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.

Companies looking to scale quickly should capitalize on the motivation numbers bring. Employees that have visibility into company goals and associated KPIs through a shared dashboard will have greater motivation in their roles. At Blue Margin, we call dashboard reporting that drives growth and profitability while also supporting a culture of accountability, transparency, and job ownership The Dashboard Effect (which is also the name of our book and podcast).

As an example, the case study below illustrates the effectiveness of data visibility to drive employee motivation and accountability.

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 using a buy-and-build strategy. They have about 50,000 client locations as well as technicians in the field every day answering service calls. To make that operation run smoothly, they must organize people, parts, locations, times, logistics, dispatch services, billing collections, etc. In short… it’s a very complex operation.

Limitations of Excel

Before working with Blue Margin, CoolSys used a spreadsheet, similar to the one below, for insight into their business operations. Granted, it was a pretty good spreadsheet, and Excel can be a useful tool. However, when it comes to creating a central narrative, holding people accountable, and changing human behavior, a spreadsheet falls short.

Excel Spreadsheet - Days to Bill

At best, a spreadsheet is a once-a-month retrospective snapshot the executive team reviews as they try to build a strategy for the upcoming month. A spreadsheet can’t drive accountability the way a centralized, near real-time dashboard can, so Blue Margin worked with their teams to build a suite of reports to provide visibility into their most critical metrics.  

Through a series of sprints, Blue Margin engineers began delivering dashboard insights to help streamline daily operations. Ultimately, the team established a central data warehouse to cover all aspects of finance and operations. Furthermore, Blue Margin developed dashboards coordinating 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 wait years to gain a consolidated view of their enterprise until they have integrated ERP systems, Blue Margin’s work helped CoolSys acquire an integrated 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

Increase Operating Margins and Reduce Employee Turnover

CoolSys attributes a meaningful increase in margins directly to the insights they gained from the BI system developed with Blue Margin. A new level of data intelligence has 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 touches the nerve and changes how your team thinks about and prioritizes their contributions. For example, targeting reporting on Long Days gave field technicians better visibility into their performance, and it led to increased performance and engagement, while also 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 builds team accountability because every employee understands what they’re accountable for. If you're interested to see how Blue Margin can help you implement BI in your company to 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.