The Mini Huddle Culture

Module

The Mini-Huddle Culture explains and teaches the managers how to engage the people of the business in cross-functional teams to create the support required to achieve the sales management plan.

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Jim Ambrose Workshops

Branch Financial Reports, who really reads them!

March 4, 2016

“Why bother with financial reports?    No one really reads them,…I send them out to all the managers of our branch  P&L centers and I never get a call asking for help on how to analyze them or how best to use them.”

 

This is what I hear frequently from the CFO’s of wholesale distributors.     Often, the company has purchased and installed significant upgrades to their IT system or purchased and transitioned over to a more beefier IT base that spews out a lot of data in very fancy financial reports for the branch,…along with links to uncover more data all related to a branch business center.    

 

Unfortunately it usually comes down to the simple truth that “if the boss is not focused on any data in the reports then I am not going to focus on it”.

 

It’s too bad this is the norm in our industry and here is why.    All the data in the reports is a result of activity going on in the business.   If the branch business would freeze in time no data would be generated during that period.  Conversely every  minute of the day the activity in the branch creates or impacts data in the financial reports.  So all the data found in the reports is a mosaic picture of the activity,…or how I like to refer to it as organizational behavior in the branch.

 

The trick to uncover the secrets in the financials is to create a list of questions about productivity, pricing, inventory investments, shipping etc. and dig into the reports and collect data points that directly or indirectly impact the topic, determine a good base denominator and create a ratio.   For example, the warehouse operation seems to be consistently behind in receiving, and missing customer delivery dates.   On the surface it looks like you should hire more people.   You certainly must fix this issue quickly but is spending more money on a warehouse FTE going to fix the problem?   

 

This is where the data comes in.   Pull the data on warehouse shipments per day, per week, per month and apply a variance back say two years.     Then look up warehouse sales data, using cost of goods sold value and create a ratio of warehouse sales per warehouse FTE.   That is just two of many warehouse productivity ratios you could create.   Now, trend those ratios over a 2 or 3 year period to see what direction they have gone.   If the ratios show a consistent reduction in productivity your problem is not solved by adding more people. 
Something is going on out in the warehouse creating a decline in productivity or work getting done as efficiently as it was prior.  

 

You can dig out data on sales, every cost line in the p&l, and on investment in inventory plus many more.  The idea is to get creative and dig out data that touches a particular concern or activity, create a ratio so you are comparing performance to a base and then trending it.  

 

Another quick example is entertainment expense compared to sales over time, or compared to gross profit over time.   Let’s say entertainment continues a strong trend line of double digit growth the last few years but gross profit has remained stagnant.    Perhaps this questions whether you are entertaining the right customers.

 

A series of numbers created means so much more than reading the numbers in a report.  You do not need the same analysis done every month.   Get creative and look for ways to use data to get at the behavior going on in the branch.   

 

You can read more about this in my book 5 Fundamentals for the Wholesale Distribution Branch Manager, (nawd.org/ jim ambrose) explains this in more detail and with more examples in Fundamental #5

 

 

Jim Ambrose