BGC Helps Kelly Braddy of Heat Process Technology

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It's hard to think about growth when you spend all your time growing-or so thought Kelly Braddy, owner of Heat Process Technologies, Inc., of Dallas, Texas ( Until recently Braddy "wasn't looking for help" with growing her multi-million dollar company; "I already had a number of advisors," she said, "and the business was running great." So why did this dedicated entrepreneur end up hiring Birol Growth Consulting? She knew her business was growing . but in what direction?

Heat Process Technologies isn't what you'd call a mainstream company. A distributor of hot air processing equipment to industries in the southern United States, Mexico, and South America, HPT is one of fewer than ten authorized sales and service centers for an elite Swiss line of products. The Leister brand, based in Sarnen, Switzerland, combines the quality of German engineering with more than half a century of manufacturing expertise to produce heaters, hot air and plastic welding tools, heat guns, heat sources, blowers, extruders, and hot air roofing machines. Leister products are used by a variety of industries, including roofing, automotive, flooring, plastics, and shrinking.

Andy quickly saw that HPT was growing up without a strong sense of direction. “He saw that I had a lot of ideas,” Braddy noted, “but I often didn’t get anywhere because I didn’t have time to sort through them.” With the intent to create “concrete, doable plans” to organize the company’s growth, Andy helped her select top five crucial goals for the business. These were:

1. Market HPT as a “one-stop shop” for new and existing customers.
2. Cut costs and boost gross margins.
3. Improve the accuracy of sales forecasts.
4. Research new lines of roofing accessories as a way to expand customer choice.
5. Set clear goals for her employees.

Next, he gave Braddy specific assignments for each goal. With his help she studied the company’s product lines, and each tool within the lines, to pinpoint areas for boosting gross margins without sacrificing sales. She also met with employees to discuss their goals and to outline their responsibilities, and her entire staff brainstormed for ways to cut costs, particularly in shipping and receiving. “It was a bit like going back to having homework in second grade,” she said with a laugh, “but it really worked.” Another task involved grouping her customers into three categories based on frequency of orders, dollar amounts, and sales dates. With the facts in front of her, Braddy was able to identify which customers were vital to the business and which were more of a drain on resources. “[Andy] helped me see that I wasn’t necessarily thinking about customers in ways that were accurate,” she said. “I was very surprised because I hadn’t noticed, for example, that certain customers ordered as frequently as they did, or that others who I knew ordered often but in small amounts represented such big dollar figures when everything was totaled. It was a wake-up call.”

After only a few months of working her new plan, Kelly Braddy feels her business is on the right path, and with a clear destination. Perhaps the most important change is her deeper understanding of her customers. One important avenue for growth that she and Andy targeted was to let customers know the breadth of products and services HPT offers. This has required a renewed commitment to customer service. “We are tracking our contacts with each customer so that, for example, we can call and remind people when their machines are due for service, or simply check in with someone we haven’t heard from in awhile. It gives us an opportunity to find out what people need and how we can help them.” Examining customer data has also helped in terms of creating accurate sales forecasts and managing cash flow. “I used to think of a budget only in terms of my costs and how much money I was sending out each month, but Andy helped me predict how much money we can expect will come in,” she said. “We found that our customers tend to spend about the same amount each year, and often at predictable times, which is something we hadn’t charted previously.” In addition to improved contact with customers (Goal #1) and better sales forecasts (Goal #3), HPT is making progress toward other goals. For instance, by mapping out expectations for each of her employees (Goal #5), Braddy was able to delegate some responsibility for cutting costs and researching new lines of products (Goals #2 and #4). It was all a matter of designing a plan and sticking to it. “Andy pushed me, and I appreciate it,” she said. “He was firm about my finishing my assignments on time, but he was also very responsive when I had questions or concerns. He made me aware of problems I didn’t know we had.”

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