Overheard at Angus Vol. XV: How to measure success.

I haven’t been to Angus in a while, but last time I went in, I heard this little gem of a convo from two businessmen who were not in the business of Broadway.  And you know me, I love picking up gems on business development from other industries, so when I heard them talking growth rates and P/Es and standard deviations, I got all tingly in my special place and started to eavesdrop like I was doing an FBI investigation.

Here’s what I heard:

BusinessGuy#1:  How was your year?

BusinessGuy#2:  Pretty good.  Our customer attrition rate was less than 10%.  Our new customer rate grew by 25% over the previous year.  And our average order size was up $175.  I haven’t gotten the final numbers yet, but it looks like our profit is going to be up about 22%.  How did you do?

BusinessGuy#1:  Haven’t gotten our final numbers yet either.

BusinessGuy#1:  Let me ask you, in your line of work, what number is the most important to you?  New customers?  Dollars spent?  Pure bottom line?

BusinessGuy#2:  Christmas Cards

BusinessGuy#1:  Come again?

BusinessGuy#2:  Every year we count the number of Christmas Cards we receive.  If it’s more than the year before, we know we’re doing something right.

Funny, right?

Yeah, it’s pretty amusing.  But actually pretty true.  Even though I’m not a big fan of the (traditional) Christmas Card, they are a tremendous sign on how your company is doing.

Sure, dollars and cents mean a lot in business.  But relationships mean a whole lot more.


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