True colors

Look outside once in awhile

Data should be but one of the barometers with which you judge
the people who handle your external needs, such as banking, legal
counsel and marketing operations. You need to make sure the people who help you in these areas are people who understand your
business and how it operates.

“They need to really understand your DNA and what’s important
to you and your company and where you’re trying to get to,” Maloney says. “You can’t underestimate the
value of that. If you were to jump from one
banking relationship to another or one executive search firm to another, I think you
would be putting yourself and your company in peril.”

The key to maintaining a good relationship
with these partners is to spend time with
them regularly and not just when you need
their services.

“We’re in touch with them,” Maloney
says. “Even when they are not in the
midst of a transaction, they are talking
about what’s going on in the market. It
really becomes about relationships.
When it’s time for everyone to put their
game face on and there is a transaction
to be had, it’s a very natural thing to get
back into that mode.”

The more you communicate with them
— whether it’s on the golf course, over
drinks after work or in a more official setting at the office — the more you both
learn about each other.

You can also gain clues about how they
might work with other companies.

“You get a feel for the results they are creating for other companies and for what
they might be charging other companies to
do the same types of things,” Maloney says.
“You understand each of their landscapes.”

One way to help strengthen your relationship with these external partners is to
invite them into your plant or office on a
regular basis.

“It’s really helpful if they understand what
you try to achieve on a daily basis,” Maloney
says. “At our company, anything we do is
trying to grow earnings, grow revenue,
strengthen our balance sheet, improve liquidity, or make it a better place for our associates to be effective or a better place for
our customer to be. A third party is part of
that and sees your culture and sees your
folks and sees how they think. I think that
drives how they conduct any particular
assignment they may be working on.”

Maloney underestimated the investment
of time and energy he would need to make
in order to have strong bonds with the
external partners of Bluegreen.

“It’s not just watching today’s P&L and balance sheet issues, but paying attention to the
public company issues and, at the same time,
trying to interpret and navigate the external
environment,” Maloney says. “Some of the
external issues are far more time-consuming
than what one might imagine.”

To help stay up to date with the outside
business world, Maloney bought a flat-screen TV, put it on his wall and set it to
CNBC. This allows him to keep an eye on
what other businesses are doing while he
works at his desk.

“A mistake leaders can make is to get so
consumed with their own industry or their
own company, they lose track, especially in
today’s environment, of what’s going on
outside,” Maloney says. “I don’t think I’ve
ever had the volume up on it or it’s even
been on another station, but it’s one of the
smartest things I’ve ever done.”

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