Eating the Scenery

By Beacon Staff

Wow, has it been six months already? Seems like just yesterday (or maybe the day before yesterday) I was digging three feet of snow out of the driveway.

It’s been an (ahem) interesting 2009 so far, so let’s look at how you’re doing with half of the year behind you.

Unless your business model is seasonal (most likely meaning it is tied to park-related tourism), many of you should have be close to 50% of your annual goals as of the end of business on June 30th.

Whether you’ve hit the halfway mark or not, now is a natural time to take an hour or two to look over your stumbles and successes of the last 6 months. What happened should provide some insight as you look forward and adjust what you’re planning for the second half of 2009.

Here are a few sample questions for you:

Question #1: Where are you over and under budget?

Sometimes the reason is out of your control – such as a delay in the opening of the Sun Road. I’ve had some in the tourism business tell me that they can tell within an hour or so when the road opens because their phone starts ringing. This year, the road opened pretty early and like a zillion other people, we headed up there over the Fourth. Let’s get back at it, cuz you can’t eat the scenery.

If revenue is below budget, was your marketing effective? Did it address the right market?

When I ask those questions, I’m asking – “Did your marketing reach the ideal population of people who need/want to buy what you offer, and did you make an offer that would provoke enough interest for someone to take action?”

If you have a carpet cleaning business, it’s not too likely that people without carpet are going to be impacted by your advertising. Seems a tad obvious, but if you look at your advertising, what media it appears in, who it gets sent to (say you advertise to an entire zip code – regardless of the media), then there is a return on investment opportunity for you.

There’s something to fix, improve and hopefully, spend better on. Even if you spend the same amount of money on ads, if they are focused better, your return on investment (ROI) should improve. Think of it like a slot machine. If I showed you a slot machine that would give you $2 for every $1 you put into it, how many dollars would you put into it? DUH, right?

If revenue is at or over budget, you should still figure out why – and do more of what made that happen, of course. Did you follow your marketing and business plan for the first half of the year? Did things work exactly as you planned? Did things work out because you were flexible and adjusted to changes in the market? Were you just a bit lucky? Did productivity rise? Did returns and product/service quality drop and help you increase revenue and profit?

If things weren’t exactly what you hoped, the same questions apply, but with a slight adjustment.

Bottom line, when it comes to your financials, you have to ask yourself two things: What worked and what didn’t.

For those things that worked, the simple response is “Do more of that.” Likewise, for those things that didn’t, common sense says you should assess how you can fix those things or eliminate them. Simple and obvious, but folks have a tendency to make things more complicated than they really are.

The rest of the story

Be sure to examine things that don’t seem financial at all. I’m talking about stuff like the number of service calls (new and existing customers) compared to last month/last year, the number of new leads and new customers, advertising performance by media/by ad, and similar numbers.

One thing is almost certain: If you do for the next six months what you did for the last six months, chances are the second half of 2009 will be little different from the first.

You have to decide whether that’s good or not. Either way, you have the ultimate control over what happens next because you decide what you do next.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.