T5NP*: The Fifth Number – Labor Hours
This is one of those numbers that gets overlooked in the multi-tasking world that is garden retail, where selling products is the main goal. It’s just one more thing to think about and not one that appears to have an “A List” priority, there’s only so much time in a day….
But if you look at companies in construction, health care or other service industries where selling labor is their main goal, those labor hours are front and center in performance metrics.
In garden retail the labor topic usually focuses at the cost of that labor (our Fourth Number) … but now we extend the analysis and comparisons to the amount of that labor, which opens up a whole new business discussion: Productivity.
Happiness is… Rising Productivity
So far in this blog series, and in The 5 Numbers Project (or ‘T5NP‘ for short) we have been focused on Profitability (seeing if we are making more money than other companies, or more than we were making last year.) With this Fifth number, we are looking to see if we are making more money with LESS labor, the biggest single cost of running a retail store. If net profit (aka “bottom line”) rises at the same rate as the cost of doing business, owners and bankers should all be happy, correct?
Well actually no, not happy at all. You’ll hear the word “productivity” a lot from economists and stock analysts as they look for those companies doing more from less. This is often (but not always!) a sign of a progressive company or an economy that is investing in efficiency for the future, rather than living on the current methods or market. The efficiency of a garden retail company is no different. Unless the owners can be sure of being able to constantly raise prices to cover rising costs and make the same bottom line as previous years, they have to make more with less.
Hail to the “Offspring”!
I’m getting ahead of myself here, but the most basic measurement of productivity is one of our “offspring” calculations, called Sales per Labor Hour. (Subscribers to The 5 Numbers Project will spend a lot of time learning more about, working with, and comparing these offspring calculations.) This has nothing to do with the cost of those hours (see Labor Costs post) and has everything to do with the end product of all those hours used, the sales volume.
(Yes – The answers in general retail companies will be all over the map depending on the type of store and business model. Obviously, a warehouse club will have a huge Sales per Labor Hour metric compared to an urban boutique nursery. Even within full-service garden retail, a company that sells a lot of big ticket items like patio or specimen trees will have a much higher number than one that sells mostly small items like annuals or veggies.)
And while it’s fascinating to think about how you compare to others … the most important thing is how YOU are doing compared to yourself over time. Not just “May 2019 vs. May 2018” — but YTD 2019 vs. 2018. I firmly believe that measuring The 5 Numbers — and their “offspring” calculations – will help you have a better picture of your profitability.
What’s the POINT of all of this “T5NP”?
If you can MEASURE it, you can IMPROVE it.
That’s it, in a nutshell. Over the past 5 weeks, this blog has offered a (not-so) brief overview into the philosophy behind each of The 5 Numbers that our successful clients have been using for years to “beat the street.”
As you’ve already guessed — it’s these 5 Numbers: Sales Volume, Customer Count, Gross Margin Dollars, Labor Dollars, and now Labor Hours form the foundation of our new national online benchmarking initiative for garden retail, launching this month.
A few quick details on the Project (you can learn more by clicking here too):
- Subscriptions are available ONLY to garden retailers – but any retailer can join, regardless of any other peer/buying group affiliation. All welcome!
- The data will be dynamically filterable by business size and geographic region – though your business NAME remains completely anonymous.
- There’s an onboarding fee ($849) to build your private company dashboard with a year of historical data as your baseline) and then a monthly subscription fee ($149) to enable you to see your live comparisons – to yourself in the previous year, and to your peers.
- This isn’t “just us” — this project is being managed by Your MarketMetrics (a team led by a familiar name to some from the old ANLA days – Kellee (Magee) O’Reilly.) Your MarketMetrics launched a companion benchmarking initiative for nursery & greenhouse earlier this year, which is managed by Dr. Charlie Hall.
SO: If you’re intrigued about how it works … and what you get when you subscribe, register to join us for a free preview webinar on FRIDAY December 7 at 3pm Eastern time (noon Pacific). The webinar will be recorded if you can’t join live, but you need to register to be able to view it. CLICK HERE to RSVP to attend the webinar, and take the first step toward more profitability with less stress … by tracking just 5 Numbers!