By Steve Toburen
Deep down in your gut, you know Chuck Violand is right: “Every one of your numbers really does tell a story!”
So you finally suck it up and force yourself to review your receivables, payables, income statement, and balance sheet. But wait…
You (like me) hate boring financial reports. And you (like me) are overwhelmed by each day’s problems. And, by now:
- You’re drowning in a sea of tedious, multi-page reports.
- The figures you’re reviewing likely happened six to eight weeks ago, which is an eternity in today’s business world.
- Your income statement and balance sheet focus only on the past, but you need to know what’s “in the pipeline” that you must face in the weeks and months ahead.
- Your financial reports only focus on, well, financial results. You need a heads up on every potential future issue facing you. I absolutely despised being ambushed in business!
I created a one page “state of the union” report that was waiting on my desk every Monday. The weekly “Business Flash Report” told me, at a glance, how we did the previous week (not six weeks ago). So I always knew where my company was at that moment. But even more importantly, I knew what was coming at me.
My Business Flash Report included:
- Current finances. Cash on hand and other funds, our credit line balances, current accounts receivables and accounts payables, and large foreseeable expenses along with their due dates. It also showed our payroll from the last week compared to the same week from the previous year including how much we paid out in overtime.
- Sales: Total sales for the last week, year-to-date (YTD) sales, and the percentage completed toward the YTD goal. It also included weekly totals and percentages for our residential, commercial, fire, and water damage divisions.
- Prospective future accounts. It’s important to include what is in the pipeline. The Business Flash Report answered these questions: What is our next step to close the account or loss? Who is assigned to follow up?
- What happened last week with ongoing restoration losses? This section showed the projected total amount and percentage toward completion as well as any notes on job issues. (Remember my guiding principle: No surprises!)
- What else is lurking ahead? This may be the most important part of the report. It listed complaints (with a detailed Customer Concern Sheet), broken equipment (with a filled-out copy of the Equipment Repair Sheet attached), and, maybe most importantly, what was going on in our employees’ lives (low morale, conflicts with co-workers, money or family issues, etc.). This section also suggested agenda items for the weekly staff meeting.
After I started using this weekly Business Flash Report, I felt in control again with no more ugly surprises. My staff could set priorities and anticipate problems. Thanks to this report our company ran smoother, was much more profitable, and business became fun again for me.
Steve Toburen started and ran a world-class cleaning and restoration firm for over 20 years. He is now the director of training for Jon-Don’s Strategies for Success program. Toburen also founded HomeFrontSuccess.com, a resource portal with training programs for contractors working in customer’s homes. Reach him at email@example.com.