Lee Kenny column: Management by statistics

Lee kenny, CEO of Snowflake Media
Lee kenny, CEO of Snowflake Media

The holidays are coming, the red coca cola truck will soon be on our screens to sit alongside the usual array of Christmas ads.

If you are in retail or the bar industry, maybe Christmas is your make or break time and before you know it, we’ll be in to a brand new year.

How will you know if you’ve succeeded? Often it’s about how much cash came in right? The challenge with that is that you are in a reactive state. At that point it’s already happened.

Many business owners operate on a week to week basis, altering activity based on the here and now.

This can lead to short bursts of activity that may or may not impact the bottom line.

After all, an unplanned heavy discount might get the tills ringing, but may leave you with little or no profits.

In 1954 Peter Drucker said “What gets measured, gets measured” and while lots of people disagree with his emphasis on managing entirely by objectives, everyone agrees that it’s better to have an awareness of key data rather than operating blindly.

The key for any business owner is knowing what are your key statistics that need to be measured?

While they vary by business, in addition to the revenue and profit numbers there should be a huge emphasis on those ‘what’s in the pipeline’ statistics.

For example, if you have two people visit your shop each day and both buy just enough to keep you in profit for the day, most businesses would be happy. However you are in a perilous position here.

You clearly don’t have a sales conversion issue, but you do have a customer volume issue. What if the weather is poor, transport issues arise or one of them moves away? Suddenly you are left with only half as much as you need to succeed and are now going to have to hustle to generate more business.

How about your website? Is it generating any sales? For most people the answer is no. You might then go and start paying for advertising to generate more visitors, or spend money on email marketing and design. However what if you already had 100 qualified people visiting your site a day, but none of them buy? Well you don’t need more visitors, you need to fix the conversion rates.

Maybe you forgot to put a phone number on there, the email contact form doesn’t work or some other reason?

Every business is different, but it essentially boils down to two key factors. Traffic, ie online visitors, phone calls to your office or people walking through the doors. The second is conversions, are you doing a good enough job of converting the interest to sales, or at least to the next stage in your sales process?

There are many other things you can monitor from email open rates, enquiries received, outgoing sales calls made, qualified prospects received, networking events attended, average days to get paid and the list goes on.

While you don’t want to get paralysis by analysis or spend all your time doing statistics, you do need to start planning ahead, so you start generating the essential leads now, rather than during the quiet times. Those businesses that aggressively pursue growth constantly will be the victors in both holiday periods and the “quiet” times too.