Friday, March 30, 2012

Hello Crisis, My Old Friend

I expected March to finish behind LY, so the goal was just to keep the YTD numbers in the black. How’d I do?


Total income: -25.8%
Total COGS: -31.1%
Payroll: +37.1%
Marketing: +22.5%
Net Income (Profit): -262.7%

Year to Date: 

Total income: -1.0%
Total COGS: +7.6%
Payroll: +24.1%
Marketing: +30.0%
Net Income (Profit): -327.7%

I did not expect March to finish that far behind LY. This week was the worst of the year so far. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s something to do with Easter, that wild card of a holiday. Or maybe Google is punishing me because my site was offline for half of Monday.

There's nothing good hidden in those numbers. YTD sales are really down by more than Quickbooks knows, because QB thinks that an invoice that I prepared for a customer price quote was a sale. QB thinks gross sales are only down by $144, but Excel knows that it’s really more like $900…at least until that customer closes on his estimated sale. The numbers will line up again if he eventually comes through.


The SEO dude that I talked to last week knows his stuff. An hour-long follow-up phone call convinced me that they can increase my monthly traffic by at least 6,000 visitors, and possibly as many as 12,000, just by optimizing my site (using non-sleazy methods) for my four best keywords. I figure that would increase sales by a minimum of $1,200 per month using the most conservative assumptions and as much as $4,800 under the rosy scenario. Unfortunately, their cheapest plan runs $495 per month, and it takes 90-120 days for SEO to deliver the calculated improvements. I could spend $2,000 before traffic picks up sufficiently to cover the new line item…and, of course, there is no guarantee that it really will. This month’s sales figures make it obvious why that can’t happen. With payroll taxes due in a couple of weeks, my old familiar cash flow crisis is back again. The 10 vendors currently on my new-product wishlist will have to stay wishlisted indefinitely.

So I put the guy off until July. Who knows? A miracle could happen between now and then. Last week’s post called down a plague of SEO spammers, as I expected, so I shall not write  those letters again. At least I learned a few tricks that I can implement myself that should improve things incrementally.


Citizens Bank announced that they were going to screw me over by changing my seven-year-old Business Partners checking account to a Business Advisor account. Um…what? Old terms: $12 monthly fee, $10,000 average daily balance to avoid it – and, thanks to a 2005 business recruiting drive, mine was supposed to be free for life. New terms: $25 monthly fee, $35,000 average daily balance, and no more promotional waiver. Gah!

A quick phone call unveiled their Business Green account: $10/mo fee, $2,000 minimum balance, and a mere five transactions per month to waive it. Whew. Why didn’t they tell me about that in my notice letter? Undoubtedly because some fraction of their customers will suck it up and pay the new fees.

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