Buy-and-Build Case Study - PDF version

According to Charles Coonradt, author of The Game of Work, numbers are a powerful source of employee motivation. Coonradt says people like playing games because they know the rules and the score. When people (or in this case, employees) don't know the “score,” they tend to not want to play or they play safe, which is not effective for a private equity funded company looking to scale quickly.

Portfolio companies should capitalize on the motivation that scorekeeping brings. Employees who have visibility into their performance metrics through a shared dashboard will have greater agency and ownership of their roles. At Blue Margin, we call visibility that creates a culture of accountability, transparency, and job ownership The Dashboard Effect (which is also the name of our book and podcast).

The case study below illustrates the effectiveness of data visibility to elevate employee engagement.

Power BI Case Study: Commercial Services

While Blue Margin worked with CoolSys, a commercial services HVAC repair company, they grew from $350 to $650 million in revenue through organic growth and acquisitions, with approximately 50,000 client locations and thousands of technicians in the field every day on service calls. To run smoothly, they must coordinate a complex clockwork of people, parts, locations, times, logistics, dispatch, and billing, etc. In short…mastering complexity is key to success.

Limitations of Excel

Before working with Blue Margin, CoolSys used a spreadsheet similar to the one below to gain insights into operations. Granting that it was a sophisticated spreadsheet and that Excel can be a useful, even indispensable tool. However, the insights were limited to senior management, provided only retrospective snapshots (typically monthly), and required further analysis and cross-referencing between tabs to draw actionable conclusions. When it comes to executing day-to-day and improving performance through team accountability, a spreadsheet won't cut it.

Excel Spreadsheet - Days to Bill

Blue Margin worked with CoolSys to build a suite of dashboards to provide real-time visibility, not just for the executive team, but for the field technicians, their managers, and virtually every role in the company.

We established a central data warehouse to support all dimensions of finance and operations, and we developed dashboards to coordinate all functional areas through a single pane of glass. As Michelle Nares, Director of Operations, put it, “We partnered with Blue Margin to create an environment where we could put data from 18 companies and disparate systems into a single repository, and built reports as an interim scaffolding while we integrated the ecosystem.”

While many companies spend years integrating systems to gain a consolidated view of their enterprise, Blue Margin helped CoolSys gain a unified view at the data layer in short order.

"Our data insight is the cornerstone to our growth, helping us increase operating margins 4-5% and reduce turnover by 52%."

Michelle Nares, Director of Operations, CoolSys

Executive Oversight

Executing a value creation plan means coordinating myriad resources around a set of initiatives and metrics that define that plan.  Most companies accomplish through a process of controlled chaos.  In the executive view below, CoolSys gained real-time insight into their company vitals. But the real story is in the left margin, where each functional area of the business also has the instrumentation needed to run at full speed, all of which rolls up to the executive summary.


Increased Operating Margins and Reduced Employee Turnover

CoolSys attributes a meaningful increase in margins directly to the insights they gained from the BI system developed with Blue Margin. This new level of data intelligence enabled CoolSys’ leadership to focus on executing their buy-and-build strategy, rather than reacting to turnover and operational issues.

Excel spreadsheet Margin vs Plan obscured


Data visibility that "touches the nerve" will change how your team thinks about and prioritizes their effort. As an example, targeted reporting on Long Days gave field technicians better visibility into their performance, leading to increased performance and engagement while reducing turnover.

Excel Spreadsheet - Long Days obscured


"Our data insight is the cornerstone to our growth, helping us increase operating margins 4-5% and reduce turnover by 52%. I equate it to being the captain of a ship. Without data insight, you're in a very busy shipping lane with heavy fog, no radar, and you're flying blind. With Blue Margin's help, we can walk on the bridge and the gauges are turning on and coming to life,” says Nares.

A BI dashboard tool such as Power BI is purpose-built to spotlight key metrics and identify trends. This data visibility generates team accountability by giving every employee an understand of the overall growth plan, and the contribution they're accountable to deliver. If you're interested to see how Blue Margin can help your firm accelerate drive growth, profitability, and a culture of accountability, contact us below. 

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For Further Reading:

Jon Thompson

Written by Jon Thompson

Jon Thompson is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Blue Margin Inc. An author and speaker, Jon sheds light on how businesses can take advantage of a revolution in business intelligence to become data-driven and accelerate their success.