Tag Archives | profitability

Maximizing Your Bottom Line In 3 Simple Steps

Sales are great, but wouldn’t they be better if you were actually able to reap the rewards? Many CEOs that were not trained with an accounting/finance background struggle to understand profitability. They think that if sales are great, then the business is great. But when sales increase, inventory and overhead increases. Productivity also decreases – due to exhaustion or overwork. Collections lapse because there isn’t a “pressure” to collect. And unfortunately, that is when companies suffer the most. Sales start to decline, but they don’t change their habits. In this Wiki, you will learn how everything below sales on your income statement is critical to your company’s success and how you should be maximizing your bottom line – net income – at any stage of your company’s life cycle. Let’s look at how maximizing your bottom line in 3 simple steps can happen.

What is the Bottom Line?

First, what is the bottom line we are referring to? It is the net income on your income statement or P&L statement. This is what you have left after all the costs of goods sold, administrative expenses, and overhead have been subtracted from revenue. We look at this number carefully because that is how much you are able to put into retained earnings or reinvest back into your company. In addition, the amount can be used to issue dividends to their shareholders. Maximizing your bottom line should be an integral part of your company’s processes.

Profitability starts at the top of the income statement. If your prices are not set to create profitable environment, then you will be not able to maximize the bottom line. Learn how to price for profit using our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide.

Maximizing Your Bottom Line In 4 Simple Steps

There a are several ways to maximize your bottom line – some more extensive and time consuming than other. But there are 3 areas to focus on to maximize your bottom line – including productivity, overhead, and collections.

1. Productivity is Key

It’s been a common theme among business blogs and news sources (Entrepreneur, Forbes, WSJ, etc.) to improve productivity. Why? Because productivity is key in maximizing your bottom line. But what really happens when you improve productivity? You have more supply, decrease the cost to produce 1 unit, and increase sales. It speeds up your operations so that you can fulfill more orders for quickly.

2. Manage Overhead

Great revenues have very little meaning if your overhead costs are not properly managed. Look deeper into your overhead expenses and find out if there are any costs you can reduce or completely remove. The problem is often more complex than large expense accounts on the P&L. You must interact with various departments to think critically and solve problems. Ensure that every single overhead cost is necessary to provide the desired service levels. Maximum controllability over costs leads to higher profits for the company to reap.

3. Collect Quicker

Collections are an important part of business. If a company sells $10,000 worth of product but only collects $3,000, then their cash is tied up in inventory, etc. As a result, they experience a cash crunch. We have worked with clients who were in the same situation and they neglected to ever collect the outstanding balance. Their bottom line suffered, but they didn’t think to look at their collections process. There are two metrics that you can look at to monitor collections and use to collect quicker.

The first metric is DSO. Do you know your Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)? This is a great measurement to know where you are currently and how by making slight adjustments, you can increase profitability. Use the following formula to calculate DSO.

 DSO = (Accounts Receivable / Total Credit Sales) * 365

The second metric to look at is Collections Effectiveness Index (CEI). This is a slightly more accurate representation of the time it takes to collect receivables than DSO. Because CEI can be calculated more frequently than DSO, it can be a key performance indicator (KPI) that you track in your company. If the CEI percentage decreases one month, then leadership are alerted that something is going on. The goal here is to be at 100%.

CEI = [(Beginning Receivables + Monthly Credit Sales – Ending Total Receivables) ÷ (Beginning Receivables + Monthly Credit Sales – Ending Current Receivables)] * 100

Another method to collect quicker is to tie receivables to the sales person’s commission. This will not only encourage your sales team to be part of the collections process, but it will help keep your company cash positive.

Effective Strategies for Improving Profitability

While we’ve been focused on maximizing your bottom line as your current financials stand, we also wanted to share some effective strategies for improving profitability.

Price for Profit

Are your prices leading to a satisfying net income?  If not, then these are some questions you can inquire:

  • Are additional costs being reflected on the price?
  • Are you using Margin vs Markup interchangeably?
  • Is your overhead being covered?

The solution might be simple: Adjust your price!

Learn how to price for profit using our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide. This whitepaper will help you identify if you have a pricing problems and how to fix it.

Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Also, create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). SOPs are step by step instructions written by a company to assist employees in completing routine procedures. They are necessary in a company to ensure operations run smoothly. The better your company’s SOPs are, the more efficient it will run. Create operating procedures that are simple, easy to read, and most importantly make them lead to a purpose.

Focus on Profitable Customers

Identifying profitable customers is instrumental to a company’s success. Once you completely identify your most profitable group of customers, focus your attention on them. Use your marketing funds primarily on you most profitable customers. A customer outside of that target market is still a viable customer, but they just shouldn’t receive as much marketing attention since they are not their primary and most profitable customer segment.

When maximizing your bottom line, start with your prices and pricing process. Access the free Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide to learn how to price profitably.

maximizing your bottom line

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Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

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Flash Reports Are a Game Changer

Flash Reports

When we talk to people who have sales or operations backgrounds, we quickly pick up on their hatred/dislike/disdain/etc. for accounting. We get it. Accounting can be boring, especially if it’s not used for management purposes. But when we talk with the management team either in our coaching workshops or our consulting practice, we always implement a flash report in their company. Why? Because it’s a management tool that should be used by every leader in an organization! Flash reports are a game changer when it comes to leading a company financially. In fact, I will be bold enough to say every company should be using a flash report to make any decision in the company. (Keep in mind, we are not recommending that this is the only tool you should use to make decisions.)

What is a Flash Report?

First, what is a flash report? We have defined Flash Reports (or financial dashboard report) as “periodic snapshot(s) of key financial and operational data.” It measures three factors in your company, that include liquidity, productivity, and profitability. Unlike what sales and operational leaders typically think about accounting, this tool is supposed to guide them with the numbers. In addition, the numbers from flash reports aren’t going to be a 100% accurate. But if they are 80-90% accurate, then they are accurate enough for the management to make decisions.

Flash reports have changed how financial leaders lead the rest of their team. It’s just one of the ways that you could be more effective in your role. If you want to learn more, click here to access our free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

Flash ReportsHow a Flash Report Changes the Role of the Financial Leader

Stereotypically, an accountant or someone with accounting/finance background is a numbers cruncher. They want to look at all of the numbers and want the management team to also get excited about every number. In reality, there is not enough time to focus on every number. Instead, you should be looking specifically at 6-8 numbers that drive your business. We call them your key performance indicators or KPIs. Anyone in your company should be able to look at your flash report (a one-page report) to assess what the KPIs are doing.

Not just anyone in accounting cannot create a flash report… It would quickly get out of control because there are so many angles, numbers, and perspectives that you could interpret the data from. Unfortunately, there is not enough time in the day to look at all the data. It would take forever for management to look at all the information and make a decision. We know there is an art to be a financial leader. There is also an art to creating flash reports or dashboard reports. The goal is for the flash report to be prepared and completed within 30 minutes. It should cover a week’s data for the company to quickly pivot or adjust if need be.

How to Prepare a Flash Report

For a flash report to be a game changer, you have to set it up correctly the first time. Prepare a flash report by producing the following sections in consecutive order.

Productivity

First, the financial leader (CFO/Controller) needs to meet the owner or executive leaders to come up with some metrics for the productivity section. Both finance and operations need to be involved in this conversation because this section is what sets up the next two sections. You will know you have succeed when you have an indication of the key performance metrics of your company. These metrics also connect operations to the financial performance of the company. It’s an accountability partner. If you are looking to improve productivity in your company, then click here to read about our insights on how to do it.

Remove some of the barriers between departments in your company to increase your value to the company. To learn more how you can be effective, click here to download our 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.

Liquidity

When you prepare a flash report, this section is where your CEO is going to look at first. It’s the pulse of the company because it tells them how much the company is generating cash (or not generating cash). The cash situation is often the first issue we discuss with consulting clients. Unfortunately, we find a lot of companies are not able to tell you if they have enough money to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Remember, cash is king.

Profitability

This is going to be accounting’s favorite section because it deals with what they focus on! The reason why you need to produce it last is because it needs to connect with the rest of the business. It should give management a rough idea of how much money they made during a given period. You will need to have a good understanding of your accruals if you are going to provide profitability in as part of the flash report.

Remember, timeliness is more important than accuracy in this flash report. There’s a reason why it’s called a flash report! Furthermore, management needs to focus on how the trends change over time.

Flash Reports Are a Game Changer

Flash reports are a game changer in the business world because it pushes companies to break down barriers in the business. We frequently say that CFOs and the financial leader of a company should walk around the office/warehouse and talk with sales managers, warehouse workers, operations managers, etc. Financial leaders need to get out of accounting so that they can lead financially. But the same goes for operations and sales persons. It may not be exciting, but they need to visit accounting.

This past week, we hosted a live webinar for those operations employees that were promoted to a P&L Leader. They were great at their job, but now they manage an entire department/division/etc. So, we touched on how they should be using flash reports as they manage their operation. Anyone in your company can be a financial leader. You just have to have the right tools, and flash reports are a great way to start.

Tips for Monitoring Your Business

Your flash report should be a living, breathing document that your business uses. As a result, we wanted to share some time for monitoring your business as you move forward with your flash report. Include the 3 most recent historical periods in addition to the current period in the flash report. This allows you to analyze trends in the same document. Have your entire management team agree to commit to the document. You may need to adjust it as time goes on, and that’s okay. Review weekly with your management. During these meetings, it may be useful to convert the sections into graphs so that the non-accountants can see what the numbers are communicating.

Producing a flash report is just one of many ways to be highly effective as a financial leader. Download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs to find out how you can become a more valuable financial leader. Let your flash reports be a game changer in your business!

Flash Reports Are a Game Changer

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Spot a Zombie Company

Last week, I talked with several lenders, investors, and entrepreneurs. One of the topics that kept coming up was their client’s problems wasn’t cash – even though their clients tried to convince them of it. While cash was an issue that needed to be addressed, the problem instead lies in the leadership. A few weeks ago, we discussed how zombie employees are destroying your company. But those zombie employees have developed a zombie culture! Here’s how to spot a zombie company and identify if you are one of them.

spot a zombie companyHow to Spot a Zombie Company

In any type of therapy group, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Identification is crucial if you want to change. Therefore, we are walking through how to spot a zombie company. As it is so prevalent in our business society, it’s becoming more and more difficult to disguise.

Stay ahead of the curve and download our 3 Most Powerful Tools for free! Don’t sit back and watch your company spiral into a zombie company

#1 Status… And You Know It

Have you ever seen a company that boast it’s #1 and everyone around knows it? These companies get to the top, become prideful, and then eventually, they are overrun by zombie employees. If every single person in your company says the exact same thing, then you’re in big trouble. In order to be successful, you need people to go against the grain. That’s how innovation happens.

Enron, for example, was Fortune Magazine’s “America’s Most Innovative Company.” But nearing the collapse of their empire, innovation came to a halt as the executives became more greedy and created a culture of secrecy. They knew they were #1. So, the executives challenged anyone trying to innovate or make changes to the company. Both employers and employees lost sight of the mission and vision of their company. As a result, both parties caused (or would have caused) the death of the company.

“Do you know what it takes to make an ethical decision in the face of a group of people who are willing to go the other direction? It’s one of the most single vulnerable acts of our lives.” – Brené Brown

spot a zombie company

Happy Go Lucky

Happy go lucky is a term that means that people are cheerfully willing to have no concern for the future. Many can easily identify the difference between authentic happiness and fabricated happiness. The later wreaks of inauthenticity and feels gross. When a company culture is always happy, it may be an indicator that it’s a zombie company. In this case, you may find that both employees and employers are:

  • Ignorant of anything bad going on
  • Blindly doing their jobs
  • Hiding something from others
  • Shutting down any negative statement or critique
  • Saying positive things all the time

There’s a huge difference between a company that everyone loves working for and a company where everyone is happy. You cannot expect your employees to be happy every single day. Life happens. So if it seems like life isn’t happening at a company, then it could mean bad news.

They Don’t Change

Zombie companies simply don’t change or allow for change to happen. Because they are so laser-focused on their vision and mission, they neglect the changing world around them. Technology is changed every single day. What worked a month ago may not work today. Remember Borders? It was a popular bookstore. But while Barnes & Noble and Amazon were taking advantage of new technology (Nook, Kindle, etc.) and building an e-commerce platform, Borders did not at first. By the time they did start to change, it was already too late. While there were many other financial issues that needed to be addressed in Borders for it to survive, the key is that zombie companies don’t want to change.

Look around in your community. It’s relatively easy to spot a zombie company as the demand for change is becoming increasingly prevalent. Many leaders get overwhelmed by change, so they simply stop changing. But they are also killing their company. As the financial leader of your company, you must be willing to allow change and create change in your company.

spot a zombie company

They Know Everything

Zombie companies are comprised of “know-it-alls.” Whether it be the employers or the employees, they think they have everything under control, know everything, and don’t want to learn. What do your customers want? If the response is “we know everything already”, start running. Truth is… You don’t know your customers. They are changing every single day. Like I said before, technology is changing constantly. As a result, your customers are too. Businesses aren’t in business without your customers. So you need to be talking with your customers daily.

A couple years ago, news spread eventually but it took time to spread. Now, news spreads like wildfire and at times, it can be very overwhelming. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, online news sources (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.) force feed you content every second of the day. While you may know a lot of things, you don’t know everything. But zombie company’s think they know everything. And that’s a problem.

Challenge each of your team members to question everything you do and why you do it. Call up your customers. Learn how to improve productivity or improve cash flow. Innovate you finance, operations, and sales departments.

Is Your Company a Zombie Company?

The biggest question of the hour… Is your company a zombie company? Have we described you in the above paragraphs? We have good news… You have identified that you have a problem. And there’s a solution to reverse the effects of being overwhelmed by zombies.

Be a Financial Leader

The best way is to be an effective financial leader. At The Strategic CFO, we pride ourselves in developing financial leadership in our clients as we consult with them and coach them. Like we said before, some companies think they have a cash problem or inventory problem or economic problem… But in reality, it starts with the leadership. A fish rots from the head down, so therefore, you as the financial leader need to be a more effective leader, improve profitability, and improve cash flow.

Improve Profitability

You have set your prices, have your costs, and out comes profit. But to not slip back into old habits, you need to think of profitability improvement strategies. Click here to access one of our 3 Best Tools includes our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide. Improve profitability by shaping your prices (and economics) to result in profits.

Improve Cash Flow

We say it frequently because it’s true… Cash is king. As a leader, you need to have your finger on cash at all times. The worst thing (and unfortunately, a common issue) is that the executive team expects cash to be there because they made their sales mark. But if someone is not watching it, it could end badly. Click here to download our 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper, along with our other 2 most powerful tools, to learn about cash flow improvement strategies.

Be a More Effective Leader

Zombie companies lack effective leadership. You can create success through financial leadership. That’s what we as a company lives and breathes everyday. Be a more effective leader and access our 3 best tools to start growing your company.

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Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

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Why You Need a New Pricing Strategy

Larry is operating a lemonade stand, and he thinks that his lemonade is the most valuable drink available. Because he interprets his lemonade as highly valuable, he decides to charge $85 for a glass of lemonade. Larry wonders why no one buys his lemonade. Although he may seem highly profitable when you work out his unit economics, he has not sold a single glass of lemonade. Like Larry, you may need a new pricing strategy.

What is your current pricing strategy? For example, you may be setting the prices on your perceived value of your product/service like Larry. But have you thought about how you could price your products/services better to improve your company’s profitability?

need a new pricing strategy

What is a Pricing Strategy?

To determine if you need a new pricing strategy, you need to identify what pricing strategy you are currently using.

Often, pricing is seen as the marketing and sales department’s role. But as the financial leader’s role morphs into a value adding position, you must work with every department (including marketing/sales) to be able to squeeze profits from every corner of the business.

The Variety of Pricing Strategies

When you are looking for a new pricing strategy, you should assess the different types of pricing strategies and the reasons for picking a one over another. Some of the more common pricing strategies include neutral, penetration, forward, skimming, and value-based. Although there are other strategies that we could dig into, these are among the most popular.

Neutral Pricing Strategy

The first pricing strategy that companies can use is the neutral pricing strategy. As the most common strategy, businesses price their products or services so that their customers are indifferent between a competitor’s product and yours. After taking into account all the features and benefits of the product, the price is set – essentially making you neutral in the pricing game.

While this may seem intelligent, it makes it difficult to expand your customer base as they have no real reason to choose your product over another of the same price. There is no value expressed in the neutral pricing strategy – thus, limiting the profit capabilities.

If you want to gain more profit margin, neutral pricing strategy is a safe (and ). To price your product or service correctly, download our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide whitepaper!

Penetration Pricing Strategy

If you want to be more aggressive than the neutral pricing strategy, you may want to choose the penetration pricing strategy. This strategy is used to gain market share, but it has several drawbacks. For example, price wars can start between competitors. Because you don’t want to lose your market share, you may be tempted to lower your prices. But your competitors will likely lower their prices as well to compete for their customers. If you continue to lower your prices, your margin will be squeezed until you are unprofitable.

Grocery stores most commonly use the penetration pricing strategy. Most recently, Amazon acquired Whole Foods (a traditionally expensive grocery store chain) to compete with other grocery stores such as Walmart, Target, Kroger, and other local stores. As Whole Foods slashes their prices, stock prices in major grocery stores have declined in anticipation of them having to reduce their prices to compete. It’s too soon to see the result of implementing a penetration pricing strategy; but unless these stores gain more customers or offer other profitable products, they will become less profitable.

Forward Pricing Strategy

Like the penetration pricing strategy, a forward pricing strategy focuses on the future costs associated with that product or service. Companies are willing to price below cost of goods sold at first if they know that in the future, they will have higher margins. If a company cannot predict that if they sell X units by Y date, then having a forward pricing strategy may not be the best strategy for your business.

If you need a new pricing strategy, you need to think about pricing for profit. Download our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide to learn if you have a pricing problem and how to fix it.

Skimming Pricing Strategy

Converse to the penetration pricing strategy, skimming pricing strategy allows companies to segment the market to gain access to those customers who are willing to spend more per unit. Most commonly, a company utilizes skimming at two different periods in the product life cycle, the beginning and the end of the product’s life.

Apple’s Skimming Pricing Strategy

For example, businesses that are in a semi-monopolistic positions use the skimming pricing strategy when launching the product. Think of the iPhone. Apple set their prices for the iPhone high as they were only wanting to sell to those customers with the willingness and ability to pay. As that small market depletes or slows down, Apple reduces their prices to sell to the next tier and then the next. Recently, Apple released the next generation of iPhones – iPhone 8 and iPhone X. If you’re looking to access the iPhone 8 with 256GB, expect to pay $849. You can get the iPhone X for $1,149 with the same storage as the iPhone 8.

If you look at the prices of each of their products, expect to pay 2-3 times as much for a similar product compared to other competitors. So how are they so successful? Apple has created a culture in which people are willing to spend a large amount to remain in the Apple community. Unfortunately, not every company will be able to replicate Apple’s pricing strategy. But it’s important for you as a financial leader to study what other brands are doing in regard to pricing.

Value-Based Pricing

Ask yourself this question: How much is your customer willing to pay for your product or service? There is a price that your customer is willing to pay for something without having any knowledge to how much it costs to produce or anything else. Value-based pricing is the next pricing strategy. While implementing this strategy is not simple, you can potentially gain more profit than using any other pricing strategy available.

In business school, students are taught to use the cost-plus method. Instead of adding value with their product, business leaders simple decide on the margin that they would like to have. There’s no real thought process in cost-plus pricing, but it is an easy way to bypass your customer and be in sync with your competitors.

For example, Apple has created a value for its products. They didn’t decide on a margin, but instead established such a perceived value that people cannot wait to get their hands on the next product. Some have converted all their technology over to Apple because of that added value. It’s not going to be the cheapest technology on the market and may not even be the best. But the customer is willing to pay for it at the price Apple has set. According to CNN, Apple is worth $750 Billion so they are doing something right!

need a new pricing strategyWhy You Need a New Pricing Strategy

Unfortunately, your company may be pricing your products or services too low (or too high). And your customers are not buying. You may need a new pricing strategy. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • When did you last interview your customers about your pricing?
  • When did you review your pricing strategy last?
  • Have you ever tested your pricing on different groups?
  • Which markets have you not be able to get into yet?

Pricing is the basis of your business and is the most important factor in profitability. If your company is solely relying on something other than pricing to improve profitability, you may need to assess why.

Buttress The Business

As you decide if you need a new pricing strategy, assess whether your pricing is a buttress of the business. We can agree on the fact that businesses exist to provide real value. Your business should be structured to support and validate the reason for the price per unit (and the value provided). McKinsey & Company highlights that most businesses do not pay enough attention to their pricing!

Most businesses fail to test customer value perceptions and price sensitivity after products launch and have no idea how the critical trade-off between price and volume shifts over time. Second, companies must make pricing decisions in the context of their broader product portfolios because when they have multiple generations of a product in a market, a price move for one can have important implications for others.

Increase Profitability

Price Intelligently references to a “landmark study [that] was published in a 1992 Harvard Business Review by Michael Marn and Robert Rosiello, both senior pricing folks at McKinsey and Company. The dynamic pricing duo studied the unit economics of 2,463 companies and found that a 1% price improvement results in an 11.1% increase in operating profit, which compares to 1% improvements in variable cost, volume, and fixed cost only resulting in profit increases of 7.8%, 3.3%, and 2.3% (respectively)” Having a value-based pricing strategy will improve your profitability. If you are looking to drive more profits this next quarter, you need a new pricing strategy. To learn how to price for profit, download our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide.

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Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

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Selling Your Business

Companies are constantly being bought and sold; so regardless of what position you are in or what industry you service, selling your business is one of those topics you need to know about.

It’s a common misconception that the financial persons are overhead, are not valuable, and simply just count the numbers. But over the past 25 years, we have been converting those battling that stereotype into financial leaders. In the case of selling your business, a financial leader will do more than just put a nice price tag on the company, but transform it into a more profitable, more attractive company.

But why would someone want to sell their perfectly good company in the first place?

selling your business

Selling Your Business

For an entrepreneur, selling your business is either one of two things: an unwanted but necessary action OR an opportunity to move onto the next venture. There are several events that could cause someone to sell their company. Those might include retirement, relationship issues, an illness or death, or the inability to perform financially (resulting in bankruptcy). Conversely, those in the business to sell might be bored, wanting more innovation and excitement.

Any of these reasons are not wrong; however, it should be important to you to want to get the most value of of your company in the case of a acquisition or merger.

Wanting to sell your company? You need to access our free Top 10 Destroyers of Value whitepaper to make sure you don’t have any destroyers in your business impacting the value of your company! Click here to download.

How would sell your company?

There are a couple different ways that one could go about selling their company. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) argues that “If you have decided to get out of business and are not able to pass your business on, merge it with another business, or sell it as a going concern, liquidating the assets could be the most appropriate exit strategy.”

Liquidation is often used when your company is insolvent or unable to perform financially. This practice is often used to pay off any debt the company might have. Whenever a company is facing bankruptcy, debt restructuring is a vital part of the process to protect the debtors.

You could also sell off parts of the company, such as a practice, a product/service, talent. The reason why most companies would do this is because they have a product or service that doesn’t quite fit into their company. It’s the black sheep of the family! To create more of a synergistic entity, owners sell a part of the company or buy a part of another company. The goal of mergers and acquisitions to to bring more focus to the most profitable side of your business.

Or you could sell the entire company… Now there are two ways to sell the entire company: sell the assets (see above) or sell the stock. The later is more beneficial for the seller than the buyer. An article in the Wall Street Journal compared asset sales to stock sales and concluded that “Stock purchasers… are buying the company itself and thus are exposed to all of its potential problems.”

Valuing Business

Regardless of whether you are selling your business right now or not, it’s important to value your business. This just-in-case action will a) speed up the process if a buyer does come around, b) immediately add value to your company by addressing needs, and c) start the brainstorming session to improve your business. Valuing your business now will mean for a better future.

selling your business

Beware of Those Destroyers

As you are valuing your business, find those “destroyers” that greatly impact the value of your company and take steps to address them immediately. What is a destroyer? We have partnered with Professor of Entrepreneurship at Rice University Al Danto to identify what areas in a business that destroy the value of your company. (You can access his free whitepaper here.)

The two most common destroyers that we see with our clients starts with the leader and the consistency of revenue.

Start with yourself… Are you destroying your company? Something at The Strategic CFO that we’ve always said is that the fish rots from the head down. If the leader of the company is not leading well, manipulating the team, abusing its employees, not managing well, or getting involved in illegal practices, then the business will loose major value. Suppose you are in a situation where you feel you are destroying your company, where do you start? First, do a self assessment on yourself. Then, interview your team on what you can do to change. Finally, put everything you learned into practice. Continue to do these three steps until you see major change in the success of the company.

As a financial leader, it is also your responsibility to communicate the consistency (or inconsistency) of your company’s revenue stream(s). Honesty is key in the financial world. Are you consistent or inconsistent? If the company has inconsistent revenue streams, present solutions to your management team to develop consistency. Buyers are willing to take risks, but they will choose a company that has more consistent revenue than a company that does not.

If you want to learn about the top destroyers of value, click here to download the free Top 10 Destroyers of Value whitepaper.

Prepping Your Company for Sale

The best prep you can do when prepping your company for sale is to actually prepare. What does this mean exactly? Clean up the books. Tidy up any loose ends. Address any issues you feel a buyer would be turned off from. Reflect on past performance, then focus the company to be more attractive to any buyer.

In addition, start the process of valuing your business, improving cash flow, and maximizing profitability.

Value Your Business

There are different methods to value your business, but the most commonly used method is EBITDA valuation. Reach your industry to figure out the most commonly multiple of EBITDA used in mergers and acquisitions. Once, you pinpoint that multiple, plug it into the following formula: Enterprise Value = Multiple * EBITDA

What is your business worth?

Improve Cash Flow

Cash is king. You have probably heard that a million times throughout business school and in your career. That statement cannot be emphasized or repeated enough because without cash flow, there is no business. Prepping your company for sale includes unlocking cash in your business.

Maximize Profitability

How profitable is your company right now? Focus on maximizing the profitability of your company. If the focus of your entire team is to maximize profits and cash flow, great things will follow. If you’re in position to sell or just want to prepare for a potential sale, download the free Top 10 Destroyers of Value whitepaper to learn how to maximize your value.

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Improving Profitability – Fuel for Growth

How do you focus on improving profitability instead of just boosting sales? 2016 wasn’t the best year for some of us, but the new year provides a perfect opportunity to reassess goals. An entrepreneur’s natural tendency is to increase sales in order to balance out last year’s financials. But what many entrepreneurs fail to consider is are those sales actually profitable?

There’s Only So Much Cash

Why is improving profitability instead of simply increasing sales so important? Because, believe it or not, you can actually grow yourself into bankruptcy.

Huh?

Many are quick to say that more sales is the solution – however, there are a lot of factors you have to consider before you start selling everything. One of the most important metrics you must know is your cash conversion cycle. The cash conversion cycle is the length of time it takes a company to convert resource inputs into cash flows.

Cash Conversion Cycle Formula:

Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC) =Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) + Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO) – Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

– or –

CCC = DSO + DIO – DPO

improving profitability instead of salesDaily Sales Outstanding (DSO): This metric measures the number of days it takes to convert your receivables into cash. Ideally, the faster you can collect, the faster you can use the cash to fuel growth.

Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO): This is an indicator of how quickly you can turn your inventory into cash. Reducing DIO is good. If all of your cash is tied up in inventory that isn’t moving, then you might have a problem.

Days Payable Outstanding (DPO): This measures how quickly you are paying your vendors. If you are consistently paying your vendors more quickly than you are getting paid by your customers, then you risk running out of cash. If your vendors aren’t giving you a discount for paying early, then why are you paying early? If you have 30 days to pay, then why pay on the second day? Use that cash for the other 28 days you have for other vendors who offer you discounts or to fuel growth.

Managing the cash conversion cycle is a key way you can enable your company to grow.  And we all know how fond entrepreneurs are of growth…

(Click here to learn How to be a Wingman and be the trusted advisor to your team.)

Cash is like Jet Fuel

Often, entrepreneurs (especially those from a sales background) focus on improving sales. What many fail to realize is you can actually sell yourself into bankruptcy.

Let’s compare a business to a jet. If a jet is moving at a constant pace, then the fuel used to power the jet runs out at a constant pace. From a business perspective, if the sales in a company are constant, then the cash and assets required to fuel the company is also constant and predictable.
improving profitability instead of salesHowever, if a company decides to increase sales, then this requires more “fuel” or cash.

But if an entrepreneur decides to increase sales to a greater degree than cash flow, almost vertically, then the business may run out of fuel (cash) and can ultimately crash and burn.
improving profitability instead of sales

The quicker you grow, the quicker you burn cash.

improving profitability instead of sales

Sustainability is Key

The sustainable growth rate of a company is a measure of how much a company can grow based upon its current return on assets. The sustainable growth rate of a company is like the wind turbine of a jet. Naturally, the wind turbine gives the jet a 5-10% incline. But what if you want to grow to 25%? Or 50%?

To grow faster than your return on assets, you’ll need to take on additional debt or seek equity financing. Either you pay for it, or someone else does. To avoid increasing debt or giving up control, it’s important to maximize your current asset velocity (think managing CCC) and make sure your sales are profitable.

(Be more than overhead. Be the wingman to your CEO by increasing cash flow!)

How to Grow Your Business

If you want to grow your business, there are a couple of things you can do:

(1) Increase your profitable sales. This means deciding which projects have the lowest risk, but highest reward for your business. Time is money, so which customers are worth your time? In exploring this, you might have to conduct some market research for your target market.

For example, if you have some customers who are slow to pay, they’re straining your liquidity. Although it may be difficult, you might have to fire some customers and focus your resources on customers that aren’t such a drain.

(2) Increase capital. Capital is the funding you need to grow the business. Capital can be an investment from an outsider, or it can be cash generated internally by increasing cash flows and maximizing profitability.

Internally: A company can increase cash flow by managing the cash conversion cycle. Collect your receivables faster and manage inventory levels and payables. It is a good idea for a company to grow as organically as possible, meaning growing cash internally.

Externally: If you’ve tightened up your CCC as much as possible, it might be necessary to look for outside sources of cash. However, having external sources of cash is a trade-off; you’ll have debt with a bank, and you might have to give up part of your company to investors (depending on the terms).

Conclusion

So when your business owner says, “let’s increase sales!”, remember focus on making profitable sales. Look at improving the Cash Conversion Cycle to make the most of your internal resources.  Consider outside financing when/if your existing return on assets won’t get you where you want to be.

Don’t crash and burn – make sure your company has the fuel it needs. Your business owner is looking to you to help them grow their business. To learn how to do it, access the free How to be a Wingman whitepaper here.

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What do you do with unprofitable customers?

Have you ever come across that one customer who you would do anything to get rid of? Have you ever questioned what to do with the customer that causes more strife than good?  Whether they’re a drain or merely a pain, these customers cost you money.  So what do you do with unprofitable customers?

Business is a two-way street. Customers should be as beneficial to you as you are to them. Over time, customers who are not as profitable wiggle their way into your business. How do we find out which customers are profitable and which are not?

Evaluating your customers and how they impact your profitability is just one of the many ways to improve cash flow. Download the free 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper to learn 24 other methods.

Defining Your Profitable Customers

Let’s take a look at your numbers. Does your sales volume reflect the number of customers you spend your time with? More specifically, what are your ratios for the number of transactions and average sale per transaction? If your ratio is pretty high, and your margins are low, that’s a warning sign that it’s time to weed the garden.

Customer Profitability & Cash Flow

Profitable customers have a huge impact on a company’s cash flow. Maintaining customer profitability means managing your costs (and thus cash flow) associated with that particular customer.

1-customer-segmentationThe first step is to manage customer segmentation. Allocate fewer or less expensive resources to those customers that are known for taking advantage of you.

The second step is to measure each customer’s margin. This will allow you to compare each customer and see where you should be spending your time.

The third step is to measure the lifetime value of a customer. This is a KPI that we use and find valuable as a metric for conversion rates.

The fourth step is to manage customer impact.  What would your business look like if you sent this customer packing?

The last and most important step is measure customer profitability.

Customer Profitability Analysis

First, you have to segment your total customers based on your servicing characteristics. This looks at the number of transactions and the sales volume. You can then calculate the profitability of a customer by subtracting your estimated relative cost to service from the revenue for the various segments.

Conduct your customer profitability analysis to start eliminating customers that are costing you money, focusing on those customers that are profitable, and increase productivity in your organization.

But putting the math aside, you should probably look back on the patterns and relationships with those customers… Are your customers rude and putting off certain payments? Are they a pain to deal with?  Do they expect special treatment for a bargain price?

Want to know other ways to free up your cash flow? Access the 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow here!

Firing Your Customers

Once you determine who your unprofitable customers are, you need to fire them. I know what you’re thinking… “How do I fire someone that brings me money?!” But that’s the problem. They are consuming resources you could dedicate to profitable customers, so they are actually costing you money.

Firing those unprofitable customers opens up opportunities for your more profitable customers. You can spend more time, money, and effort on the people worth focusing on.

Last-Minute Lisa

Let’s say a customer calls you on Friday afternoon and needs an order rushed out by the end of the day. This customer also consumes extra resources because you have to pull extra workers to complete the order quickly.  Unless you charge a premium price for rush orders, this customer is less profitable because they consume more resources. Not sure who these customers are?  Talk to your operations people.  They know.

Slow-Mo Joe

Another customer is always slow to pay their invoices.  In order to collect, your A/R clerk has to make multiple calls and re-send invoices because they “lost” them.  Because they consume more resources than customers who pay regularly, they are less profitable than other customers.  In addition, they constrain your cash because they are slow to pay.

Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim is the customer that only orders in small batches.  Your manufacturing process requires set up time for each order, so small batch orders are less profitable than large orders due to the cost of setting up the machinery for the order.  If you don’t have premium pricing for small orders or include set up time for each order, you don’t make as much money on smaller orders as you do for large orders.

Last-minute orders, delayed collections, and small batches can seem insignificant in isolation, but if a customer continually takes advantage of you, those costs can add up quickly.

Benefits of Weeding the Garden

Increase Productivity

If you continually weed your garden, it allows you to take bite-size pieces in cleaning up. This improves productivity immensely. Use the metrics/steps mentioned above to measure customer profitability and act in real time.

Nourish Profitable Customers

Identify profitable customers. Funnel more resources into those customers that are profitable. Just like soil needs nutrients, your good customers need resources. Avoid nourishing unprofitable customers.

Build a Better Garden

Weeds (unprofitable customers) tend to choke out healthy plants. Build a healthy garden by removing those weeds and unhealthy elements that restrict the growth of your company.

For other ways to improve cash flow, download the 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper to start identifying how profitable customers impact your company.

 

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Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.

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