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Spark's Turnaround & Remediation Approach

Turnarounds - Properly Scoped, tried and tested

We are members of the Industry Governing body: Turnaround Management Association of South Africa, the link to which is provided at the bottom of this page.

Before we explain our unique approach, here are the essential turnaround pages:

Sustainable Turnarounds - A Coaching Partnership

Although our focus is to transfer knowledge and enable your turnaround through a coaching methodology, where necessary we get stuck in and will do what needs to be done in order to see the team succeed. We won't pontificate and stand by idly, we have no hesitation to roll up our sleeves, do the dirty work and to lead by example.

We have discussed the difference between a Business Rescue and a Business Turnaround, and the constraints placed upon the business during the "formal" business rescue. Here we present our service on a Business Turnaround, which you can look at as Business Rescue with coaching and knowledge transfer to the current business leadership over a longer period of time, with a wider scope of remediation activities. Obviously, the business under-performance will manifest itself in the form of impending financial distress, so this "ain't no picnic!". The key thing that you must appreciate is that YOU and the current business leadership team will remain in charge and get the job done. A turnaround requires an initial focus on the mechanics and technical aspects of the business, but is only sustainable if the Leadership, Communications and institutional habits are created that ultimately enable the business to succeed in the longer term. This cannot be outsourced. We don't work with the chairperson of the board, we work with the people whose responsibility it is to execute.

The advantages of this approach far out-weigh any dis-advantages of which there are few

  • This is by far the most cost-effective solution for any SME
  • We can be discrete and conduct sessions off-site
  • We provide you with all the tools, templates and worked examples, so you get going immediately
  • We share with you what has worked for us previously and will work in your particular context
  • Your authority is never under-mined and the business will see the work as yours
  • We are flexible and if you need more hands-on work we will participate
  • Our goal is to walk away with you acting independently having adopted and embedded these techniques and methodologies
  • This allows a two dimensional approach of focusing on technical competencies as well as the enabling leadership habits and behaviors, needed for a sustainable turnaround.

An example to illustrate

Say for example, as we are working on the turnaround, you direct your sales folk to go and do some planning and realistic forecasting (you've instilled some new discipline and rigor into their Sales Processes). Instead of reporting back 1 definite sales projection number, now you take them seriously because they provide a probable outcome view. When you put all the forecasts together, and check them for thoroughness and sanity, you see that all the work is paying off, you grow by an expected 33% next year! High 5's all around? Others will have walked away patting themselves on the back! But you won't. You'll have worked through this mistake with us, and will know what there is a threshold for your growth to remain self-funding. Rapid growth eats cash and the last thing needed is to have to find expensive sources of working capital! Now you will have the tools to communicate the problem that success and growth is about to bring you! and more importantly know what to do about it.

This speaks to how we have succeeded despite the odds, across multiple industries, including:

  • Automotive - working in Germany on Ford's turnaround
  • Manufacturing - working with Wolf Fabrication and Engineering
  • eBay - working on the turnaround of eBay France
  • Insurance - working on Mutual & Federal's Groups Schemes
  • Banking - working on Barlcay's integration and turnaround of ABSA's SME banking segment
  • Healthcare - working on Old Mutual's Administration and Managed Care Business
  • and there are more!

Our tried and tested mythologies allow a two dimensional approach of focusing on technical competencies as well as the enabling leadership habits and behaviors, needed for a sustainable turnaround.

Turnaround Obstacle Removal

In one way or another, every successful business has navigated these generic problems.These are the obstacles that a successful turnaround must deal with, apart from the obvious ones of revenues, costs and market share which really are contingent on these obstacle being overcome..

  1. Problems of delegation and team-building - As a business grows and succeeds the role of the managements must evolves into that of leadership. This manifests itself in needing to control, not letting go, and the failure to delegate to a team better equipped to do what needs to be done.
  2. Poor data - We are entitled to our own opinions but not our own facts. Facts require data, and business strategy and management of a business, almost always requires data.
  3. Structure - Your business is nothing more than a large team of people, relying on each other to do what is required and expected of them in a consistent manner, the outcome of which customers use to solve their problems or make their lives easier. This needs clear delineation of responsibility, clarity about hand-over points, everyone to understand their role, and to be held accountable and be rewarded for their efforts or lack thereof.
  4. Thought leadership - Success will bring the unwelcome attention of your competition. The ability to navigate the market, predict trends, understand consequences, out-maneuver your competition and lead the business, demands a strategic line of thinking rather than merely the operational kind that was so successful in a small firm.

Some useful links for you

TMA - South Africa - Turnaround Management Association of South Africa

TMA - Journal - Some Interesting Articles

Don't brood and ponder in isolation! - There's no harm in chatting

There are some very good Business Rescue and Turnaround people in South Africa. The industry body has very good information and has a list of Business Rescue Practitioners for you to review. Talk to a couple of people at least. Do not limit your conversations. If you need to talk to us, even on week-ends, please contact us. We understand the pressures you are facing, and if talking to us on a week-end or evening helps you have a better night's sleep, then that's something we have no problem in doing!