Summer Checkup

empty desksSummer has arrived! The weather is warm and people are on vacation. For many organizations, summer is the time when business starts to slow down and it takes longer for decisions to get made.

Summer is also a great time to review your business plan. Are you tracking your plan? Are the trends going the right way? Has the market changed or is there a new opportunity that needs new attention?

Dust off the Plan
Many organizations finalize a plan in December and then look at it again the following December to see how things went. This year let’s do something different, let’s review it now and make the necessary adjustments to exceed your plan and GROW your business. Let’s look at three key business elements – revenue, expenses and cash.

Are you on, above or below your expected revenue target? Are you getting the revenue from your expected/existing customers? Are you building your base of new customers?

You need to review the top level revenue numbers along with the trends behind those numbers. Hitting your revenue number, but losing your largest customer can be misleading. Each business needs a healthy number of new customers each year. Make sure you are adding to your base of customers and if you are not, implement a program to attract new customers.

“Everything is fine” is a troubling phrase. Make sure you are touching base, and personally communicating with your largest customers to make sure thing are more than “fine”. Your largest customers need to know that you are working to keep them as happy as possible, not just “fine”.

Expenses – Your top 10
Have you spent too much or too little? It is easy to overspend and think you will make it up in the end – but that rarely happens. For most organizations, the top ten expenses represent 80% of all the expenses. Focus on those top ten expenses and make sure they are on budget; if they are not then make immediate changes to get them in line with your plan.

Summer is also a great time to look at some of your existing vendor relations and contracts to see if you are being charged reasonable rates. Sometimes we get lazy and settle for charges that may have made good sense in the past, but don’t reflect the way things have changed (e.g., when gas was $4/gallon there was a fuel surcharge, but when it is $2/gallon why is the surcharge the same?).

Lastly, summer is a great time to take a look at your processes and staff and see if there is a better way to accomplish the most important things in your business. Could you do things differently and be more cost effective? Would a technology upgrade or a partnership make your organization more efficient?

Cash – Are your receivables current?
Keeping a close eye on your receivables and cash is always important. Making the sale, but not collecting the cash creates large issues for a non-attentive organization. Use the summer to get your receivables in order.

Look at your aging reports and make sure your customers are within the expected payment terms. Pay attention to those slow payers who habitually need a special nudge. Give them the special nudge and get their accounts in line.

For really difficult accounts it may be time to consider using a collection firm. Customers who intend to pay, generally pay within months of an overdue bill. If you have customers with bills older than 3 months and they are not communicating with you, then it is time for a collection firm.

New Market Opportunities? Get the juices flowing!
Don’t just look at how you have done, but look forward to what you can do moving forward. Have your market or your customers changed over time? Is there an opportunity to for you to go after? Is there a new line of products or services that you could be offering? Use the slow time to look for these marketing opportunities, involve your whole team and try to think outside the box.

fun on the beachSummer is the perfect time to look at ways to bring excitement to the organization. Sometimes things just get stale and a new and exciting element can get the organization pumped and moving in a new direction. Maybe it’s hosting a special event for your staff or giving them extra time off to recharge their batteries!

A motivated team can generate new ideas and find new ways to help you better serve your customers. If your team is getting a bit tired this summer, maybe it’s time for a little excitement.

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