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What Data Should You Measure For Improved Business Performance?

By Lauren

Almost any conversation that you have with a business owner will involve a discussion about the current business progress:

“How many orders do you process each week?”

“What was the turnover for the last month or quarter?”

Most business owners will be able to answer those questions fairly easily, but then you can dig a bit deeper:

“How many orders went out for delivery later than they should have done?”

“How many orders were short of stock?”

“Do you know which orders or customers made you the best margin?”

Questions like these can be harder to answer, because many businesses are not set up to record this information.  Very often, it’s a matter of waiting for the telephone call or email which asks about the late delivery, or the missing stock.

Besides having to field these calls, which is often hard work as customers may well be angry by this point, the business is losing money; either directly through inventory shortages, or indirectly through a failure to retain dissatisfied customers.

These losses reduce your margins as well as cost your business goodwill, and you run the risk of making profitable customers unprofitable.

Good Customer Service means being proactive

The secret to high levels of customer satisfaction is to be proactive.  Most times, if you call a customer and tell them that a delivery is delayed, or an item is unavailable, they will not be too unhappy – they are pleased that you have taken the trouble to tell them.  On the other hand, if they have to ring you up, they are annoyed before the conversation even starts!

To be proactive, you need the right systems and processes in place to flag up the exceptions or variances in your business.  This is an important principle of management information – it’s straightforward to obtain ‘headline’ figures like turnover and the number of orders, but less simple to dig a bit deeper.

Some software systems will give you this information, but often you need to implement a process to pick it up.  This requires a shift in focus in some cases.  Rather than looking at what is happening correctly and to plan in the business, you instead measure what is going wrong, and where the variances are occurring.

The right information to help form your strategic goals

This information can then be used to form your business strategy.  Because you know where improvements are required, you can concentrate on initiatives that will support those improvements, and be confident that the investment of time and effort you make in your business is going in the right place.

Without this data, you risk ‘improving’ areas that were in fact performing well all along, and this will put your operation further out of kilter.

We have extensive experience in implementing processes and systems to help you find the right focus for your business.  If you’d like to find out more, please feel free to get in touch with us for a ‘no obligation’ chat about your business data measurement at david.hardstaff@hcbusinessadvisors.co.uk .

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