Friday, May 31, 2013

Policy Makers Meet to Discuss Michigan's Bright Future

This week marks the 2013 Detroit Regional Chamber’s Annual Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Each summer, the Wednesday following the Memorial Day holiday, business leaders from around the globe descend on the Grand Hotel to help shape the future of Detroit and to discuss topics ranging from job creation to regional transportation and the key reforms needed for Michigan.

This year, more than 1500 attendees met to discuss this year’s agenda and vision which centered on how to “Work collaboratively to create a globally competitive, financially attractive business environment in Michigan”.  This vision, supported by the pillars of Culture, Education and the 21st century global market, led to the following to-do list of concrete action items: 

Convene businesses and community colleges to better link the talent needs of employers with community college program offerings.

Expand the successful “lessons learned” trips to U.S. cities (e.g. Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.) that can help inform the ongoing renaissance in Michigan’s major urban centers.

Expand upon the cyber security lessons learned at MPC by developing and executing efforts that help inform the business community of 21st Century cyber threats.

Coalesce the regional business community to support comprehensive immigration report that helps drive economic growth and a pilot program in Michigan.

Promote the Detroit region as a growing and vibrant IT and entrepreneurial hub.

Commit to celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit – its successes and its failures – at the 2014 Mackinac Policy Conference.
 
An increased focus on start-ups and entrepreneurial ideas as they relate to new and innovative products and services can only be a good thing for Michigan. We are working diligently with our Innostate partners to identify Michigan manufacturers that are proficient in design and short production runs that can help bring new ideas to market.

For more on the Policy Conference check out the Detroit Regional Chamber, find them on Facebook, search for the Mackinac Policy Conference hashtag #MPC13 on twitter, or google “Mackinac policy conference 2013”.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Michigan Memorial Day

Monday marks one of my all-time favorite holidays, Memorial Day. Unlike many holidays which center on giving and receiving gifts or treats, Memorial Day is all about remembering – about sacrifice, honor, duty. . . .and freedom – but mostly remembering; specifically remembering those that have fallen in battle while defending our country.

In honor of Michigan's strong tradition in supporting our military, MMTC Salutes our Armed Forces.

There are a host of wonderful activities and celebrations taking place throughout the state and we'd like to direct you to several websites with information to help you enjoy the holiday weekend.

Yankee Air Museum - Willow Run airport hosts Pancake breakfast

The Michigan Military Technical and Historical Society - highlighting Michigan's contributions

Memorial Day history overview - from our friends at Wikipedia

The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs - More History and Local Observances

From CBS News, a link to Metro Detroit Parades and more

In December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law, "The National Moment of Remembrance Act," P.L. 106-579
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

Be safe, enjoy family, friends and fun. . .  and Remember. . ."Fallen but never forgotten."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Food Manufacturers: Improve Efficiencies and Quality to Overcome Challenges


Michigan is known for a lot of things…beautiful lakes…automobiles…college basketball…but many people out of state would be surprised to learn that Michigan is prominent in another key area – food and agriculture!

According to the Michigan State University’s Product Center, Michigan’s food and agriculture system “grew by about $20 billion since 2009, generating $91.4 billion in economic activity each year.” Because of its wide variety of fruits, vegetables and crops, Michigan is “second only to California in agricultural diversity.” Furthermore, our state’s agricultural exports generated nearly $2.8 billion!

As you could imagine, Michigan has a robust food manufacturing sector. While our state’s food manufacturers are making a positive impact on our economy, it has been an “interesting” year for them to say the least.

A big change to the field occurred because of the Food Safety Modernization Act which will shift the FDA’s focus from “reactionary” to “preventative.” In a nutshell, the Act will require new federal guidelines for food manufacturers. For example, U.S. food makers must “develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness” as well as a “plan for correcting any problems that arise.” If you’re unfamiliar with the Act, you can click here for a press release from the FDA which outlines the plan.

Uncertainty about the new guidelines, along with other challenges such as recruiting skilled workers, increased competition and spiked production costs, has confronted our state’s food producers. While no challenge is easy to overcome, Michigan’s manufacturing sector is known for its resilience and can overcome any difficulties thrown its way.

Manufacturers can’t make their problems disappear. However, they can use innovation and implement initiatives to grow, succeed and come out ahead.



Safe Qualify Food (SQF) Program

Especially with scrutiny over safety regulations, a hot topic for Michigan right now is food safety management systems. By improving their management system, manufacturers can deliver better products and increase efficiencies - all while adhering to federal guidelines. MMTC offers a SQF program which provides certification that a manufacturer’s system is in compliance with regulations. Certifications are very important to have: in addition to ensuring compliance, they increase a company’s marketability to suppliers and consumers.

Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

While we’re on the topic of food safety programs… HACCP is a system designed to help food processors minimize food-safety risks. When it comes to implementing new processes and procedures, having an established structure is crucial. HACCP provides the foundation for companies to evaluate risks and implement operations to minimize potential issues.

Your Objectives for 2013

Your goal shouldn’t just be to achieve Food Safety Modernization Act compliance – your goal should be to increase profitability.  As a food manufacturer, you should consistently strive to:

·       Reduce production time
·       Improve cash flow
·       Increase exports
·       Improve plant layout
·       Generate leads and sales

MMTC understands the challenges that Michigan’s manufacturers face. Whether it’s improving your safety management system or conducting a specific project to help you become more efficient, we can help you become more safe, productive and globally competitive. For more information about our Food, Safety and Efficiency Solutions, clickhere or contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at inquiry@mmtc.org.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Shining High-Beam Headlights on Future Sales

You read that right – this is about Sales Headlights not Sales Highlights. Tracking Sales performance is an area of the business filled with numbers you can highlight.  Like baseball, you can watch your team’s overall win/loss record, your team’s batting average (wins as a percent of quotes), and the same for individual salespeople on your team.

As helpful as those stats may be, if you think about them, they all track past performance. Granted, past performance is often a good indicator of future performance, but how does that help you as a manager in running your company? Do past sales indicate future sales? Do past sales help plan upcoming work schedules?

What’s needed is a sales indicator that looks through the windshield with high-beam headlights even, to look as far ahead as possible for future sales, instead of looking through the rear-view mirror at sales reports then scratching your head wondering why sales goals aren’t being met. If we can shine a light on that deep, dark area of future sales, we have far better insight into upcoming challenges that will affect everyone in the company.
Sales Through the Windshield
Before counting a sale – whether to a current or new customer, the sales team performs a series of activities that lead to that sale.
For most small & medium-size companies, your Sales Team spends a significant amount of time quoting in response to RFQs. Quoting done right is time-consuming; most companies track #quotes and $quoted regularly. This offers some view ahead of a sale – but is usually close to the sale.
Prior to earning an RFQ and the “right” to quote, salespeople identify and make contact with New Prospects, then dedicate time to developing them into Leads for potential new business. To grow a company’s customer base, an investment is required in Sales time to identify Prospects and develop Leads.
This “future business pipeline,” holds the key for identifying future sales. For example, a $10Mil company trying to grow to $12Mil requires $1Mil sales revenue each month on average to meet the goal.  If there is $1Mil new potential business in the Lead Pipeline, and it takes 3 months on average for a Lead to convert to an RFQ – the company has an insufficient Lead Pipeline to achieve its sales goal.
In other words, building and tracking a Lead Pipeline – including #Prospects, #Leads, $Leads, $Quotes – enables a forward view of Sales. It helps identify things like:
  • Do we have enough Leads in the pipeline?
  • Are they the right Leads?
  • What can we do to generate more Prospects?
  • What activities motivate Prospects to become Leads?
  • Where should we focus our time & resources? 
Lead Generation is a Core Process

 Lead Generation is an integrated sales & marketing approach to reaching out to new potential customers. It helps build the future sales funnel with two outcomes –
  1. Build #Prospects by creating AWARENESS for your company – helping to get your name out to target companies and contacts about your firm’s name & capabilities
  2. Build #Leads by providing PROOF of how your firm uniquely solves challenges commonly found among your target companies – so when people at these target companies face a challenge you can solve, they think of your firm first and inquire – by phone, e-mail or website “Contact Us”
Bottom line:  Lead Generation done right creates a more efficient, more productive Sales activity. It helps build a Lead Pipeline – enabling your Sales Team to focus on value-added activities like building customer relationships and Quoting, versus the inefficient activity of cold-calling unknown prospects.
 
Successful Lead Generation uses the company Website as the “mission central” single point of truth, driving new and more traffic to your website than otherwise. Those who view the website and submit “inquiries” are considered Leads. They likely have a specific challenge that motivated taking extra time to fill out the website “Contact Us” form.
 
Using the Lead Pipeline as a tool in Sales and Management meetings allows a forward view through the windshield of future sales, prioritizing activities to insure sales goals are achieved before looking at sales reports and asking “Why didn’t we meet our goal this month?”  
 
Building and tracking the Lead Pipeline is the best means of forecasting future sales, prioritizing which leads to focus time and resources toward, and eliminating surprises when the sales report comes out, your goal is missed, and it’s too late to make up for lost time.
 
 
You can find more information online at MMTC Lead GenerationTo speak to an MMTC Business Development Specialist call 1-888-414-6682.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lean Six Sigma and the Importance of Certification


Training provided by experts ensures that you are using proven systems to accomplish your goals of eliminating waste, reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction. It’s also beneficial from a marketing standpoint.
In an earlier blog entry called, “Improve Efficiencies through Lean Six Sigma,” we discussed the importance of Lean Six Sigma, a system that fosters a culture of continuous improvement within an organization. The system is designed to help Michigan’s manufacturers reduce excess waste and increase efficiencies on the production floor.

Well, there’s more to be said about this topic (you can think of this entry as the sequel to the previous blog)… and here’s the reason why: client retention.

In today’s economic climate, we don’t want to lose any of our customers – especially to our dreaded competitors. I mean, you spent the time, effort and marketing dollars attracting the customers… it would be a shame to lose them, right?! And that’s a key element to Lean Six Sigma – improving customer satisfaction. Think of it this way:

1)     Lean Six Sigma helps you reduce unnecessary steps within your company.
2)     By eliminating wasteful processes, your company is able to produce goods faster (not to mention with fewer costs).
3)     With a shorter deliver time, customer satisfaction increases!

In the previous Lean Six Sigma blog entry, we mentioned numerous tools that Michigan’s manufacturers could use to reduce cycle times. Something we didn’t discuss in the previous entry was the importance of certifications. It would be fantastic if Lean Six Sigma principles could be acquired just like that! Living in the real world, we know it doesn’t work that way.

Creating a culture of continuous improvement, although completely worth it, does take work and dedication… and it has to be done correctly. That’s why many Michigan manufacturers turn to official certification programs for Six Sigma training, namely Six Sigma Black Belt Certification and Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.

 Training provided by experts ensures that you are using proven systems to accomplish your goals of eliminating waste, reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction. It’s also beneficial from a marketing standpoint.

These certifications are coupled with the proven DMAIC methodology. DMAIC stands for:

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control

Why are methodologies important in the manufacturing realm? The DMAIC approach provides a carefully defined roadmap to reaching your business process improvements. And lucky for you, MMTC offers these certifications for Michigan’s manufacturers!

Don’t hesitate to improve efficiencies, reduce unnecessary production costs and ultimately improve customer satisfaction. What’s the next step? Click here to learn more about the courses! Of, if you know you’re ready to move forward, contact us at 888-414-6682 or inquiry@mmtc.org