How many of your employees could articulate the steps your electric utility or telecommunications company takes to stay financially strong?
I recently had the privilege of interviewing the CFO of a G&T who told me that it takes $15,000 a minute to run their company. One of his goals in using this simple metric was to communicate to his co-workers the amount of planning that goes into keeping the operation financially secure — and how these efforts impact not only their jobs but their member systems as well.
How are your customers affected by your financial planning, and are you communicating any of the work that you’re doing in that area? It can be easy to talk about your response to a major storm or about your latest service or program. Those are things that your customers can see and easily understand. Financial matters can be more difficult to discuss, but they’re just as important to communicate.
Start with your key employees. Make sure each member of your management team, as well as each department head, has a firm understanding of your financial strength and what steps are involved in keeping your utility on firm financial footing.
Communicate with all employees. Perhaps you have an internal newsletter or conduct team meetings where you discuss what’s happening in your company. Use all available channels to communicate this message.
Explain key factors. Make sure your employees understand the various factors that affect your rates — labor, materials, regulatory, etc. What factors can you control? What factors are outside of your control? They need to know the difference, along with what role they can play in reducing costs.
Talk about debt. Help your employees understand the role debt plays in operating your company. Explain the importance of having access to low-interest loans and how planning for the future through equipment upgrades and long-range capital projects helps control costs down the road.
Focus on consumers. However you decide to talk about these issues, remember that your financial planning and strength allow you to better serve your customers. Though some financial concepts may be harder to understand, your overall message should be that today’s focus on financial strength ultimately helps your company offer better, more reliable service to those customers at the end of the line.