Situation: A company has a network of regional offices, operating under loose oversight from the home office. Increasingly, large customers are asking for national service agreements, but the company struggles to coordinate uniform national service delivery. How do you shift from independent regional to coordinated national operations?
Advice from the CEOs:
- If you want to act like a national company, then organize like a national company. Create a national account office which will take the lead in negotiating national contracts. That office will then coordinate with the regional offices to assure that service delivery occurs according to contract.
- As the national office is built, it will be important for them to understand how service delivery may vary between states because of differences in state regulations. This will require a manager who is experienced and knowledgeable in your field. This may be a promising current regional manager or an outside individual from your industry.
- You will also want to define customer categories which will enable you to classify current and prospective customers as regional or national accounts. You may want to consider three customer categories, for example Regional, Emerging National and National Accounts.
- The key to success will lie in your incentive and professional development structures.
- If region managers receive their incentives and promotions primarily for developing regional business, then this is where they will focus.
- If you want the region managers to shift their activity and priorities to creating and servicing national contracts, then bias both your incentives and professional development programs accordingly.
- For region managers, continuity of business will be a top priority, as this enables them to maintain region performance. To come on-board with the new program, they must perceive a value for both themselves and their customers.
- Once you have determined your structure, look for high profile wins that drive the structure. Reward and promote those who produce these wins.
- These producers will become your champions for change.
- The message will spread quickly across the organization.