At this month’s Mailorder Gardening Association conference, Al Bessin of Lenser gave an excellent presentation entitled Managing Your Way to Higher Profits: How to Turn Financial Reporting into a Useful Tool for Managers. He made a potentially deadly dry topic both interesting and actionable.
Al suggested creating a separate management P&L, reorganized to make it more useful. Among his suggestions:
• Reorganize your reports to separate out fixed and variable costs.
• When inventory availability is a factor, be sure to track user demand (what you would have sold had inventory been available).
• Use your variable costs to determine your merchandise gross margin available as contribution to overhead.
• Review your marketing expenses by order channel (such as catalog, website, advertising), but don’t build completely separate P&Ls by order channel, as they work synergistically.
• Build a separate shipping & handling P&L so you have an idea of what changes to your S&H rates mean to your bottom line.
• Benchmark performance against the same period last year as well as to the plan.
Traditional financial reports present a good picture of where you’ve been, but aren’t particularly helpful to determine where you’re going. By reorganizing the same data to be more useful, you’re in a much better position to make management decisions that will take you where you want to go.