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What should I be tracking?

This year will be a critical year for us. What should I do to insure we’re all accountable and delivering what’s expected? I also want to spot any trouble early enough to do something about it and quickly get the right people working on solutions.

Thoughts of the Day: Entrepreneurial business owners tend to hold control of their companies close to the vest. When it comes to stock, that’s a good thing. They have 51 percent of shares or more and that gives them the ability to decide what does and doesn’t get done. They can take a long view of things and know that they’re building something for the future, while they’re working to make a profit for today.

When it comes to reporting on results, owners of privately held businesses may keep their cards too close to the vest. It’s better to widely distribute data so people can engage, spot problems, correct what’s wrong and build on successes. Get everyone in the company on board by publicizing results.

It makes sense to put someone in finance in charge of gathering information and distributing reports. Finance is the most familiar with numbers. And it is often the most agile when it comes to compiling data.

Here are a few questions to ask to get started with what to track:

• What are the company’s major goals this year?

• What has to happen to ensure the company hits its targets this year?

• Are the goals consistent across departments, with no conflicting priorities?

Set up targets to track by thinking functionally. Consider the following measures.

SALES

• Number of sales – total, by person, by customer and product category

• Average days to sell – from lead coming in to close and implement

• Closing ratio – percent won and percent lost – track by category and overall

• Monthly and annual actual vs. goal and vs. previous year

• Number of new, lost, expanding and declining customers

• Number of prospects and dollar volume in the pipeline, close value of the pipeline

FINANCE

• Profit – gross and net, dollar and percentages

• Profit/product

• Overhead budget vs. actual dollar – total and by category: general and administrative, marketing and sales, overhead salaries and benefits

• Amount of reserves and weekly contribution to reserves

• Total loans outstanding, percentage of credit line outstanding

• Accounts receivable/revenue, dollar/percent at 30, 60, 90, more than 90 days outstanding

MARKETING

• Goal for total leads vs. actual lead produced

• Productivity of specific marketing initiatives – performance vs. goal

• Budget for marketing vs. actual expenses

• Ratio of marketing spend to revenue and gross profit – moving target, should be declining as marketing productivity increases revenue

• Status of new product launches, new prospect searches

• Ratios for new products/old customers and old products/new customers

OPERATIONS

• COGS –overall, then break out labor and materials, compare various categories to revenue by product and overall

• Measures for quality, on-time delivery, customer satisfaction

• Average days to produce – overall and by product

• Inventory: days on hand, budget vs. actual, turns

• Production hours: planned vs. used

• Amounts: booked, shipped, in backlog

• Equipment online/off line, planned for replacement

HUMAN RESOURCES

• Training budget vs. spend, number of programs on time/delayed

• Number of employees reviewed, pending

• Number of employees at, above, below standard

• Number of open positions, number of positions on warning

• Backlog of candidates/position

• Number/dollar raises due

• Budget vs. actual for salaries and benefits

• Status of new benefit initiatives, benefits under review

Recap results weekly. Track stats over time, by department. Supplement with detail in cases where things are off. Distribute reports widely to get everyone involved. Meet weekly to review reports and ask people to react when results are below target.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business-consulting firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurial firms grow. She can be reached at (877) 238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Please email AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com or mail to Andi Gray, Strategy Leaders Inc., 5 Crossways, Chappaqua, N.Y. 10514. Visit AskAndi.com for an entire library of Ask Andi articles.

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About The Author

Andi Gray

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business consulting firm that specializes in helping small to midsize, privately held businesses achieve doubled revenues and tripled profits in repetitive growth cycles. Interested in learning how Strategy Leaders can help your business? Call now for a free consultation and diagnostic process: (877) 238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Email her: AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Visit AskAndi.com for an entire library of her articles.

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