The problem with these guys is that they just cannot stay on the topic. And indeed, if your goal is to polish up pithy quotes for a seminar discussing business hypotheticals, staying within the lines is deemed essential. But if you are a business owner, trying to meet real challenges, grow profits, and keep your company alive, sometimes the topical walls need to tumble.
The latter is the kind of business leaders who meet monthly at the Lawrenceville offices of accounting firm Bartolomei Pucciarelli www.bp-cpas.com) for their “Businesses Getting Results (BGR)” workshops.
Over the last eight years, sample topics have centered around “Managing Cash Flow,” Managing Sales Leads,” Classifying Customers,” “Unique Core Differentiators,” and “Financial Planning for Business Life Events.” In each case, topics serve as a launching point.
On Thursday, December 2, at 7:30 a.m., firm principal Michael Pucciarelli facilitates the next “Businesses Getting Results” workshop in the firm’s offices at 2564 Brunswick Pike. The theme, “Short Term Business Planning that Keeps Focus on Business Performance,” is deliberately general, and designed to engender fresh vision, rather than solve old problems. To register for this free roundtable, call 609-883-9000 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“For me, it’s all about sitting down with a client and making his life better,” says Pucciarelli. “This BGR is part of taking it beyond bread and butter accounting and tax services, on into helping a person’s business grow and expand.” Growing up in Lakewood with two blue collar parents, Pucciarelli first discovered his accounting aptitude while attending Montclair State University. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s in accounting in 1981, and subsequently earning his CPA, he joined the then-growing WithumSmith+Brown, where he met Jim Bartolomei.
Upon learning that his friend Bartolomei was planning to step out on his own, Pucciarelli quickly came on board and in 1986 Bartolomei Pucciarelli LLC was launched.
Lifting your eyes. Pucciarelli is fond of pointing out the three chronological steps taken by most business owners: They begin as entrepreneurs, filled with the spirit to make anything work and survive. Upon seeing a little daylight, the owner then becomes a manager, organizing his staff and means of production. Then comes the trap. As a final step, after the company is up and running, the average owner shifts into technician mode. He concentrates on producing more, faster, better widgets, and too often concentrates on little else.
Then one day our owner wakes up and announces at some networking event or seminar, “I need more customers. That what my company needs — and I have no idea how to get them.”
The trouble is, the owner is not expressing a need, nor a solution, but a symptom. The diagnosis involves a host of penetrating questions, the answers to which demand that the owner step back and refigure his business process.
Remembering to measure. You need more customers? Okay, let’s determine why. How many long term customers do you have, and what percentage of your total revenue are they contributing? Are your new and Class-B customers moving toward Class-A, or is the client list diminishing?
“When was the last time you actually talked with your customers,” Pucciarelli asks such owners. “Have you really determined their needs and acted upon them?” If you can find the exact demographics of your customer base, then assess and quantify the number of each need that has been expressed, you will have a pretty fair history of where your sales efforts have been aiming. And in the end, most people hit what they aim at.
The symptom of too few customers may be more a matter of how you are connecting with them than whether you are talking with them. Veteran BGR attendee Chris Casarona, founder of Creative Counsel in West Windsor www.creativecounsel.com), brought to the roundtable one common experience. Customers would come in and say “We need a brochure.”
“Yes?” responded Casarona, “Why?” Then, painfully, he would tease the client through the thought process of developing an entire marketing strategy. Such is the broader type of vision which BGR attendees are asked to develop.
“Business success,” says Pucciarelli, “is not about doing one thing right. It’s about doing 100 things right.” You may not actually need any new customers or a better grip on your old ones. Clients may be providing more than adequate revenue, while an unmonitored process is losing it.
To make an owner’s business and personal reexamination possible requires two ingredients: time and peers. It is the goal of the Businesses Getting Results workshops to provide both. Owners commit to the two hours to stop and envision in a new way — to develop a dashboard by which they can gauge success.