The Cost of I Don’t Know

By Thad Plumley

I asked a professional colleague who I knew was familiar with an initiative I was considering for Water Well Journal how it was working for them.

I was expecting to hear some numbers and perhaps see a chart or a list—things that quantify how this program does for them.

What I heard was the one thing I wasn’t expecting to hear: “I don’t know.”

Stunned silence.

I wondered how this person couldn’t know. I mean the ability is there. Seemingly, they chose not to know.

Everything is trackable today. Thus, you should track everything pertaining to your business. It has never been easier to know if what you are doing for your customers is effective—and most importantly—if you are charging enough to provide it.

Personally, the business side of things is not my favorite. I’d rather brainstorm article ideas for an upcoming issue, write or edit an article, or work with a designer to provide an effective feature package on a topic I think is important to readers.

However, when it comes to the numbers, they’re at my fingertips. I look at them every month and think about what they are indicating. If I ever have to shift or change things based on them, I do. After all, the success of those numbers literally gives me the ability to do what I do.

You should track all your costs and look for trends. Is a cost creeping up? Why? What has changed? Is something happening more, less, or is a piece of equipment less effective than it used to be? Can it be repaired or is it time for it to be replaced?

If the answer to those last two questions is no, is it time to adjust pricing? After all, creeping costs equals declining revenue, and that is a math equation no one wants to calculate.

Don’t just do this with the large costs or the pieces of equipment and tools that you use at the jobsite every day. Think about what happens regularly in your office. Are there efficiencies there that can be had? Are there costs that can be lowered? Everything affects your bottom line, and you need to know those numbers so you can act accordingly if needed.

If you think you need help, the National Ground Water Association will be rolling out NGWA Business PRO this year. It is a business management software system designed to maximize efficiencies and streamline your operations. It doesn’t matter if your company has four people or four rigs, it has a variety of tools that can help you help your business.

I encourage you to look into it. The worst thing you can do today is sit at a desk thinking, “I don’t know.”


Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and the director of publications for the National Ground Water Association. He is currently the secretary for the AM&P Network Associations Council Advisory Board. The AM&P Network is a national association for publishing professionals. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.

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