Three Key Insights From Real-Time Analytics for Your Small Business

When Alicia Liegerot opened up her business, Healing Hands Massage in Tulsa, Okla., she realized that she needed a way track key business metrics such as revenue, the number of appointments and her best-selling services. At first, she tried to track these figures by manually entering the data from daily receipts into Excel spreadsheets and charts. However, she quickly learned this process was unorganized and laborious.

Alicia found an online analytics tool that automated this process in real-time. "I can quickly see not only my most popular service, but also my average revenue for each day, week and month," she said. "Plus, it came in handy this year when I gathered numbers for my taxes."

Online analytics can help you make more accurate decisions about services, cash flow, staffing and forecasting. Ultimately, this means you can improve your bottom line, which is what Sirry Berndsen discovered. Her business, Spirit of Light in Brookline, Mass., grew 254 percent in one year after she paid closer attention to analytics and adjusted her services according to her key business trends.

Google Analytics was one of the first mainstream analytics tools, showing important website metrics for your business (number of unique visitors, average time users spend on each page, etc.). Today, online analytics options have evolved and are now more sophisticated, providing critical metrics that help business owners better manage their operations. For example, you can sign up for an online appointment scheduling service, such as Genbook, that offers a real-time analytics tool. Also, Foursquare and Facebook offer analytics features that track customers' activity on the sites as it pertains to your business.

Below are three key insights that you can monitor using an online business analytics tool:

Viewing your revenue over select periods of time (daily, weekly or monthly) can help you make smarter decisions about virtually all aspects of your business, including marketing, staffing, and cash flow. Once you know your slowest month, you may want to bulk up on marketing during that month or reduce your number of staff to address the lull.

Optimal Staffing:
It is important to monitor the performance of your staff members. A strong analytics tool provides staff data, such as the number of appointments they book or sales figures. For your best performing employees, you may want to consider promoting them or offering more hours. As for staff members that aren't performing as well, you can adjust their schedules so they work on your busiest day, giving them a chance to expand their client base.

Having the ability to view all key business data at your fingertips allows you to make strategic forecasting decisions for your business. Knowing which services are the most and least popular allows you to make adjustments to your service offerings. Perhaps you're spending unnecessary money on supplies for a massage that isn't making profit or not promoting a certain treatment enough, despite its strong sales numbers.

With an analytics tool, the answers to these questions are easily accessible and will inevitably help you better understand and grow your business. With the knowledge you gain, you can increase sales, invest in your employees and keep your customers satisfied.