Playing by the Rules: A Punk Circus Band Incorporates

Mucca Pazza is a 30-person punk circus marching band based out of Chicago, Illinois. When it was founded in 2004, the band was one of a handful of renegade marching bands in the country. Now it is performing in Chicago and touring nationally. Challenge When Mucca Pazza began earning money for performances and concerts, they encountered several challenges regarding the "business" of their group. "Our big concern was to not 'kill it' by making it official," said Meghan Strell, a cheerleader in the band. "We wanted to figure out how to incorporate our punk rock band." The band members were unsure how ownership of the band would work, as well as how to begin the budgeting process and … [Read more...]

To Buy a Business or Not Buy a Business … That Was the Question

Mark and Janice Utendorf were interested in purchasing a lawn care service company in the Chicago area and needed guidance through the acquisition process. The company offers customized lawn care programs including fertilization, weed control and pest control. Challenges The couple was on vacation when they received a call that a reputable, local lawn care service was for sale. Mark had experience working for several green industry companies so when this opportunity presented itself, the couple felt it was worth consideration. But, it was March and if they were interested, they would have to take ownership of the company in April before the warm weather started. "Lawn care companies are … [Read more...]

Getting Partners on the Same Page

Orbit Media Studios is a Chicago-based web design firm. Orbit specializes in web design and development, e-commerce, content management tools, hosting and creative vision for both large and small businesses in Chicago. Partners Barrett Lombardo and Andy Crestodina founded Orbit Media Studios, first in 1997 as a company that designed and built multimedia comics, and again in 2001 as a web design firm. In 2004, a third partner, Frank Voznak, joined the fast-growing business. Challenge When Orbit Media Studios entered into a partnership with Anchor Advisors, Ltd. in 2007, the web design firm was facing a number of challenges. Andy explained, "We were never going to grow … [Read more...]

Creating the Long-term Plan: Getting There

Background Vox is a customer-experience consulting firm based in Chicago. Using its trademarked CustomerspectiveTM Process, Vox helps its clients provide a comprehensive and integrated "Customer Experience" that drives retention, cross-sales, referrals and bottom-line results dramatically higher. Vox started in 1997 as a marketing communications agency but over time evolved into a firm that focuses primarily on customer retention, an important but often overlooked area in many service-oriented businesses. Vox created a niche in the Chicago market as being "the voice of the customer experience" and quickly found themselves in high demand among Fortune 500 companies. Challenges The … [Read more...]

Business Coaching: Providing the Framework for Success

Background Media Staffing Network is a job-placement agency based in Chicago. The company offers job placement, recruitment consulting, candidate and corporate training, and outplacement.Laurie Kahn founded Media Staffing Network in 1993 following a successful radio career in Kansas City and Chicago. After "getting fired" - one of the best things to happen to her, she said - she took a position as a temporary sales representative at a local radio station. It was during this position that she got the idea for her company, which started as Rep Temps before eventually evolving into Media Staffing Network. Challenges Media Staffing Network was one of many businesses that experienced a … [Read more...]

Creating a Measurable Sales Process

Background Mac Arthur Corporation, is a minority-owned, ISO/TS-certified supplier of labels and related products and services. The company, based in Grand Blanc, Michigan, has served major automotive customers since 1962. It ships hundreds of millions of labels each year to 14 countries around the globe. Challenges In 2006, a single customer represented a large percentage of business at Mac Arthur Corporation. Thomas Barrett, vice-president of Mac Arthur Corporation, said the company focused much of its energy on serving this single client and management felt they could improve the quality of service they provided to all the company's customers and, in the process, increase revenue. … [Read more...]

From One Man Band to an Ensemble

The Big Picture Home Theater Company is a home-theater design and installation business based in Wilmette, Illinois. Owner Patrick McFadden, a sound-system enthusiast, opened the business in December 2003 and quickly built a customer base through customer referrals. Challenge The Big Picture Home Theater Company started as a one-man operation but as new business continued to pour in, one man could no longer handle all the work. Patrick hired several new staff members but was still too busy tending to the day-to-day operations of the business that he could not focus on what was needed to bring his company to the next level. He wanted his company to grow in a manner that would ensure its … [Read more...]

Regaining Control

The owner of this contracting business had over 25 years of experience, but this year things seemed to be slipping behind. He was spending all his time reacting, putting out fires with customers, employees, vendors, but no time building his business. In fact his crews were all under manned because he just hadn't had time to do any recruiting. The highest priority was staffing, we needed people on the jobs so that the projects wouldn't fall behind. Through a combination of outsourced staffing and a streamlined hiring process he was up to full strength within a month. His sales people were relived and had renewed confidence that the company could deliver work on time. We restarted long … [Read more...]

Strategic Priorities

Looking for New Markets As the economy has declined from it's height the office furniture business was particularly hard hit. As the size of the market shrank, each of the players fought harder for the business that remained. Margins have declined and may never rebound. One of the leading office products dealers in the Chicago area approached Anchor Advisors to help them to develop strategic alternatives to this trend. The project began with an analysis of the company's sales by customer for each of the previous 3 years. The trends that emerged helped our client to identify their most profitable customers and tailor their offerings to more effectively reach those segments. We also … [Read more...]

Starting Off on the Right Foot

Starting a new business can be a daunting process. When Peter's professional services firm had survived its first year, he wanted to pause and look at where he was headed, and develop some systems and processes to make the back-end of the business more efficient. He called Anchor Advisors to help. This project was executed through a series of coaching sessions twice a month for several months. In each session we took one phase of the client's business and analyzed its efficiency and effectiveness, looked at its scalablity and whether there was someone else who could better accomplish it either inside the firm, or through outsourcing. This review enabled the client to get a clean look … [Read more...]