We’ve been in business since 1988, so we’ve seen a lot of changes and trends in the industry – both in the evolution of custom integration generally speaking, but also in new technologies and the variety and caliber of competitors. Since our inception, we’ve placed a premium on three key areas we feel have been important to our long-term health: financial analysis, competitive analysis, and new technology analysis. These three areas are fundamentals I recommend paying attention to.
Financial Analysis: We analyze our business in great detail on a quarterly and annual basis. Our controller reviews the P & L and reconciles every account verifying that debits and credits were applied to the correct accounts. We then compare to the previous quarter and quarters from previous years so we can review trends.
Every month we compare our actual expenses and revenue to our budgets and adjust where applicable. Our accountant reviews our profit & loss statement and balance sheet every quarter, and he does quarterly reporting for payroll and sales tax. At year end he spends time analyzing each account and discussing changes or trends that he sees. The controller also reviews the inventory each quarter and we do an annual count.
We use an excel spreadsheet to compare our sales from year to year, and review it every month. It starts in 1998 and includes not only the finances, but also who referred the project, or if it came in from the internet, and what product areas were sold. This allows us to analyze trends in product and where the business is coming from.
When we receive payment for a final invoice, we review our job costing numbers against our projected costs on the job. We have recently implemented software that has been extremely useful in streamlining our position with tracking time and expenses on each job. It is our goal to continue to move forward with technologies to make our analysis more accurate and easier to budget for future business opportunities.
Every year we receive competitive quotes for business liability, workers compensation, auto, healthcare, etc. We recently decided to join a PEO program to help us even get a better financial profile for our employees as well as the company.
Competitive Analysis: We have always been fans of friendly and competent competitors. We feel they can only raise awareness of the products and services available in this industry. We strive towards being our best and never speak negatively about our competitors to win a project. We review the CEPro top 100 annually and review/compare their spreadsheet stats to our business. We also compare the CEPro key benchmark numbers to our business. We also review the CEDIA reports for trends in the industry and how we stack up.
Being members of HTSA is a huge advantage in determining what other companies in our industry are doing. Are there new product lines to focus on, new services to take advantage of, new technologies we should be reviewing? We discuss this and much more at the conferences and have formed friendships over the years with other integration firms who we compare ourselves to when we take a serious look at our overall performance.
Technology Analysis: After being in business for 28 years, we have spent many a day trying new technologies that don’t deliver what they promised. We have learned to be conservative and well-informed with new trends. We test new products thoroughly in our office, and our home. We call our clients and try to get their feedback on different new products and trends.
Here again, HTSA is extremely helpful because at our conference, they bring in speakers and panelists to review and discuss what’s new and how accepting the markets will be to any particular new technology or service. We also reach out to other members with questions and discussion.
Being at the CEDIA convention is also very helpful with regards to analyzing new tech trends. We are also very fortunate to have wonderfully educated reps and manufacturers who we spend time with at conferences or at our office, so we can do as thorough a job of investigating new technologies as possible.
Conclusion: We’ve been successful, in part, because we have constantly paid attention to our finances, our position in the marketplace and by being diligent in evaluating new technologies. I recommend every integrator working to master these three key fundamentals.