We’ve run past the 90-day milestone of owning our sign and mailbox installation company based here in sunny San Diego.
It’s also Friday evening at 6:42 pm and I’ve committed to getting a value-add newsletter out to you all every Saturday morning.
So we’re going to make that happen.
[Quick aside… it just hit me how much my life has changed. Wife is in bed before 7 on a Friday, watching Gilmore Girls. Baby girl is fast asleep in the room next to me. I’m in my office, drinking some scotch and writing to 4,300 people, many of whom I’ve never met. Seems crazy, but wouldn’t trade this for anything.]
In today’s newsletter we’ll cover:
- Things that are going well
- Mistakes we’ve made
- The road ahead
Oh, and before we jump in, if you have no idea what sign company I’m talking about, start here.
First and foremost, the GM we hired is a perfect fit for the role.
He’s a natural-born leader and takes full ownership of day-to-day operations with the team.
His strength has allowed my partner and I to spend the majority of our time thinking strategically about the business.
We didn’t make many changes in the first 45 days.
But since hitting the “go” button, the progress has been great.
- Launched an all-new website optimized for desktop
- Converted the old whiteboard into a proper project mgmt system
- Hired and ramped 2 offshore team members who have dramatically accelerated the number of bids we’ve sent out
- Signed a new lease on an adjacent unit to double our footprint
- Prepped for a high-potential tradeshow next month
The momentum is building and we’re full steam ahead.
Areas to Improve
As great as the first 90 days have been, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
I think the biggest mistake we made early on was not sufficiently funding our operating accounts post-close.
As a result, we had a couple of tight weeks in the beginning and ended up needing to inject a small amount of additional capital to keep the wheels moving.
I feel good about where things stand today, but early choppiness introduced a level of stress that could have been avoided with a slightly larger net working capital buffer.
A second challenge has been implementing basic (and accurate) reporting to facilitate alignment across the team.
It’s no surprise many of these small businesses do not have robust data to inform decision-making.
That said, I think we underestimated just how challenging it would be to (1) define the key metrics and (2) find the time to create reports.
For our next acquisition, we’ll look to onboard a full-time offshore team member before closing.
They’ll train alongside the GM, which will help shorten the collective learning curve (and save the GM training time later on).
Within 30 days they’ll be ready to start building reports, SOPs, etc.
Things really do start to feel different after the first 90 days.
You feel like you have your arms around the operating cycle of the business.
You start to find your rhythm.
We have three big priorities in Q4:
- Build our revenue pipeline for 2024. This industry has a long sales cycle. We’re bidding on jobs for 2H’24 or later. So we want to continue improving the quality and velocity of our bidding process.
- Continue to elevate our GM. We are challenging him to delegate more off his plate. He’ll do this by investing in his staff, establishing clear processes, and empowering them to step up.
- Improve data/visibility. We have a long way to go in this department. Our priority now is to assemble a simple weekly and monthly KPI report. Nothing crazy, just the basics.
As permanent equity holders, we aren’t in a hurry.
The key is to make 1% improvements day after day.
We love this business and remain as optimistic as ever about its long-term potential.
It’s late here and I’m tired. I was on baby duty for most of the afternoon.
I seriously don’t understand how stay-at-home parents do it.
If you enjoyed this update hit reply and let me know.
I’ll do more of them.