Every year I organise a “Dads & Lads” camping trip. This year is the 9th year in a row. We go to the same spot on Moreton Island (the Northern end called Yellow Patch) every year and our record is 11 dads and 17 boys! This year we had 7 dads and 11 lads.

It is an epic event over 5 days that takes months in the planning. We take everything we need as there are limited supplies on the island. The island is 35 km’s off the coast of Brisbane and it takes 1.5 hrs to get their by car ferry. All roads are sand tracks (4WD vehicles only) and it is the 2nd largest sand island in the world and it has the highest sand dune (on an island) in the world. We do a day trip that includes climbing the very large sand hill.

Our days are filled with critical decisions like “is it too early for a beer?” and “when are we going fishing?”

For the first time this year I backed it up with the inaugural ‘Dads & Daughters’ trip with a very modest 3 dads and 3 daughters.

Although we go to a very remote location and we are practicing ‘real camping’ some would say that it is more like ‘glamping’ – glamorous camping! We have the usual things like no running water, tents, sleeping bags, wood fire etc however we back it up with some of the finer things in life..

  • Generator – so we have power for lights
  • Proper fridge – gotta keep the beer cold
  • 4pm wine and cheese tasting
  • The best food – some comment that they eat better on camp then at home
  • BBQ – can’t cook a good steak on anything substandard
  • Wine rack – always a hit that sits proudly in the middle of the table
  • Quality wine to go in the rack – this year one of the dads had a $500 bottle of Grange on offer! He can come again
  • Small run about boat (‘tinny’) – good for fishing, tubing and general skylarking
  • A gadget of the year contest – which for the first time I won with a $20 rubbish bin – there are strict rules around this.

And the best 4WD vehicle set ups you have ever seen.

Each year something ‘eventful’ happens. It was my turn this year. Among minor cuts and abrasions I was tossed out of the ‘tinny’ by a rogue wave (mind you I was not holding onto the steering bar at the time) and it went round in circles on full lock for 15 mins before it conked out. And on top of that I was driving my epic ute (4WD truck) through a small creek and it bogged in soft  quick sand. The water came 8″ into the cabin and it killed the winch and the electrics – it is currently at the smash repairers to see how much damage it got. Luck for us we were saved by 2 fisherman who towed us out of the rising tide.

The 2 incidents are the videos – the other pictures show the beauty of the location.

The beast

Where we camp

Grange camping

All dads & lads

Most firms plan their year by capacity.

They work out like this……We have X number of people this year, we expect X % of productivity (chargeable hours per person), the charge rates will be X each and the write offs will be X%. Less of course labour and overheads and hey presto – a budget.

It’s a really dumb way to plan. It is entirely internally focused (where is the client?) and typically charge rates are determined by salary levels, the method does not reward efficiency, there are write offs involved and as a result the firm does not improve it’s profit % as it grows in size.  Most times the profit % goes backwards over the years. This method will keep you in the poor house.

A better way is to focus on the clients.

No. of clients X Average project value X no. of projects per client per year = revenue.

If you focus on clients, marketing, sales & services then the revenue will look after itself. If you focus on value based fees, pricing up front and being super efficient then the margins will look after themselves.

Most firms know what their productivity, average hourly rate and write offs are. Yes it is important to know what these numbers are – but whatever you do – do not manage your business by these numbers.

Most firms do not know how many (exactly) clients they have. Fewer will know the average project value (hint: divide revenue by number of invoices) and fewer still will know how many projects (on average) each client buys from you each year.

Work out the new numbers and you will be astounded as to the results. From there set some targets in these 3 areas then introduce marketing, sales, services & efficiency to make it happen. Oh, make sure you price every job upfront and value price them if possible as well.