Philie Group Blog

Coffee cup, laptop, and eyeglasses
You’ve Got to Know Your Numbers
By Mike Philie

Top-level baseball players know their numbers. Every time they complete an at-bat, they know how those results will affect their averages. They strive to get better every day, knowing that even the slightest improvement could lead them to a better contract or into the Hall of Fame. They are relentless fanatics about their numbers. So, what does this have to do with printing? Well, some of the best printing company CEOs and leaders that I know are just as fanatical about their numbers. Don’t misjudge them as being nearsighted for focusing on daily performance numbers. They understand the importance of the details, and getting the things right­ – every day. And they are keenly aware that their short- and long-term outlook won’t stand a chance if they can’t get it right today.

I’ve written about the importance of KPIs, and dashboards for a business in earlier posts. Today I want to take the conversation in a broader sense, wrapping intentions, planning, execution, and results into a tidy package.

What are Your Intentions?

“We don’t do forecasts and budgets, because if we miss them, it’s too demoralizing to the staff.” While you probably haven’t heard that in your business, I’m sure you read about others having that conversation. Creating a sales forecast and a financial budget shows intent. It shows that you are trying to get from point A to point B. Spending time planning shows that you looked at a map and determined the best way to get there. Building a forecast and a budget also involves having a sense of where you stand in the marketplace. You need to know who your good customers are and what their plans are for the upcoming period. It also means you need a good business development process that you can rely on to capture the new business you need to achieve your goals.

Relentless Execution

The best managers show up every day expecting the best for their area of responsibility. While not cocky, they are confident in their ability to deliver. Why is that? It starts with setting clear expectations, accountability, and coaching their team as needed. Let’s not overlook the fact though, that many of these same expectations were created by the same employees that are responsible for meeting them. In other words, those goals did not just appear from the skies above. They were created over time with much input and collaboration from the staff. Another area that fuels this confidence, is that they have a team that works together. They trust each other. And they have each other’s back. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not some garden party every day and that’s not what I meant to imply. I am suggesting though that these teams work together to achieve a common goal. If there are differences among them (and there usually are), they’re able to put those aside to meet the needs of the customers on a day in day out basis.

Show Me the Money

The spoils of victory go beyond just counting the money. It’s a continuous loop of evaluating performance to established standards, and listening to how your company is operating. Evaluating this loop of information allows you to reconfirm what your true costs are and evaluate your marketplace pricing. Studying this allows you to speak with confidence about how much it costs you to produce an 8 ½ x 11 printed sheet for example. It allows you to speak with confidence about all the operations within your organization and understand what it costs you to manufacture a job. It allows you to know your monthly value-added breakeven number and assess how you are doing at any time in the month.

You see, I am convinced that when managers and leaders have the right information they can make great decisions – in a timely manner. I’m also convinced that if they don’t have the right information, then they’re either making an educated guess or relying on their gut.

Know your numbers. If you don’t know them, work at it until you do. Make sure your managers know their numbers as well. Let’s not forget the client facing teams. It’s extremely important that they know their numbers, as they are walking up to the plate each day.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *