Business Assessments – A Critical Component in Your Company’s Success

When your company began operations, you or the founders had a vision. You pictured what your company could become, and the impact it could have. Hopefully, you then developed a business plan mapping out how the company would accomplish this.

If you were not the owner or one of the founders, you likely adopted the original vision and are passionate about it. Even right now you are guiding your workforce in doing all they can to make that vision become reality.

 One Problem Many Companies Have Is . . .

. . . their presidents and executive staff rarely take the time to do a formal review to see whether the company is on track to realizing the vision and if not, what corrective action is necessary.

 Truly great companies are different. Their presidents and executive teams know where the companies are with respect to the vision. They know what challenges they are facing and what steps they need to take to address them.

A Useful Tool: A Periodic Assessment

Business assessments show how each major area of the company is performing and if they are aligned with the vision and mission of the company. Assessments can be very beneficial to your company.

You may be saying your business is booming and a review is not necessary. But wouldn’t it be great to see why your business is booming? Is every department and section of your company contributing to that success?

On the other hand, you may be saying you don’t have the time for an assessment because your business is struggling; you have to focus all of your efforts on correcting that. Actually, an assessment is critical here too, since it will help you identify the underlying problem, rather than just the symptoms. 

Sample Questions

There are dozens of business assessment tools out there. Some of them are good, others aren’t. Unfortunately, many assessments ignore most of the issues related to high-road employers and the triple bottom line. If you decide to do an assessment, and you want to address social and environmental issues, here are a few factors and some related questions you might consider:

 Vision and Mission Statements

  • When was the last time you reviewed your company’s vision and mission statements?
  • Are you and your executive team following them?
  • Do all your employees know what your vision and mission statements are?
  • Are they passionate about them?
  • Do they follow them?

You and Your Executive Team

  • Is everyone on your executive team in the right position?
  • Are everyone’s responsibilities in line with their strengths?
  • Is everyone passionate about their work?

Employees

  • How do your employees feel about working for your company?
  • Are they excited about coming to work each day or is it just a job for them?
  • Is each employee in the right position?
  • Does each have an opportunity to advance?
  • Are people being paid adequately for the work they do?
  • What is the turnover rate? If it’s high, why are people leaving?

Products or Services

  •  Are you providing high-quality products or services to your customers?
  • Are your production costs higher than they should be?
  • Does any equipment or software need to be replaced?
  • Will new technology enable you to improve the quality of your work or lower your costs?

Customers

  • When was the last time you surveyed your customers? (If you haven’t surveyed your customers recently, move this up on your priority list).
  • What are your customers saying about your company?
  • How are you meeting their needs?
  • Does everyone at your company go out of their way to provide extraordinary service?
  • Do you and your employees have the highest ethical standards when dealing with prospects and customers?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 – with 10 being outstanding – how do your customers rate your products and services?
  • If many customers rate you lower than 8, what changes do you have to make to increase their rating?

Community Involvement

  • When was the last time you surveyed members of the community? (If you haven’t surveyed people in your local community recently, move this up on your priority list too).
  • How do they feel about your company?
  • Do they value your company or do they feel you’re just taking advantage of the community for your own personal gain?
  • Are your company and its employees actively involved in making your local community better?

Competition

  • How do your products and services compare with your competitors?
  • Do you compete fairly with companies offering the same products or services?
  • Do you avoid using dirty tricks to get ahead of your competitors?

Impact on the Environment

  • What impact does your product or service have on the environment?
  • If you do any manufacturing, are any substances or chemicals released which pollute the ground, the water or the air?
  • Is your product or service harmful to buyers or the public in general?
  • What can you do to become a better corporate citizen?

Sales

  • What are your sales this year?
  • What were they over the same period last year?
  • If sales are the same or lower than last year, why?
  • What corrective steps need to be taken to reverse this trend?

Profits

  • What are your company’s profits this year or year to date?
  • What were they for the same time period last year?
  • If profits are the same or lower than last year, why?
  • Are the costs of producing and selling your products or services in line with projections?
  • Are they in line with your competition?

Don’t Cut Corners

The ideal place for this review is offsite away from office phones and other interruptions. Require everyone to turn off or mute their cell phones.

Allocate the proper amount of time necessary for the review. If this is your first one, it may take several days. If you have already done reviews, it may take a day or less.

Make sure all of the people critical for this review attend and participate in it.

You may want to bring in an outside facilitator to conduct the review. That will enable you and the other participants to focus totally on the review itself.

Next Steps

Summarize the findings of the review in a report and distribute it to all appropriate parties.

Show appreciation and reward anyone and everyone who has done exceptional work.

At the conclusion of the review, set a date for the next one.  It might be in the next quarter, the second half of the year or next year.

In the meantime, don’t just let the report sit on a shelf. Revisit it often and use it to help drive future results. Periodic reviews help you and your employees maintain focus and move your company forward.

 

About Andrew Clarke

Andrew Clarke is President of Ground Floor Partners. Over the past twenty years he has advised hundreds of small businesses on strategy, marketing, real estate and finance. He is passionate about small business, social and environmental justice, and is a proud member of the American Sustainable Business Council, Food and Water Watch, Green America, Food Consultants Group, and the American Planning Association.

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