SMART-Connect Advisors: setting the benchmarks for best practice across all aspects of running a successful and profitable SME business.
You’re already outstanding at what you do, the products or services you deliver, if you’re not you shouldn’t be in business.
But the reason most businesses don’t make enough money, struggle and eventually go out of business isn’t because they are bad at what they do…it’s because they don’t know or don’t apply the best ways to run a successful, profitable business: best practice ways to stand out against their competitors, best practice ways to attract more of the right clients, best practice ways to manage their finances, best practice use of technology, best practice leadership principles, best practice systems that can help them be more productive, or best practice protection against risk.
That’s where we come in. At SMART-Connect collectively we bring together best practice advisors and specialists in all those things, helping you be the best of the best at running an SME business so you can keep on providing great products and services with more profits and less stress.
Are your ready to create a best practice business, improving productivity, increasing profits, and expanding your reach?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is best practice benchmarking?
Best practice means finding and implementing the best business processes to achieve your business goals.
One of the best ways to do this is through benchmarking, which enables you to compare your business with other successful businesses to highlight opportunities for improvement.
Robert Camp (1989) defines benchmarking as “the search for those best practices that will lead to the superior performance” of a business or organization. This is not the same as the more commonly used financial benchmarks which you can get from your accountant or the Tax Office. The emphasis of best practice benchmarking is on understanding the practices and processes of successful organisations to find out how they do what they do, rather than reviewing ‘bottom line’ data and trying to match or beat it.
Evaluating how your operations compare with the most effective and profitable businesses, and then using the most effective and relevant components - the "best practice" in your own business, can make a huge difference, saving you massive amounts of time and other resources “reinventing the wheel”
A best practice benchmarking strategy can help your business to:
- become more competitive
- increase sales and develop new markets
- reduce costs and become more efficient
- improve the skills of your staff
- use technology more effectively
- reduce waste and improve quality
- respond more quickly to innovations in your industry or niche
That’s why those organisations that are serious about improving performance regard benchmarking as on-going business process that is fully integrated with continuous improvement in their organizations.
However despite all of the benefits, for most SME business owners implementing a best practice benchmarking process remains out of reach for five key reasons:
- Finding the time and other resources to implement a best practice strategy
- Not knowing where to find and how to recognise best practice
- Not knowing what you don’t know and how to assess your own business processes against best practice.
- Not knowing whether a particular practice is the right solution for your business
- Not knowing the best way to implement a business improvement process based on the best practice you identify.
The SMART-Connect Best Practice Benchmarking and Business Improvement Process has been developed to address these challenges.
How does the SMART-Connect Best Practice Business Improvement Process work?
It's a four step process
Step 1: Benchmark your business
See how your business stacks up against best practice in ten key aspects of running a successful and profitable SME Business: Branding, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Financial Management, Technology, Human Resources, Strategic Planning, Risk Management, and Business Systems. It's free and completely confidential.
Once you've completed the initial Benchmarking Audit you'll receive a report with potential areas for improvement based on your responses. You can download a sample report here
Step 2: Find the right advisors
Once you've completed the initial benchmarking process and identified the potential areas for improvement in your business we'll connect you with a key advisor who will help you identify those processes that are most critical to your success, which processes provide the greatest opportunities for improvement, and which processes offer the greatest ROI. You decide what you want to work on and when!
Step 3: Implement a best practice business improvement plan
Based on the outcomes of Step 2 we will then connect you with a hand picked team of advisors who will combine their specialised knowledge and expertise working with you to develop and implement a practical, customised business improvement plan, aligned with your business goals and objectives so you can be the best of the best in your industry and niche.
Step 4: Review, revise and repeat.
We recommend that you repeat the Best Practice benchmarking process on an annual basis so that you and your advisors can ensure that you continue to focus on the business improvement strategies which will provide the best possible outcomes for your business.
What industries and business sizes does the Best Practice Business Improvement Process work for?
Broadly speaking we work with SME businesses turning over between $20K a month and $70 million a year.
But it's a bit of a standing joke at SMART-Connect Advisor meetings - "Get more niched, and more niched and more niched again!"
And that's what we've done....we've created a collective of outstanding advisors and specialists who have niched, niched and niched even more... and then we've organised them around those niches into Boards of Advice (BOA) where everyone in that BOA shares the same niche.
So what industries and business sizes do we work with?
We've have Boards of Advice who specialise in working with three key business size niches based on turnover...
- Businesses turning over between $20 thousand a month and $3 million a year
- Businesses turning over between $3 and $12 million a year
- Businesses turning over between $12 and $70 million a year.
We have Boards of Advice who specialise in working with businesses at particular stages in their business journey:
- Start up businesses
- "Squircle" business owners. (SMART-Connect Advisor Frances Pratt explains)
- Business owners who are stuck in the consultancy trap and want to grow a scalable, saleable business.
- Business owners who want to create an exit plan
- Businesses preparing for sale
We have Boards of Advice who specialise in working with businesses in particular industries
- Manufacturing businesses
- Professional Services Businesses
- Real estate businesses
- Medical and health services businesses
- Technology businesses
- Coaches and consultants
- Building and construction
- Not for profit
But there is something much more important than all of that... and it's something we ALL have in common.. We are only interested in working with business owners who have a clear vision for where they want their business to go and who share our core values of integrity, professional excellence, customer service, collaboration, contribution and innovation.... there is NOTHING more important than that!
9 Common problems with finding the right advisors and specialists for your business.
Unfortunately finding the right specialists and advisors can be a time-consuming, expensive, hit and miss affair. It’s an ongoing headache for most business owners:
- Experts who tell you THEY have the ideal solution to your problem, often without taking the time to really understand your business or being willing to refer you on when there may be a better option for your situation.
- Finding yourself dealing with a different staff member or consultant at every meeting and constantly having to re-explain your business and your problem.
- Getting shunted from one supplier to the next, always being asked to spend more money and still not getting the outcome you were looking for.
- Paying exorbitant prices for inadequate or at best average outcomes from suppliers whose main claim to fame is how good they were at blowing their own trumpet, or how much money they had to throw at marketing, not how well they could help you.
- Wondering if you’re getting the best advice or if you’ve got the right suppliers for the job, if they’ll talk to each other, or if you’ll find that solution A can’t work with solution B and you’ll have to rip it all out and start again.
- Worried that the solution you’re being sold may not be the best option for your business but not knowing what you don’t know!
- Finding yourself dealing with large organisations with no soul and no care, and staff members who are only there to earn a paycheck and go home.
- Working with small suppliers with the best of intentions who do their best to help and end up being a “Jack of all Trades”, or over extending themselves and no longer providing you with the depth of expertise or the quality of service you really need.
- Discovering your advisors have put themselves first with recommendations based on what’s in it for them, not what’s best for you.
The SMART-Connect Alliance was created so you never have to worry about any of those challenges again.... read on to find out how we're different.
So what’s so special about SMART-Connect Advisors and Specialists?
The SMART-Connect Alliance began as a networking group of like minded business owners with similar values and a shared commitment to working together collaboratively to better help and support their clients. However we quickly realised that open membership did not guarantee the best outcomes for our clients.
As a result the SMART-Connect Alliance has evolved into an invitation only collaborative alliance where all advisors and specialists work together for the best interest of all our clients.
Here's what that means for you:
Best Practice: All SMART-Connect advisors and specialists are at the leading edge of their industry or profession. We've combined our experience and expertise to create the Best Practice Benchmarks so you benefit from the most current industry knowledge and best practice, identifying and implementing the right solutions for your business.
Scope: Collectively we bring together a comprehensive knowledge base providing best practice expertise in all aspects of running an SME business… accounting, legal, marketing, sales, staffing, systems, risk management, technology and more. And we're constantly on the lookout for high-quality specialists who can bring leading edge knowledge and unique perspectives to the alliance. That sometimes means things you didn't even know existed that can provide real opportunities for improvement in your business.
Synergy: Whichever SMART-Connect specialists and advisors you work with you can be confident that they will work together as a team across every aspect of your business, saving time, avoiding duplication and miscommunication and reducing risk. That's what makes the SMART-Connect Best Practice Business Improvement Process so powerful. With SMART-Connect 1 plus 1 really does equal 3.
Skin in the game: SMART-Connect advisors and specialists are SME business owners like you. When you work with a SMART-Connect business you can be confident that you are dealing with a principal or someone only one step removed, someone who is genuinely committed to helping you achieve the best possible results for your business, not with a large organisation with no soul and no care.
Ongoing Support: We’re committed to working with you long term, taking the time to thoroughly know and understand your business and forging strong relationships so we can best support you on your business journey. That's a WIN WIN.
Quality Control: Finally all SMART-Connect Advisors and Specialists meet our strict quality control guidelines. Every SMART-Connect Advisor's reputation depends on it and we wouldn't have it any other way.
So if any of those things are important to you... get in touch, we'd love to meet you.
The SMART-Connect Quality Control Process
Our independent quality control and feedback system guarantees that you are dealing with quality professionals who have been thoroughly vetted and who are committed to the highest standards of professional excellence and customer service to ensure that you will receive the best possible service, support and advice, no exceptions.
How it works
Prior to acceptance as a SMART-Connect partner candidates are required to survey their clients from the past twelve months. Any candidate who fails to meet our high standards in this initial review process is automatically excluded from membership.
Following acceptance, all partners continue to survey their clients on an ongoing basis in line with best practice for their industry. The results of their feedback surveys are posted here on the SMART-Connect website.
SMART-Connect Advisors and Specialists are required to maintain an ongoing high standard of client feedback in order to retain their place in the Alliance.
What the Ratings Mean
- Gold – I’m a raving fan
- Green – I’m a happy client
- Yellow – I have some concerns.
- Red – Thumbs down from me
Our latest customer feedback results
Comments received from clients as part of the SMART-Connect ongoing customer feedback process
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