Customer Management – Doing the Math Part 5

It’s one thing to have a solid sales strategy, but what happens after that? RETAINING your clients is key to making money.

My analysis of landscape and snow contractor profitability – based on 23 years as a consultant – demonstrates that retention of profitable customers is the primary driver of Net Profits. This is absolutely true. Nothing is more important than managing what you ALREADY have and keeping it year after year. This means the way you manage the people who manage your customers makes all the difference in terms of financial results.

Since you cannot manage what you cannot see, you need data to analyze, compare and direct the work of these key people. That is where landscape business management software provides the tool to accomplish this – using data to drive actions that produce results.

Let’s return to the idea of cascading business reporting to define how you should manage the people who manage your customers. We start with a Customer Management KPI, drill down to two function reports, and finally review four dashboards that monitor the activities essential to good client management (see graphic).

Client Management Cascade


Client Management (KPI):

This Client Management KPI provides a summary at a high enough level to gauge the metrics that define client performance. It provides information on recurring contractual revenues or RUM (Revenue Under Management) by company, by branch or by Account Manager, at the beginning of time period and at the end of that time period. RUM is a metric that can be compared to industry best performers and is essential to leveraging overhead expenses – the key to increasing Net Profit.

Account Managers are expensive and increasing their RUM matters. Yes, increasing RUM may mean taking on a few more accounts. But this can be accomplished with mobile business management software that has all the account information your managers need to work more efficiently.

This Client Management KPI provides business intelligence on your:

  • Retention performance – revenue lost (if 5% lost, 95% retention)
  • New account performance – revenue gained
  • Extra sales  performance – revenue upsells

This is essential for benchmarking and comparing with your budget, retention and upsell goals. To render all of this more actionable, you will want to “drill down” into two Function Reports: (a) Renewals, and (b) Upsells. These are the first two reports you employ in managing your account manager meetings to answer the eternal question: “How are we doing?”

Client Management Function Reports

The Upsell Report is a scorecard (very similar to the business development/sales scorecard from the prior blog post). It provides information on account manager sales activity relative to proposed and closing goals and proposed and closed actuals for each Account Manager.



The Renewal Report provides a snapshot of RUM to be renewed – as well as all details regarding the contract renewal process (for example, a job report with hours and margins actual to budgeted), the renewal status and dates (such as statuses includingavailable to renew, renewal proposed, remaining to be renewed, and sold and already renewed”).




These reports provide actionable information. But if you are like me and trying to create a client services culture as well as manage your bottom line (no mean feat), you will want more “drill downs” to truly understand the best tactics to drive these results and shape behavior. It is, in fact, true that you get what you inspect.

These added “drill downs” are the dashboards. Dashboards provide real time insight into critical account management activities. There are four required dashboards necessary to manage the account manager’s actions: Open Issues, At-Risk Properties, Open Opportunity and Service Delivery.

  • Issues – This dashboard indicates how you are managing “quality.” Numerous property issues can indicate great service, but can also indicate great trouble. Account managers should be addressing issues everyday as a source of satisfaction and renewal probability – as well as a source of upsell opportunities.
  • At-Risk – This dashboard indicates risk as a result of conditions changing on a property – things like ownership, management and crew performance to name a few. Changes in these and other items you define can put that property renewal “at-risk.” You should monitor changing conditions frequently to be proactive in addressing them. But you must have a business management software that can capture and “flag” this info for easy detection.
  • Opportunities – This dashboard indicates potential sales success. Just like the business development-open pipeline from the last blog post, you must know the dollars and closing probabilities for upsells in the account managers’ pipeline.
  • Services – This dashboard indicates services delivery plans and problems. For example, an account manager should know what services have been delivered, services to be scheduled and services behind schedule to manage customer expectation. This dashboard provides a tool for proactive management of client expectations, which raises your service level and your probability or renewal – not to mention the likelihood of increasing upsells.

CLICK HERE to see the four dashboards.

That’s it! These are the best Client Management practices using a cascading reporting structure for landscape and snow business management. The whole purpose of this is to build a better account manager and a customer service process that increases net profits. This is landscape business management in real-time, as it should be.

Next week… The Forecast Management KPI.

Sales Management – Doing the Math Part 4

Picture this: Your Monday morning sales meeting:

How are we doing in new sales?”


Are we close to getting any new work?”

Oh yeah!”


Everyone I talked to is not happy with their current contractors.”

How many is everyone?”

A bunch.”

“What’s the plan for this week to get these guys?”

I have lots of meetings set up.”


OK, perhaps I am being overly glib here, but you get my point. That is NOT sales management.

No data, no details, no facts, no math, and no real plan. What’s the probable result? No sales. 

I’ll say it again: you cannot manage what you cannot see. Whom you manage must be held accountable if you’re having conversations like the one above. You must have data, facts and math to plan. That is the function of a business management software: data drives actions. Actions produce results.

To define the cascading reports for sales management, we go back to the beginning – your budget. Your budget determines your new sales goal (for our industry, I am referring to all new snow and green season service contracts). We start with the premise that falling short of the new sales goal is not an option.

Cascading Sales Management (KPI):


Let’s start at the top with the Sales KPI shown here. This KPI tells me at a glance (by any time period I choose) that which is proposed and sold in relation to the Sales Goal.

In this case, the KPI is telling us we are ahead (110% of budget) in proposal dollars, and behind (90% of budget) in closed business dollars.

This is good information, but it is insufficient for three reasons: It  (1) doesn’t hold a salesperson to account, (2) can’t predict the likelihood of success, and (3) doesn’t define a plan.

We need more detailed Functional Sales Reports to make this happen. We need to drill down into the KPI.

There are two Functional Sales Drill Down Reports I like to look at: (a) the Score Card and (b) the Open Pipeline.

Score Card

This first report shows monthly performance – budget to actual – for proposals and closes. And by clicking on the February actual number ($205,993) I can see each proposal that makes up that number.

These are the details required to assess (1) closing probability, and (2) potential gross profit dollar contribution.

It’s not the perfect report because it only shows history.  What I also need is present status regarding proposals. For that I need – the Open Pipeline.

Open Pipeline

This report isolates proposals still “in play.” This is important as some of proposals on the scorecard may already be “lost,” and some may be so old they will never close. This report helps to determine the best plan of attack for the sales team based on present conditions.

So far, so good. Doing the math, I now know how many, how much, and whom. Now I need to define how.

How will I translate information into action? To do this, I will drill down to assess the actions that can produce results. I access this drill down through dashboards (which are more simple lists than full reports).

Dashboards provide details on activities that drive the scorecard and pipeline results. Specifically, there are three dashboards I like to dig into to make the best plan: touches, prospects and losses.

  • Touches tell me whether we are doing enough (or too much) of the right things at the right times to advance the sale to a decision.
  • Prospects will one day become proposals in the pipeline – when these numbers decline, sales also decline about six months later.
  • Losses teach what we can incorporate into our selling process, and a loss becomes a prospect (and maybe a win) in the next sales cycle.

CLICK HERE to see those three dashboards.

That’s it: the whole sales management cascade for business management best practice. The whole purpose is to build a better sales team and sales process. This is green/snow business management in real-time as it should be.

Next week: Client Management Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).