Have you ever wanted a crystal ball? Haven’t we all!
We especially wanted/needed a crystal ball when deciding on the financial direction to take our construction company. Even us CPAs needed help making business decisions…. especially job-related, sales-funnel focused, job-margin percentage, financial decisions. Whew…that’s a lot of decisions!
First, we started with a scorecard for our construction business, tracking what we considered key indicators for the way we ran the business. We soon found that key indicators lacked the clarity we wanted for forward looking financial decision making. We wanted to get the answers to questions such as:
- What margin do we bid the next job? We needed a level of confidence that it contributed to our ability to earn a profit for the year and didn’t just drain resources.
- How much more revenue do we need to hit our goal for the year? And is there enough time to make it happen?
- Can we cash flow the growth we are projecting? Are there going to be months we need to be prepared for a cash crunch as we ramp up?
- Will we have cash left over at the end of the year to pay bonuses and reward everyone’s efforts?
We did what every financial person does…we started building spreadsheets to accumulate the mountains of data and lists of formulas we wanted. We gathered job information, historical financial statements, sales funnels, budgets, etc. We built some monster spreadsheets…and they worked well…for a time.
But as anyone who has spent time writing complex calculations and combining multiple tabs and workbooks will tell you…they break. And so, we found ourselves pouring over those same spreadsheets not making decisions but troubleshooting formulas and looking for errors. Spreadsheets are a great tool, but a dedicated software program is even better!
So, we took our list of must-have calculations, our mountains of data, and our need to run financial scenarios on the fly and we built our own software.
The goal was to condense the key financial data into easy to ready, actionable information. Mountains of information don’t do you any good if you can’t act on it in a timely manner.
We built a model that took our workload, our budget, and our goals and turned it into a net income forecast.
Then, by adding mathematical nerdiness, created a way to project future results for cash flow, net income, and equity along with key ratios the bank and surety require.
And finally, by adding a component for “what-if” scenario planning, we were able to produce a forecast model that told us:
- What margin to bid the next job at
- How much revenue and/or margin we require to hit our goal
- How much financing we would need from the bank while in growth mode
- How much cash we could have left over at year end
Need to know how you are doing this year? Got it.
Need to know if your Balance Sheet will be healthy? Got it.
Need to know what happens if you change the margin or the schedule on a job(s)? Easy.
Need to know how much additional work you require to break even this month or this year? How about next year? We cover that too.
Pretty cool, right?
We have been using this model with our clients for the past 8 years and here is what they have to say:
“It [the Atlas Growth Model] is the difference between driving with headlights or the rear-view mirror.”
Recently, we turned this model into software that clients can access with their management teams to run scenarios and gain insights into how their business will perform. To learn more about it, go here.