Monday, April 30, 2007

Excess Capacity for a Viable Vision

Question: How much excess capacity do you need to have to make a Viable Vision viable?

Answer: It depends. Squeezing more capacity out of your existing operation without investment is relatively easy (you read about it in The Goal, Its Not Luck, and Critical Chain). The hard part is selling it. You need an unrefusable market (a “mafia offer”) offer in order to sell all your capacity (you read about this in Its Not Luck). The Viable Vision is the specific strategy and tactics necessary for you to uncover your capacity and the market offer that will bring your company to have a profit level equal to your current sales level.

What percent of sales are your truly variable costs (TVCs)? Remember that we define TVCs as those costs that change when an additional product or service is sold. TVCs include raw material, sales commission, freight, subcontractors, and the like.

The higher your TVC or lower your throughput (T = sales – TVCs), the more excess capacity (or price premium) you will need to make it possible to turn your current sales level into your profit level in 4 years.

Here’s an example: If you currently have $10 million in sales and TVCs at 30% you will need $23 million in sales. This assumes that you could add these sales with your current labor and/or operation expense (OE). And, in many cases this is quite possible.

If you will need to add labor or other OE, then for each million in those costs that you add you will need to sell another $1.43 M (amount OE added divided by throughput). This is typically not a big deal (we have a client right now with about 65% TVCs), it is just something we have to take into consideration.

So, the more you can sell with your existing resources and investments, the quicker you can turn your current sales level into your profit level. And, your specific mafia offer will also play a big role in the amount of excess capacity you will need. If you can get a price premium, then you will need less capacity and less sales.
The smallest company on a Viable Vision right now started at $1.2 M in sales and the largest started at $4 B (billion!).

But this is way more information than you need because we will collect the data for your company, develop your Viable Vision, and spend 2 hours with you discussing your company and your Viable Vision for FREE, no strings. The only catch is that the CEO, President, or business owner must have attended one of my Maximizing Profitability events to be eligible for the free offer.

And if you decide that you would like guidance from us in achieving your Viable Vision, then 100% to 90% of our fees are based on YOUR results. If you don't get the results, you don't pay! And yes there is a 100% results based option!

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang

Friday, April 27, 2007

99/1 Rule vs 80/20 Rule

Question: You mention in your speech that TOC (Goldratt's Theory of Constraints) is about the 99/1 Rule, not the 80/20 Rule. Can you explain that?

Answer: Let’s start by talking about the 80/20 Rule. The 80/20 Rule, also called the Pareto Principle was made universal by Juran and refers to the “vital few and trivial many”. According to Juran:

“It is a shorthand name for the phenomenon that in any population which contributes to a common effect, a relative few of the contributors account for the bulk of the effect.”

This principal is universal. It applies to your customer base – 20% of your customers account for 80% of your revenue. Your customers are independent or unrelated contributors to your revenue.

When we are talking about maximizing profitability, and the contributors of profitability (various elements in your system) are related, then the 80/20 Rule still applies, but it is too broad. Because the contributors of profitability are related, the largest contributor will have a much greater impact than all the remaining contributors. This is due to the statistical fact that dependent contributors add up as the sum of their squares. By squaring each contributor, the largest one ends up being closer to 99% of the sum of the squares. This largest contributor is your constraint – it’s the thing that limits your profitability most.

Most companies have one or few constraints. The number depends on the number of independent processes. If all your processes are in some way dependent on each other, then you will have one and only one constraint. If you have 2 completely independent processes for 2 different products or services, then you will have 2 constraints in your system. Since your system is limited by the amount of work that the constraint can process, your constraint is the BIGGEST contributor to your profitability. Hence, focusing on your constraint(s) is where you will have the greatest leverage on your profitability – the 99/1 Rule.

In summary, when you are trying to identify where to focus your efforts (quality or otherwise) and the contributors are related or dependent, then determine your constraint (your 99/1) first. Then, use the 80/20 Rule to determine the main contributors of an effect or problem within the constraint or constraint process.

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Should I factor my receivables?

Question: Should I factor (sell) my receivables? I could use the cash, but the cost seems too high.

Answer: This question is hard to answer without more information, so let’s look at an example:

Let’s say it costs you $40 to make a product you typically sell for $100. If you could get $100 dollars in 60 days from your customer or $80 dollars in 10 days from selling the invoice, which would you prefer?

To compare the 2 options, let’s calculate the amount of Throughput that each option would generate in 60 days. Remember, Throughput = Sales Price – Truly Variable Costs.

Option 1: We wait to collect the accounts receivable in 60 days. Therefore in 60 days we generate $100-$40 = $60 in Throughput.

Option 2: We sell the invoice and receive $80 in 10 days. Therefore we have generated $80-$40= $40 in 10 days. But we still have 50 days to go, so we invest our $40 in more raw materials and sell another product. For that product we also sell the invoice and generate another $40 in Throughput. We now have 40 days to go, so we repeat the process 4 more times. In 60 days we generate $240 in Throughput.

So the answer is “it depends”. If you have a use for the money that will generate additional Throughput, then you’re on your way to maximizing your cash flow and your profitability! If you have plenty of cash, then it doesn’t really make sense.

Another way to accomplish the same thing is to offer very deep discounts if your customers pay very quickly. However, if you decide later that you don’t want to offer this option anymore, then you have to explain that to your customers.

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
P.S. Happy birthday to my sister Tammy!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Maximizing Profitability Workshop May 11, 2007 in Denver

If you have never attended one of my Maximizing Profitability events, here's your chance. The next one is May 11, 2007 at the Wellshire Inn in Denver.

Event Description

In this highly interactive presentation, “Dr Lisa” Lang engages the group in discussion and hands-on participation to discover how to LEVERAGE their existing resources using Goldratt's Theory of Constraints to maximize profitability. An approach to developing a “Mafia Offer” and to achieving rapid sustainable growth (a Viable Vision) is discussed, along with:

· How to make management decisions that are aligned with profitability goals
· How to increase profitability by increasing capacity with no corresponding increase in expenses or capital investment
· How to create a “Mafia Offer” that allows this newly created capacity to be sold

Dr Lisa provides a unique, counter-intuitive perspective based on scientific methods, causing participants to challenge their current assumptions and think bigger. Participants will learn to make decisions and strategic plans that are aligned with maximizing profitability.

The value to participants will include:
· Improved understanding of how to leverage their constraint and existing resources to drive profitability
· 4 metrics and 3 decision rules to make day-to-day and mix decisions that maximize profitability
· How to have the biggest and quickest impact with their Lean and Six Sigma efforts
· The guidelines and examples for creating a “Mafia Offer” – an offer that is so good your customers can’t refuse it and your competition can’t or won’t offer the same.

If you are frustrated with your profit level and are tired of playing Whac-A-Mole, then this event is for you! Click here for the fax registration form. It's only $29 and includes lunch.

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cash Velocity Summary

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007

Cash Velocity Summary

There are two cash velocity rules:
● Make sure that the amount and rate of cash flowing in is enough to cover all your business and personal needs
● Be paranoid. Unfortunately, stuff happens. And unless you’re willing to risk losing your passion, studying and maximizing your cash velocity is essential
The goal of this chapter was to educate the reader about cash velocity -- how to maximize it and how to avoid cash becoming your constraint. We discussed the two drivers of velocity: throughput and cash-to-cash cycle time. We found that by using Goldratt's TOC techniques, we can increase throughput and reduce cash-to-cash cycle time. We also discovered that the velocity of throughput can be more important than the amount of throughput, especially when we are limited by cash.
If fear of cash problems is not enough for you to monitor, forecast and plan for you cash velocity needs, then consider this: The real value of your business is NOT based on your accountant’s value of your assets; it is based on the cash earning stream that your business assets are likely to produce. The more predictable and reliable this stream of cash is, the more valuable your business is. So if you ever plan to sell your business and retire with the money, then you need to pay attention to your cash velocity. Your banker will also value your business and assess your risk based on your cash flow.[1] Cash is still king. It’s still the life blood. So get in the drivers seat by understanding and increasing your cash velocity.

[1] Many banks use the Uniform Credit Analysis® Cash-Flow Worksheet developed by Wells Fargo and made popular by the Risk Management Association.

That completes the cash velocity discussion we started on March 16 for now. What would you like to hear about?

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Increasing Throughput -- Other Considerations

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007

Increasing Throughput -- Other Considerations

In previous sections we have covered raw materials and how to reduce them. We also need to cover WIP (Work In Process) and finished goods inventory. DBR Scheduling* reduces WIP by releasing raw materials at the rate at which the constraint can consume the raw materials. Demand Pull* can also be used to reduce finished goods inventory. If we make to stock, or use a replenishment system to supply our customers, then we can minimize the amount of finished goods we carry while at the same time increasing the probability that we will have on hand what is needed. When DBR Scheduling and Demand Pull are implemented, we see a mean reduction in all inventories of about 50%. All of this, of course, helps us to further reduce cash-to-cash cycle time.

* DBR Scheduling and Demand Pull as defined in Goldratt's Theory of Constraints

... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Increase Throughput -- Increase Sales cont.

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007

Increase Sales cont.

Last time we ended our discussion with this question: So how do you increase your throughput without going into cash trouble?

The first step is to examine your product mix. Calculate the T/CU for each product. With this information you can devise a strategy to sell more products with higher T/CU and drop those with a lower T/CU. This will allow you to maximize your throughput without investing additional capital or having to tie up more cash in the form of raw material.

Then once again, we must decrease our cash-to-cash cycle time which we have already covered.

... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Increase Throughput -- Increase Sales

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007

Increase Sales

Increasing sales is a sure fire way to increase your throughput and is theoretically limitless. My first question is: Are you selling all that you can now? If you are a “make to stock” company, do you ever have the case where you don’t have the product your customer is looking for in stock? If so, you could benefit from DBR Scheduling and Demand Pull to ensure that you always have what your customers demand.

But, let’s say that you have already implemented DBR Scheduling and Demand Pull, and you currently can provide what they want on time. To increase sales you must learn and met your customer’s business NEEDS. New customers are earned over time by understanding the business needs that they have, then customizing your products, services, or policies to meet those needs. In TOC we call this creating a mafia offer. Market Segmentation will be a likely result of matching your offerings with your customers or potential customer’s perception of value. All that being said, sometimes business owners already know that they could earn more business from existing customers or know where that can find new customers. What stops them is cash. To grow sales takes cash and to grow sales a lot takes a lot of cash. So how do you increase your throughput without going into cash trouble?

... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Increasing Throughput -- Increase Selling Prices

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007

Increase Selling Prices

Changing the selling price for a product or group of products is difficult to cover in few words. Presumably you already have pricing policies and strategy that represent some equilibrium point in the market you serve and getting some minimum T/CU across your mix of products/services. If you understand the perceived value by your customers for the products/services you offer, then to increase prices you must stay within this perceived value or increase your customer’s perception of value. A mafia offer[1] is the Theory of Constraints (TOC) method to increase your customer’s perception of value even in industries considered to be commodities.

In addition, Market Segmentation should be considered. Identify segments of markets that have different values for the products and services you offer, then set selling prices for these markets that are consistent with their perception of value and your mafia offer. Segmentation should help you to match selling price with customer’s perception of value and allow you to maximize your selling price while ensuring that you’re meeting your customer's needs.

[1] We will discuss more about mafia offer in #1 below. Also, see for more information on creating a mafia offer.

... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sales Commission -- Effect on Throughput

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007
We last left off on Friday April 6, 2007.

Deceasing sales commission is not necessarily where we want to focus either, but make sure that the commission you’re paying is in alignment with where you’re making your money and/or with the products/services with the highest cash velocity. If you have varying T/CU[1] across your products/services, but you are paying sales people a commission on selling price or gross margin, you may not be motivating them to sell the products that provide the highest throughput for the least amount of your most precious resource. In addition, the traditional way of paying sales people does not take into account the cash velocity either. The ideal commission structure would motivate sales people to sell the highest T/CU combined with the best velocity products/services.

[1] Thoughput per Constraint Unit. This is the amount of money you generate on a sale divided by the amount of your limited resources capacity consumed in order to produce the sale. See Throughput Accounting as part of Goldratt's Theory of Constraints.

... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Increase Throughput to Increase Cash Velocity

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007

Increasing Throughput

Throughput (as defined in Goldratt's Theory of Constraints Throughput Accounting) is sales revenue minus truly variable costs. Therefore we can increase your throughput by either 1) increasing sales, 2) increasing our selling prices, or 3) decreasing our truly variable costs.

Let’s start with the last one, first. To decrease our truly variable costs we can:

  • Negotiate a lower price with raw material suppliers
  • Negotiate a lower price with outside services, freight suppliers, or with any other truly variable cost vendors that we have
  • Decrease the sales commission we pay to our sales people

There is a limit to how much we can reduce our costs. If our costs go to zero, then we are no longer in business. Therefore, we want these costs to be in line, but this is not where we want our focus.

... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

2007 Mafia Offer Boot Camp Schedule

In my last post I mentioned "Mafia Offer Boot Camp". We spend 3 days developing your mafia offer just like Alex Rogo in It's Not Luck. Upcoming public boot camps are currently planned as follows:

  • June 13, 14, 15 in Denver, Colorado click here to register now by fax
  • August 27, 28, 29 in Denver, Colorado
  • December in Sydney, Australia
  • December in Auckland, New Zealand

Each event is open to only 5 companies, so plan ahead or schedule a PRIVATE boot camp.

What is a Mafia Offer Boot Camp and what's the cost?

Detailed agenda of a Mafia Offer Boot Camp.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Factoring Receivables Reduces Cash to Cash Cycle Time

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007
Yesterday we discussed how offering a discount can reduce cash to cash cycle time and today we will discuss an alternative.

Another approach, which leads to similar results is receivables factoring. Factoring receivables, however, takes about a month to set up in order to provide all the necessary information. They charge based on how long it takes your customers to pay. This is typically in the range of 1 to 5% which is a much better deal than the 20% discount. However they typically pay you 80% of the invoice within 2 days but hold 20% of the funds back until your customer has paid. We usually start with the discount offer then switch to factoring once we can get it set up.

In addition to the above ideas, with DBR Scheduling we can also give preference to customers who pay quickly. Customers who pay quickly are certainly better, as demonstrated above, to our cash-to-cash cycle time.

The shorter lead-times that result from implementing DBR can also allow us to offer shorter lead-times for higher prices depending on our industry. This would be determined during your mafia offer development[1].

... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

[1] We typically do a Mafia Offer Boot Camp over 3 days. For more information see

Monday, April 2, 2007

When Offering a Discount Makes Sense

Continuing our cash velocity discussion started on March 16, 2007

Last time (on Friday) we talked about offering a discount to our customers if they paid on delivery.

What kind of discount could you offer to get cash back into your system faster so that you could make more money? Before you answer that question, also consider that 1) you need to be able to sell the additional products so that you can benefit from the faster cycle. If you offer a discount, get the cash back quickly, but don’t have another order, then this strategy is not a good idea for you. 2) If you have other sources for cash, like a line of credit, you may be better off to use that than to use deep discounting. You’ll want to compare the Return on Investment of each. 3) However, if your cash is close to becoming a constraint, and you have no borrowing options, this idea could keep you in business.

A 20% discount for 42 days is an interest rate of 174%. But the cost of money is less important than the availability. Obviously you would not do this if cheaper money was available.

When we have used this type of offer to recover from a cash constraint, we let customers know that it was an offer we were testing to determine customer interest and that it may not be a long-term offering. This will give you the option of discontinuing the offer once you have another source of cash to grow your business.

.... to be continued ...

Here's to maximizing YOUR profits!
"Dr Lisa" Lang
(c)Copyright 2007, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Goal is Still a Best Seller!

The Goal, orginally published in 1984 is the best selling business book in the world. You can still walk into most books stores and find a copy on the shelf. Right now, it is selling really well in Japan.

The BusinessWeek Best-Seller List -- Paperback Business Books

1 GOOD TO GREAT AND THE SOCIAL SECTORS Jim Collins (Collins -- $11.95) A primer on how noncorporate organizations can excel. Last month: 2, Months on list: 15
2 START LATE, FINISH Rich David Bach (Broadway -- $14.95) Strategies and tactics for baby boomers nearing the age of retirement. Last month: 1, Months on list: 2
3 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler (McGraw-Hill -- $16.95) How to handle those all-important talks. Last month: 7, Months on list: 13
4 QUANTUM SUCCESS Sandra Anne Taylor (Hay House -- $14.95) The "science of success," as described by a psychologist and consultant. Last month: --, Months on list: 1
5 A GUIDE TO THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT BODY OF KNOWLEDGE Project Management Institute (PMI Publications -- $49.95) Delivering results. Last month: 8, Months on list: 13
6 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? 2007 Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press -- $17.95) The enduring job-search bible. Last month: 4, Months on list: 7
7 LEADERSHIP AND SELF-DECEPTION The Arbinger Institute (Berrett-Koehler -- $14.95) A leader's motivation is what matters, says this business fable. Last month: --, Months on list: 9
8 J.K. LASSER'S YOUR INCOME TAX 2007 The J.K. Lasser Institute (Wiley -- $17.95) Time to start sorting receipts. Last month: 3, Months on list: 3
9 THINK AND GROW RICH Napoleon Hill (Ballantine -- $7.99) Willpower and a positive attitude are the essential elements of success. Last month: 12, Months on list: 22
10 FLIP Rick Villani, Clay Davis (McGraw-Hill -- $21.95) Finding, remodeling, and selling properties. Last month: --, Months on list: 1
11 THE GOAL Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox (North River Press -- $24.95) A "business novel" on overcoming bottlenecks. Last month: --, Months on list: 5
12 THE ERNST & YOUNG TAX GUIDE 2007 Ernst & Young LLP (CDS Books -- $16.95) Sharpen those pencils and get out the W-2s. Last month: 5, Months on list: 3
13 THE ESSAYS OF WARREN BUFFETT Warren E. Buffett, Lawrence A. Cunningham (Cunningham Group -- $25) A selection of epistles to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Last month: 9, Months on list: 4
14 THE INTELLIGENT INVESTOR, REVISED EDITION Benjamin Graham, with Jason Zweig (HarperBusiness -- $19.95) The classic treatise on "value investing." Last month: --, Months on list: 21
15 A WHOLE NEW MIND Daniel H. Pink (Riverhead -- $15) The future belongs to "right-brain thinkers." Last month: --, Months on list: 1