Gold all over the floor – the most valuable asset in your company

clerkA typical home improvement store here in the United States is over one hundred thousand square feet in size, cost almost $20 million to build and $5 million to stock. Other big box stores would be similarly equipped and valued.

With shelves fully stocked, all well-managed businesses conduct periodic inventory counts. From the smallest Mom & Pop corner market to a large retail outlet to a manufacturing facility, owners, leaders, and managers all need to know what they have in order to value the business, determine what supplies or products will be needed and when, and curtail shrinkage due to theft or damage.

Yet strangely, few businesses ever formally look at the most valuable asset they possess.  Indeed, every business that employs people almost always over-values material goods and undervalues the people who handle the material goods.

I once directly asked the manager of a big box store what is the most valuable asset in his store. He immediately thought of…and listed… the products that sold at the highest margin and with the highest volume.

It never once occurred to him to consider producers over product.

In every store, every factory, and every organization there is gold all over the floor. The people who work for you are the most valuable assets in your company. Without them, very little if anything happens.

They put a people face on the company. The previous two posts on this blog emphasized that. Customers come where they are treated respectfully, with friendliness, and with courtesy.

They sell…and upsell…product. The philosophy behind self-service stores is that people know what they want and will find it for themselves. But there are many times when a customer needs help and they don’t find it from a smartphone.  McDonald’s Hamburgers is somewhat famous for the ‘Do you want fries with that?” mantra. But upselling is a legitimate component in sales and accounts for huge margins in sales. If I buy a new washing machine at Home Depot, I don’t want to get the product home and discover I don’t have the hoses or fittings to connect it. Upselling is providing a service to the customer by pointing out everything that goes with a product or service.

They solve problems. True enough they create a few as well, but they fix things. It is their creativity, energy, and insight that bring improvement to the store. It is a foolish leader or manager who thinks that he or she can think of everything.

They extend your reach. They work in your stead representing the interests of the company or organization. And they extend your reach, multiply your effectiveness, and divide your work.

Never take them for granted. Never. It is all too easy to do so. We get caught up in reports, processes, and accounting to the extent that we just don’t always remember who makes things happen. So the next time you’re taking inventory, don’t limit it to counting widgets and whatzits. Enlarge your vision to see those who work for you and with you. You don’t merely count them, you count on them entirely.

Valuing your business depends on the worth of every asset and determining that may not be as simple as counting items, but it is imperative nonetheless.