You can’t run a successful, viable business using just one indicator for success. You need a number of reporting tools to make sure you’re on track, writes Equilibrium’s Gaynor Rigby.
Recently I was lucky enough to take a helicopter flight and one of the things that struck me as I was paying close attention to the pilot and the cockpit (you never know when you may be required to step in and do an emergency landing!) were the number of controls, dials and gauges there were to look at. There were ones telling you how fast you were going, how much fuel you had left, what direction you were going in - whether left or right, up or down - and a whole bunch of others that I had no idea what they did. All very important. But I’m pretty sure that if you tried to fly using just one of them as your indicator it wouldn’t end well.
The same goes for business. You can’t run a successful, viable business using just one indicator for success. Turnover doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t profitable. Profit isn’t helpful if you don’t have the cash to spend. Assets under management don’t tell you your clients are happy with your service.
At Equilibrium we have a number of ‘dials’ that are regularly reported on to make sure things are going according to plan, and that we aren’t headed for any disasters. Below are a selection of reporting tools and controls that we routinely monitor to ensure that we are on track on our journey:
- Each week we send out the banking numbers to everyone in the company so they know where we are in relation to our goals. We also do it to make sure that everyone stays focused on collecting client fees so we can pay our bills each month.
Revenue (turnover or sales)
- This is different from ‘cash banking’. It’s the money that we should have received, not the amount of money that got banked – a big difference!
- A page of the monthly management accounts is a report of the profit to date versus forecasted profit. It’s all part of having enough information to make wise decisions about spending (and it’s good to have an idea about how much money there will be for us to reinvest in the business at the end of the year, or to pay out to the partners).
- We also track the % profit against the turnover. An increased profit number isn’t always a good thing if the percentage profitability is reducing.
Assets under management
- Whilst this is the number that we put in our press releases and on our website it really says little about the health of the business, other than that we are continuing to grow as a company.
Number of clients
- Knowing how many clients we have helps to make sure we have enough support staff to continue to deliver our high level of service, and the Excellence in Customer Service Award we received last November is testament to that. By looking at our client numbers in relation to the assets under management we know what our average sized client is. This is good to know and also comes in handy when we’re developing our marketing and communications strategy.
- We use a third party company called Working Feedback that independently surveys our clients at their annual review. They ask a number of questions ranging from whether they find us helpful to how confident they feel about us managing their money. We are very proud of our 5 star reviews and we post all the responses and ratings on our website.
There are a lot more things you can track and monitor, and the better management information you have the easier it is to make good and prudent decisions. Whilst the business journey may not be without turbulence, at least when you are reading the correct dials you know when to stay in your seat and buckle up, or when to look out of the window and appreciate the view.
Enjoy your flight and have a safe landing!