– Proper systems and processes help tighten everything up and make your company run efficiently and effectively. You need to make the most use of everyone’s time and do thin....
Posted by: Rick Arthur in Testimonials
Rick has done a tremendous job assisting our company with accounting procedures and systems. He starting working with us as we were making a transition in our accounting operations and entering a growth phase of the company. During this period of time, he assisted with completely reorganzing our accounting systems and processes. His work has been instrumental in our success. As a small business owner, I call on him for oversight, advice and from time to time just a good pep talk. Hiring Rick was one of the very best business decisions we have ever made.
President/Owner - Clockwork Marketing Services, Inc.
Posted by: Rick Arthur in Articles
"The Price is Right" television show has survived for years by giving people a chance to guess the right price for merchandise and services. Many business owners still play this game, but with much higher stakes. How do you set the prices for the products or services you sell? Do you rely on a fixed-price markup from your cost or on a gut feel? If your pricing strategy is based on either of these tactics, you may be losing money or losing customers.
The three most popular approaches -- in order of their use by entrepreneurs -- are cost-based, market-related and competition-driven pricing. Frankly, any wise entrepreneur should take into account all three techniques before publishing prices.
- Costs plus a reasonable profit
- Clear understanding of all your costs
- Labor, materials, direct overhead and indirect costs
- Estimated volume of sales to allocate costs
- Fixed and variable costs
- Product "break-even point"
- Markets tolerance for your price
- Price sensitivity - wholesale vs. retail
- Value of "sizzle"
- Supply and demand
- One-of-a-kind products
- Understanding your distinct advantage
- Consider "introductory" low-price offer
"Right pricing" is the art of choosing the best price for your inventory. It requires information, facts, analysis and a tailored strategy before you establish your pricing policy. At a minimum, your pricing policy should take into consideration the following:
- Your true product costs
- Market supply and demand
- Anticipated sales volume
- Competitors' prices
- Economic conditions
- Business location (retail)
- Seasonal fluctuations
- Customer psychological factors
- Credit terms and purchase discounts
- Customer price sensitivity
- Desired business image
- Market share
The biggest mistake small businesses make concerning pricing is not reassessing pricing on a regular basis. The marketplace is constantly changing making it mandatory you keep a close watch on your pricing. Raise or lower prices as necessary keeping the above suggestions in mind.
In order to ease the pain of your customer when increasing prices, you may want to consider the following:
- Notify your existing customers of the increase and, if possible, give themthe opportunity to purchase at the existing prices
- Try and advertise the increase along with "new and improved" products or services
- Give the customer something in return for the increased costs. For example, free shipping with orders above a certain value
- If possible, delay the increase for existing customers
Successful businesses develop pricing strategies along with written policies and procedures to insure they meet their projected sales revenue and margins. Are you a winner at "The Price is Right"?
Posted by: Rick Arthur in Articles
For successful companies, timely and accurate financial statements are the cornerstone of sound financial management. While the information is historical it provides information critical to the management of any business. The meaning of the numbers comes alive through meaningful comparisons and analysis. Yet there are many business owners and operators that miss the opportunity to manage their business because of their belief in certain myths. Here are a few truths behind the misconceptions.
Myth #1: Financial statements are just history; I mange my business forward. The banks and tax man can use the financials but they aren't much use to me.
Any business owner who thinks like this doesn't understand the constant loop between financials and the budgeting process. Budgets need to be dynamic, adjusting to changes in goals or results. Planning means understanding how your business will reach these goals.
Your historical financial statements must be the bedrock on which your budget/plan is built. While you can prepare your budget independently from the prior year's financials, it's important to bridge the information back, define differences and consistencies and plan accordingly.
It's also important to understand that budgets are worthless without results to compare them to. Comparing actual result to budgets will tell you where you over-performed or under-performed, where you have opportunities or unexpected superior results. Analyzing this information will help you incorporate the appropriate standard procedures into your business and show you where you need to make repairs.
If you don't take the time to compare budget plans to monthly financials, you are letting opportunity pass you by.
Myth #2: I don't really understand my financials, but they seem to keep the bank happy, so I'm okay with them.
Believe it or not, this statement is too common. Obviously, the banking relationship is a critical one, maybe one on which the life of the business is underpinned. But, why hand financial statements to the banks without understanding how the bank is going to use them? You need to be able to look at your financial statements like a banker.
This is a tall order, so let your B2B CFO® help you. Ask "How will the bank view these financials? What are the points that are critical to the bank? What parts of these statements worry the bank (i.e., losses, excessive leveraging, poor current ratio, inappropriate asset investment)?"
Better yet, address these questions monthly or quarterly so that you can make necessary changes before it's too late. For example, your financial statements may indicate that you should reclassify officer loans, pay some payables, and run the cash balance up or refinance some debt. Having this information monthly or quarterly can enhance your banking relationship.
Myth #3: My financials indicate I made (or lost) money, but I don't believe it.
Not many people say this out loud, but we wish they would, so we can help them better understand their situation. It is not responsible to allow disconnect between your perception of your business performance and the reality because there is wonderful knowledge in understanding the difference.
First, your financials are based upon certain assumptions or accounting policies, which may be minor in some businesses and huge in others. These may include depreciation calculations, amortization, bad debt recognition, revenue recognition and tax provision computations, etc. You need to understand those policies and be okay with them. We cannot productively discuss your financials without basic agreement on the appropriateness of these policies, or at least framing our conversation in the realities of how these policies are applied.
Second, it's important to understand that profits don't always feel like profits. Profitable businesses can and often do have negative cash flow. A vendor screaming for payments or wondering if you can make next week's payroll doesn't feel like profit. Similarly, cash flow issues can mask losses. Many businesses are awash in cash even as they fail. Receivables are collected and become cash; inventory is reduced and becomes cash all while the business is literally cannibalizing itself. So, you also need to learn to understand your cash flow statement, not just your profit, and build appropriate plans.
In any case, it's important for you to ask questions about your financial statements and how they impact your business. And, if you don't understand the answer, ask again, persist again until you sort out where your perception of the financials collides. This knowledge gives you a true realization of issues so that you can fix them before you have consumed years of hard-earned equity.