A way to answer that looming ‘how are things going?” question

Jon-Erik BurlesonWith the challenging market we have all lived through over the past 12-15 months, I have found myself making a specific point to analyze our company’s market share and registration data in the form of a presentation as if I were going to show this to my boss in Austria each month.  

While it probably started simply to be able to answer questions and be prepared, funny enough, I only once showed it to anyone. What I have found in doing the exercise, however, is that the simple act of analyzing myself and our company has proven to be a very healthy exercise and one I will continue regardless of market conditions or whether it is requested of me or not.

Simply put, I believe the act of compiling your results and putting them in a formal presentation forces a very structured and healthy analysis of the business. I would even argue this sense of formality can be the single most effective act a manager or owner could do in monitoring their business through rough times. In the current extreme market conditions, I find myself even doing a summary version of this on a weekly basis. We often hear about the importance of being able to quickly react and respond, but often forget it is the data and preparedness that is key to knowing more then when to react, but how and where.

Consider it a bit of role playing. I recommend any business manager create a focused and formal PowerPoint presentation about their business. If you don’t know how to use PowerPoint, you should learn. Your secretary, assistant, staff, wife, husband and or children are not allowed to do this for you as it is the exercise of creating the analysis that will yield the results.

You should be able to define for yourself and your company what the 4-5 key areas of focus should be for this presentation and be able to clearly and concisely give an insightful overview of the details affecting your business. The challenge then comes to put yourself in the shoes of an outsider and ask the questions of why results are the way they are, what are the driving forces behind them and what you are not currently doing that needs to be done to see improvements. Sometimes it may help to even ask a friend or family member to go over it with you to help to put yourself in the position of outside looking in. Thinking of the questions you may be asked and researching data to answer them drives a valuable research that we often want to hand over to the finance or accounting people. Imagine what you may be asked if you were forced to present this in front of a room full of people. Imagine what you would ask if this were presented to you.

Whether you in a dealer in a 20 group or a business leader who has this type of requirement forced upon you, you can never get to know your business too well. And if you change as much as you should, you cannot rely on only doing it once.

If you already have the responsibility of doing this for presenting to owners or upper management, I would further challenge you to start from scratch and do it for yourself. Lastly, for those of you like me with a boss (which we all have one even if not official), there is always the added benefit of being extremely prepared with the question comes: “How are things going?”

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