July represents the half-way mark for the fiscal year. I know we’ve embarked on quite the journey together and it’s time for a sanity check. Are you still reaching your business plan targets?

Let’s recap your first six months. I started this year with the intent to teach you how to run your business using a budgeting process. Budgeting, not just for dollars and cents, but with seasonality, known performance indicators, action steps, communication, measuring and variances. If you’re new to this column, let’s bring you up to speed.

In January’s column (“Every minute counts”), we discussed:

  • Identifying your action steps;
  • Communicating your action steps to the team members;
  • Identifying your three operational KPIs (revenue build): call or lead count, conversion rate and average sale; and
  • Identifying your top five expense line items that make up 70% of all your cost: direct cost (materials and labor) and overhead cost (salaries, advertising and vehicle expense).

The April column (“Monitor your plan”) included how to monitor, measure and manage your business plan.

The truth is, there is no magic pill or button at six months that will instantly make you successful. Our journey isn’t over.

If you’ve been committing to the plan, during the first six months you’ve been busy reviewing the previous monthly results along with the year-to-date results and you’ve been taking action on the steps laid out in your 2015 budget.

This is meaningful work and it can be challenging. I’m guessing some of you are still attempting, some are struggling and some are succeeding at hitting your targets.

The one thing you all have in common at this point and time is that you are Bill Murray! Yep. Bill Murray.

I’m a big Bill Murray fan. You may know him from the TV program “Saturday Night Live,” or the movie “Ghostbusters,” but my favorite Bill Murray movie is “Groundhog Day.”

At the beginning of the movie, Bill Murray’s character, Phil, did not know how to connect with people and didn’t want to. All in all, he was a terrible employee and terrible person.

Fast-forward to the end of the movie. Phil has become his own work in progress and improved in every way as a compassionate, caring, talented, people-oriented person and finally gets the girl.

Folks, you are playing the role of Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.” By changing a little each day, you become better at running your business.

I recognize that, prior to this year, you may not have ever managed your business from a plan. Since we began our journey together, you may have made mistakes. Over time you have become a better business person, or at least improving your business acumen.


Management: Getting real

To take the comparison between your role and Bill Murray’s character Phil even farther, consider your management responsibility. You must wake up every day and do exactly the same tasks you did the day before. Consistency helps to set the right expectations on what needs to get done with your team and keeps you on task.

As an owner, this can be challenging, especially when you need to balance living in the details with strategic planning. Both are your responsibility, but when you are wearing the management hat, the details are important. Become your company’s Phil and strive to find ways to improve your business. Most importantly, wake up and take action each day.

I purchased a copy of the movie “Groundhog Day” for each of my managers and we discussed how this movie relates to their daily actions. Some got it right away and others didn’t grasp the concept until after we discussed it. They then went back home and watched it again that night. I use the movie as a power management training tool. Give it a try. It’s fun.

 By now you should have made all your structural changes to your profit and loss statement. You restructured your chart of accounts and are now getting the right data.

You know your daily call count and call variances by department. The goal is to eliminate the daily variances.

You understand your conversion rate by department. You know the individual technician and his sales conversion rate and are making headway. Keep your eye on this, and like Bill Murray’s Phil, you must repeat it every day.

You know your average sales for the department and for the technician or salesperson.

You are now more aware as to why your labor costs have been out of control and you should be bringing these costs down.

You are seeing what you can do operationally to improve each of these indicators and you have included more action steps to accomplish your goal.

With all this tracking in place, you now have a clear picture where to focus your energies for improving these indicators.

If call counts are down, take a strong look at your marketing plan. Get rid of the marketing tactics that aren’t performing and replace them with new tactics.

Take charge by calling your customers and setting up system checks for your plumbing, heating or air-conditioning techs. These are the best customers; you have already done work with them. People buy from people they know, like and with whom they’ve had a past good experience.

Train your technicians on your company’s service system — how your people present your company to every customer, every time they are in front of them. If you don’t have PHCE service system training, find some. If you aren’t there yet, don’t worry! Your “Groundhog Day” movie will just last longer. Be consistent and keep at it. Revisit this column or give me a call if you need help.

Focus and keep smiling.