5 things you can do to take client KPI’s to the next level

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When we talk about Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for your practice’s clients; often the first things that come to mind for many are profit, revenue and cost of sales. To a certain extent yes, these are important metrics for any business to measure and monitor, but the harsh reality is they only ever scratch the surface and for some clients’ there may be a disconnect between actions and/or even preventative/remedial measures being put in place. For some businesses, it can be the difference between success and failure.

It’s quite common for practices to work in a specialised niche and more firms are considering leveraging the benefits than can come by showing greater prowess in certain industry sectors.  I remain an advocate that for firms to truly add value, they need to demonstrate more than just a technical competency for producing accounts and tax returns as quickly as possible (technical expertise in my view should be the ‘minimum stake’ for sitting at the table).  The true expertise comes from understanding all of the relevant issues for your client and their sector and then working with your clients to determine and measure the right KPI’s for them.

1. Don’t just go with ‘boilerplate’ KPI’s

Irrespective if your practice specialises in a particular niche or not. A great place to start is with a set of standardised KPI’s (let’s say a maximum of 5) which you can deploy at scale to all of your clients via simple dashboards – which is by far the quickest route to market for this service.  Providing your clients with dashboards as a baseline service demonstrates, as their ‘trusted advisors’ you are thinking beyond the numbers.  You can then use this as a platform to launch a more in-depth business coaching service with more detailed KPI’s once you can establish what it is they want to measure.  We have to recognise, that while there may be similarities and of course standard KPI’s across a particular vertical market; for example, every dental practice you work with may want to track missed appointments. Each client may want to measure things in a subtly different way and what’s personal to them for varying reasons.

ProTip 1 – Have another 5-10 KPI’s in your kitbag, ready to go.

ProTip 2 – Start with ‘Lagging KPI’s’ then introduce ‘Leading KPI’s’

Lagging and Leading KPI’s – What’s the difference?

Think of lagging indicators as the final results.  For example, if your goal was to lose 2 stone (28lbs) by the end of August; your weight on the scale as of 31st August would show you the end result.  Did you achieve it yes or no?. So you can only see the result at the end of the process; weight lost is a ‘lagging’ indicator, as would the profit be at the financial year end. Lagging indicators are by nature easy to measure but hard to influence in isolation.

Leading indicators are those where they can predict the outcome, and you can influence them.  So to lose weight by 31st August, if you measure the calories you consume and calories burned (both of which can be influenced) then, it is more likely to achieve the end goal and the final results (Weight Lost) will also be reflective of this.

Here’s a huge opportunity for you to really differentiate yourselves, businesses to date have focused on lagging KPI’s for the simple reason that it’s safe; it hasn’t required them to do something different; this is where you come in as the trusted advisor.

2. Show your domain expertise

With more and more firms looking at niching, how can those firms look to demonstrate that they have their fingers on the pulse?  Demand is there for you to start to provide more than just monthly, quarterly or annual reports to your clients with the odd few graphs and KPI’s.  

You have an opportunity to include details of reports from the industry, white-papers, produce thought-leadership articles, results from surveys that you have commissioned, which can all lead to events both web-based and face to face.

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A brilliant example of this has been The WOW Company and the annual BenchPress report which they produce.  Now in its sixth year, this has become recognised as the largest survey of independent agency owners in the UK.  Does, it just happen? No, there’s a huge investment in time by the practice both upfront and afterwards to compile the results and distribute the findings. However, it demonstrates domain knowledge and expertise as it covers topics such as agency demographics, growth, recruitment, key financial metrics and other industry benchmarks.  It also shows that they don’t assume anything and actively involve clients and the wider agency community in the process. This is why it makes them the go-to accountants for those clients.

3. Put your client’s results into context

Don’t just provide your clients with their numbers (graphical or not) you need to provide a broader context around those numbers. For example, let’s say your client’s revenue figures are £10,000 a month. They may think that’s awesome and in isolation, they could be right. However, if we overlay what others in the same industry are achieving; again let’s say at one end of the spectrum,  the average revenue is £8,000 per month and at the other, good to excellent is between £15-£20,000 per month, this can present a different perspective to your client.  It also allows you to explore how other clients are achieving those results and how you can help them to achieve the same.

Cue, upsell and cross sell opportunity.

You can be quite creative here by layering data such as average, good and excellent (see below) which adds more context to the discussion and visualises the effect for the client.

You can be quite creative here by layering data such as average, good and excellent (see below) which adds more context to the discussion and visualises the effect for the client.

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4. Question everything

Dive deeper into every single conversation that you have with your clients.  Always be looking to uncover the required outcomes, by when? What do they want to measure? And how will they measure it?

So, consider the following when defining your client KPI’s:-

Is it predictable?

Is it influenceable?

Is it to be measured on-going?

Can it be measured? But also ask, is it worth measuring?

5. Don’t make it a one off exercise

You need to be setting the cadence for this process, as this can affect the monetisation.  Is this a process that needs to happen quarterly,  monthly or for some businesses even weekly?  Who’s going to be involved?  What about roles and responsibilities? All of this needs to be agreed and confirmed with your client.

Productise the service and shout it from the rooftops!

There’s no point in spending time and resource on defining your service, trying it with a few ‘select’ clients and then not following up. I’ve seen too many practices ‘talk-the-talk’ and then not ‘walk-the-walk’ on this. Outside some of the larger practices who have productised services in a platform such as BDO, Kingston Smith and Wilkins Kennedy to name a few, a practice that recently launched a brand new service has been BluSky and their BluPrints offering.  Not only have they managed to come up with an entire theme around their brand, but are creating a buzz on social platforms.  Yes, I admit, BluSky has a slight advantage, in that they can include the practices name in the offering, but you get the idea.

The smarter practices are the ones that have aggregated data for their clients’ industries and are sharing insights via reports like Wow’s BenchPress or by designing awesome infographics and sharing by social media channels.  There really is no limit on how you can differentiate yourselves in a niche market or as a more general practice.

More and more practices are looking at ways in which they can help their clients get more understanding of their numbers, but also look at business improvement coaching and getting better outcomes.  If you want to chat about defining KPI’s for your clients and how you can leverage more, drop me an email darren@wekandoo.co.uk or schedule a call with me here.