Managing director of TMH Consulting & Investment Group Thomas Michael Hogg is also an author, a mentor, growth hacker, and regular columnist. He writes a regular column at El Financiero, and he has been featured in Bloomberg TV, CNN Expansion, El Economista, SalesTech Star, Global Finance, Mexico Industry, Reforma, Negocios en Imagen, Milenio, Cluster Industrial, and many others.
At TMH Consulting, Thomas Michael Hogg believes in “The German & Mexican Dream.” He brings to his work more than 20 years of experience gathered in places like Germany, Switzerland, the United States, and Mexico.
Befor TMH Consulting, Thomas Michael Hogg has also worked as an adviser to several global companies. These companies include PepsiCo, Adidas, Campbell’s Soup, Johnson Controls, Bulkmatic, among “other multinational companies, SMEs and nonprofit organizations.” He has also been a speaker at Mercedes Benz’s Innovation Week.
Thomas Michael Hogg also brings to TMH Consulting his diverse specialties, from “Profitable Growth practices, Strategic Planning, Strategy and Business Model Design, Commercial & Marketing Strategy (B2C & B2B), Market Research.”
TMH Consulting also makes fair use of Thomas Michael Hogg’s industry knowledge in “Consumer Product Goods (FMCG), Sporting Goods, 4.0 Industry, Automotive, Construction, Management Consulting, Digital Marketing & Commerce, Furniture, Education, Entertainment, Power & Electronic Industry, Restaurant, Telecommunication, Government, Non-profit organizations.”
Positive business results will follow you once you have reached the #1 position. Thomas Michael Hogg, TMH Consulting
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thomas Michael Hogg: As former semi-professional tennis and soccer player in 2005 I was one of the happiest persons in the world when I got the opportunity to work for adidas, the global sporting goods giant and world market leader for football (soccer) products. Working day by day with my favourite sport brand one year before the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany seemed like a dream come true. I experienced working for and with highly competitive professionals that had the goal to exceed customer needs and quality standards. Furthermore, the company and top management achieved sustainable business results talking about profitable growth. At the time, I met Guenter Pfau, a long-time adidas executive, who was boosting sales through a well-defined market penetration strategy. It was then that I profoundly understood how certain companies grow profitably with a sound strategic plan and execution.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Thomas Michael Hogg: The hard times were when there was only money to study and eat back at my time at Pforzheim University in Germany, one of the TOP3 business universities for applied sciences. My dad consciously supported me with a limited budget that literally just allowed me to eat, to pay rent and to study. Of course, I was angry because he had huge financial wealth and I did not understand why he didn’t give me more money to party with my peers. Later I understood the lesson, the best financial lesson in my life, and today I am very thankful that my dad took a hard line on me on this matter.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Thomas Michael Hogg: At my beginnings I went to a really important client meeting with my former boss and founder of the company. He told me on the way back: “This was the last time you were this tie. Buy a new one tomorrow.” Lesson learned, get some business style advice in your first years.
Your business growth strategy only works out when you export your products or at least when you expand your company to new cities.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Thomas Michael Hogg: In my 20 years of market experience I have seen clear patterns, notably of German but also of other international companies, that succeeded on a global scale improving their financial indicators year by year.
In my opinion, CEOs, Directors and Entrepreneurs have to take into account the following “five” crucial concepts that will definitely enhance any business achieving customer value, employee value and a solid top- and bottom-line growth.
- Quality is King
“If the industry quality standard is 100, we deliver 150.” This was one of the key lessons learned while working at the adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach. Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi, VW when it comes to automakers. SAP when it comes to technology. adidas and Puma in the sporting goods industry. Lufthansa, Siemens, Bosch, T-Mobile, DHL, Nivea, Hugo Boss, Bayer, Allianz and many more are global German quality brands. Quality is the German trademark. A German product or service often meets and exceeds the expectations of the customers regarding innovations, performance, and quality. Why?
There is this engineering and quality DNA we stand for. Furthermore, quality process management is an important task that affects all employees and which can only be executed successfully, if it is fully understood by involved and capable individuals. Sound quality assurance processes are going to guarantee quality standards and should be developed for three reasons:
- to ensure that the quality standards continue to delight the customer
- to create a benchmark operational standard
- to guarantee that all the everyday jobs concerning quality are fully understood throughout the company and the whole supply chain. Nowadays, a German product or service still stands for dependability, durability and quality. Furthermore, it stands for punctuality, discipline and success. This is why many German companies, large corporations and also SMEs, are more crisis-resistant than their competitors because the quality productos are needed to function the global value chains.
- Innovation at its best
In November 2014, Dirk Nowitzki became the highest-scoring international NBA player in the history of the sport. Dirk represents certainly innovation and this in a certain niche: basketball. “You leave the game in a better place”, said Larry Bird after Dirk’s last home game after playing 21 years for the same team, the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki leaves a legacy and inspiration for all of us on and off the court.
Especially, when it comes to innovating new shooting or training methods were applied by his mentor Holger Geschwinder. Physics, rhythmic dribbling with music and other sports like fencing were just some ingredients used to revolutionize the game. The unconventional method concluded in an app “Dirkometrix” where you can calculate and see your own shot from the perspective of the ball to perfectionate your success rate even if the release angle and the deviation to the side are not always 100% accurate. Dirk Nowitzki became the 6th best scorer of the NBA history with a 31,560 points average per game and the 3rd player with most games played. The Nowitzki / Geschwinder story is somehow very German because I consider that in general we like analyzing, innovating and improving. This comes true for business. The secret behind the most successful German companies is the German “Erfindergeist”, the entrepreneur and engineering spirit based on a profound analysis and planning process. Germany is a Research & Development leader. Right from the top. I was truly surprised being at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Hannover Messe, the most important industrial and technology fair in the world, listening to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Germany has to and is going to raise its federal R&D budget to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and the industry 4.0 development. Most importantly, this innovation budget has to be spent on practical solutions and generating ROI.” Historically there are many useful German innovations / inventions:
– Aspirin from Bayer
– X-ray from Wilhelm Röntgen
– Contact lenses from Adolf Eugen Fick
– The bicycle from Karl Drais
– The car by Karl Benz
– Printing press by Johannes Gutenberg
– Modern refrigerator by Carl von Linde
– Konrad Zuse built the first fully automatic digital computer
– The gas-powered motorcycle by Gottlieb Daimler
– Portable electric chainsaw by Andreas Stihl
– Mercury thermometer by Daniel Fahrenheit
– Rudolf Diesel the diesel engine
– Clarinet by Johann Christoph Denner
– Modern football boots with screw-in studs by Adi Dassler
– Theory of Relativity from Albert Einstein
So, the importance of innovation for entrepreneurs and CEOs evaluating new ideas should have three aims:
- Customer value
- Lead your market
Market segmentation is a wise old-school business concept. The secret is to concentrate all efforts on one profitable segment to be the number 1. Positive business results will follow you once you have reached the #1 position.
Leading a niche depends on having a topnotch product or service, but also your marketing and communication strategy is crucial. If you are the number 1 you have to underline this positioning and communicate to your target market: “WE are the market leader because clients and sales say so!”
- Leave the country
Your business growth strategy only works out when you export your products or at least when you expand your company to new cities. Another key secret of German companies is their international footprint having a clear plan of how to replicate and scale the business. Each strategy growth plan has to take into account improving your geographical footprint. Growing your company means that you should have a plan that your export revenue share increases above 50% as soon as possible.
The key challenge for a CEO is to manage that he/she and importantly his/her team are focusing and executing on the right things each day. And that doing the right things impact financially on profitable growth. CEOs have to define where the company will be in 2 years and not take part in each single decision which his or her managers are responsible for. CEOs have to define the long-term vision and the fundamental business model elements (for instance closing constant deals with their key account, developing and hiring an outstanding sales team, defining a required service level or establishing a best in class business practice or process) that provide the company a competitive advantage and generate financial value.
Address objections. Thomas Michael Hogg
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Thomas Michael Hogg: I totally agree that purpose driven companies are more successful in the long run. I had a crucial lesson learned at adidas. The firm’s purpose is not only serving athletes, federations, and customers, but also taking care of your own talents, your employees. It was very surprising that adidas did not fire key employees during the economic crisis 2008 and 2009, while certain competitors did so. adidas trusted its talents, knowing that it is like sports: Even if there is a downturn you may come back even stronger sticking to your mission, people, and core values. The whole company is focused on the adidas group mission statement to be innovation and design leaders, consumer focused, dedicated and most importantly a global organization that is socially and environmentally responsible, and is financially rewarding for our employees and shareholders. At adidas, sustainability is at the core of all products. The choice of materials and how they are manufactured are the two main ways by which the innovation teams can influence the environmental footprint of products. To mention some examples: Avoiding oil-based plastic helps reduce carbon emissions. Thinner or lighter materials mean less waste and less embedded carbon. Dry-dyeing clothes saves water, chemicals and energy. Approaching the innovation challenge from an environmental perspective helps make products that are better for consumers and better for the planet, too.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Thomas Michael Hogg: Address objections. I always say an occurring objection as the best thing that can happen during the sales process because you are one step away from closing the deal. Paying attention and responding smartly and quickly an objection should be a dominated business practice.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Thomas Michael Hogg: “Quality is the crucial promise to the customer.”
A trusted brand needs quality. The leading companies associate brand value and quality. Brand Value = Quality of a product or service to a specific customer segment. Quality gives you customer retention and even the right to charge more. Quality is key for your brand.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Thomas Michael Hogg:
– Linkedin: Thomas Michael Hogg
– Twitter: ThomasMichael_H
– Instagram: thomasmichael_h
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!