It’s Sunday afternoon, 5:05 PM, November 8, 2020. You’re sitting in the local airport, which for me means West Palm Beach, or PBI, using its International Air Transport Association airport code.

You are waiting in the departure hall, waiting for a SMS text message to come in. You have your carry on with you containing 3 suits, dress shirts, socks, underwear and your toiletries. You also packed your running shoes, sports socks, shorts and t-shirts, just in case you will pull yourself together and do some needed work out either in the very early mornings or in the evenings after your full days. You also have your personal bag, containing your laptop, an iPad, pens, including colored sharpies, a calculator, and several books for your own reading pleasure.

5:37 PM, the SMS text message comes in. The one you have waited for:

Industrial Manufacturing and Rubber Mold, Akron, Ohio. Mr. Jeffrey Hines. Monday, 11/08/2020 8:00 AM. Assignment #4422167

There are two buttons: An Accept button and a Decline button.

It really isn’t a choice. You always have to accept it. If you want the business, then you had better accept anything that comes in. Not all assignments are great. Not all assignments are created equal. But no matter. Whatever it is, you just have to suck it up and make the best of it.

You’re about to hit the accept button, but the phone rings before you get the chance to do so:

“Mikkel, Tom here. It’s going to be a tight one. Your plane leaves at 6:00 PM, can you make it?”

You answer: “Yes, naturally. Ready to go.”

It’s the only answer, you had better give the caller at the other end.

Before you even get to hang up, the phone alerts you of yet another SMS message. It’s your airplane information. Delta airways, departing at 6:00 PM from PBI, terminal C, headed for Atlanta (ATL), where you will stop over for 1 hour 17 minutes and then continue onwards to Cleveland (CLE) for an arrival at 10:37PM.

You quickly open your Delta airways app and make your check in on the app. With just a carry on and your personal bag, you head straight for your terminal, go through security check point via the TSA Precheck line.

The airport here isn’t that big, and it usually helps in as far as lessening the lines of people who have to go through the security checkpoint, so soon you are through and headed down the departure terminal towards your gate.

Boarding has already begun, and you go straight to the Priority Lane. The scanner beeps an extra time and the flight attendant is quick to pause you from continuing down the ramp to your plane:

“Mr. Pitzner, you have an upgrade, here’s your new seat assignment,” she says as she hands you a printed version of the boarding pass. “Have a pleasant flight, Mr. Pitzner,” she adds bidding me farewell.

You thank her, head down the ramp, enter the plane and locate your seat at 2B. You stow your carry on in the overhead compartment and sit in your seat. You pull out your laptop. You only have but a few minutes to quickly access the assignment program and download the particulars of your assignment.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the cabin door is now closed, which means that all electronic devices must be switched off or put in airplane mode. Larger electronic devices must be switched off and stowed till the Fasten Seat Belt light is turned off in the air,” the announcement interrupts you.

You feel slightly like a criminal, because you ignore it for a bit, as your laptop is still downloading the few assignment documents available to you. Thank God, you’re in First Class. They usually cut you a bit more slack than down in the main cabin, or how we, from Denmark, would somewhat jovially call it, “Monkey Class”.

That’s the benefit of traveling like a mad man. You rack up mileage points so fast, that soon you have the highest priority membership status with the 3 largest airlines, 4 hotel chains, and 3 car rental companies. Upgrades and additional benefits follow suit with regularity. Thankfully so. These are some of the extra little pleasures that actually end up meaning a whole lot for you when you are traveling all over the US and sometimes into Canada.

You know, you’re in for yet another tough week, that demands the world of you, offers you little sleep, lots of expectations of you, less than great food and rather boring hotels in oftentimes small towns out in nowhere. You’ll take the little pleasures with gratitude. The little extra comfort and possibly a tiny bit nicer service is welcomed.

Take off. As soon as the Fasten Seat light comes off, you pull out the laptop again and open up the assignment notes. Not much information in there, but you learn your client this time is a rubber mold and manufacturing company in Akron, Ohio. The company is 38 years old, and is run by Mr. Jeffrey Hines and what seems to be a couple of family members. There are a couple of Profit & Loss statements as well as Balance Sheets, from the last two years, and you study them soon to find that the business isn’t doing terribly well, with growing company losses year following year and mounting debts.

A few notes are supplied too, offering a little insight to the owners. A father and son, apparently, run the business, with mom hired to take care of the bookkeeping. There are 12 employees, and the business is that of a typical rubber mold and low tech fabrication company.

It’s funny, you think to yourself. Typical rubber mold and low tech fabrication company. Only thing is, you have never dealt with one of the sort before. Your background is completely blank when it comes to this industry. But hey, so it was with just about the past 50 other companies you helped over the past 2.5 years.

The narrative underlines that the owners and mom are terribly stressed out and that they fear the business will go bankrupt. There’s no cash, and vendors are beginning to cut them off, let alone send them to collection agencies, and there’s an overall bad and demotivated atmosphere among the personnel.

No surprise here. You have seen this all too often. Almost 98% of the clients you have helped have been in similar dire straits. You rank in the top 3 among some 1,300 esteemed and brilliant colleagues, so you are typically sent out to the most difficult of cases. Besides, it seems the ones drowning are the ones who are most likely to actually accept help from a business consultant.

“They’ll grab hold onto a life ring made out of concrete and lead. That’s how desperate they are,” had one of the company directors said.

And he was right.

You land in Atlanta and make use of some of the lay over time to grab some vegetarian sushi.

Your Cleveland flight was delayed. How typical. You now land at 11:26 PM. You find your way to the car rental shuttle. At least you don’t have to go and sign a contract like the old days. You are, as mentioned, a high priority client with the rental companies, so upon reaching the car rental terminal, you just head straight to the parking lot and look for the nicest car in the full size category.

It’s a bit of a luck of the draw with that. Sometimes, it’s not too busy and you have a good selection, and sometimes you’ll just have to grab whatever is left. This time it’s OK. You get a Dodge Challenger with a Hemi engine. Not quite the business car, but hey, it beats the minivans or the somewhat gender-less Altima.

There’s already a little snow here, which you dread. There’s a reason you chose to settle down and reside in warm South Florida. The Charger, though, may just prove a bit of fun in the snow, you think to yourself with a bit of a smirk. Boys will be boys. It’s just how it is, and some of the pent up stress do need a little bit of a release somehow.

Just about 1 hour drive ahead of you, and it’s snowing and already bitter cold.

Yeah, this will be yet another one of those. It’s going to be another one of those with minimal sleep before you have to make miracles and part waters for your client. Late arrival at the hotel, and then a poor night’s sleep, wake up early, skip the morning work, down some breakfast, head out towards the client while you call the office to debrief them and let them know you are on top of the assignment.

08:00 AM. You enter Industrial Manufacturing and Rubber Mold premises and ask for Mr. Hines. After few pleasantries and greetings, you sit down in a small office with Mr. Hines, his wife and Mr. Hines, Jr. and you start your meeting. You have a few purposes with the meeting.

First, you have to establish a certain rapport with them, learn about what’s going on in the business, how bad things are. You also seek to learn what their dreams and aspirations are, not just from saving the business from what seems to be imminent death, but beyond that if the business is turned around. But most of all, you need to secure their solid commitment to do what it takes. Anything less than this, and you know the assignment will soon end and you’ll end up not having helped them at all.

You’re charging $495 an hour, and you will be charging a minimum 10 hours per day. Additionally, the clients will have to pay all your airfares, car rentals, hotel, and a per diem per day. In all likelihood, you will be helping them over a period of 10 weeks, but it could easily stretch way longer than that.

Think about that. It means that before you know it, you are charging the client some $28,000 per week. In other words the clients are probably looking at an investment with you of $280,000 possibly considerably more. Oh, and did I mention, you are going to collect in full payment for yourself on a weekly basis.

Clients are stressed and it shows. Their voices are trembling, eyes red, and darting all over, not to mention their biting nails, and legs bouncing rapidly. They aren’t in a healthy state, and they soon also speak of sleepless nights, and fights on the home front.

Again, the client has no cash, and their banks have already turned them down for more credit. They already have a payables list a mile long, vendors refusing to deliver more goods to them, and several collection agencies calling them every day. The business has huge and growing losses and seems to be doing worse and worse at increasing rate, and debts are at an all time high.

Oh, and you are guaranteeing that for every $1 they spent with you, you will give them at least $2 back in value.

How Do You Do It?

(This story is part of a series describing real life like existence of a top business turn-around agent. To be continued soon…)

The Only Business Book You'll Ever Need Book Cover

Get Your Copy Of The Only Business Book You'll Ever Need For Free Now!

Please enter your best email below and I will send you your free copy now. I hate spam as much as you, so I promise that I will only send you information that I believe will have value to you. Also your information will never be shared with or sold to anyone.

Download The Book Now

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!