Strategic Customer Analysis

It is common practice to determine your target customer when developing a business. However, this tunnel vision buyer group mentality leaves money on the table for businesses. To truly optimize profit and revenue a company’s leadership must be well aware of the many buyer groups (purchasers, actual users, and influencers) that can offer opportunity to enter into a new market space with high profit potential.

For example, say you are leather shoe manufacturer who usually focuses on retailers as its main buyer group. Through analysis of your current, similar and alternative products coupled with identifying the pain points of using your product you can realize a low-cost profitable opportunity to reel in your end users; essentially entering into a new market space.

A more effective strategic customer analysis would require you to understand the following:

  • Why buyers choose to buy your product; aka purchase criteria
  • What are the factors that cause customers to become angry with your product or company
  • What are the factors that keep potential customers at bay (you must understand their priorities and create solutions to meet their needs)
  • The preferences of your customers
  • The decision making process of your customers
  • Customer behavior
  • Why they choose to buy at a certain time (holidays, birthday, graduation, et cetera)
  • Time, travel, hassle and money the customer is willing to pay for buying and using your product or service
  • What functional needs need to be met
  • purchasing power

Businesses must also understand what factors motivate buyers to purchase based on price or quality. However, it is imperative that you just focus on the buyer group that has the highest profit potential at a lower cost and your company’s capabilities are able to meet their priorities.

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Lean Wednesday Tip: Loss Prevention Critical KPI Metrics

“Measuring and reporting the most valuable metrics is critical to identifying areas for improvement because they can be compared to industry and competitors for the purpose of lowering costs, enhancing productivity and safeguarding assets. Some critical Loss Prevention/Fraud KPI metrics you should be measuring are process cycle time, average days to resolve a fraud incident, cost per fraud incident, and process cost).

E.O.W (End of the week) Notable Tip: Client-centric Accounts Receivable

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a great week.

Today’s E.O.W is about encouraging your accounting team to embody a more client-centric approach to accounts receivable by asking smart questions that glean insights into what clients value most and what their priorities are. To truly understand that customer everyone must be part of the customer service spectrum because anybody in the company can affect how the client sees the company. This also provides the opportunity to realize areas for improvement, for example, reduction of receivable days and optimized value creation.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this E.O.W!

As always, “Success is continuous improvement!”

Days Sales Outstanding: Get Paid Faster tips

You’ve made a sale! That’s great but the customer hasn’t paid and the invoice is now 90 days past due. This scenario is common amongst many businesses. Many businesses resort to offering extended payment terms but this is a bad idea because it affects their cashflow. What you really want is client satisfaction because when the client is happy they will quickly remit payment for the service or product that was provided to them coupled with strong A/R controls and processes that ensure you get paid in a timely manner.

By developing and comparing critical A/R KPI metrics (cost per invoice, process cycle time, payment turn-around, et cetera) to industry and competitor data you are able to realize opportunities for improvement in DSO. Finance executives can use this knowledge to reduce DSO with the company’s capabilities and ability to sustain DSO process controls in mind.

A client’s ability to pay on time is based on their credit risk. Finance Executives should stay abreast of client industry and market shifts, require and create a client financial stability plan when pursuing clients to ensure they are financially stable and are not slow payers. Some companies may be apprehensive about requesting a credit history in fear of losing an attractive customer, however, incentives and credit risk insurance can be offered to offset this possibility.

Payment terms should be made clear to clients by various communications, such as, the invoice itself, on-boarding materials, introductory emails, et cetera. These payment terms should also be in agreement with common industry practice and customer needs and expectations. For example, if clients are billed per retainers/retention, it is best that you require an initial upfront payment. Other ways to safeguard cashflow and ensure faster payment would be to offer broad payment options (ACH, Check, wire transfers, PayPal, Credit Cards, et cetera), payment plans and quick pay discounts.

Overdue receivables should require constant and daily communication with clients to understand the reason for the payment delay, offer payment solutions or optimize value.

The billing process is critical to the reduction of DSO because it should run smoothly. Meaning invoices should be created and sent on time, have no errors, and contain all the appropriate information. Incorrect charges, incorrect rate discounts and mailing addresses are all things that can delay payment. It is also important to update customer profiles in accounting software with contract agreements and up-to-date contact information.

Companies should regularly convey and update their A/R controls and processes. They should utilize the voice of the customer to gather data that can help improve those processes, support clients falling on hard times by offering payment plans, and develop client-centric processes for handling non-paying customers, including guidelines for managing disputes and turning over invoices to a collections agency.

Top management must commit to these DSO reduction efforts and have continuous conversations about A/R controls. They should make these controls visual so that everybody can see them and audit the process periodically. By continuously staying abreast of DSO metrics and making improvements as the industry and company changes will ensure that employees understand how important these efforts are to the company.

E.O.W (End of the Week) Notable Tip: Product Innovation for lower freight costs

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a great week.

Freight and shipping costs can eat away at profits but they don’t have to. By having strong auditing, procurement and vendor management processes you can yield better profits. One way to reduce freight costs is by working with suppliers on product innovations that reduce the weight of the product without affecting quality. By designing more sustainable products that in turn reduce waste is an effective way in reducing freight costs.

That’s the E.O.W for today. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

As always, “Success is continuous improvement.”

 

Lean Wednesday Tip: Supplier Quality Plans

“Suppliers play a critical role in ensuring quality for a product or service, effective companies collaborate with suppliers on quality by requiring that they conform to standards, such as ISO 9000. Quality Assurance audits confirm or deny good suppliers.”

E.O.W(End of the Week) Notable Tip: Return on Assets

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a great week.

Today, I would like to discuss return on assets. Effective companies utilize their assets wisely by ensuring for example that low margins are supported by an equally low asset density coupled with the ability to remove waste and inefficiencies from processes. Continuous investment in assets and continuous improvement of processes yields better operating asset efficiency and is good for shareholders as well. Asset depreciation with a stagnant revenue stream is not good for shareholders as the net-to-gross ratio tends to decline as assets age without the appropriate replacements or investments being made.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this E.O.W and as always, “Success is continuous improvement.”

 

 

E.O.W (End of the Week) Notable Tip: Unprofitable Factors in the industry

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a great week.

Today, I want to discuss unprofitable activities/factors that your company may be utilizing a great deal of resources on.

“By understanding your customer’s priorities you are able to shift resources to activities that drive value and profitability, in turn, eliminating those factors that yield no profits and realizing opportunities to create new factors that have not been offered before. It is critical that your accounting team is aware of the activities and customers that offer the most profit by creating and maintaining a Customer P&L sheet. “

 

As always, “Success is continuous improvement!”

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