Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Q4 Finish Like a Savage Prep for 2020

STILL PLENTY OF TIME IN Q4: FINISH LIKE A SAVAGE & PREPARE FOR 2020 DOMINATION!

There’s something about Q4 that is always exhilarating to me. Knowing that “the game” is coming to an end, each and every play is more significant, there’s less margin for error. Perform well during this time and you can make up for a lot of previous mistakes and setbacks along the way. Let up or fumble the ball, and you can destroy all the momentum you made thus far. No pressure, right?

All of this is going on while simultaneously a new game is going to begin soon thereafter. Endings are always thrilling, but so are new beginnings after all. The new year coming up is especially enticing. Not only is it a new year, but it’s a whole new DECADE. The freaking Roaring 2020’s are upon us.

Despite the hectic grind I’ve been on lately (pretty perpetual at this point, but even crazier with baby #2 arriving very soon), I wanted to take a little time to revisit and write up a quick/updated “Q4 Manifesto” which is mostly for myself, but then I decided to add a few extra tips for you too, primarily applicable to both your business and professional life.

  • Don’t wait for January 1st to start your New Year’s Resolutions, now’s as good a time as any. It’s a misguided practice that usually doesn’t end well anyway. You don’t need an arbitrary start date to work on self-improvement, that should be a daily practice as it is. Why not start right now?
  • Get AGGRESSIVE – Close out ALL of those pending dream deals that have been lingering. Do much more outreach and lead generation. Don’t dwell on whether you’re annoying people or assume that they already have an expert helping them that does what you do. Push harder!
  • Try not to eat and drink everything in sight just because it’s the holidays. Maintain (or in some cases start) your workout routine consistently and only indulge occasionally. It’s especially tough given all the parties and networking events, but some balance now will spare you later.
  • Enjoy time with my family and friends and BE PRESENT. Don’t spend that precious time distracted with your head in the clouds and worrying about things that are out of your control.
  • Debrief/Reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t, what do you need to improve upon? Lay it all out objectively and identify opportunities to get better. While this may seem obvious, it’s crucial.
  • Strategize for 2020 (and beyond) now. Spend an appropriate amount of time writing out specific goals, sketching out project plans, and dreaming big. It’s rare that a whole new decade is about to start so let your imagination run a little wild to kick things off. From there be mindful, thoughtful, deliberate, and thorough enough to also make your plan realistic while still stretching yourself. Once this exercise is completed, start working on implementing that strategy ASAP to carry some momentum with you.
  • Add appointments to your 2020 calendar (monthly/quarterly, etc.) now to make sure you schedule the time to reflect on your progress and measure where you’re at along the way to ensure you continuously improve.

A few specifically for you:

  • Get and implement a CRM already! Seriously, how many times do I have to say it? If you need to spend some time asking a few questions on how to get started, reach out to me, that part is, and always will be, on the house.
  • Start a blog, a podcastvideo/webinar series, whatever. Leverage content marketing to develop and enhance your brand and get your business’ name out there.
  • Finally start that business you’ve been day dreaming about for years now.
  • Or at least start working on that side hustle you’ve been planning.
  • Identify an organization you’re interested in and get involved in the community. This could be philanthropic or civic, doesn’t matter as much as simply taking action and giving back.

I’m sure there are plenty others I’m forgetting. And I will likely revisit this some more over the next few months to continue tweaking it.

What are some of your Q4 goals? What about your 2020 goals? How can I help you achieve them? Please let me know, would love to hear from you!

CRM Call to Action 2020

Your Annual CRM Call to Action for 2020

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now (here’s the last time), yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. This is the year that changes. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. Now, you can even get basic versions of a CRM program for free. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Whether you work for a large and complex company, or if you’re an independent freelancer, or if you’re a sales mercenary who is compensated by getting to “eat what you kill,” there is a CRM program out there for you. Regardless of your budget (or lack thereof), you can customize the level of sophistication of your CRM program, as they all have various subscription levels. Further, there was recently an absolutely game changing announcement from one of my CRM platform preferences (and the one I personally use for my business).

Zoho One – An Operating System for Business

“Zoho One is a broad and cohesive set of applications that work collectively to run an entire business on the cloud. It includes more than 40 web applications and an equal number of mobile apps—under a single sign-on, with centralized administration and provisioning—making it a true operating system for any business. While each application punches above its weight against the competition, collectively they deliver a knockout punch.

With Zoho One, we’ve put together all the applications a company needs to acquire and serve its customers (marketing, sales, automation, and support apps); run its operations (finance, recruiting, and HR apps); and provide all the tools for its employees to work collaboratively and get their work done (office suite, mail, personal productivity, and collaboration apps). Almost any company has these same needs. With Creator, our drag-and-drop app builder, customers can even build custom apps for unique business needs—like logistics scheduling—and put them under the same umbrella that forms the single operating system for their business.

Zoho One is available at $30 a month—or just about a dollar a day, per employee. ($35 if you pay on a month-to-month basis).”

While WIMS, Inc. is platform agnostic (we work with all of them, including SalesforceHubSpotMicrosoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others) it’s getting more difficult not to refer my clients and prospects straight to Zoho right now. There are of course exceptions, but they’ve built something special, particularly for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Now, back to the more general CRM theme.

They all integrate with your email provider of choice, along with most social media channels, so tracking communications is easy (and automated). There are an incredible number of third-party add-ons you can incorporate depending on how robust your operations processes are to add additional functionality too.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

CRMs help you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing a CRM program can be a significant commitment initially, if you do it right, the benefit to your business is invaluable. With just under two months left in 2019, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2020 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

Improving with Kaizen

Improving with Kaizen

I have already highlighted some agile practices which can be used to enhance your personal and professional lives. From Kanban Boards to agile meetings, companies and individuals are being incorporated by thought leaders and managers at large and small organizations around the world. Kaizen is an approach to continual improvement which like Kanban originated in lean manufacturing practices in Japan in the 1950s.

 

The core to embracing Kaizen is to focus on continual improvements across all elements of the specific area which you are attempting to improve. If you are working on a team tasked with improving the user interface for a new mobile application for a volunteer organization a good place to begin would be to identify possible opportunities. Using this example will show how the focus and power of Kaizen is on being able to focus on specific aspects of a large process to improve the overall standing of the organization.

 

Identifying Opportunities  

Improvements begin with taking ideas and turning them into simple actions. The first step in gaining an understanding of how to improve a process is to understand the basic functionality of the task or process at hand. When applying Kaizen to work situations the place to begin is to understand the business process.

For our example of improving an existing mobile app, the focus should be on the existing business process and how the new roll out of the application fits into the organization’s overall strategy. The new application should be easy to use while conveying the core mission of the organization. This means that the aligning of strategic decision making means a new product or software update goes beyond developing software and aligns all business function in projects to ensure they are vital to the mission and values.

 

Collaboration

Actions are not siloed but must be collaborative between functional groups within any organization and often the best solutions come from collaborations between different organizations. Working on a shared goal will look different for every team and every circumstance/project will be unique but some lessons from Kaizen can direct teams to focus on specific areas of improvement and reap the rewards of focused collaboration. A good direction to follow on getting to the core of problems is by undertaking a root cause analysis. Through asking a series of questions to find the main cause of the problem at hand instead of merely patching problems through short term fixes.

 

Root Cause Analysis

Do you ever have a problem that constantly arises regardless of how many times you try to do little changes to fix it?

If this is the case conducting a root cause analysis may be in your future.

The purpose of a root cause analysis is to find the actual cause of a problem which in many cases is not visible on the surface. This requires asking many questions and getting to the cause of a problem instead of focusing on the symptoms that cause uncertainty. This process requires deep reflection and thoughtfulness to determine and focus in on the underlying causes of problems.

 

What this means

A nice feature of Kaizen is that it is an intuitive practice that many people already participate in without even knowing it. Asking more questions and being able to come to a collective agreement to improve the situation of your organization is a key outcome of Kaizen. This practice can additionally be used in your personal life to improve your relationships, career aspirations, and even improving home projects and chores. Revisit your own situation and see if there is any place that you can improve and begin asking questions to identify the root cause of the problem and make a plan to improve your outlook on life.

4 Ways Analytics Will Improve Your Brewery or Winery Sales

4 Ways Analytics Will Improve Your Brewery or Winery Sales

By Jack Tompkins

Avoid poor performance with some pour analytics!

In the brewery/cidery/wine world, analytics can increase sales, improve customer insights, and most importantly, support and refine your gut instincts!

Whether you sell through a taproom or you have the full restaurant feel with the best beverages in town, analytics can help improve your day to day and leave you time to enjoy some of your very own hard work.

For brewers, if you get creative and dedicated enough (plus some extra equipment), analytics can even have a meaningful impact on the brewing process (shortening the time by a few hours).

For now, though, we’ll focus on making your top sellers even better, building loyalty with customers, and selling the amazing product you’ve already perfected.

#1 Further Identifying Top Performers… and What To Do With Them

You most likely have a pretty good sense of what your top performing drink is, regardless of the analytical power you have available. There’s a good chance that some further analytics could help enhance your top performer’s sales though.

Are those high sellers typically sold at a certain time of day or day of the week? Are they the highlight of the tour? What is typically ordered with them? How do they perform when on sale? Is the top seller also the most profitable?

Getting data supported answers to those kinds of questions can really help you lean into your top sellers and make it the top seller in the state, not just your taproom.

Running promos for your top performer

Using analytics, you can determine how top performers sell on certain nights, days, or times of day. Using this data, you can create promos that target times when the drink sells well and see if it sells phenomenally during the promo (more of a good thing is great, right?). On the flip side, you could try offering the promo when sales are typically a bit down, thus evening out the sales and using your top performers to bolster weaker sales periods.

If either promo works particularly well, you could then try it on some second-tier drinks and see if it helps their sales as well!

Selling your most profitable drink

You and your accountant potentially boil things down to financial metrics on a “per barrel” basis, but what about expanding that thinking to the pint and individual sale level? Is the breakdown of wholesale to taproom sales optimized for profitability? What is your most profitable drink sold in combination with?

You could always include your most profitable drink in an upsell opportunity, use it in promos since it has a higher margin, and pair it with food options that make sense for the customer’s palate and your business’ bank account.

You could also expand this to general menu profitability, but that’s a piece for another article (still heavily relating to analytics though).

What pairs well with that?

Do your bartenders and waitresses get this question a lot? Of course, the safe answer is for them to disregard their own taste buds and go with the popular answer, but it’s sometimes difficult to know that, let alone upsell another item in that context.

With analytics, you can have the two most frequently ordered food items with that drink at the tip of your fingers for a quick and data supported answer that your customers will likely enjoy the most!

Don’t sell food? Everyone sells flights of beers/ciders/wines, and sometimes a combination of all three! The same math applies here – you can quickly say what typical flight combos are or upsell to suggest the most profitable tastings that go with the rest of the flight.

What sells best after a tour?

Maybe it isn’t your top performer. Maybe something in the sales pitch/historical fun fact/story about the creation made it a top tour seller. Analyzing the data can tell you what the financial results of the tour are and help you leverage that experience in other sales points.

The shortened version of that same story could be put to good use at the bar and increase sales there as well!

 

#2 Put Your Marketing Data to Use

There is a lot of power that can come from your audience. Marketing data can give you insights into not just top sellers, but most popular options (not always the same), most talked about drinks and events, highest return on drink-related campaigns, and many other pieces of analytical gold. Just refer to the folks at WIMS for the power of your marketing data.

Pay attention to your marketing avenue’s data and you can develop strong, loyal connections with local residents. If you’re able to identify people who engage with your material most often, wouldn’t you want to encourage that behavior? Throw them a free sample of a new beer or get their opinion on a recent event. Whatever it is, people love to feel appreciated and will maintain loyalty because of it.

Analyzing your marketing data can help find these individuals who love your brand and you can develop a mutually beneficial relationship with them. They also probably represent your target market so that makes them the perfect test subject for new ideas, and you can extrapolate from their comments/reviews and apply it to the larger population of your target market with some simple statistics.

 

#3 Analyze and Cater To Repeat Business

Similar to your loyal social media followers, it’s important to take note of your repeat customers. You should be able to track this through your POS data. Of course, folks who saddle up to the bar several times a week are going to be easy to identify, but people that come by once a month might be harder to remember, let alone remember their preferences.

Acknowledging these repeat customers goes a long way. Using your data, you can learn their preferences, food they order, favorite style, other options they would enjoy based on their tastes, etc. and it can help give you an additional level of insight that make you and your waitstaff look great.

Repeat business is the key to success. Spending 10 minutes analyzing their data can result in a loyal customer for life.

#4 Put it All Together

Now, let’s combine all of this into a logical, and very effective cycle that can result in significant long term benefits for your business.

  1. Start with identifying your top sellers and most profitable drinks – these will always come into play

  2. Engage with folks through social media, blog posts, and email marketing to further promote those top selling/most profitable options and generate some buzz for them

  3. Take that marketing data that you gather from the campaigns and identify what is most popular, who shares it, who actually comes in to purchase it, etc.

  4. Study the “what pairs best” combinations of food/flight options to satisfy customers when they come in

  5. Pay attention to, acknowledge, and examine the data for your repeat customers to build strong loyalty

  6. Continue nurturing this end to end cycle of satisfied, loyal, and maybe slightly intoxicated customers that you now have supporting you week in and week out

A little bit of analytics goes a long way and can greatly help in every aspect above. You’ll be targeting better customers, be more efficient, save money, and increase revenue all with adding a few key analytical practices to your process that won’t take away from your day to day or your gut instinct.

If you’re interested in seeing how we can help implement these strategies at your brewery/winery please reach out to us here.

Also posted on the Pineapple Consulting blog here.

Why Loyalty Programs Don't Work

Why Loyalty Programs Don’t Work…

As Marketers, one of the key metrics we follow is brand engagement, also known as Loyalty.  We often talk about the size of a market, or how much market penetration a particular business or campaign has achieved.  Loyalty is the measurement of how much of our captured market repeats business with us.

It’s said keeping a customer is cheaper than gaining a new one.  Considering the retail industry as a whole spent over $1.9 Billion in 2016 running Loyalty programs, I’d say it’s still pretty costly.  Businesses use “Loyalty Programs” or “VIP Clubs” as a way to grow customer loyalty.  Unfortunately, these programs are often costly to operate and rarely translate to any kind of loyalty to the brand using them.

The average house is participating in over a dozen loyalty programs, and less than half the users are active or engaged with the brands.  While the program is designed to increase loyalty, the business ends up spending money on the customer base that’s least likely to leave.  These programs effectively cut into the profit margins from customers that were likely going to return, regardless of any additional perks.  That last part is especially true considering most of the participants either don’t know how to redeem the rewards, or don’t care enough to find out.

You can find all of this information and research with a simple Google search.  However, there is one market segment adding these types of programs at a faster rate than previous years.  The beverage industry, specifically Breweries, Brewpubs, Tap houses, Wineries and Vineyards, Distilleries, and Hard Cider Mills.  The most common model is by far the Mug Club, or Mug Membership.  While some are a one-time payment, most are annual or monthly payments to a business, providing the member with added perks.  Now, as a former member of these clubs, I LOVED them.  I probably doubled my money with the perks I received.  An example of the perks is as follows:

-Personalized mug, typically 2-4 ounces larger than the standard pint but priced the same

-Brewery/Tap house Merchandise (T-shirts, Hats, Koozie, bottle openers, stickers, etc.)

-Discounts on Beer/merchandise

-Special Events (no cost to members)

-First in line for special events/product releases

-Free Growlers and discounted fills

The average cost of these programs to the members can range anywhere from $40 to a couple hundred, depending on the Brewery or Bar.  I spent $150 to join one, and $85 a year to keep it renewed, with additional shirts and events with each renewal.  The Breweries justify this by saying it creates a group of loyal customers that will promote the business outside the walls and gives the members a unique sense of community.  When most of the Brewery clubs have 100 members or more, that’s a big cut into a profit margin from a group of people that would likely be loyal customers with or without the club.  Can the breweries prove these members are promoting them in the community? What’s the return on the brewery’s investment?  If you can’t prove something works, how do you justify the expense?

 

Alternatives to the Club

Now you don’t think I’d sit here and rip apart an old system that’s been in place for years without offering alternatives, do you?  I love a good beer, and want to see these Breweries grow.  They stay in the same system, or don’t participate, because there aren’t many people out there talking about alternatives.  The end goal is to increase their market share, and promote loyalty within their current customer base.

 

Special Release Clubs

These kinds of membership clubs seem to work for those chasing the elusive “Whales”, or special limited run bottles.  Breweries can forecast what kinds of beer they want to make, based on cost of production, and divide that total into the membership count to give them the cost per member.  Tag on whatever margin they need to make it worth their time, and the membership group can turn a profit before the first batch ever goes into production.  This gives the members a sense of loyalty, status, and keeps them engaged with the brand as they look forward to the next release.  There’s a value add, and breweries can measure the benefit.  Club members typically have to travel to the brewery to pick up the bottles, and will often spend a bit more on beer during the visit.  POS systems can track the members and allow breweries to measure the additional revenue per member at the time of the visit.

 

Active Point Systems

This is a new take on the long-standing loyalty system, but with a twist.  Breweries, Distilleries, Cider Mills, and Vineyards/Wineries can easily turn their typical social and marketing engagements into a point system.  By continually engaging with their markets, breweries can put out a series of tasks that equal points.  Create a clear, public facing list of “award tiers” that customers can follow, and the point totals needed to reach each one.  World of Beer did something along these lines with their “1 point per beer purchased” programs, with prizes ranging from a free t-shirt to a private party with a free keg of your choice.  Not a bad start, but they could have gone further.

The one beer = one point model only works when people are in the building, and it isn’t typically something most of their market thinks about unless they’re already patronizing a location.  The prizes also need to be collected from the location they signed up for the program.  This negates the benefits if someone moves or a location goes out of business.  You can switch your “home” location, but that’s unnecessary friction for the customer.

Award Tiers need to not only benefit those already in the building, but also incentivize the market as a whole to either patronize a brewery, or promote the brewery.  Our team at WIMS put together a system that rewards your market for not only coming in to buy your product, but also promote your product to their own network.  You keep them engaged with your brand with regular bonus point activity, creating a sense of community.  We put a system in place that allows you to track and quantify the return on investment from the dollars spent on a marketing campaign.  The best kind of loyalty is from customers that not only frequent the brewery, but also promote the brewery when they’re not there.  Expand the market and increase loyalty within the new segments as it grows.

Whatever system you put in place for your Brewery, Distillery, Cider Mill or Winery, make sure you can measure the results.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, I’d love to hear from you.  Reach out in the comments below or sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Cheers!

-Tom Schaefer, Jr.

Part 1 of aseries…

Charlotte Fall Updates

Charlotte in Fall

As the calendar has turned to October the temperatures in Charlotte are finally cooling off slightly after some record heat through September. While the weather may be cooling down and the fall spirit is spreading from Ballantyne to Belmont the business community around the Queen City is staying busy. Cranes can be seen all around the city and the roads are packed with dump trucks and construction vehicles. The real estate market is continuing to be very active as new residents continue to move into the Charlotte area and millennials embark on their first home buying purchase. Technology jobs are expanding across Charlotte bringing high paying jobs to the city and diversifying the entire regional economy. As job growth continues the real estate market in Charlotte is becoming one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. As an increased number of jobs are being created and the major infrastructure investments are made across the region the area is striving to move forward and be positioned for the economy of the future. While challenges including access to affordable housing and congestion exist the improvements and efforts of public and private leaders across the Charlotte region are addressing critical issues and moving the city towards a brighter future.

 

A Southern Tech Hub

Charlotte is expanding beyond being more than a financial services hub, it is becoming a major destination for tech talent. The CompTIA Tech Town Index 2018 ranked Charlotte as the best city to embark on a technology career. The lower cost of living, 1.3% below the national average make Charlotte a desirable place to move, begin a family and purchase a home. The cost of living is particularly more affordable than other tech hubs including the Bay Area, New York, and Boston.

Many workers from the Midwest and Northeast are relocating to Charlotte to settle down in a place with lower taxes and an abundance of recreational activities to supplement career growth. The projected number of openings over the next five years in the tech sector is a steady 11% showing how the growth in the Charlotte tech sector is here to stay. Many Charlotte companies desire tech workers including some of the largest regional job creators including major banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Mooresville, NC based Lowe’s is opening a tech hub in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte bringing 2,000 jobs by 2021. This favorable job growth is spilling into the real estate market which consistently ranks as the one of the most active markets in the US.

 

Real Estate

The Charlotte real estate market was ranked fourth in the 41st annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate behind only Raleigh-Durham, Austin, and Nashville. The metrics from this report combine tech jobs to real estate investments in determining the rankings. The ranking of fourth marks a move from ninth in the 2018 report showing how the Charlotte real estate market is heating up. Some of the insight from the report also highlighted how strong home building prospects are in Charlotte, ranking second in 2019 up from fourth in 2018. The ability to attract technology and manufacturing to diversify beyond financial services is another factor driving regional growth and helping the housing market. Investments in infrastructure projects have provided additional benefits to improving desirability to Charlotte including improvements at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and an expanding Light Rail system. Along with massive success comes some growing pains and Charlotte, like many other Sunbelt cities, is feeling some residual effects of growth. These include higher housing costs, additional roadway infrastructure projects, and a need to improve stormwater systems. All things considered the real estate market is continuing to be very active, attracting 1.2% of US real estate investments from 2016-2019 while accounting for only 0.8% of the nation’s population. As additional companies  relocate to Charlotte and retirees move to the desirable Carolina climate and tax situation additional single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses will be needed to handle continued housing demands.

 

Relocations and Expansion

Over the past 12 months multiple companies have announced major relocation projects. The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance has been working with local and state officials in South Carolina and North Carolina to attract companies to expand current business operations, open regional offices, or relocate their headquarters to the regions. Some recent projects which have created new jobs across the region include Honeywell, which has relocated their headquarters to Charlotte in a move expected to create over 750 jobs.

These jobs along with new jobs from Lowe’s and a continued presence by Duke Energy, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo mean some of the world’s largest companies have a major presence in Charlotte. Beyond these firms the startup community in Charlotte is growing with recent expansions coming from AvidXchange who is planning to grow to accommodate 1,200 new employees. This diverse economic landscape allows Charlotte to grow beyond traditional financial services institutions while utilizing the skills of the regions highly skilled workforce.

 

 

WIMS Partners

The WIMS team has a robust and expanding presence in Charlotte utilizing the skills of partners. As we continue to grow, we are always looking for new partners and if you believe you can grow with us, we want to hear from you to see if opportunities exist. With the continued growth of WIMS it is exciting to see the city and region around us changing and growing.

 

Concluding thoughts

Charlotte has established itself as a major economic powerhouse in the Southeast that is seeing increased investment and interest on a regional, national, and international scene. As companies continue their planning for 2020 and beyond, many in the Charlotte region continue to grow towards an even brighter future. The institutions in the city through public private partnerships are investing in the city’s institutions to continue to encourage investment and relocations to Charlotte. By focusing on sustaining growth and creating a better region for the future, Charlotte is positioning itself for long term success moving up the ranking of best places to live as the quality of life in greater Charlotte region continues to improve.

Data Analytics Dashboard

How Anyone can Build a Custom Data Analytics Dashboard

If you could carve out an hour a month for analysis in order to save a dozen hours of work, the one-hour investment would be worth it, right?

How about if that same hour led to crucial details about your sales trends and customers insights?

On top of all that, what if that same one-hour investment came at no additional cost to you?

Seems like a pretty great deal.

Welcome to the benefits of an Excel-based analytical dashboard.

Benefits of an Analytical Dashboard

You’ve most likely heard of the powers and benefits of data analytics. You’ve probably seen examples from things like POS systems, Tableau, cloud-based software, and many others.

Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Saving you time and money through efficiency and more impactful insights

Spending time looking over your dashboard saves hours of debating anecdotal or piecemeal results and helps guide you towards the best path forward

  • Giving you better insights into your customer to improve marketing campaigns

Campaigns based on hard data are more successful as you can target your intended customer more effectively

  • Taking the guesswork out and make great, data supported, decisions in less time

The high end services all have their merits, but in a small business where you might not have the budget for those services (which are also potentially far beyond the capabilities you actually need), plus a large learning curve, those services don’t always make the most sense.

By learning (on a much faster learning curve) to make a dashboard in Excel, you can get the benefits you want in a completely customized dashboard at no cost (since you already have Excel on your computer).

 

Why use Excel for this

Let’s start with some common business questions.

How did your sales do last month? How does that compare to the same month of the prior year? How about compared to the pace you’ve been running at this year?

Now how about separating those numbers by project, item, or client? How about by distribution channel? Sales rep? What about the specific days you had promotions?

The first set of questions is somewhat easy to have a gut feeling for, if nothing else. You might even have some quick analysis created for you in QuickBooks (or similar software).

However, the second set of questions represents another level deeper. You might feel a bit less confident about your gut feeling. They require you to dive into the data each time you want to look, and maybe even anecdotally piece it together from a few different sources. It’s kind of a hassle, but they’re important insights, so it’s worth the time.

Here’s the good news from Excel – you can answer all of those questions, from top line revenue down to whatever level of detail you need, and have them at your fingertips in one place!

With a simple export of data from whatever source you need, you can populate dozens of custom views that you’ve templated and turn it into your very own analytical dashboard!

The only time intensive piece is building the template and framework for all your custom views.

After you create that, you’re essentially just updating with data each week/month/etc. and looking it over for trends. Making changes to it? Duplicating views with variations? Actually, all pretty easy.

The Excel Dashboard

Here is a very quick sample dashboard that shows that topline sales numbers (black chart) followed by a few, slightly deeper, analytical pieces that help evaluate performance (gray charts).

When I say “very quick” … this dashboard took less than an hour to fully create. Real life dashboards of this level of depth take a similar amount of time. Getting significantly deeper into the data does not necessarily mean significantly more time to create though.

Only a few “next level” type questions are displayed (although these may only be half a level deeper), but they are meant to be representative, and the great feature about the “behind the scenes” of the dashboard is that the building blocks for all levels of analysis can be VERY easily duplicated to get at any question you need.

Take a quick look at the dashboard, follow it along the yellow markers, 1 to 5. Any trends jump out at you?

You can likely see the following in a quick pass:

  • Sales are up in 2019! (Callout #1) – by 22.1% if we want to be specific

  • There seemed to be a change in performance starting in February (Callout #2). Perhaps a new item was released? Or a new marketing campaign?

  • All Sales Reps are selling more this year (Callout #3). Shawn leading the pack with a 28.7% increase over 2018

  • In Store sales have grown by over 60%! (Callout #4). However, Online sales have shrunk a tiny bit.

  • Further diagnosing, it looks like Jennifer and Oliver have really improved their In Store sales, while Shawn has faltered there (Callout #5). Perhaps there was a training that stuck with Jennifer and Oliver? Maybe Shawn has just focused all of his attention on Online sales?

Those types of insights are crucial to running your business and can be seen quickly from the dashboard. On top of that, there are still tons of different ways to cut the data… by product, by product and distribution channel, by sales rep by month, etc. All of these examples are (almost) as easy as copying and pasting.

Creating the Backend of the Dashboard – a General Guide

We start with one of the building blocks of an Excel-based analytical dashboard. Simply, the Pivot Table.

Depending on your level of familiarity with Excel, Pivot Tables might seem like “that complicated next level” or “that tool we use every day”.

The truth is, everyone can easily be at the latter, and if you’re already there, you could probably be using them more even more effectively. Investing just a bit of time can have a very outsized benefit to your business.

Pivot Tables are fantastic, for all levels of users, because of a few main pieces of functionality:

  • Very easy to build, use, and manipulate

Drag and drop methods, no complex formulas, no macros or coding

  • Ability to create charts and dashboards from the Table(s) easily

  • Build automatically updating formulas off the Table to create new data elements

It deserves mentioning that the quality of your data is very important. If the data is wrong to start, then there is no point is doing any analysis.

First… a few tips on how to create a Pivot Table

Feel free to skip this section if you’re already familiar.

For a detailed “how to” build a Pivot Table, I recommend watching from ~2:30 to ~5:30 in this video. The rest of the video has some good explanations as well, but for a quick guide, the 3 minutes is really all you need.

One piece I would highly recommend changing though, is in the data selection piece.

Important – select the entire column in the data, making sure the headers are in row 1. This allows you to add data in the future and have it included in the pivot table without having to change the data range.

The boxed-in range is okay as “ Sample Data!$A$1:$E$13 ”, but would need to be changed if you add more data to the end of it. The better version’s range “ Sample Data!$A:$E” highlights the entire columns.

Onto Creating the Dashboard

Start with creating a Pivot Table, and from there it is really just about dragging and dropping fields, copying and pasting, and picking a layout!

  • Let’s say you begin by creating a simple Pivot Table with sales by month:

  • From there, go up to the ribbon and find the “Pivot Table Analyze” or “Analyze” tab, depending on which version of Excel you’re working with.

  • Select the “Pivot Chart” option, and out pops a variety of options. Select your favorite chart option (bar chart, line graph, multiple types, etc.) and boom! You’ve got a working chart to help you analyze!

  • Any time you change what’s in the Pivot Table that created the Pivot Chart, the Pivot Chart will change accordingly.

Example, if you limited the data to just “Jennifer” (Sales Rep filter), you’ll see only her sales in both the Table and Chart.

Tip for the aesthetics of the Chart

To get rid of the “buttons” or ugly looking gray bubbles polluting your chart, you can right click on any of them and select “Hide All Field Buttons on Chart” and they’ll go away (as shown below).

If you don’t mind their appearance, each button acts as a filter for the Pivot Table. So instead of scrolling over to the Table, you can filter right from the Chart.

  • From there it is just preferences:

You can add a chart title, hide the legend, and a lot of other customization by clicking on the Chart, and then selecting the green “+” button that appears to the right of the Chart (shown below).

Once you’ve got your first chart, you can then start the duplication process!
  • To make another Pivot Table and Chart combo, you can just select the entirety of the Table, then copy and paste it elsewhere on the sheet

Copying the Pivot Table to be replicated
  • Drag and drop the fields (from the Field List on the right) you want to look at in the new Table (ex. Sales Rep in place of Month), and then go through the same quick process to create a Chart

The premise here is that each Table you create is referencing the same data. Each variation is just how you want to cut the data for that particular view.

Note – the formatting you select for one chart will not transfer to a new chart. The easiest method is to pick from Excel’s preset templates, which are normally visually appealing enough – both the black and the gray Charts above are in Excel’s preset templates. You can always customize the look of every chart individually to how you want though.

Best practice is probably to settle on a color scheme and layout after you’ve created all the charts you want, that way you can quickly go through each and select the same layout all at once.

After creating however many variations that get to your necessary level of depth, you’ve now just created yourself a dashboard! Congrats!

Best Way to Create Formulas Based on the Tables to get Additional Metrics in your Dashboard

You may notice that some pieces in the above dashboard (the tables with headers that have blue background and white text) are not Pivot Tables or Pivot Charts. These are created using the same information though.

Enter the GETPIVOTDATA formula. It is one of the most complicated looking formulas, but one of the most effective to use.

Note that it is simply complicated “looking”, but not actually that complicated to use.

Here’s an example. We’re going to walk through the Sales By Month table in the dashboard above (and referenced below).

Let’s say you wanted to get that 41.1% “Growth vs Prior Yr” for Feb from the information in the Pivot Table.

Naturally, you would do the following (referencing picture below) U10 / T10 – 1 = 41.1%

When you go to do that though, this scary looking formula comes out:

Let’s break it down and look at the first piece, before the “/”:

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

Translating, it is saying the following:

  • From the Pivot Table

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Grab the metric “Sale Amount”

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • In the Pivot Table located in cell S7

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Given the following criteria, Year = 2019

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,“Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • And the second criteria Month = Feb

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,“Month”,”Feb”)

You’ll notice the second GETPIVOTDATA (after the “/”) is the same formula, just referencing Year = 2018 instead of 2019.

It is the same formula as the nice and easy U10 / T10 – 1 above, just bringing in the functionality of the Pivot Table.

So why on earth would you actually use the complicated version?

Reason #1: Let’s say you add in another filter and the bulk of the Pivot Table shifts down by one row. The U10 / T10 – 1 will remain but will now be looking at a different month.

Reason #2: What if you changed the Pivot Table to include each Sales Rep’s details in each month (like below)?

Now that “U10 / T10 – 1” formula would be referencing Jennifer’s sales in Jan… not even close to total Feb sales.

If you used the GETPIVOTDATA formula, you would still get the result you want (Total Feb Sales Amount, 2019 over 2018) because you’re telling it what criteria to look at, regardless of what cells the intended data ended up in. It would still do $26,070 / $18,470 – 1, or 41.1%.

Note – in a scenario like the above picture, make sure Subtotals are enabled in the “Design” tab that appears when you click in the Pivot Table

Reason #3: You can completely customize the look of your created table, whereas you have limited aesthetic flexibility in the Pivot Table itself. I choose a blue header with white text.

Reason #4: You retain the copy and paste functionality of the “U10 / T10 – 1” formula but increase the accuracy of the formula.

Notice in our summary chart with each month’s “Growth vs Prior Yr”, we have the month abbreviation in the left column, then the % growth in the right column.

To utilize the copy and paste functionality of formulas in Excel, we just have to reference the month in the formula.

It is the same formula as above in every way except for the P9 in place of “Feb”. This just tells the formula to take the value in cell P9 as the criteria needed to be found in the “Month” section.
You can then copy and paste this formula to each of the months, and the “Growth vs Prior Yr” will fill out for each month, regardless of how many other variables are in the Pivot Table, or where the numbers you want are located (cell-wise).

Summary

So now you’ve learned…

  • The benefits of a dashboard, specifically one in Excel

  • How to make a Pivot Table

  • How to make a Pivot Chart based off it

  • How to duplicate those efforts (for efficiency)

  • How to reference the information in it to get analytical metrics that aren’t directly called out in the Pivot Table

  • (Most importantly) How to build your own fully functional, completely customizable analytical dashboard!

Updating the dashboard is an exercise that takes mere minutes to download the data and add it into your data sheet.

Reasonable time investment to make the dashboard, small time investment to update it, big business benefits.

WIMS BREWERIES & WINERIES

3 Marketing Tips for Breweries, Wineries, Cideries, & Distilleries

The brewery and winery industries have been fortunate to have experienced a major boom in public interest along with media attention over the past few years. Just opening a new location has been a major event that has typically generated a lot of buzz and received coverage by every Business Journal and local social media influencer alike. That’s not to say that marketing breweries and wineries has been easy of course, far from it.

Once the grand opening has passed, and the novelty subsides, the business must continue to attract a loyal and recurring customer base, in addition to the one-off tourists and large groups as well. While all businesses have their tried-and-true marketing methods that work, we wanted to offer up some that may appear obvious, but they truly work. And when done effectively in conjunction with a robust marketing and sales strategy, they’ll keep your brewery or winery full of customers for a long time to come.

Tastings and tours are a “must” for any brewery, winery, cidery, or distillery. However, even if you diligently open your brewery daily for happy hour, there’s much more you can do to raise product awareness. In order to broadcast your brand’s name, it helps to bridge the gap between physical and digital. While locals and tourists might stop in for some beer, wine, or cider, incorporating digital marketing into your outreach campaign will multiply your success. These digital marketing strategies help breweries and wineries attract interest and show off their new craft beer and wine releases, as well as just consistently get people through the door.

 

Blog Posts

Creating a new beer, wine, or cider is still big news. Your fans (and prospects) want to hear about it! However, people also want to know what they’re getting into before purchasing beer from a brewery. For many, that means doing some research beforehand. Introducing a new beer, wine, or cider through blogging is a fun, creative, and informal way to get word out of your newest product. Along with sharing information about the new release and the story behind your winery or brewery online, you can link to your social media pages as well. With these additional steps, you’ll effectively reach your social media followers and those who have signed up for email alerts or announcements (not to mention jack up your SEO rankings). This makes it easier for followers to share the news about your brewery or distillery on their social networks too.

 

Email Campaigns

While it often takes a back seat to social media, email marketing is still a significant part of a successful marketing strategy. Surprisingly, many breweries, wineries, and cideries use social media exclusively as their digital marketing strategy. Considering that 3.2 billion people use social media worldwide, tapping into a social network is a good start. Yet, email is even more effective in reaching a target brewery or winery audience than Facebook or the others. Studies show that 900 out of 1,000 people see a company’s message via email compared to just 20 out of 1,000 people on Facebook. Ultimately, it’s worth your time and effort to create a message that 90% of users will see. Email also has the power and convenience of automation. With social media, on the other hand, you’ll need to personally post a message every day or at least several times each week (which you should be doing ALSO).

 

Social Media Ads

Even though email campaigns are the fastest way to reach a broad audience, don’t underestimate the power of social media for your brewery or winery. About 67% of the US population uses Facebook, which translates to many potential views. Facebook advertising is simple and easy for breweries and wineries to use, and you can even try A/B testing to see which campaigns and strategies are most effective.

 

From tried-and-true email to web content and social media, there are many creative and effective avenues that breweries, wineries, distilleries, or a cideries, can use to increase brand awareness and spread news of a new wine, cider, or beer. If you’re interested in discussing how you can build upon your existing marketing and sales strategy reach out to us at WIMS Consulting and we’d be happy to help!

Starting a Company: When Do You Quit Your Day Job?

At a recent Charlotte Business Group event I moderated a panel on entrepreneurship. We hit various topics that provided the audience with a ton of value, so I wanted to share some of the key takeaways from the discussion with you. The event featured a great group of local entrepreneurs that covered a wide range of topics about starting, and running, a company.

Our panelists included:

To begin, as far as the “when do you quit your day job” question, there wasn’t a specific answer that fit everyone, as it’s a deeply personal situation. It truly varies for every individual. And in some cases, the answer is never. So, as you can imagine, most of the conversation surrounded providing details about what worked for each of the panelists, as well as them offering various ideas with respect to the way they thought about (act acted on) that at the time.

That being said, below are some of the key takeaways from the evening. There was a lot to unpack and share so I may come back and edit/add more in the coming days.

Ideas for businesses come from a variety of places. In some cases, you can innovate, break, and then reinvent the wheel. In others you can make small tweaks to existing business models that work elsewhere. Or you can find a specific niche and build from there. Business opportunities arise from a multitude of potential catalysts. One great takeaway that stuck with me was to use Bill’s “if you spend 30 minutes researching a problem and aren’t sold something (i.e. served ads) within that time frame you just might have a business idea.”

Just Start. You need to have a little bit of risk involved; you can never get rid of it completely so don’t let that keep you from starting. You don’t need to have absolutely everything figured out. The important thing is to take action consistently. Bill had another great gem; he created a list of 100 things/task and did 1 a day. By sticking to that he started his company in 100 days.

You don’t always NEED to quit your day job. It’s ok to keep your day job long term, keep it for a while as you get traction in the business, or “jump off the cliff and build the plane on the way down.” Everyone has a different risk tolerance and level of resources available to them. Others like Chris just like and prefer continuing to keep their job as they grow their businesses and don’t feel the need to quit.

Know your target market. Learn about what they value, the problems they need solved, and what needs they need met. These are the fundamental elements of launching a business. Market fit is crucial to identify the initial opportunity. Scalability comes later.

Create systems to lean on. As you build your business you want to create systems, procedures, automations, etc. to make sure the business can (eventually) run without you. You don’t need the latest and greatest technology for this, just implement processes that work to help you stay on top of managing everything as things can get overwhelming quickly.

Delegate the things you’re not good at. Pretty much everyone mentioned getting a good bookkeeper/accountant to manage the finances (as that wasn’t necessarily any of their strengths). That’s just an example to reiterate that in order to grow your business you need help and need to be able to delegate the tasks that aren’t suited to your strengths. This may take time as resources are limited, you may need to wear many hats in the beginning, but make this a priority as soon as you can.

There are a variety of ways to fund your business depending on your goals. This is yet another personal preference. Some people bootstrap, building with sales and revenue as they go. That was Elechia’s preferred approach as she met with doctor after doctor, potential patient after patient and growing along the way. Others raise money from investors to continue growing and scaling. You can also leverage debt with SBA loans, etc. There is plenty of research out there about ways to fund and grow your business.

Know what your long-term goals are. While you don’t need to do this first, eventually you should try to have an exit strategy in mind (or the lack there of) as you initially build your business. Whether you plan to eventually sell it, build a business you want to work at for the long haul, or simply want a side-hustle, they’re all fine as long as you’re transparent and honest with yourself and your partners.

All that being said, it’s ok to just have a short-term side hustle that only lasts a year or two and provides some additional income along the way. There doesn’t have to be a long-term vision if that’s your primary objective. As was mentioned several times, each situation and individual is different.

There are many other things to consider when starting and running a business. This was just a small snapshot of a great evening filled with plenty of additional takeaways. What are some of the things you’d add to the list?

The Charlotte Business Group has a lot more educational events like this planned where we share knowledge and experiences from local professionals. We aim to continue nurturing the business and entrepreneurial spirit and providing opportunities for the community to do so. Make sure to keep an eye our for the upcoming schedule!

2019 YP LeaderCon

 

On August 2, 2019 I had the pleasure of attending the second annual YP LeaderCon held by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. The event was at the beautiful UNCC City Center and brought together emerging leaders from around the Charlotte region. By attending this event I was given an opportunity to learn and grow, hearing from speakers and other professionals in their 20s and 30s while validating the steps I am taking in beginning my professional career and helping to grow my personal brand.

 

The sessions I attended included a range of topics including networking, financial planning, the power of professional organizations, and the importance of mentorship in personal and professional situations. Across these sessions a common theme continually arose which was the power of taking ownership of your actions and directing the course of your life.

 

Beginning a career is certainly challenging requiring an individual to balance paying off debt including student loans, becoming acclimated with the culture of your new job, navigating the job market, and deciding which professional organizations to join and prioritize which events to attend. Sometimes the most important thing to do during the initial years of your career is to establish the skills that will drive your entire career while also understanding what attributes you value. We can become so accustomed to saying yes that saying no to things that do not provide value to our lives should be where we focus our main energy.  Having an understanding of the things we truly value will help prioritize decision making and reduce time spent on unnecessary actions.

 

During the event, a topic that was highlighted across sessions is the importance of seeking help from others.  The session led by Lisa Medley explored the value and importance of seeking out resources through mentorship, sponsorship and coaching. Many people understand the importance of mentorship from the professional sense yet the aspirational, personal, and family should be used to create buckets of different mentors to become a better person across all aspects of your life. This is an area I will look to improve on by seeking additional mentors and using the people around me as resources. By gaining skills and relationships from mentors I will be able to learn from them while also providing them new skills as I continue to form strong relationships through mentorships and as I progress in my career further mentoring others with the information I learn.

 

I value the time and the opportunities I had during the YP LeaderCon and the importance the Charlotte Regional Alliance places on growing young talent in the entire metropolitan region. Seeing professionals beginning their careers I could see the dynamics of the modern workforce as I gathered with young professionals who worked for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and regional firms with a strong presence in Charlotte. One of the top reasons I am proud to call the Charlotte area home is the commitment to fostering business relationships and improve the entire community. The hints of Southern charm that are spread across the shining city of Charlotte shows the power of the New South. The sessions were filled with young people from across the country who have moved to Charlotte because of its robust job market and abundance of recreational activities. This trend should continue as more people and companies are attracted to the region and top talent is retained to ensure sustainable growth across the entire Charlotte region into the future.