The Comprehensive Business Survey (CBS) is my flaghsip offering and where most clients begin our working relationship. A CBS is a bespoke solution for a company that is seeking an objective, integrated appraisal of their business strategy and tactics that leads to specific, targeted recommendations or action items to guide the firm through the next steps and well into the future.
Working with companies of all sizes across a range of industries over the last decade enables me to know precisely where we need to look, how to collect and interpret the relevant data, and what these items mean in the larger ecosystem of your industry.
The Comprehensive Business Survey comprises four primary stages.
First, you schedule a call with me . We’ll speak directly about your situation and whether or not the CBS is a good match for you.
Assuming we mutually agree to proceed…
Second, I will consult my timetable for available dates that mesh with both of our schedules and provide them to you with acceptance documents. You’ll get an agreement via email to sign and return, a list of critical materials to collate, a proposed agenda for the on-site component (including suggestions on who should be present for which meeting), an invoice with payment options and instructions, and an NDA that I will have signed in advance to maximally protect the confidentiality of you and your company.
After we’ve formally agreed the engagement, I’ll send you another email that will ask for a tally of all your employees, which I will use to prepare quantitative and qualitative surveys and profiles. This period of time where we’re working together before I’m on-premise will also give you some time to collect the materials I’ve asked for and to send them to me in advance so that I can create a benchmark for your company, which will be the first thing we address when I arrive.
Third, we’ll move into the on-site stage of the engagement. This usually takes about 3 or fewer days, but it does depend on the total size of your company. I’ll be sure to send you the agenda in advance; it will include the benchmarks, company positioning (including an assessment of market conditions and your current go-to-market strategy), the structure of the roles in your company, and any processes that should be put in place.
A number of area of concentration will be developed from the benchmarking. By way of example, if it indicates that you relibaly under-price, over-deliver, or struggle to accurately assess the velocity of your team toward ojbectives, we will work to address that by working on your people, process, and positioning. These are, more or less, the pillars of your company and we will scrutinize them through the benchmarks. This will leave you with a thorough understanding of where your company’s at here and now, where it really should to be, and how to progress toward it.
I’m not keen on repeating the contents of a written document at you, so the deliverable, if you will, is actually the spoken observations and advice I provide to you and—crucially—the notes you take and can consult long after our working relationship has concluded. I find that it is much more efficient to transfer information and knowledege in this way, and I may provide you with some outlines for note-taking to help you with this.
Fourth, I will be on-call while you and your team work on the implementation. I’ll make myself available by phone or email for up to three months or four substantive calls, whichever occurs first. (These are defined clearly in the agreements we signed at the outset.) The paradigm for these calls is driven by an agenda, so I encourage you to keep a punch list or log of questions as they arise and then schedule a call when you feel it is appropriate. I will give you advance notice that these calls are not designed to be like those a coach may have with you. That is, they are meant to advise and inform, not to hold you accountable.
Those are the four phases of the Comprehensive Business Survey. Throughout the entire process, I will make many observations, recommendations, and ask a fair number of questions, but the four areas we’ll concentrate on the most are:
- structure and staffing
You’ll start to experience positive shifts quite early on in the CBS process. To be frank, even just gathering the materials I’ll ask you for is an excellent exercise. The recommendations that I’ll offer will require you to balance the long term, strategic benefits against some disruption in the short term. Rest assured, I try to minimize any discomfort in the short term.
- Location: Your office.
- Length: I’ll be at your office for two or three days, depending on the size of your team.
- Availability: Generally speaking, I’m available to schedule a survey between 3 and 10 weeks out.
- Deliverables: As stated above, the “deliverable” or “work product” is i) several days of industry-leading advice and information delivered according to an agenda, ii) concise, targeted recommendations for you to take notes on, and iii) elaboration after the fact.
- Implementation Advising: After we’ve finished at your office, I will make myself available for up three months or four substantive interactions. These are also driven by an agenda, so you should to maintain a list of the questions so we can address them in batches. Quick calls or email threads do not count during the first three months.
- Requirements: A principal or someone in your finance department will spend two to four hours collecting the requested materials. All members of your team will complete a personality profile and answer a survey, each of which will take 30 minutes, more or less. Principals will attend approximately 50% of the on-site time while managers and other key personnel will attend for several hours, depending on their particular role. As appropriate, select employees may participate in brief interviews.
- Qualification: I have found that a CBS generates the best results if you, as a principals of your company, are presently earning between $100,000 and $1 million per annum in fixed compensation before any options, RSUs, or profits are distributed. Alternately, your revenue per FTE employee should be greater than $75,000 per annum. Fee Structure: I will assess a fee of $9,500 plus expenses (<$2500), estimated in advance, for companies with up to 12 FTE employees. Each FTE beyond 12 adds $400. As an example, a company with 18 FTE (say, 16 full time and 4 part-time) employees would pay $11,900 plus estimated expenses.
- Payment Terms: Fees and expenses are bundled together into a single sum, which must be paid in advance. Within 3 days of confirming the CBS engagement, approximately 40% shall be paid by credit or debit card. The remainder is due approximately two weeks before we are scheduled to begin the on-site phase. You may furnish the final payment with a check, wire, or ACH transfer. I will make sure to clearly indicate all of the dates and terms before I ask you to sign anything, and you can have as much time as you like to get comfortable with the arrangements. CBS proposals do not expire.