Critical Numbers™: Profit
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Critical Numbers™: Profit
Founded in 1998, 417 Magazine is a second-generation, family-owned regional magazine that focuses on telling its 325,362 monthly audience members the stories they need to know from all around southwest Missouri. The company has also evolved to produce custom publications for corporations, communities, and charities.
When Logan Aguirre took over from her parents in running the magazine, she wanted to find a way to create line of sight for her employees so each and every one could see how they could make an impact. While the company had always shared profits with employees, Aguirre wanted to find a way to share profits in a way where everyone understood why they had earned a fair share.
Aguirre says she had learned about Jack Stack and The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) when she relocated to Springfield. As President of 417 Magazine, she decided it was the perfect financial operating system to take the company and its team to the next level. They began implementing GGOB in 2019 with the help of their coach, Katie Davis.
Prior to playing GGOB, the magazine was projecting a possible loss going into 2019. But, thanks to the team rallying to save more than $200,000 in expenses through MiniGames™ and better education, they closed the year with a profit. The team also used their huddles to focus on their revenue projections each week—which helped them identify other areas where they could increase sales—which generated another $288,000 in revenue. “The theme that kept rising throughout the year was that the little things add up to big changes,” says Megan Johnson, VP of Operations. “Prior to The Game we felt that the ship was pretty buttoned up and the only opportunities we had wouldn’t make that big of a difference. After playing Great Game™ for one year we’ve broken that stigma and have proven the small things really do play a huge role. GGOB has brought new life into our company.”
“I think it has improved the culture and everyone has a great understanding of where we stand financially as a company. Employees feel confident in asking questions to better understand the information being presented. I think it has made the culture more authentic and everyone knows it takes everyone in the building to be profitable, just not the sales team.”
~ Janelle Haik, Account Executive
Aguirre admits that without GGOB, she might have spent days paralyzed in the fetal position as the virus shut down the economy in March and April—forcing the magazine to cancel some big events it had planned. “I don’t know how we would have figured anything out without it,” she says. Prior to opening their books, only Aguirre and a handful of others inside the organization would have known what was happening. “We would have only focused on the revenue loss and not the how to cut expenses accordingly,” she says. “We didn’t always have a handle on our budget or how much things cost.” But, with the help of their GGOB training, Aguirre and her team began making their best-guess forecasts and used the GGOB’s cash calculator tool to help them understand where they stood. The good news was that they had some cash on hand and no debt to help weather the storm until the economy can fully open up.
“I feel like there has been a powerful and positive swing in all things. Employees have a much better grasp of how the little behavior changes we each make impact the big picture. Everyone has a stake and they are owning it. I have witnessed personal growth in employees understanding the financial side of the business when they were once afraid of the numbers and responsibilities they were being tasked with. Many employees are applying GGOB in their personal lives and making a big difference. It's been wonderful!”
~ Landra Bunge, Finance Director
The 417 team relied on a series of MiniGames to tackle multiple challenges and opportunities inside the business. “MiniGames have been so helpful because they’ve given us small wins and things to cheer for,” says Aguirre. One example was a game called “Reelin’ in the Readers,” whose goal was to gain 510 new subscribers in three months. Another game, called “Biggest Influencers,” was aimed at increasing overall brand awareness in the community and creating a positive buzz around their brand and content. Other games focused on areas like reducing office supply expense or improving the renewal rate of advertisers and boosting sales referrals.
Aguirre and her team are preparing to take their Game play up another level in 2020 by implementing team scoreboards—and a scoreboard focused on cash—while continuing to use MiniGames to impact the business. They also have plans to implement a pre-huddle routine and to follow up with Davis, their coach, on kicking off their first High-Involvement Planning™ (HIP) session, which was postponed as a result of the pandemic. “We’ll continue owning it and pushing deeper, not letting year one be the only year to propel us forward,” says Johnson.
“I love the employee engagement I've seen over the past year. So many great ideas for improved processes from each and every person. It's forced me to look at our event budgets from a completely different perspective. GGOB has shown me that the changes I make within an event budget can help to make up for months that aren't looking so great for us overall. I feel more accountable for cutting costs and presenting accurate projections month-by-month so that we know what changes we can make before we're looking at the month in our rear view!”
~ Logan Abramovitz, Event Manager
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