The INSIGHT Program: Part 4 - the questions

Image removed.Like the HITS approach before it, each letter of the word INSIGHT is the first letter of a key question term (i.e., with HITS it was "Hiring," "Investing," "Training," and "Space."). The Fairfield Fortune 1000 approach had only one set of four questions (the HITS questions.) The HITS approach developed a second set, and the acronym there was WITS or MITS (depending.) The INSIGHT takes it a notch further, with three sets of questions, and for each set (an improvement upon HITS), the letters are still I-N-S-I-G-H-T. The three different sections of the program logo graphic (right) correspond to the three different sets, the color green to the idea of saving companies money, helping them get or get access to money, and/or helping them make more money. So, the INSIGHT approach has three sets or types of questions - basic (or core), intermediate, and advanced. The idea is that the basic questions (or some subset) of those questions is to be asked first -- these are roughly equivalent to the HITS questions plus a couple extra elements. In other words, the basic questions should be asked before moving on to the intermediate or advance. But, unlike HITS, which looked to use its second set of four questions in its fourth year, INSIGHT's intermediate questions can be asked from the first year on, depending on the flexibility. The same applies for the advanced questions. Without further ado, here is a listing an explanation of the three sets of questions: Image removed.Basic Questions - the first section of the logo symbolizes a quick valued add for the company by answering these questions.
  • I - Introduction - although not a question, this is a cue to take a minute or two to explain to the company what you're doing and why. Here are four potential ways to introduce the (first set of) INSIGHT questions. This is optional, but might be most useful when cold calling, first visits, or at the beginning of a meeting or conversation:
    • More than 20 Partners Intro -"Hi, I'm working with more than 20 resource partners at the local, state and federal level to make sure that our local businesses get access to any of the more than 100 free government programs available. I want to ask you six quick questions to get started, and it will take about 5 minutes. Would that be OK?"
    • Save Money/Add Value Intro - "Hello, as part of the (name of organization here), we're always trying to find ways to save you money and add value. To that end, we've made connections with more than people and organizations that work with more than 200 programs like tax credits, grants, low-interest loans, and free consulting. I want to do a quick check to see if you might apply for the most popular. Do you have five minutes to answer a couple of questions?"
    • Found 200 Programs Intro - "Hi, we've recently done an inventory of the government programs and found there are over 200 of them. We then came up with a quick checklist to see if any of our (local) businesses might qualify. I can find out if you might be eligible for half of hem with six quick questions. Do you have a minute?"
    • New Initiative & Collaboration Intro -"A new initiative that was launched this year is an unprecedented collaboration between local organizations like the Seneca Regional and Fostoria Chambers of Commerce, SIEDC and the FEDC, the Small Business Development Center, and Ohio Means Jobs to name just a few. We're reaching out to over 1,000 businesses, big and small of all types, to quickly determine if you might qualify for some of the millions of dollars in government tax credits, grants, loans, and free consulting programs. Do you have five (ten) minutes to answer a few, simple yes or no questions?"
  • N - Number of Employees - Should be the first question you ask. "How many employees do you have right now?"
  • S - Space - One of the standard HITS questions: "Are you thinking about changing space or adding onto your current space within the next 12 months?
  • I - Investing - from the HITS program: "Do you think that you may be investing more money into the business within the next 12 months over and above general operating expenses?  Examples would include any fixed capital assets (land, building, construction, renovation, machinery and equipment), research and development costs, training costs, working capital)
  • G - Government - this is a new addition to the basic HITS questions. During the Strategic Board Retreat of the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) last month, the Board (which is a good representation of the public and private sector) made it a priority to provide businesses the opportunity to give feedback to government, especially local government, about how it is helping, hurting and/or can help their business. This item is also in the County's economic development strategic plan, so we decided to add it here. So, the question should go something like, "Do you think there something (local) government could be doing to help your business be more successful?"
  • H - Hiring - Another standard HITS question: "Do you think you may be hiring in the next 12 months?"
  • T - Training - "Are you considering doing any employee or management training this next year? Do you feel like you yourself need/want any training in any area (e.g., business planning, Quickbooks, exporting, etc.)?"
Image removed.Intermediate Questions - the second section of the logo shows that only a small amount of additional time is needed to ask questions relating to the most of the other programs. Like the Basic Questions, these questions are designed to get resources in the hands of the businesses being asked questions and add value:
  • I - International - "Do you think you might import or export over the next 12 months?"
  • N - Networking - "Are you taking advantage of any of the business networking opportunities locally?"
  • S - Services - "Are you able to find providers for all of the services (and supplies) you need to run your business?"
  • I - Infrastructure - "Is the transportation and utility infrastructure adequate to meet your business needs?"
  • G - Government - "Do you think you may want to sell to the government (local, state, federal) this next year?"
  • H - Housing - "Are your employees and executives able to find the housing they need and want in the community?"
  • T - Technology - "Are you going to be investing in R&D and/or look to acquire new technology this next year?"
Image removed.Advanced Questions - whereas the Basic and Intermediate Questions (for the most part) are binary yes/no/maybe type questions, the last group of questions are much more open-ended and more conducive to a face-to-face meeting and lengthier conversation. They also allow the group to gather strategic intelligence useful for internal and external marketing, developing new programs, and other "big picture" items:
  • I - Interesting - "What is the most interesting thing about this company or your product?" This is something that may take some research and creativity to come up with. The company itself may not know what it is (but some do.) And there may be more than one thing. Examples:
    • Ralph's Joy of Living is the only appliance store in the US with a liquor license and which can serve wine and beer.
    • Half of all Dodge Ram trucks produced in the US have lugnuts made at Jacobson Manufacturing's plant in Tiffin.
    • Webster Industries industrial conveyor chain can be found on the roller coasters at Cedar Point and Kings Island.
    • B & B Food Mart on N. Washington has more than 250 domestic and import beer choices, and they'll hunt down anything you might want to find.
  • N - New - "What's new with the company?" New people, new products, new changes at corporate, new investments, new marketing, new changes in the market, etc.? You get the idea.
  • S - Structure - "How is the company/business structured?" Who owns the real estate, and who owns the business? Who makes decisions? Is there a parent company? Are there affiliates? Subsidiaries? How are divisions (if they exist) set up within the company? Who handles the President/CEO (leader) function? Who handles the day-to-day operations (COO)? Who handles the money (CFO/Controller) and finances? Who handles HR issues? Who handles training?
  • I - Industry - "Tell me about your industry? What's the market like? Where is it going? What is the size of the market? Who are the competitors? Customers? Suppliers? To what industries do you sell?
  • G - Goods & Services - "Tell me about your products or services. What are their competitive advantage? What's the underlying technology? How many do you produce in a month/year? In what products are they used, incorporated?
  • H - Hardships - "What are the biggest hardships the company is currently experiencing? What are its biggest challenges? What are the biggest obstacles to growth?"
  • T - Tiffin, Fostoria, & Seneca County - "Why is your business in its current location? What do you like best about it as a business location? Does your business have other locations and how does this one compare? Do you live in the county? If so, where? How long have you lived there? What do you like best about it? What do you like least? Where else have you lived?"
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