Five key business areas to review before 2018

These final two weeks of the year are usually filled with a hope that a few of those outstanding proposals will turn into sales commitments.

This is also a great time to reflect on the past year and prepare for the upcoming year. We’ve compiled five areas you should be spending extra time with during the holidays to ensure you are ready when the calendar turns.

Start with a baseline

In order to start your new year on the right foot, it’s imperative that you know exactly where you will end 2017.  This involves working with your accountant and thoroughly going through income statements, management accounts and cash flow analysis and level set your actual levels versus your original projections.  Doing this exercise not only helps to build a trend analysis, but also allows you to accurately finalize your 2018 budget.

Confirm your revenue projections

Once you have a firm grasp on where you are financially, it’s time to make sure your sales targets are achievable based on how you will end this year. If you’re like most businesses, sales planning started in early Fall, so tweaks will need to be made. Did you end the year as you projected? Will it affect next year’s business goals? Where are your sales numbers trending? How do these numbers compare to previous years?

Get a pulse of your customer base

In all reality, a customer survey should be done often. It’s the best way you can get direct feedback on your company, your product (or service), and receive ideas for how to get more customers just like them! It’s also a nice way to check in with your entire customer base and show them you value their input, especially if you don’t reach out to them on a regular basis.  Questions can focus on why they purchased, why they didn’t, and would they recommend your company.

Plan for new technology

It’s no secret that technology moves fast. Investing in the right technology, whether or not you are getting ready for a growth period, can help streamline your business processes, lower administrative costs, and most importantly, keep you competitive in the marketplace. Take a look at your business software packages, CRM, mobile devices, phone system, laptops and any subscription services that could help you better manage your business. Making updates to your technology platforms early will help ensure you get the most out of your investments.

Align your sales and marketing efforts

Even though you have defined your sales targets, it’s imperative that you know WHO your target audience is and how you can best reach them. The first step is to build a thorough customer profile that identifies the type of person (or company), their major pain points, and where they buy. From there, build out a thorough marketing plan that includes your top strategies, marketing channels you will be using, and your marketing budget. The size of your marketing budget should be a combination of how much your company can invest and how quickly you can acquire customers to build an accurate ROI analysis.  

We’re not saying these are silver bullets to your company’s success in 2018, but taking the time to review each area will help put the pieces together for a complete understanding of your business needs, immediate challenges and financial requirements.

If you need a resource to help you plan for next year, or have questions on how to succeed, reach out to us either by email,, or phone, 216-524-8900.

Grow Your Business through Benchmarking

by: Kevin Stedman

Experience counts when choosing an accounting firm. Not only should you trust that your accounting firm understands the rules and regulations that apply, but more importantly, that they understand your business and industry.

We have years of experience offering traditional accounting services like tax planning and preparation, accounting and auditing and business consulting. Perhaps one of our most valuable service offerings is leveraging our vast experience to help you understand and grow your business through benchmarking.  Benchmarking is the process of comparing your business’s performance metrics with those of competitors and/or the entire industry.

Over the years, we’ve gained extensive familiarity with various industries and business structures and have seen how powerful benchmarking is as additional support in managing your business. Being able to share that information with you to give a snapshot of how you stack up to your competition is one of the most important services we can provide.  We answer some of those hard questions, like:

  • Are your margins where they should be?
  • Are your employee wages competitive with your peers?
  • Are you paying too much for materials?

Getting answers to these questions is important to understanding your place in the industry, especially if you’re looking to grow.  Our benchmarking service is comprised of 6 simple steps:

  1. Define the focus areas – Look at a few areas of your business or a comprehensive review.
  2. Collect data from your company and your industry – Identify the trends and use our extensive resources and experience to define the industry standards.
  3. Analyze the data – Focus on the areas most critical to your growth that need improvement.
  4. Define an improvement process and establish goals – Create improvement goals and lay the foundation of how to achieve them.
  5. Implement and measure – Track your results and measure whether your goals are being achieved.
  6. Continuous improvement – Monitor and seek to improve the practices defined throughout the benchmarking process to communicate any issues should they arise.

Benchmarking may be a one-time practice, but we treat it as a continuous process at Hobe & Lucas. Using our resources and benchmarking services, we strive to make this process a little easier than you may have thought.

Not all businesses are the same, but understanding your industry can be a critical factor in your success. We know it can be difficult to take a step back when the daily grind is happening, so let’s work on it together.  We have the tools and experience to help you benchmark your performance the right way and find new opportunities to grow.  Contact us today to see if you would be a great candidate for our benchmarking service.  Fill out our form, call us at  216.524.8900 or contact your Hobe staff member to start unlocking this valuable information and get your edge back on the competition.