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How Tall Do You Weigh?

Making Sense of Performance Metrics

Growing up my dad would ask us random questions. One of those questions was, “how tall do you weigh?” Asking such a nonsensical question was one of my dad’s attempts at humor. And contributed to confusing a number of young kids…all in good fun.

So, what type of performance metric questions are you asking of your business? And are they the right questions to ask?

By one definition, a performance metric is an input of data that represents an organization’s actions and/or achievements. Put simply, performance metrics are your scorecard. They help you track and determine progress against objectives and goals. And, quite candidly, can help you make better and more informed decisions.

Everyday in your business you are receiving data points, feedback, progress notes, etc. Determining which of these inputs are your true performance metrics will help you cull through the noise and narrow your focus, energy and resources toward the most useful and valuable information that can help you drive growth, profits and overall fulfillment.

Admittedly selecting the “right” performance metrics for your business can seem overwhelming. And the last thing I want to suggest is adding another overwhelming task to your already busy schedule. But we do need to make sure the metrics we are collecting will provide you with usable and valuable information.

So let’s break it down to something manageable. Start with an overarching goal you have in place for the next quarter or year. Now, what key data points will help you better understand if you are tracking and trending in the right direction toward this goal? Land on one or two. Don’t over complicate it. Let those be your performance metrics: your scorecard to track progress and provide real data to determine what’s working and where adjustments may be needed. You can follow this process for specific areas/departments of your business as well.

Here is a partial list to get you started.

Metrics for “overall” business performance can include:

  • Revenue (total and per line item)

  • Profitability (total and per line item)

  • Productivity

Metrics for sales can include:

  • Lead source and outcomes

  • Close ratio and time-to-close

  • Value per job and/or value per client

  • Individual sales revenue compared to team sales revenue

Metrics for employee engagement

  • Productivity

  • Work quality output

  • Peer observations/feedback

  • Retention rate/turnover rate

Metrics for client/customer retention

  • Customer satisfaction scores

  • Retention/attrition ratio

  • Referrals from existing client-base

Please, don’t over think this, but do take it seriously and get started on it! Again, start with a significant overarching goal for your business, and work it backwards to determine a couple of ways to measure progress. Look at some specific areas of your organization that can benefit in a similar way, and do the same exercise. Share your thoughts and notes with a trusted colleague or your business coach.

Running a small business is no easy task. View your performance metrics as a means to help you refine focus, gauge progress and make informed decisions on key areas of your business’ success. Once you see their value, I’m sure you will stick with the process, and avoid asking misaligned metric questions such as ‘how tall do you weigh’.

In the spirit of helping our business owner community, please share in the comments a performance metric you use for your business. Your input may help others initiate the process of developing and tracking their own performance metrics for success.

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