Driving Performance: An Interview with TAB’s Chris Lipper

Chris Lipper from The Alternative Board (TAB), is in the business of business owner development – both professionally and personally. Above all else, Chris holds accountability and measuring key metrics as the secret sauce to a business owner’s ability to achieve personal success and a work/life balance. Read below for Chris’ take on these two critical and often overlooked responsibilities:

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J: What is the premise of TAB and what is its primary goal for business owners?

C: TAB’s primary objective is to help business owner’s grow. That can mean many things – to help them grow personally, to help them have their business grow – through the use of peer boards of other business owners. Each owner has the opportunity to present a challenge, have questions asked, and get feedback from other owners.

There is an aspect of accountability. They are there to be held accountable to do something about a particular challenge. These challenges don’t have to all be work related so some natural ones might be receivable collections time or profit or sales, but it could also be work life balance related – how many of your kid’s ball games do you want to go to this year or how many times a week do you want to have dinner with your spouse? At each board meeting they will report on their KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).

J: How important are measuring KPIs with members?

C: Numbers don’t lie. It’s the bottom line. I like when people manage by KPIs. I always say it’s important if an employee knows if they have a good day or a bad day and it can’t be based off of a notion.

It’s the same thing for an owner. You need to know if you’re hitting your numbers and KPI’s, and you can’t base everything off of your last good or bad phone call. There are certain things that need to happen in the day or in the week to build towards whatever that goal is.

J: Gathering data and starting the process of analyzing performance can be intimidating at first. How do you encourage members to get on board with what may appear to be another “To-do” to add to their extensive list of responsibilities?

C: Initially it’s a little daunting and some owners can have their head in the sand, but soon they learn to embrace their dashboards and numbers and KPI’s and maybe even look forward to it. It depends on how it’s presented and if it’s presented in a way that’s very positive and an opportunity, instead of nagging and negative.

J: Where should an owner first look to calculate some of the most important metrics?

C: There are thousands to pick from but I recommend honing in on three to four – two business related and maybe two not – but it could easily be six to eight. As for where to look, it depends on the business. They may already have the data but not know what they’re looking for.

For instance we may look at quotes vs. orders. What we would establish then is not everyone is worthy of a quote. I like to see about 60% success rate. If their batting average is 1 out of 20, maybe we shouldn’t be quoting 20. Or another scenario, if they’re 20 out of 20 maybe they need to raise prices. Taking it a step further, maybe sales training is necessary, or sometimes the solution is that we’ve got the right person in the wrong seat. We have a wonderful employee but they’re just not hitting their numbers so maybe they need to be in marketing instead of sales.

J: Sometimes seeing statistics on paper can be discouraging. How do you retrain your thinking to view the positive?

C: Say for example we have a company that knows February and October are awful months. All they hammer on is how bad these Februaries and Octobers are as opposed to viewing it as “what an opportunity – this is how I can grow my business”. So a lot of times the numbers, what they’re telling us and who’s telling us, it’s how they’re presented. If it’s presented with a bat it doesn’t feel good. If it’s presented in an uplifting manor then it’s exciting.

J: What are best practices in setting a plan for reaching defined and measurable goals as well as making sure to stay on track with your plan?

C: In November, TAB members present what they think they want to track in the following year. In December, they put numbers to it. In January, we’re hitting the ground running.

Our plans are set and ready to go. Owners know their KPI’s and hopefully there is a team in place and that team knows their KPI’s. Then after the first quarter, we can take a look and readjust if need be. There will be a feeling if things are in place and working or if they are not. Then it’s just fine tuning.

Ultimately, business owners can’t be in the results business without a plan for driving results. You can’t just say, “I want $1m of new business.” We can’t totally predict results, but what we can do is monitor the behaviors.

Personally, I like behavioral goals and figuring out kill ratios. So if we know it takes 10 calls to get a sale and each sale is $100,000 and we want a million dollars then we know we need to make 100 calls. You now have something to work with, but it starts with knowing your numbers and having a way to track them.

We’d like to thank Chris for his time and insightful guidance on best management practices. For more information on The Alternative Board, please check out, www.tabnj.com.

About Chris Lipper

Chris Lipper is a knowledgeable, creative professional who has worked with a range of businesses from large institutions to entrepreneurial startups. He has excelled in marketing, sales, operations, and management.  Chris has experience in creating brand identity and corporate image, and he has developed advertising, direct mail collateral, web sites, and trade show booths. Chris’ marketing experience expands across the globe. He has helped conceptualize, develop, market, and sell products domestically and internationally in different markets including consumer, business-to-business, and institutions.

Chris has also achieved great results in sales, operations, and management.With his multifaceted background, Chris was able to start at zero and develop multi-million dollar revenue streams in a business-to-business sales environment.  In addition to his other achievements, Chris is also an inventor and has patented and sold many products, which has helped him understand licensing issues. He has licensed and trained the sales teams of two publicly traded companies to sell his patented products.

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