My primary business was purchased April 7th, 2008. My goal was quite agressive in that I planned to double the business in year 1 and starting “buying back my time” in year 2. In other words, in year 2 I want to figure out how to keep growing the business, supporting myself, and not having to work 60+ hours per week. To be more specific, year 2 goal is to eliminate myself from the business almost entirely… I’ll keep you up-to-date on how to make that happen but for now let’s look at the year 1 summary…
Increase in gross revenue of 17% due mostly to a mid-year acquisition of another bordering franchise. Not quite what I had in mind, however my unaudited books are showing an increase in net profit of around 95%!
Better than I expected on the profit side even if the revenue side was a bit lower than expected. Overall, a doubling of gross revenue maintaining profit margins or a doubling of profit put the same amount of money in my pocket and increase the value of the business the same amount so you can’t argue with that. 🙂
So there are now 2 questions to answer:
- How did I manage to increase profits 95% in my first year?
- What would I do differently next time?
For this blog we’ll address how I managed to increase net profit 95%.
- I knew and watched the numbers. A few of the numbers I watch were listed in my blog on weathering the economy. Possibly the most important number at my business was the average revenue generated per day per technician. Nearly doubling that number has increased our profits a lot with zero increase in overhead.
- Converted our revenue generating team members to partial commissions. So the question that comes to mind is why aren’t they full commission? Because our small business can’t allow each team member to “specialize” enough to just generate revenue and I haven’t taken the time to figure out a better more “incentive-based” method of compensating.
- Cut overhead. We had 4 different phone companies and am still working on getting that down to 1. With Quickbooks we’ve been able to cut our accounting expenses a few hundred dollars per month. Started using Quickbooks Payroll to save about $100/month over Paychex or ADP with much more flexibility and control. Adjusted payroll to more accurately reflect work. In other words a few pay decreases were warranted.
- Cut costs of goods sold. We compiled a computerized list of all of the parts we sell and use (still a work-in-progress) to track who we purchase them from and have started shopping around for the best combination of price and quality for the parts we sell.
- Acquired another business to leverage economies of scale. The business was acquired cheaply with non-standard financing in a territory that had been underutilized and never marketed for a long time. We converted the Payables, Receivables, and Customer-service into our current location with minimal increases in overhead compared to a separate office and staff just for that small business.
- Cut personnel to only what’s necessary to be profitable. This will also be on my lists of things I would change. By nature I’m a “nice” guy so letting someone go is tough. However when it’s necessary it needs to be done quickly and decisively. The easy way to know if it’s being done is if you provide benchmarks, procedures, and responsibility lists and a team member isn’t holding up his or her end of the bargain it’s time to move on. This is also paramount if you want your business to run on its own.
- Created processes, procedures, responsibility lists and checklists. You can’t increase productivity and you can’t determine if your paycheck-for-work trade is worthwhile if you and your team members don’t have exactly what’s expected of each team member in writing. It seems sad that the team members who just go the extra mile without prompting are few and far between.
- Sold more to existing customers. We simply increased our marketing to current customers for upgrades and recurring service.
- Tracked marketing and started cutting out the bad. The cuts, yellow pages for instance, have just started since it takes some time to gather that data so in 2009 we should be leveraging our marketing even more. We also started using lead-tracking software to make sure no leads were getting forgotten or missed.
- Integrated real-time GPS units into service vehicles. “Inspect what you expect” is how one business owner phrases it. If you expect people to work 8 hours per day and not stop off for multiple lunch breaks or go home, it’s best not to temp them with “no one will ever know” opportunities.
Obviously a lot more things have been done – like integrating weekly team meetings and simply having management at the business every day – however those were the 10 that most quickly came to mind as I started reviewing the last year.
Beyond that, the absolute most important part of buying a business you’re going to grow rapidly is to wait for the business that needs a similar list of things to fix. If you buy a business that’s already “perfect”, which mine certainly is not and we’ll address that in the next blog, what choices do you have for growth? Your only options then become to increase prices, sell to more customers, or sell more products to current customers. And that stuff is hard work! 😛
In summary, if you’ve read through my blogs for the last year, you realize that last year has probably been the most educational year of my life. The nice part about that, compared with my years getting an engineering degree, is that I learned a lot and got paid to do it. 😀
To your success, Bryan