we like to keep things in threes. So for each of those areas, we work with them to get it down to three. And in some cases, larger organization, even a mid-size company, they have to start negotiating because-

Jay Curry: Right. Because you got to get- [crosstalk 00:07:31] is going to be three. Three objectives. That’s it folks.

Steve Senterfit: That’s it, across those different areas.

Jay Curry: Right.

Steve Senterfit: But even the sales organization, some of their objectives could have an implication on talent. So they have to be able to sit down and figure out what that part of the organization, how we’re going to make this happen.

Jay Curry: So now we’re talking about how would we implement this, right?

Steve Senterfit: Right. And with all of that, then we move in to actually developing the road map. We use the themes, the tools that we have been using … Now we, as we’re going through this workshops, we’ve input all of these and we’re actually able to give them quantitative analysis where a lot of strategies today are done qualitative. And there’s a big difference between qualitative and quantitative. And being able to see how these different initiatives and how that road map changes based on looking at risk versus strategic alignment and risk versus business value, and cost. Then from there, we develop the road map.

Jay Curry: Yeah. And the road map is how are you going to implement it. What are the tasks, who’s going to do what, what are the roles, those types of things.

Steve Senterfit: Exactly. How are you going to get from where you are today to where you want to be for that strategy that you’re growing.

Jay Curry: Do you develop then numbers? What we call key performance indicators? How do we track the implementation?

Steve Senterfit: As part of the road map, we will identify based on the road map and the strategy, KPIs, key performance indicators that they can then measure once a month, every six months based on how the data’s going to come in from those KPIs. They’re actually able to start communicating this out to the entire organization, which is one of the key things that we stressed to any organization, regardless of size. You can develop a strategy, but if you don’t communicate it and communicate it regularly out to the organization-

Jay Curry: It’s not going to happen.

Steve Senterfit: It won’t happen.

Jay Curry: So then when do you go back and look at it again? Is this an annual thing?

Steve Senterfit: We recommend at least every six months. Look at your strategy and what’s working and what’s not working.

Jay Curry: What your KPIs are doing [crosstalk 00:09:38]. Well folks, there you have it. The entire approach to how to build a growth strategy for your business. Steve Senterfit, from North Shore, thank you so much.

Steve Senterfit: Thank you.

Jay Curry: If somebody wants to learn more about this, how would they get a hold of you?

Steve Senterfit: Easiest way would just pick up the phone and give me a call. 2817881943 or go out to our website, and you can reach us that way as well.

Jay Curry: Excellent. Thank you, Steve.

Steve Senterfit: Thank you.

Jay Curry: Very informative. All right, folks. We’re going to have to pay some bills. This is Jay Curry, your host for this segment. We’re going to get Matt back in here and get back on the program. Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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