Recently one of my clients went through a period where he was making no sales – month after month after month – apart from the odd little job. It was rather alarming – to say the least – not helped at by all the recommendations for intervention from “helpful friends and acquaintances.” I have to admit I was a little concerned too.
Others may have panicked but he didn’t make any knee-jerk interventions, he didn’t change course, instead he stuck to his routines and continued with his marketing strategies and his sales process.
Then after six long months of no sales, he signed up several large jobs – totalling in excess of three million dollars – all in the course of a little over one week
So what was it that gave him such confidence to persist, you might ask? Great question.
It was his dashboard!
Some time earlier he had set up a dashboard. Then on a regular basis he had checked the health of his business by the indicators on the dashboard, rather than by his seesawing emotions. From these he could see that the business was actually tracking well and above average. He had enough work to keep his team busy, so he need not panic, and baring an external national or international catastrophe, his business was doing all the right things.
You see, rather than being concerned by the lack of sales (the big things) he was assessing all the activities that lead to sales (the small things).
If you don’t have a dashboard for your business here are some things to consider when setting one up.
1 Identify Your Key Activities
Firstly decide on the 3-5 key activities that have the most influence on the profit line of your business. Then measure these activities regularly and consistently – and do it for a long time. Track them until you are able to figure out how a change in a smaller activity makes an impact on one or more of these indicators.
For example, a client did a careful market survey and then instructed his marketing consultant to revise their adwords campaigns to focus on what he had discovered.
Within just one week the number of phone calls into the company had increased by more than five times. Had he not been keeping careful records of changes and results, he may missed the connection between the changes to the adwords and the spike in calls. Now he can test changes in other marketing strategies and see if this also causes a spike in calls.
In building businesses there are several key indicators including (but not limited to): a measure of the number of enquiries; a means of measuring how many of these are turning into sales; the operational gross profit as a percentage of income; work in progress (the amount of work sold but not yet built) and the rates of change of these.
2 Delegate Dash-boarding Routines
Keeping careful records is something many business owners neglect. Sometimes it’s just not in their personality profile. They would rather get out there and make things happen. If this is you, then it may be in your best interests to delegate the keeping of records to an assistant – one who loves the detail!
3 Love The Detail
Dashboarding gives you with the ability to make small changes to your business and then assess the changes (often imperceptible) those changes produce. It gives you the ability to test a strategy before committing large amounts of resources and prevents you from “investing” in a course of action without having good reason to believe it will give a worthwhile return.
The thing is most actions by themselves may only have a small impact on the profitability of the business. But the combination of these small actions can be devastating, or exciting. So being able to read the early small changes gives you time to take the necessary actions to prevent bad results or, on the other hand, to gear up to invest in those activities that will yield good results.
You can’t rely on your annual accounts to give you useful management information, because by the time they are completed, they are out of date. But careful dash-boarding gives you objective information on your company’s performance in real time.
Another client of mine was sure his business was going backwards as there was almost no money in the bank! Not a good situation. However, when we examined his dashboard we could see that the situation was caused by actions (or lack of actions) several months back, and that the actions taken since had reversed the trend and he was indeed tracking out of the “hole.” Good dashboarding prevented him from making a knee-jerk decisions.
4 Get Clear of Emotions
lt’s easy to get enthusiastic when things look as though they are going well, and conversely to get pessimistic when it looks as though they are not. This can lead to poorly thought out and hasty interventions. But dashboarding enables you to separate out your emotions and act decisively.
The thing is, long-term success comes when you keep doing the right things – for a long time. But it’s when we feel things are bad that we make poor decisions. That’s when we are tempted to do what everyone else is doing, even though it may not be the best thing for your business.
How has dash-boarding helped your building business?
P.S. Whenever you’re ready….here are 4 ways I can help you grow your building business:
Grab a copy of my free book
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Join Trade Mates and connect with builders who are scaling too
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Join our Momentum program
I’m putting together a new builders coaching group at The Successful Builder this month…If you’d like to work with me to get off the tools, make more money and get your life back, just message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “momentum” in the subject…tell me a little about your business and I’ll get you all the details.
Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like help to get off the tools, make more money and get your life back…just message me at email@example.com and put “coaching program” in the subject line…tell me a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details.