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Dashboarding 101

Dashboarding 101

August 07, 2013

Dear Brand Launcher,

I run my business by looking at my profit and loss statement. But I know I’m supposed to use the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you talk about.  Sounds great, but I don’t have the time or resources. What do you suggest?

-Overwhelmed Andrew in Tulsa

Hi Overwhelmed Andrew,

Not enough time, resources or money? You must be an entrepreneur! Stay with me here for “Dashboarding 101”: How to run your company with a dashboard. This is important because the goal is to drive performance without you having to do it all. Here’s a question - have you ever considered using a dashboard, the same concept as the one in your car with a speedometer, odometer, gas gage? Now you can measure how your business is doing simply with a business dashboard.  It lets you look at KPIs, milestones, customer feedback, sales and production activities in real time.     

Let me tell you about Frances Auld, who owns The Women’s Club, a health and fitness center and day spa in Chantilly, Virginia. She wanted to measure member feedback because she understands that it's all about the customer. One happy customer is worth thousands of dollars, so she wanted to get a better grasp on what customers liked or disliked about the fitness club.  She began working with my friend Blair Mchaney, who is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Medallia Inc. Medallia helps companies track how they are doing with customers on a day-to-day and even minute-by-minute basis by using original, custom made dashboards. Real time feedback is amazing, the kind of stuff small businesses dream of but until now, haven't been able to afford to do.

Medallia created a dashboard for Frances that gathers and illustrates the results of member surveys about the club in a clear, straightforward manner.  Now Frances can review the results and act accordingly.  Check this out, you can see the results were very positive, with one area of concern circled below in red.   




 Below is what an unhealthy vs. an healthy business should look like (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE):


These are real examples. Without the use of a dashboard, the leaders are poking around in the dark, groping for solutions. Why don’t people stay longer? What do we need to do to retain more clients without spending a lot of money? How do we attract more customers? Now, bingo. All the answers in one place. The dashboard solution.

Sharing the Dashboard  

“It’s been wonderful getting feedback so quickly and being able act on it,” explained Frances.  She could see immediately that the responses to the comment about “group exercise programs” indicated a concern for members. “It helped us get in touch with what our members want.  It was also a real motivator for the staff who can see the positive things that the members had to say.  Now, everyone looks forward to it as we continue getting feedback which is updated on the dashboard. It’s totally invaluable information,” adds Frances.

Frances understood what you need to know: Don't be a control freak. You don’t need to own all of the big decisions and hoard them. Instead be a dashboarder and share the data. Whether you are looking at KPIs, milestones, customer feedback, or any other metric you choose to represent on your business dashboard, one of the coolest things is that you can share the data with your team, much as Frances did.  When team members know that they “own” one of the KPIs, it's a game-changer. The staff will start thinking like owners, with a greater vested interest in the company. This empowers them and drives them to act like leaders.

In your car, the dashboard is typically the domain of the driver. You don't usually share it with passengers, except for the one who always tells you to slow down as they keep their eye firmly on the speedometer.  But in business, sharing your dashboard, or dashboarding, as we call it, lets your team get a clear perspective of how your business has been doing by looking at results.

Most Business Owners Make This Huge Mistake

Too many only look at the results, and make strategic decisions based solely on the end numbers. But smart business owners, like Frances, look at the activities that lead to the results. Many business owners get so caught up in results that they forget to focus on activities to move forward.  The dashboard can provide either or both.    

What I really like about sharing the dashboard is that your team members can own one or more of the KPIs and be responsible for driving the results.  How do you make this happen? Simple. Have meeting rhythms with your team. During the meetings, make them report in on their 1-3 KPIs.  Such ownership builds a greater sense of involvement on the part of your team members and drives performance. This will kill boring, unproductive meetings and build morale. Here’s a tip, when you find a bottleneck, keep a bottleneck log. Then once a month or once a quarter use your collective wisdom during your meeting to break the bottleneck. “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Want Freedom? Read this last paragraph...

One of the biggest fallacies in business is that YOU have to be in the driver’s seat running everything to drive the business forward. Yet we all know how tiresome and stressful it is when one driver does all of the driving for hours and hours. You see, when you have a dashboard in place you can share the load and empower your team.  It takes the steering wheel out of your hands and lets someone else drive the KPIs. But the dashboard stays in your hands so that you can trust and track.

If you do this you will get some much needed freedom. This just might be your next step in building your “Freedom Team” which will free you up so that you can focus on growing the company and spend time doing the parts of the biz that you are great at.  With freedom teams and dishoarding in place, you’ll also be able to spend more time on vacation, or with your family, without having to worry about the business disappearing in your absence. 

Now it’s Your Turn

So, why not give it a whirl?  Makeyour own list of KPIs that you would like to include on your dashboard and not just those about results. Try to identify the few big activity KPIs, Then each team member will know what activities are expected of them and can take ownership of those activities. 

Happy dashboarding… and thanks for the question Andrew.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to go,