Dr. Ravindra Aher
Dr. Ravindra Aher
I have read at least one hundred books on business and marketing and Fifer’s concise, poignant advice is hard to beat. He seems like the tough, wise uncle in business you always wished you had.
‘Double Your Profits in 6 Months or Less,’ by Robert Fifer, is a succinct guide to increasing operating profits by the elimination of unnecessary costs. Similarly, Six Sigma and Lean principles center around lowering operational costs through increased efficiency, reduced errors, and eliminated non value-add steps. However, I think many operational improvement activities (the DMAIC process, for instance) focus on the process rather than the end goal, and consider reduced costs as a potential by product. ‘Double Your Profits’ focuses on increasing efficiency (similar to Six Sigma and Lean), but it does so with a direct focus on the bottom line. Generally speaking, avenues for reducing costs may seem endless; however, Fifer highlights simple, common areas of waste (materials, time, and thought) that can be quickly eliminated.
Robert ‘Bob’ Fifer became the CEO and Chairman of Kaiser Associates 3 years after joining the company and only 6 years after graduating from business school. Roughly a decade into his tenure as the CEO (1993), he published this book – ‘Double your Profits.’ In 2000, he facilitated the sale of Kaiser and established his own consulting firm.
The book, ‘Double Your Profits,’ has many strong advocates (including Jack Welch) and is still used today.
“Double your profits in six months or less,” says management consultant Fifer, simply by following his rather Draconian cost-cutting suggestions. Fifer shares his Fortune 500 consulting experiences with these 78 ways to leave your losses, such as eliminating unnecessary management, bidding on supplier goods, paying invoices later, and controlling all expenses at the top. Of this list, 24 are standard customer service and sales rep motivation tips, all more completely covered elsewhere. Furthermore, in today’s lean organizations, most of these decisions have already been implemented. Executives now are focusing on the real cost control that comes from unnecessary process steps, rework, and management tampering.
It has been used by many corporate leaders as a “bible” for increasing profits by cutting costs…all company costs that do not actually create a direct profit. That means cutting most of middle management, some senior management, and most employees who do not have direct responsibility for adding daily value to the bottom line. It preaches renegotiating or eliminating vendor contracts on a regular basis. It teaches questioning the value of any consultant or outside service. It is a roadmap for rapid, perhaps severe, cost-cutting to achieve immediate profitability.
This is not a book for the timid. It is not a feel-good book, except for those who enjoy counting their money. It will make most readers feel uncomfortable, perhaps insecure. These are among the important reasons to read the book.
In today’s highly competitive business environment, it is important to instill a culture of cost consciousness. In the author’s opinion every cost is up for grabs and needs to be justified. There is waste in any organization such as too many layers of management, the amount of time spent in meetings, spending on offsite meetings, and unnecessary reports. However when it comes marketing, the author recommends outspending the competition in both good and bad times.
Some parts of the book will likely make readers uncomfortable including the lack of concern for many of the people who make up a company’s workforce and certain suggestions for extracting concessions from suppliers. In the latter case some people will question the ethics of his approach. This book is certainly not “If Aristotle Ran General Motors.” It is not about pleasing multiple stakeholder groups. It is a no nonsense book about improving the bottom line.
There is no doubt a company can improve the bottom line following the author’s advice especially in the first few years.