Fractional CFOs: What They Do, Why You Might Need an Interim CFO Instead

The chief financial officer is crucial role. But not all businesses can afford – or are ready – for one.

One alternative to committing to a full-time (and expensive) C-suite financial executive is a fractional CFO.

“The biggest role of a fractional CFO is going to be high-level overview. The business is typically not going to be big enough to really justify a full-time CFO,” BluWave Head of Finance Justin Scott says. “But you do need somebody to validate the financial statements and make sure that your cash flow’s in line. Things that the controller or even a super-controller may miss.”

Let’s look at this part-time position in more detail, and explore whether a full-time temporary CFO – an interim – makes more sense.

Serious young economist in eyeglasses and formalwear looking through financial papers by workplace

What is a Fractional CFO?

A fractional CFO provides high-level financial oversight for businesses that might not be able to justify a full-time CFO.

“The biggest role of a fractional CFO is going to be a high-level overview. You just need that extra set of eyes,” Scott says. “It’s more of a validation role.”

The “fractional” part of the title indicates that the person in this role is working a “fraction” of what would normally be a full work week. In fact, it’s not unusual for someone to serve as a fractional CFO for three or more businesses simultaneously.

A fractional CFO is a great option to help secure funding, and then establish the ongoing reporting process and line of communication with the funding source.

“If you use a fractional CFO because you want to establish a line of credit, that line of credit is going to have regular monthly reporting that has to be provided and you may not want your controller working on it,” Scott says.

While there are other use cases, these are among the more common ones.

How Many Hours Does a Fractional CFO Work?

This will vary, but again, by definition the role is a fraction of full-time.

That could mean as little as 5 hours per month, or as much 10-plus hours per week, which is why people in this role often support multiple businesses at once.

There are, of course, both positives and negatives to having someone work for such a limited amount of time.

Benefits and Drawbacks


1. Cost-Effective

Hiring a fractional CFO is more budget-friendly than bringing on a full-time executive.

Instead of paying a salary plus benefits, you can budget for a set amount of hours each week or month.

Even someone who charges $250 per hour, for example, would only cost $2,500 in a 10-hour month – far below the cost of a full-time chief financial officer.

“I think the larger use case is they just don’t have a need for a full-time one,” Scott says. “They probably have a controller or a super-controller in place that gets them almost everything that they need, and they just want an extra set of eyes for peace of mind. The expense is definitely going to be your primary driver.”

2. Flexibility

A fractional CFO is usually brought in as a specialist in one particular area of the finance function. In fact, CEOs could leverage multiple fractional CFOs at the same time, each focusing on different areas.

Since a part-time hire works so few hours per company, they typically have more flexibility, too.

3. Expertise on Demand

For specific tasks in advanced functionalities, a fractional CFO can be invaluable.

One person can be brought in, laser-focused on a project, and only cost the company the amount of time needed to complete it.

4. Mentoring and Coaching

Whether the person running a company’s finances full-time is an ambitious controller or a green CFO, bringing in a fractional CFO to cover their weaknesses can benefit both the company as well as the permanent hire.

The fractional CFO can not only ensure that the full-time person’s blind spots aren’t a liability, but they can train them along the way so that they’re able to do it on their own in the future.


1. Limited Business Insight

Since a fractional CFO is not fully engaged, they might lack a deep understanding of the company’s needs.

“I use myself as the example here. There’s a lot of things that I catch or help plan for because I’m intimately involved in every step of the business,” Scott says. “If I didn’t understand the complexities of what BluWave does, it would be very easy to give a vanilla, out-of-the-box opinion on something and then it blow up in our face.”

2. Less Commitment

Fractional CFOs might not feel as invested in the team and organization they’re supporting if they’re only involved a few hours a week.

“There’s no long-term commitment,” Scott says.

This means that if things start to go south, they’re not going to feel the pain as much and therefore might not be as motivated as someone whose career is on the line.

3. Lack of Focus

As mentioned, fractional CFOs are likely to be working for multiple companies at the same time.

Depending on the urgency of projects from one situation to the next, the fractional CFO may not be as locked in on your company’s needs as they would be otherwise, despite their best efforts.

4. Risk of Losing Them

Some finance experts are content to keep their hands in multiple pots. Others, however, would be happy to jump to a full-time position if the right opportunity presented itself.

Instead of receiving notice about their departure weeks in advance, they may leave you high and dry for a business that’s willing to pay them more.

“That can almost be even bigger risk because fractional CFO by nature already has less understanding of your business, and now they also have less commitment,” Scott says.

Perhaps your business can’t justify a permanent CFO – or you’re going through a leadership transition or preparing for sale – but you still need the full-time commitment of a finance executive.

An interim chief financial officer, then, may be the perfect solution to strike that balance.

Fractional CFO vs. Interim CFO

An interim CFO includes all the pros of a fractional CFO, but practically none of the cons.

That’s not to say that there aren’t also drawbacks of an interim vs. a permanent CFO, but they tend to be a much more impactful solution than someone who only engages with your business for a few hours per month.

An interim CFO is typically more engaged, provides a deeper understanding and is committed full-time.

This deeper involvement brings with it process improvements, better cash flow management and strategic partnership benefits to CEOs, Scott says.

“The interim CFO is going to be more of a strategic partner.”

Why You Might Hire an Interim CFO Instead

Scott says portfolio companies and private and public companies that are ready to add a full-time CFO for the first time are well-positioned to seek an interim.

Here are some reasons why:

1. Commitment

Interim CFOs offer a higher level of dedication compared to their fractional counterparts.

“Now all of a sudden, this is their game. It’s their full-time focus, so they’re going to be digging through everything,” Scott says. “You’re going to get process improvements. You’re going to get better cash flow. You’re going to get all of the things that a full-time CFO brings to the table.”

2. Strategic Partnership

CEOs can expect more from an interim CFO than a fractional solution.

“They’re more engaged with business,” Scott says. “They have a deeper understanding of the business. They’re just going to get more out of the relationship.”

READ MORE: Interim CFO for a Financial Crisis

3. Cost-Effective in the Long Run

While the initial cost might be higher, the benefit an interim CFO brings in terms of expertise and commitment can significantly outweigh the expenses.

“The interim CFO is going to be more of a value-add,” Scott says.

Their billable hours can also be capped, and they typically don’t take benefits like health or 401ks.

Whether you seek a fractional, interim or full-time CFO, the Business Builders’ Network is loaded with private equity-grade options for all company types and industries.

The resources BluWave provides have been vetted by multiple PE firms before joining its invite-only network. It’s no surprise, then, that interim CFOs are consistently among the most requested connections we make.

When you’re ready to meet your next chief financial officer, our research and operations team will provide a short list of industry-specific candidates within a single business day. Set up a scoping call to get started today.

“It’s a big step to go from a fractional CFO to a full-time role,” Scott says, “but the benefits are undeniable.”

Manufacturing in the Modern Age: Data-Driven Insights into Challenges, Solutions

The manufacturing sector, historically a cornerstone of economic prosperity, is going through a transformation. As we navigate the intricacies of this evolution, data is our compass.

Industry professionals grapple with sourcing specialized talent, particularly on a geography-specific basis. They’re also navigating complex supply chain dynamics, which require both regional and global considerations, and are affected by disruptions and economic fluctuations.

There’s also a pressing need to balance operational challenges with long-term strategic growth, all while integrating technological advancements and ensuring optimal production processes.

Since 2021, BluWave has seen an increase from 61.3 percent of manufacturing activity in value creation (versus due diligence) to 78.6 percent – the highest it’s been since 2017.

Let’s dive into some of the trends driving this and other changes.

The Talent Conundrum in Manufacturing

The manufacturing landscape is shifting, and with it, the demand for specialized talent. A staggering 74 percent of manufacturers cite “attracting and retaining a quality workforce” as a top challenge, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. As the manufacturing sector becomes more specialized, the demand for niche talent has skyrocketed.

Human capital activity is at an all-time high within the manufacturing activity index, accounting for 45.5 percent of all industry projects in 2023. That’s a more-than 500 percent increase since 2017, due to use cases like interim executive searches and specialized recruiters.

Beyond the numbers, there’s a qualitative challenge, too. It’s not just about filling positions but hiring visionaries who can lead in an era of rapid change while balancing granular details with a broader strategic perspective.

In the face of these challenges, manufacturers are seeking partnerships with specialized firms, emphasizing the importance of regional expertise and industry-specific knowledge. The goal is to secure leaders who can drive innovation and navigate the complexities of the modern manufacturing world.

Navigating the Supply Chain Labyrinth

Supply chain disruptions have become the bane of the manufacturing sector, with 45 percent of professionals identifying it as a top challenge, per NAM. The intricate dance of sourcing raw materials, managing inventory and ensuring timely deliveries has become even more complex.

Supply chain management is one of the top use cases BluWave sees within manufacturing operations, with make up more than 18 percent of industry activity.

Effective supply chain management is no longer just about logistics; it’s about ensuring a seamless flow of materials, information and services, all while mitigating risks.

Supply chains have evolved into intricate global networks. Data indicates that disruptions, whether due to geopolitical tensions or unforeseen global events, can have cascading effects. Manufacturers are now tasked with not just managing but optimizing these complex systems, ensuring resilience and adaptability.

The emphasis is shifting from reactive measures to proactive strategies. By leveraging data analytics and predictive modeling, manufacturers can anticipate disruptions, adjust in real-time and ensure that the supply chain remains a strength rather than a vulnerability.

Economic Realities: The Balancing Act

In a world where 56 percent of manufacturers (per NAM) are wary of a “weaker domestic economy,” economic agility is paramount. Manufacturers must be adept at navigating economic headwinds while capitalizing on opportunities. The insights from BluWave’s client interactions reveal concerns ranging from revenue challenges to market dynamics.

That makes agility paramount. With fluctuating markets and the ever-present specter of global events, manufacturers are in a constant state of adaptation.

By understanding market trends and leveraging data-driven insights, manufacturers can identify growth areas, optimize production and ensure they remain at the forefront of industry innovation.

READ MORE: Industrial Pricing: Strategies for Manufacturing Businesses

The Digital Transformation: Beyond the Buzz

The future is digital. A significant 43 percent of manufacturers planned to ramp up their technology spending in 2023, according to Alithya. From optimizing operations to strategic decision-making, technology is reshaping the manufacturing landscape. The emphasis on IT strategy and diligence in client interactions underscores the sector’s tech-driven trajectory. Manufacturers that fail to embrace this digital shift risk being left behind.

Among the top technology-related manufacturing use cases we’re seeing are system selection & implementation, and IT strategy and diligence.

Successful digital transformation, however, requires a holistic approach. It’s not just about technology but about aligning organizational goals, processes and culture with these digital initiatives. Manufacturers must ensure that their teams are equipped with the skills and knowledge to leverage these tools effectively, driving both efficiency and innovation.

READ MORE: Manufacturing Equipment Financing: Machine Loans, Leases

Growth in the Face of Uncertainty

Growth remains a top priority for manufacturers, but it’s a goal fraught with challenges. Data highlights the importance of strategic expansion, ensuring that growth is sustainable and aligned with broader market trends. In an era of uncertainty, it’s not just about growing but growing smartly.

Strategic partnerships play a crucial role in this growth narrative. By collaborating with experts, whether in technology, supply chain management, or market research, manufacturers can tap into specialized knowledge, ensuring their growth strategies are both data-driven and future-focused.

The manufacturing sector is at a crossroads, shaped by technological innovations, economic challenges, and global trends. But with challenges come opportunities. By leveraging data-driven insights and forging strategic partnerships, manufacturers can navigate this complex landscape, driving growth and innovation.

For a deeper exploration of how data-driven insights can shape your manufacturing journey, reach out to our team.

Mastering Board Recruitment: Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

Strategic leadership forms the crux of organizational development and success. Just as the driving force of a car is its engine, so too is a high-performing board the engine of an organization, guiding strategic decisions and growth.

The assembly of a board requires careful selection of individuals, each possessing diverse expertise and perspectives that complement one another, fostering a rich ecosystem of leadership. This is where the concept of board recruitment becomes essential.

READ MORE: Best Practices for Board Recruitment

“Bringing on a board member who comes from that industry and can bring in-specific experience is a value add to any organization,” says Scott Bellinger, BluWave’s co-head of research and operations. “They can work closer to the management team and give outside insight of someone who’s been there and done that previously.”

It’s a process that goes beyond filling seats. It’s about attracting the top talent that can steer your business. For organizations looking for professional support in this crucial process, BluWave is ready to connect you with industry-specific resources that can guide your process with expertise and precision.

A women in a black sleeveless dress standing at the end of a glass table in a business meeting. There are high glass windows behind. It's a clear day.

Defining Your Board Member Needs

The journey toward effective board recruitment begins with understanding your unique needs. An assessment of the specific gaps in your current board composition and identification of skill requirements helps direct the recruitment process.

By aligning the desired attributes and expertise of potential board members with the organization’s strategic goals and challenges, you can ensure the recruited individuals will provide the most value.

Job Description

When beginning your board recruitment journey, a comprehensive job description serves as your map. By clearly outlining the board’s purpose, responsibilities and expectations, you set the course for attracting qualified board candidates.

A well-crafted job description, complete with the organization’s mission, board member roles, committee involvement and time commitment requirements, helps filter in individuals who align with your needs. To maximize impact, use concise language, focus on essential qualifications and illuminate your organization’s unique value proposition.

Benefits, Responsibilities and Skills

The board position comes with a wealth of benefits, including opportunities for personal and professional growth, networking and the privilege to make a significant impact on an organization. These benefits should be presented upfront to attract motivated individuals.

Board members shoulder several responsibilities, such as fiduciary duty, strategic planning, risk management and providing guidance to the executive team. Ensuring these duties align with your organization’s needs and strategic direction helps attract the right talent.

“They can be a great outside partner to the CEO – and it’s a portco, the PE firm – to ensure everyone is growing in the same direction and on the same page,” Bellinger adds.

Term and General Duties

Board member terms typically have a defined duration, and adopting staggered terms brings a mix of continuity and fresh perspectives into the proceedings. General duties could span from regular attendance at board meetings and active participation in committees to fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities. Clear articulation of these expectations can help potential members better understand their role.

Time, Legal and Financial Commitments

Time commitments for board members can range from regular board and committee meetings to additional engagement requirements. Alongside time, potential board members should be aware of any legal or financial obligations, such as adherence to regulatory compliance, potential liability issues and the expectation of making personal financial contributions or securing sponsorships.

Strategies to Find Potential Board Candidates

Sourcing potential board candidates requires a multifaceted approach. Utilizing board posting programs and matching platforms, such as LinkedIn and Executive Search Firms, can offer access to a pool of qualified board candidates. Local Chambers of Commerce can also serve as valuable resources for finding candidates.

Oftentimes, though, you can save time and resources by connecting with a service provider who already knows exactly who you need and where to find them. The Business Builders’ Network from BluWave is full of exact-fit third parties who know how to do just that.

Word-of-Mouth and Referrals

Existing networks and relationships form a treasure trove of potential board candidates. From board members of other organizations and industry leaders to professional associations and community influencers, your network contacts can be a rich source of referrals. Clearly articulating your organization’s mission and the specific qualifications you seek in potential board candidates can help garner more suitable referrals.

Publicizing Within Network and Local Community

Promoting board opportunities within your network and local community allows you to target individuals already familiar with your organization or industry. Email newsletters, social media platforms, industry events and community-based publications can be effective channels for publicizing these opportunities. A compelling announcement combined with engaging storytelling can pique interest and attract potential board members.

External Promotion

Expanding your search beyond your immediate networks through external promotion can attract diverse candidates. Digital platforms and industry-specific networks can reach individuals with the desired expertise who might not be in your immediate circle. In addition to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can be effective platforms.

Screening and Selecting Board Members

Choosing the right candidate requires a structured process. An efficient application process, including resume, cover letter and reference submission, can facilitate the evaluation of potential board candidates. Initial screenings through phone or video interviews can help narrow the candidate pool. Utilizing behavioral-based interviewing techniques and strategic questions can further help assess the qualifications, values, commitment and potential contributions of board candidates.

Short-listing and Final Selection

The final stage of board recruitment involves short-listing and selecting the ideal candidates. Reviewing candidates based on predefined criteria and qualifications ensures an objective selection process. Thoughtful deliberation among board members, consensus-building, conducting reference checks and considering overall board dynamics can further aid in the selection of the right candidate.

“The main thing is getting someone who’s willing to be an active board member and not just meet once a quarter, but actually help with some value creation plans throughout the period and stay engaged between quarterly meetings,” Bellinger says.

A successful board recruitment strategy is a meticulous process. It doesn’t have to be an uphill task, though. BluWave’s research and operations team can be your ally in this process, connecting you with exact-fit service providers. Connect with us here to start your journey to master board recruitment.

Best Practices for Board Recruitment

An outstanding board is invaluable to an organization. The power to make strategic decisions, the ability to drive innovation and the capacity to inspire stakeholder confidence is all within its power. Having helped countless businesses with this very process, BluWave has a unique perspective into the fundamentals of the board recruitment process and the best practices that make it efficient and effective.

Working with one of the expert third-party resources in the Business Builders’ Network can save you time and money while ensuring that you make the right selection for your company.

Let’s take a deeper look at the details that go into this critical decision.

Understanding the Board Member Recruitment Process

Board member recruitment goes beyond the confines of structured interviews – it is a crucial facet of organizational governance. A well-executed process determines the structure of leadership, influencing decision-making and strategic oversight.

“We’re starting to see some PE firms look for those board members during due diligence to help with some of those diligence opportunities as senior advisors then convert post-close to board members,” says Scott Bellinger, BluWave’s co-head of research and operations.

Industry-specific third parties not only know how to run the process for your business, they’re also connected with the most qualified candidates for your specific situation. Access to these resources can save businesses from the headache of sifting through unknown or unproven options.

Best Practices for Recruiting Board Members

Identifying Desired Board Member Attributes

First, you must identify the qualifications, skills and diversity that board members need to possess. These attributes should be aligned with the objectives of the organization, facilitating its growth trajectory.

Developing a Comprehensive Recruitment Strategy

A clear blueprint and timeline form the foundations of a robust recruitment strategy. Tapping into various channels – from professional organizations to networks and referrals – can greatly enhance your reach to potential board members.

Navigating these channels can be intricate, though, highlighting the need for expert third-party resources to guide the process.

Implementing an Effective Screening and Selection Process

The backbone of successful board recruitment is a comprehensive screening and evaluation process. The stages – ranging from interviews, application reviews, reference checks, background investigations, to skills assessments and board observations – require careful execution. Thorough due diligence, particularly during reference checks and interviews, should never be rushed or downplayed.

Utilizing a Board Recruitment Matrix

A board recruitment matrix can be a game-changer. This visual tool evaluates the current composition of the board, unveiling gaps that need to be addressed. The matrix ensures that new board members are appointed based on the required skills, expertise and diversity, fostering a team that’s well-equipped to navigate organizational challenges and stimulate success.

READ MORE: Effective Board Recruitment Strategies

So what does a great board member look like?

“Someone who has scaled a business in the same space at a larger size company,” Bellinger says. “Someone who knows what best-in-class looks like in this industry.”

BluWave is prepared to connect you with an exact-fit service provider, equipped to streamline and optimize your board recruitment process.

When you’re ready to elevate your board recruitment process, get in touch with us. Our research and operations team will scope your needs and provide best-fit candidates for you to evaluate within a single business day.

5 Steps to an Effective Voice of Customer (VoC) Strategy

In today’s competitive market landscape, understanding your customers’ perceptions and needs is paramount. This is where an effective voice of customer (VoC) strategy comes into play, allowing businesses to capture and analyze customer feedback for informed decision-making.

But without a strategic approach based on proven voice of customer best practices, deciphering customer pain points and optimizing your business operations can be challenging.

This guide will take you through five essential steps to building and implementing a successful VoC strategy.

Building a Customer-Centric Company Culture

An effective VoC strategy begins by cultivating a customer-centric culture within your organization. This involves adopting a mindset where customer needs and feedback are the driving force behind every decision. From the C-suite to the front-line employees, every team member should understand the value of the customer’s voice and its impact on business success.

The integration of a VoC strategy extends across all departments, with each having a unique role and benefiting differently. For instance, the marketing department might prioritize understanding customer preferences for promotional channels, while the product development team might focus on feedback about product usability.

Building a Robust VoC Data Collection Framework

Your VoC strategy is only as good as the data you collect. Diverse methods of data collection provide a multifaceted view of customer preferences, expectations and pain points. As you adopt different VoC methodologies, you’ll gain a more comprehensive understanding of the customer journey.

Select feedback channels that align with your customer’s preferences and your business sneeds. Whether it’s through direct interviews, surveys, social media or customer support interactions, diversifying your feedback channels is crucial. Continually assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current channels to fine-tune your data collection strategy.

Transforming VoC Data into Actionable Insights

Collecting VoC data is just the beginning. The power of your VoC strategy lies in transforming this raw data into actionable insights. Analytical tools are indispensable for interpreting the data and identifying patterns that signify customer sentiment, preferences and pain points.

READ MORE: The Power of AI and Data Analytics

For instance, you may notice a recurring theme of customers struggling with a particular feature of your product. Grouping similar feedback points helps you identify and prioritize areas for improvement. By mapping these themes against customer personas and journey stages, you can gain a deeper understanding of specific customer experiences and expectations.

Prioritizing and Implementing VoC-Driven Initiatives

Having extracted insights from your VoC data, the next step involves implementing VoC-driven initiatives. Prioritization of these initiatives depends on several factors, including the feasibility of implementation, expected impact and alignment with business objectives.

A VoC roadmap can help you systematically execute prioritized initiatives over time. Transparent communication is key during this phase, ensuring everyone understands the changes and is on board with the new initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be set to measure the effectiveness of these initiatives, providing tangible proof of your VoC strategy’s success.

Enhancing Customer Engagement and VoC Program Evolution

A successful VoC strategy doesn’t stop at implementation—it’s an ongoing process that evolves with your customers’ needs and expectations. Keep your customers informed about the changes you’re making based on their feedback. This not only shows your commitment to their satisfaction but also encourages their continued participation in your VoC program.

Regular reviews and updates to your VoC program are essential to stay in sync with changing customer needs. Your VoC strategy should be flexible, allowing for continuous improvement and adaptation.

Building and implementing an effective VoC strategy may seem like a daunting task, but the rewards of increased customer satisfaction and business growth are worth the effort.

Working with a trusted third-party expert can help ease this process, and BluWave is here to connect you with the perfect resource.

“There are providers with networks of contacts across different industries,” says Keenan Kolinsky, BluWave co-head of research and operations. “Not only is it interesting to survey existing customers, but also potential customers to gain their insights and perspectives, and that’s really where these third parties can add value, is helping businesses get insights from potential customers – not just the ones they already have.”

Whether you need help refining your data collection methods, analyzing VoC data or implementing VoC-driven initiatives, our research and operations team is ready to assist. Contact us today and let us guide you to success in your VoC journey.

Voice of Customer Process: Methodologies for Better Service

Customers shape the success of your business. Their feedback, preferences and expectations guide your strategies, refine your services and bolster your bottom line.

Enter the world of the Voice of Customer (VoC). This indispensable tool – often part of a specialized commercial due diligence project – empowers you to tap into what your customers desire and harness their insights for growth.

VoC is a research method that captures customers’ expectations, preferences and aversions. By leveraging this approach, you can cultivate a customer-centric culture that not only boosts satisfaction but also propels your business to new heights.

READ MORE: Voice of Customer: Definition, Importance

VoC (Voice of Customer) Methodologies

VoC methodologies are a collection of techniques to gather valuable customer insights. They pinpoint customer needs, expose pain points and reveal opportunities to improve.

BluWave co-head of research and operations Keenan Kolinsky says using an industry-specific third-party can make this process more efficient.

“The study can be much more targeted if there’s a specific customer segment they’re interested in. Additionally, when a VoC is part of a due diligence activity, the acquisition target could introduce the fund to a targeted and select group of customers to get their insight specifically,” he says. “They’re much more targeted insights from the key accounts that can make or break the business.”

READ MORE: 5 Steps to an Effective Voice of Customer (VoC) Strategy

Customer Interviews and Surveys

Nothing beats a conversation when it comes to understanding customers. Interviews unveil the “why” behind behaviors, offering rich qualitative data. On the other hand, surveys, whether online, email or SMS, yield quantitative data, transforming feedback into measurable insights.

By pairing these methodologies, you gain a holistic understanding of preferences and experiences. But managing and interpreting both qualitative and quantitative data can be complex. Collaborating with expert third-party services can alleviate this burden, allowing you to focus on leveraging the insights.

READ MORE: Buy-Side Commercial Due Diligence: What is it?

Social Media

Customers often voice their opinions on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, TikTok and more. Monitoring these platforms uncovers real-time feedback and sentiments. Social listening tools identify trends, track brand mentions and facilitate customer engagement. This goldmine of unfiltered opinions can equip you to refine your products and services.

Doing this on a regular basis, though, can become unwieldy. Experienced third parties who do this on a regular basis can save you time and help you get capture core customer sentiments.

Focus Groups

A small group of customers, a structured discussion and a skilled moderator – that’s a focus group in a nutshell. It’s enables customers to freely express their thoughts.

This format often reveals hidden perceptions and enables you to understand how group dynamics influence feedback. Nevertheless, coordinating and moderating focus groups can be time-consuming and requires expertise for accurate interpretation. Here, experienced third-party firms can step in, streamlining the process and ensuring valuable takeaways.

Customer Support Data

When customers reach out for support, they reveal their needs and frustrations. Scrutinizing inquiries, complaints and feedback from support channels can reveal recurring issues and areas for improvement.

Website Behavior Analysis

How do customers interact with your website? Analytics tools – like Google Analytics 4 – offer the answer. By tracking page views, clicks and navigation paths, you gain behavioral insights.

Heatmaps, user recordings and conversion funnels also unveil usability issues and help streamline the customer journey. But analyzing such granular data and deriving meaningful insights isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It demands deep technical expertise and significant time investment. A third-party solution with a knack for analytics can be the key to unlocking these valuable insights, sparing you from getting lost in the complexity of data.

READ MORE: Understanding Voice of Customer: Metrics, KPIs, Analytics

Online Reviews

Customer feedback thrives on online review platforms. By monitoring them, you can understand customer sentiments and address concerns. Engaging with customers on review platforms also shows your commitment to their satisfaction.

Feedback Forms

Feedback forms on your website or app offer a structured way to gather feedback. Well-designed, user-friendly forms capture specific information, enabling customers to express their thoughts in detail.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS®)

How likely are your customers to recommend your business? The Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) offers a clear answer. NPS® surveys categorize customers into promoters, passives and detractors. Analyzing this data uncovers the reasons behind customer ratings and helps craft strategies to boost loyalty.

VoC (Voice of Customer) Processes

Data Collection and Analysis

Gathering data is only the first step. VoC methodologies call for structuring and organizing data to facilitate effective analysis. Tools and techniques for data analysis spotlight key insights and patterns, making sense of what you collect.

Insight Generation

Converting data into actionable insights is the heart of VoC. Analysis uncovers customer preferences, pain points and emerging trends. Triangulating from different methodologies offers a comprehensive understanding of your customers.

READ MORE: AI Data Analytics: Business Intelligence Tools

Action Planning and Implementation

Insights are the foundation for action. Prioritize improvements based on both customer input and business goals. For instance, if feedback consistently points to slow website load times, prioritize website optimization. Effective implementation requires cross-functional collaboration to effect change.

Monitoring and Continuous Improvement

The Voice of Customer process is not static, but rather a dynamic, ongoing endeavor. It evolves in sync with market trends and customer needs. Establishing continuous feedback loops, gauging progress and refining strategies based on the evolving customer landscape is essential.

“You could also incorporate price sensitivity into a VoC to help a company determine if there’s room to increase prices,” Kolinsky says. “Basically what the customer thinks about how the product or service is priced.”

READ MORE: How To Analyze Sales Data: Tools, Examples, KPIs

This is where BluWave steps in, bridging the gap between understanding your customers and implementing that understanding into actionable strategies. Our research and operations team works diligently to connect you with industry-specific, vetted service providers who specialize in Voice of Customer methodologies. They assist you in maintaining the momentum of your VoC efforts, from the initial data collection to the final stages of strategy adaptation.

Through our extensive network, we’ve got you covered whether you are a private equity firm, a portfolio company, or a private or public company. Our exact-fit resources are at your disposal to ensure you remain customer-centric, adaptable and progressive in the ever-changing market landscape. We understand that your goal isn’t just to listen to your customers but to hear them, comprehend them and ultimately grow with them.

Business Intelligence & Analytics: What is it?

Business intelligence and analytics is a key facet of modern-day business building.

“BI gives you the ability to dig deeper in to all the operations of your business to track KPIs and other metrics, which can then help you steer your business,” says Houston Slatton, BluWave’s head of technology.

Leaders at private equity firms, portfolio companies and private and public companies use data to answer questions about their business. This could give them a better understanding of their customer base or product, for example.

What is Business Intelligence and Analytics?

“It’s using very large amounts of, and sometimes real-time data to paint a whole picture of your customers, your business and your products or services,” the founding partner at one of our expert service providers says. “The difference between business intelligence and analytics and maybe traditional financial analysis is the scale at which it happens.”

In the past, business leaders would get information from an old database and manual analyze it in a spreadsheet program. That very spreadsheet fundamentally limits the analysis, according to the data firm’s founding partner, Mike Datus.

“Once you enter the realm of business intelligence or analytics, or data science is sometimes used synonymously, you’re talking about a bigger, more comprehensive, more real-time picture,” Datus says.

READ MORE: Business Intelligence Infrastructure: What is it?

Different Aspects of BI&A Process

One key way to maximize portfolio company performance is with private equity analytics. The right data helps a firm make better investment decisions while maximizing portfolio company performance.

The right information also helps with risk management, and eventually, increasing a portfolio company’s exit value.

Of course, non-PE firms can reap the same benefits to build their business. Slatton says this process starts with putting your data in a data warehouse and formatting it in a way that’s “analytics ready.”

READ MORE: Data Consolidation: Benefits, Challenges, Process

“The next chunk is building or doing analysis on top of that data,” he adds. “Probably a lot of defining KPIs or metrics. All businesses are generally going to agree on revenue, but most of the operational metrics, there’s probably a little wiggle room around. But you can’t build a visualization with wiggle room.”

Precision, then, is key to actionable analytics. Once you have reliable, accurate data in place, it’s time to put it to work.

“You’re going to build some visualizations on top of that analysis so you can build some metrics over time and build some historical results and predict future results as well,” Slatton says.

How PE Firms, Businesses Use BI&A

By monitoring key performance indicators and market trends, organizations can identify weaknesses. The right data can help develop strategies to address these issues and strengthen a firm’s portco or a company’s operations.

“Most companies don’t have great insight into the actual operations of their business at the granular level that you can have now,” Slatton says. “It’s an investment to put in a full data stack and to build the visualization capabilities. But you can really unearth a lot of highly impactful insights about your business once you have access to the granular data sets.”

READ MORE: Data Warehouse Types: How To Choose the Right One

One of the key considerations in BI & analytics is the selection of data sources. As Slatton mentioned earlier, accuracy is imperative, along with up-to-date information that’s aligned with the firm’s overall strategy.

“One of the most important parts of BI is figuring out what the actual KPIs are that are going to be the real levers of the business and making sure to track those,” Slatton says.

Once the firm knows what it wants to monitor, it must decide how to securely collect and store that information.

Integrating new private equity analytics programs and tools must be done with existing systems in mind. These might include portfolio management software, investor reporting platforms, website analytics, payroll management and more.

Lastly, and most practically, the data must be accessible for the relevant parties. That means reports that are easy to analyze and share. That way, everyone from partners to C-suite executives to the most junior employee in the organization understands what’s driving the decisions that affect them.

READ MORE: Business Intelligence Automation: What is it?

Whether you’re the CTO at an independent company, an interim CFO at a portco, or any other business building role, we have expertly vetted analytics and insights resources on standby.

The BluWave-grade network of service providers have helped hundreds of companies like yours choose, implement and distribute data platforms that have a positive impact on their organization’s value.

“You want a group that can define the right, limited set of KPIs,” Slatton says. “The C-suite or leadership team should bring that to the table, but you want a group you’re going to be able to work with to define and refine the KPIs that you use to drive the business.”

Contact us to set up an initial scoping call, and we’ll connect you with two or three best-fit resources for your exact situation within a single business day.

*Privacy is important to us. While the source and company name have been changed, these are real quotations from a real service provider in the BluWave Business Builders’ Network.

Unleashing Business Potential with AI: Beyond Open Source Tools

Artificial intelligence has evolved from a futuristic concept into a business norm. The advent of Language Learning Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and Bard is only the tip of the iceberg.

While these consumer-focused models are noteworthy, they form only a fraction of AI’s potential. Businesses stand to gain significantly by digging deeper into the realm of AI and integrating advanced models.

Let’s dive into how AI is revolutionizing private equity firms, their portfolio companies and other private and public businesses.

business analytics

Beyond Data Availability and Hygiene

AI models are adept at analyzing and interpreting massive datasets, providing businesses with valuable insights that drive decision-making. With data being produced at an unprecedented rate, AI’s role in sifting through this sea of information and drawing actionable conclusions is invaluable.

READ MORE: The Road to AI Implementation: Precursor Activities

Ken McLaren, partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners, spoke to this on a recent AI-focused webinar hosted by BluWave.

“We do a lot of prototyping on desktops,” McLaren said. “As we prove the value and the use cases, we then start getting ready for production. But don’t build in production first. Get the proof value with your customer market in place before you start building.”

He elaborated on the importance of not just having clean data, but that it’s also production-ready, which means having a quality data lake infrastructure.

“Having your data pipes with things like Azure Data Factory, having good storage…or using Databricks Delta Lake on top of that, having a production-ready data environment is important,” he said. “Once you’ve got your models ready…you can plug in a lot of open source tools. So there’s really no one platform to rule at all.”

Protecting Your Sensitive Data

With AI tools new and old evolving so rapidly, there’s also concern from business leaders that the data they share with these same tools is not safe.

“If you’ve got history turned on, then it becomes part of that AI system,” said Keith Thomas, National Practice Lead, Cybersecurity Operations, at AT&T. “It gets built into the models, and there’s the ability for the model to use that data.”

Since McLaren’s firm exclusively works with healthcare companies, they err on the side of holding back data from open tools that could otherwise compromise privacy.

“We still guide our portfolio companies for sensitive business data, customer data – keep it out of any open tool,” McLaren said.

BluWave CEO and founder Sean Mooney also cautioned about sharing propriety data that gives your company an edge:

“If that’s something that’s competitively sensitive or advantageous your business,” he said of adding it to an open-source tool, “you’ve just given it to the world.”

Beyond Open-Source AI Tools

Tech stacks at innovative businesses are changing faster than ever. Not only are the tools themselves changing, but they’re also becoming easier to use for team members who aren’t as technically skilled.

“In software development in general, there’s this movement more and more toward no-code, low-code solutions,” said Alex Castrounis, Why of AI founder and CEO. “Part of the benefit of those things is, one, accessibility and making it easier for people in organizations to sort of build software, or in this case, train models, iterate on models, tune them, optimize them, deploy them and so on.”

He added that the future of AI could look more like J.A.R.V.I.S. in Ironman than simply getting help summarizing large sets of data or writing an email.

He describes this potential technology as an “interface that becomes sort of an information-retrieval system or a question-answering system on top of your data. …It solves a lot of those issues that I know a lot of organizations are wondering when it comes to proprietary data and confidential data.”

Other tools like LangChang – used in conjunction with other tools – can help users make templates out of their existing prompts and iterate them for future inputs. These can then be set up with outside sources such as Wikipedia, as well as databases and APIs.

These, however, are just a small sample of the growing list of possibilities.

While OpenAI, Microsoft and Google continue to grab the lion’s share of attention when it comes to new AI tools, there are countless others being developed and improved every day.

Business leaders must strike the delicate balance between experimenting and staying ahead of the curve against protecting proprietary, and even sensitive data. Miscalculating could not only compromise competitive advantages, but also user safety.

The Business Builders’ Network is full of expert, trustworthy service providers who are on the leading edge of artificial intelligence technology. When you’re ready to connect with an industry-specific resource for your business, contact our research and operations team to set up a call.

Unlocking Organizational Success: The Role of Leadership Coaching

Effective leadership lies at the heart of any successful business. The ability to guide, motivate and inspire teams is what separates great leaders from the rest. But these skills don’t just appear overnight; they require nurturing and development, which is where leadership coaching comes into play.

Leadership coaching serves as a compass for potential leaders, helping them navigate the complexities of modern business environments. By partnering with third-party resources who specialize in this exact service, your top managers, directors and executives can take their teams to the next level.

Let’s discuss how the exact-match third parties in the Business Builders’ Network can help you solve this exact problem.

The Benefits of Leadership Coaching for Organizations

Leadership coaching offers far-reaching benefits that ripple across an organization. It has a profound impact on leadership development, employee performance and overall organizational growth.

Enhancing Leadership Development

Leadership coaching shapes leaders to be more self-aware, enabling them to tap into their full potential. It’s not a one-size-fits-all process. The goal is to tailor the journey to each individual’s unique strengths and areas of improvement.

The personalized nature of coaching encourages deeper introspection and a greater commitment to professional growth. This individualized approach is more likely to yield effective, long-lasting results.

Improving Employee Performance

The effect of effective leadership transcends the leader themselves. It extends to the performance and job satisfaction of their teams. Leaders who have undergone coaching are better equipped to engage and motivate their teams, fostering a positive work culture and higher productivity. Leadership coaching is not just about developing leaders; it is also a vital strategy to increase your company’s value.

Driving Organizational Growth

The innovative thinking and decision-making prowess fostered by leadership coaching can be pivotal for success. Leaders, shaped by coaching, can inspire their teams to break new ground and achieve their fullest potential. This cumulative effect of individual improvements significantly contributes to organizational growth.

Strengthening Communication and Collaboration

Effective leadership coaching can significantly enhance communication within teams. It also fosters a culture of collaboration built on mutual trust and respect, leading to more productive and synergistic cooperation.

Key Components of Effective Leadership Coaching Programs

A successful leadership coaching program stands on a robust foundation of clear goals, personalized development plans, continuous feedback and accountability.

Clear Goals and Objectives

Defined coaching goals serve as a roadmap for success. These goals, when aligned with organizational objectives, provide a sense of direction and focus for the leader being coached. The clarity offered by these goals helps ensure the coaching process yields effective, measurable results.

Individualized Development Plans

Leadership coaching should not be a one-size-fits-all process. It should be tailored to individual needs and aspirations. Personalized development plans ensure that coaching interventions are targeted and effective, addressing specific areas of growth and improvement.

Ongoing Feedback and Support

Feedback serves as the backbone of any successful coaching relationship. It provides insights into the leader’s progress and areas of improvement, thus spurring further growth. The role of the coach does not end with feedback. Ongoing support and mentorship from the coach are crucial to sustaining leadership development efforts.

Accountability and Measurement

Accountability is a vital aspect of a coaching relationship. Measuring progress and outcomes helps track the effectiveness of coaching initiatives and provides a clear picture of whether goals are being met.

Strategies for Implementing Leadership Coaching Programs

Implementing a successful leadership coaching program requires a strategic approach, right from identifying coaching needs to selecting qualified coaches and establishing a supportive coaching culture.

Identifying Coaching Needs

Understanding the leadership development needs of an organization is the first step in implementing a successful coaching program. These needs can be identified through various tools, including 360-degree feedback reviews, performance assessments and employee surveys.

Selecting Qualified Coaches

Selecting the right coach is crucial to the success of the coaching initiative. Coaches should be experienced, credentialed, and their coaching philosophy should align with the organization’s culture and values.

Working with a exact-fit third-party can save you wasted time and money but connecting with the exact resource you need for your specific situation.

Establishing a Supportive Coaching Culture

Creating an organizational culture that values coaching and continuous learning can greatly impact the success of leadership coaching initiatives. Leaders should demonstrate their endorsement of coaching by participating in it themselves and sharing their experiences.

Integration with Leadership Development Initiatives

Combining coaching with other learning opportunities such as workshops and seminars provides a comprehensive approach to leadership development. This integration ensures practical application of new knowledge and skills in the workplace, reinforcing the learnings from leadership coaching.

Unlocking your organization’s full potential through effective leadership coaching need not be an overwhelming task. BluWave’s expert research and operations teams can connect you to the perfect service provider to help navigate this transformational journey. Connect with BluWave today and let us help you unlock the full potential of your leaders.

In the Know: Unleashing Potential with Buy and Builds

The Power of the Buy-and-Build Strategy

Companies are always on the lookout for innovative growth strategies. One approach that has proven particularly effective is the buy-and-build strategy. In this model, a holding company acquires multiple smaller firms and integrates them into a larger entity.

The strategy is akin to a swift game of chess where acquiring and integrating companies quickly can help achieve a stronghold in the market. Moreover, this model can be replicated across cities, allowing for exponential growth and market domination.

A Unified Structure with Unique Entities

The brilliance of the buy-and-build strategy lies in its structural design. At the top is the holding company, equipped with a C-suite, while each smaller company has a General Manager. This organizational structure ensures a balance of central control and local management.

All these entities under the holding company umbrella share standardized features such as technology, financials, and IT systems. It’s like seeing a network of car washes or dental practices, each maintaining its unique brand while operating under a unified and efficient system.

Creating Value Through Strategic Moves

The buy-and-build strategy offers various avenues for value creation. For example, it can be beneficial to conduct a market study and IT due diligence during the acquisition process to ensure seamless integration. This approach also offers opportunities for cost savings through shared services or offshoring certain operations.

Another important facet of the strategy involves standardizing sales functions and integrating finance and accounting systems. It not only streamlines operations but also sets the stage for a robust reporting structure.

Overcoming the Challenges

While the buy-and-build approach provides numerous advantages, it’s not without its complexities. The integration process can be a significant challenge, requiring meticulous planning and execution. Likewise, maintaining focus on the core business amidst rapid acquisitions is crucial. With the right support and expertise, though, these obstacles can be overcome.

In this regard, BluWave can be an invaluable partner. We connect you with service providers specializing in buy-and-build strategies to help tackle integration challenges, evaluate potential acquisition targets and ensure your core business stays the focus amid rapid expansion.

The buy-and-build strategy presents a powerful path to rapid expansion and market dominance. With the right expertise and resources at hand, businesses can navigate the inherent challenges and harness the full potential of this approach.

As you embark on your buy-and-build journey, consider BluWave as your strategic partner in growth. Contact us today to discover how our network of providers can support your vision and unlock your business potential.

Navigating Executive Team Assessments: A Brief Guide

Understanding your executive team’s dynamics, strengths and areas for development is pivotal to your company’s success. Executive team assessments can play a crucial role in this understanding, aligning the leadership team’s skills, behaviors and performance with the strategic goals.

If you’re considering an executive team assessment, BluWave is equipped to connect you with top-tier resources to facilitate the process.

Let’s dive in to better understand what it might look like when you engage a world-class third-party to help.

leadership coaching

The Role of Executive Team Assessments

Executive team assessments contribute significantly to crucial business decision-making processes. They help determine hiring decisions, promotions and leadership development strategies. More than that, these assessments shape an organization’s culture, fostering a climate of engagement and transparency.

READ MORE: Unlocking Organizational Success: The Role of Leadership Coaching

Understanding Executive Team Assessments

The primary objectives of executive team assessments are multifaceted. They serve to comprehend team dynamics, assess leadership performance and identify strengths, weaknesses and potential growth areas within the team and individual leaders. The insights gleaned can be instrumental in enhancing team cohesion, clarifying roles and responsibilities, facilitating personal growth, improving leadership capabilities and driving successful succession planning.

Behavioral Analysis

Behavioral analysis provides a method for understanding the behavior, motivations and interaction styles of team members. By scrutinizing these elements, companies can optimize team dynamics, improve communication and facilitate effective decision-making processes.

360-Degree Feedback

The 360-degree feedback process involves gathering performance-related feedback from an employee’s subordinates, peers, superiors and sometimes even external stakeholders. It’s an excellent way to identify blind spots, areas of strength and opportunities for development, contributing to improved performance and higher employee engagement.

Performance Evaluation

Performance evaluations involve reviewing an individual’s job performance and productivity to understand their efficiency. The results of these evaluations can inform promotions, salary increments, layoffs and training needs, offering a robust dataset for assessment.

Personality Tests

Personality tests can help you understand different personality types and how they interact. Moreover, by ensuring that the leadership team adheres to a similar set of values, organizations can maintain consistency in decision-making, operations and company culture.

Alignment with Business Goals

Assessments provide an opportunity for reflection and alignment, ensuring that individual and team efforts contribute to company goals. Through the integration of org chart planning, businesses can gain vital insights into key roles, reporting relationships and team interdependencies.

The Significance of Assessment Results

The results of an executive team assessment can shape professional development plans, improve team dynamics, refine leadership strategies and inform strategic decisions. Incorporating HCM systems software can streamline performance tracking, goal management and feedback collection, further enhancing the assessment process. The role of feedback in the assessment process is instrumental in improving overall organizational performance and fostering a culture of continuous growth and learning.

READ MORE: AI Data Analytics: Business Intelligence Tools

In conclusion, executive team assessments provide invaluable insights into your leadership team’s capabilities and dynamics. They offer a foundation for making informed decisions and fostering a culture of transparency, engagement and continuous growth.

Undertaking an executive team assessment might appear complex, but the rewards of enhanced team performance, strategic alignment and improved decision-making are immeasurable. The BluWave research and operations team is here to connect you with an exact-fit service provider to help you navigate this crucial journey.

Maximizing Customer Retention: Strategies for Loyalty, Long-Term Relationships

What is Customer Retention?

Customer retention measures how well a business maintains its customer base over a specific period. It’s an important metric because it is often more cost-effective to retain existing customers than acquire new ones.

When customers consistently choose your brand over competitors, they bring repeat business, provide valuable feedback and often become brand advocates.

Achieving high customer retention isn’t easy, though. It requires careful strategizing, meticulous execution and continuous improvement. This is where third-party resources can make a significant difference. Partnering with experts or leveraging cutting-edge tools can save you valuable time and resources.

Whether it’s designing an attractive loyalty program, implementing effective CRM systems or refining your customer experience, industry specific service providers have experience and expertise you need.

Let’s dive deeper into customer retention and how it can help your business.

Understanding The Importance Of Customer Retention

Building customer loyalty is a critical element of customer retention. The value it brings to business growth is immense as loyal customers often translate to repeat business and referrals. There are several key factors influencing customer loyalty, including product quality, customer service and overall customer experience.

Effective customer retention strategies play a pivotal role in fostering long-term relationships. They involve an array of initiatives ranging from loyalty programs to personalized customer engagements. Examining successful case studies can provide a insights for companies looking to improve retention.

READ MORE: Voice of Customer Process: Methodologies for Better Service

Implementing Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty programs are designed to incentivize repeat business. There are different types of loyalty programs, each with its own benefits. For example, a points system might encourage frequent purchases, while a tiered system could inspire larger transactions.

READ MORE: How To Analyze Sales Data: Tools, Examples, KPIs

When designing a customer loyalty program, several key considerations come into play. These include understanding your customers’ preferences, setting clear and achievable rewards and ensuring the overall process is straightforward and accessible. Implementing and managing these programs effectively can have a significant impact on customer retention.

Enhancing The Customer Experience

An outstanding customer experience can turn one-time customers into repeat clients and casual buyers into brand advocates. Employing strategies to consistently deliver exceptional experiences can significantly improve customer loyalty and retention.

Using CRM systems to manage customer relationships can have numerous benefits. They can help track customer interactions, provide personalized service and identify trends in customer behavior. Similarly, leveraging customer lifecycle management can enhance customer retention by delivering targeted engagements at each stage of the customer’s journey.

READ MORE: Understanding Voice of Customer: Metrics, KPIs, Analytics

Loyalty Management and Measurement

Effective management of customer loyalty initiatives is crucial to their success. This includes not only the implementation of the programs but also ongoing performance monitoring. It’s crucial to track key performance indicators (KPIs) like repeat purchase rate, customer lifetime value and churn rate. Interpreting and acting on these metrics, however, may require a certain level of expertise that specialized third-party services can provide.

Successful customer retention strategies are not set in stone, but are rather dynamic and adaptive. Continual refinement based on customer feedback, market trends and business goals is paramount to their sustained effectiveness. The process of monitoring and adjusting your customer retention efforts can be intricate and time-consuming. Expert third-party service providers, well-versed in data analytics and strategy adaptation, can be an essential asset in this journey.

READ MORE: What is the Voice of Customer Survey?

The journey of customer retention, from understanding its importance to implementing effective strategies, is an intricate, ongoing process. Customer loyalty programs, enhanced customer experiences, CRM and lifecycle management are all tools in your arsenal to foster loyalty and long-term relationships.

The value of maximizing customer retention is clear, but the path to achieving it can be riddled with complexity. BluWave is here to bridge the gap.

Our research and operations team is here to connect you with industry-specific, expertly vetted service providers to help you navigate the complexities of customer retention.