TARI® Testimonials


Major Comments

Ronen Day is the Managing Director of Fine Tubes Ltd., Plymouth UK. He has spent most of his career successfully improving business performance at a senior management level in industry and with PA Consulting Group, a leading International Management Consultancy. He is a Chartered Engineer with a Masters in Business Administration from London Business School.

“I first met Keith when he was delivering a seminar on his approach to improving business performance, which is the subject of this book. I was interested by his claim that you could manage a business by focusing on two key levers, which if correctly identified, could help you steer a business to growth and prosperity.

I had by that time been instrumental in improving the performance of many blue chip companies while working for a leading international business consultancy group. As a result, it seemed clear to me that improving business performance was not entirely straight forward and required the knowledge and experience of the complete range of functional and process management disciplines, which I had acquired over the years.

I found his concepts interesting but like many people who are first introduced to this approach did not really grasp the underlying principles and so concluded it was too simplistic to have any meaningful application in my world of business (where I believed the problems were much more complex and thereby required more sophisticated solutions).

It was about a year later that our paths crossed again while he was working in the UK applying his ideas. He persuaded me that if you could create the right focus in business, develop an expectation of success and create a simple plan that linked activity to financials, this would in itself deliver significant improvement in profitability. I agreed to trial his concepts on the business I was currently consulting, even though I was incredulous of his claims of the scale of improvement this could deliver.

Over the next few weeks I was constantly punctuated by Keith who would say: “Just trust me and follow the process and you will see the profit improvement you seek.” This was an act of faith, as this process was so different from the well-established approaches to business improvement that had delivered so much success for my colleagues and me.

What I experienced was a revelation, as the owner with low aspirations and a lack of direction saw his business transformed in less than a year into a dynamic business with a growth in profitability which I would only expect to see in a Disney movie. I became a firm believer in Keith’s concepts but incredulous it had taken me so long to grasp such an obvious truth. Even then I was not convinced the concepts would work in larger organizations.

Sometime later I was consulting with a much larger business which was losing money and ridden with debt. There were many issues that we were working on that needed to be resolved. One evening over a glass of wine with Keith discussing various business issues, he suggested I apply his concepts to this company. I was skeptical whether we would get much benefit for the effort we would need to invest in this larger and more sophisticated organization, although I could see merit in doing some product analysis.

The journey that followed was different from what I had expected. What I had not realized was that the ability of the various departmental managers to contribute was being clouded by their functional performance measures and the opaqueness of costing and financial systems. (This was not the first time I had come across senior business managers who could not relate the profits on financial statement to their own activities). What was more, the people who worked at all levels down to the shop floor, wanted the company to survive, but did not have the focus or understanding of how they could contribute to making the company a success.

Keith’s concepts provided the company with this much needed focus and empowered the organization very quickly. Sales and production worked on business activity levels; designers redesigned product with marketing using the added value per hour concept; sales became much more effective in managing product margins; shop floor operators could directly relate their efforts to the company’s profitability and managers had a simple and understandable way of driving the business forward that related their efforts to the profitability of the business. In three years the debts were cleared and the company was making healthy operating profits.

I believe Keith’s work, will one day be regarded as a landmark contribution to business owners and managers around the world. I encourage you to read this book and hope that you will find the success that I have found by applying Keith’s concepts to your organization. ”

Ronen Day September 2013 (Foreword to Improving Profit: Using Contribution Metrics to Boost the Bottom Line published by Apress NY)

David Hartley has a worldwide reputation of developing accounting software for both the public accounting market and for business, having pioneered the delivery of these computer systems in Australia and later in the UK. The following was written in April 2013 when reviewing Keith's latest book.

“In the days of big data and ever more complex systems it is so refreshing to find a simple approach to clarifying business issues to permit clear and effective decisions to be made, in businesses from the smallest to the biggest.

Reading this book brings many quotes about simplicity to mind such as:

‘Simplicity is the purest form of genius.’ -- Albert Einstein

‘Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius --and a lot of courage-- to move in the opposite direction.’ -- E. F. Schumacher,

TARI and Professor Keith Cleland fit these quotes perfectly. Keith is that very rare academic who is touch with the basics of life and business, who can write about them in ‘common words’ as in ‘One should use common words to say uncommon things’ ― Arthur Schopenhauer

Keith has certainly shown courage too, the courage to withstand ridicule by those who dismiss TARI as trivial or simplistic. Plus the strength to persist.

Keith uses 21 business case studies to show how identifying the key drivers or activities of a business and then measuring and monitoring the average return of those activities via TARI (Target Average Rate Index, a benchmark calculated as the average gross profit or contribution per unit of output activity) can help keep a business focused on the right things to deliver success. Lots of detail and nth degree pseudo accuracy are not needed for TARI to work its magic. Averages from sampling a small percentage of invoices are sufficient for the starting insights.

Keith's book comes alive with real people in real business reacting to TARI - ‘I've got it. Damn it, I've got it!’. The struggles of business person immersed in the daily grind shine through. The informal, often humourous style, entices one to keep reading. That is unusual in a business book! There is little economics or accountancy jargon in this book, yet its message and implications run deep.

People who produce or provide services, and their businesses, build a nation, and allow all that we call civilisation including arts, science, sport, health advances, and philosophy, to exist and flourish. When businesses struggle and die, everyone suffers. Keith knows that and expresses it well. TARI and this book is his ‘contribution to the success of business’.

Despite the criticism by some that TARI is too simple to ever possibly work, it is that simplicity, understandable by all business people once they ‘get it’, that is TARI's greatest strength - with TARI a business can avoid the trap of complexity and the need for expensive guidance from so called experts. Though advisors who really have the best interests of their clients at heart will embrace TARI, and in turn be thanked by those clients for bringing them a tool that works and which they can relate to day after day as they build success.

I commend this book to all people in business, no matter the type or size of business.

Disclosure: I have known Keith for nearly 40 years, and have witnessed the development of TARI. I would love to see TARI use spread far and wide, helping build a better life for many in the process, and thus helping improve our world. All kudos to Keith! And TARI!

David Hartley 2013

Comments by Managers

“In a tough retail market the TARI® approach has provided a simple and clear focus, on operating activity and financials, that has helped ensure design, production and marketing deliver what is required to ensure our profitability and future success.”

T…… CEO of a long-established up-market UK furniture manufacturer.

“Movement of profitability analysis to the invoice level provides management with on-line tools for benchmarking and productivity control. Combined with an appropriate IT solution, it lets management identify poor as well as outstanding performance at the time of invoicing.”

A…… Fin Director of a major consulting group in respect of a wholesale/retail chain with $12 billion in sales and 70,000 employees.

“The main value that I have obtained from the last course is consciousness of great importance and necessity to have clear and accurate means of timely feedback for decision-making. My recommendation is that existing reporting system could be more informative if mechanism of TARI® benchmarking was used widely in all reporting information.

Direct link between price, overheads and productivity is evident from invoice analysis that confirms previous recommendations that the company can boost its productivity and gain profit.

The real help for my company connected with the assignment is that now I try to build a new system of control in my department using internal benchmarking method mentioned above.”

A…… Senior Manager with Microsoft

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“…it gives great input for managerial decision, for creating a sales plan with more specific indicators for the sales department, making it possible to focus on the sales more likely to reach given objectives.

I decided to redesign the whole sales process to be more closely allied to company objectives. Such redesign will also be dedicated to the reports, which sales create for management.”

O…… (Internet Service Provider)

“I was staggered by the first part of the work, when comparing two invoices of a large commercial job and a private house, I got a result, that wholesale was better than retail, making more profit even at considerable discounts on the volume of sales.

The given work showed how far my working activity in the company has not been effective. Many things which were earlier considered useless (such as weekly and accumulative reports) became clearer to me as to their purposeful use.”

I…… CEO Engineering Divn of Plastic Building and Heating Products

“… I am working as a Finance and Administration manager. This module was devoted to the part of finance I thought I know best of all. But this module opened my eyes to other sides of cost accounting. From my everyday business life the subject is very interesting to be able to see, how sometimes seemingly small decision could influence the total performance of big companies.”

M…… Multi National Cosmetic distribution

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“Up to now we have had only formal management accounting systems. The assignment shows how it is possible to implement performance control reports in order to evaluate managers' performance.

The previous books I read on the subject were overloaded with information and difficult to understand. Now I can see the woods through the trees very clearly…”

S…… CFO. Shipping Containers in and out of a major port.

“I have learned that the key to successful implementation of any plan lies in getting relevant and timely feedback to help management's decision-making. It was also useful to analyze the existing reports in order to think about the improvements needed. Manual analysis of the invoices helped me to understand the structure of the price and cost and how costs are allocated.

I know that my findings will be helpful and I intend to prepare presentation for the top management of my company to communicate my views on TARI® and how it could be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Port's existing operations.

And finally, I have recognized clearly that Productivity and Contribution are the key drivers for performance improvement.”

V…… Vice President of a major Port Operation

“… I clearly understood the importance of Management Accounting process, its main tools and forms. In my personal opinion it is of crucial importance that I discovered a new tool for my company – invoice analysis. Being a director of one of the key area in our business I badly in need of this knowledge.”

V…… Director: Food products - Importing and Distribution

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“One of the most interesting and new applications was the introduction to TARI® techniques. As a result, a benchmarking standpoint was defined, against which it would be possible to measure the profitability of a certain customer. This approach was completely new compared to the current methodology for the Group of calculating the so-called net contribution based on our ‘add-on’ way to raw materials via transformation costs, etc., all the way to the final price formation.

“Previously, the management recommended us to estimate net contribution as the process of addition of all the costs and correlating it to the prices effectively applied to this or that customer, i.e. in every profile meter sold for say, 2€ there would be 1€ in raw material, 0.3€ in ‘transformation costs’ from the ‘bulk’ of raw materials in production, 0.4€ in the so-called CTS (cost-to-serve, an analogue of the sales and delivery costs parameter), and so on.

“At the end of the day we would arrive at some kind of net contribution related to the price, and it may be positive or negative, but this would not be an approach to treat specific performance against a benchmark; it would be a pure cost-related comparison, with the only possible decision for the management to cut costs wherever possible on a ‘big’ scale, and maybe overlooking the root of the issue.

“With the current TARI® approach it is possible to see the difference in the contribution of each customer, the time and efforts invested in each, and arrive at a situation when we would be able to assess and create an ‘ideal’ customer. For instance, Customer B is #3 biggest account, but his prices can be low or we are giving too much commercial incentives to him, also wasting too much time, that as the result we arrive at a 0.69€ rate which is almost half of what we actually want to achieve, according to the calculations. At the same time, we don't invest that much in a small Customer D, though devoting our time to him, and as the result we get a quite optimistic 1.28€ rate.

“The further use of TARI® applications will be of great value not only while planning the internal extrusion activities of our company, but also for sales managers providing advice to our customers – the fabricators who feel the acute need to improve performance in their workshops and increase productivity within the framework of their existing assets, to an ever greater degree.”

Y…… Manager of a national branch of a European Group manufacturing windows

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“I consider TARI® an important tool for improving profitablity. It has great importance for me and for the company, because it gives clear vision of connection between pricing and productivity. Today the company will look at the process of pricing from the new angle. For me personally, the concept gives a new angle of vision on making decisions.”

K…… Manager, Shipchandlers Group

“Benefits from this concept are difficult to overestimate. For me, an economist by education, the TARI® was an absolute revelation. It became clear that reporting mechanism of Company is not perfect and should be improved. My recommendations to management concerning quotation of services and improving reporting mechanism are now being applied in practice.”

N…… Deputy Finance Director, Shipping and Trucking Transport

“At the start I was very skeptical about implementation of the TARI® technology to my business. As long as I read about working hours, goods, manufacturing and so on, I was more and more frustrating. Could I apply this to my web-site? Is this tool more powerful than what I’ve already implemented to monitor business productivity?”

“It takes a little time to resolve this puzzle. Firstly I decided how I will apply the analysis to traffic on the website. Then I decided which part of the website should be analyzed, since it has incoming and outgoing flows (and they also can be grouped). As I continued working on this approach, I discovered that more and more dimensions of business can be analyzed by this tool.”

“Finally I chose what part should be analyzed and what data should be used and it revealed some interesting things. First of all it was easy to do. I put this report into our ERP system and took a look at the live data for current period of time. I’ve noted that it has long tail of ‘null’ invoices. I corrected our rating system to cut off that long tail and you cannot believe how surprised I was! I can immediately increase my profit for 12%. This is amazing how fast I got the results and how small was my actions to do that. I can already see which parts of the company I can apply the method.”

K…… CEO, Search Engine Organisation (IT) Company

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“I began to see that managerial accounting could be much simpler than having a balanced score card together with other financial reports which are not easy readable with all the costs and unclear mathematical relationships for those who are not familiar with finance and accounting.”

“Moreover I have learned that it is important how company set its targets. TARI® was very new for my understanding but easy to get familiar with. The approach is way less confusing than regular managerial accounting. It requires information that is measurable and accessible for managers. It gives valuable information for decision making and takes as little as one day effort.”

“Personally, I now have a new understanding of what I am working for and what should be my financial sales targets. It will help me a lot in my personal selling approach.”

P…… Consultant Executive Search Group

“I believe Keith's work will one day be regarded as a landmark contribution to business owners and managers around the world…and I hope you will find the success that I have found, by applying his concepts to your organization.”

Ronen Day, Chartered Engineer, MBA (LBS), MD, Fine Tubes Ltd, UK, previously senior consultant with PA Consulting Group, a leading international management consultancy.

“I feel happy, I feel happy, I feel terrific !!! and transformed.

That was one of the best residential i have ever attended. My whole banking career revolved around Financial Analysis and lending. TARI® was an amazing discovery. I also got new knowledge of how to interpret financial statements which books, school or my working experience failed to instill in my head.

Financial Consultants and business people need TARI® more than anything to transform and turnaround their operations and processes. Thank you once again Prof.”

P…… Managing Director of a South African Bank

“Through the urging of a client, we were invited to a presentation by Dr Keith Cleland. At his presentation Dr Cleland spoke about the concept of TARI. The concept struck a cord and as a result we decided to use this simple tool in the practice.

Our results using TARI have already improved the average hourly rate from $98 to $135. It is so simple yet has had such a profound impact. Every fee we raise and quote we prepare now has a TARI of $135 per hour. The most relevant aspect is we have been successful with every quote and have not had one query on our fees.

There is however one negative. I have asked myself why I didn't use this technique years ago. Approximately 17 years ago Dr Cleland spent two days with me assessing my practice and discussed the concept. I didn't implement it because I thought I knew better. How wrong I was. That one decision has cost a fortune.

Thank you Dr Cleland.”

John Bennetts CPA, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

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“I am delighted to provide you with evidence of the benefits obtained and to strongly endorse TARI®.

A good example of the benefits flowing is shown through two retailers with three shops each turning over about $4 million and when we took over, each losing between $50,000 and $150,000 a year.

Following a split in the family, two shops were taken over by one part of the family and the remaining shop held by the other part of the family. While we remained as accountants for both, only the family holding the single shop adopted TARI®.

Within two years that shop produced a profit of $200,000 per annum and has continued to increase. The other two shops continued to experience losses of up to $100,000 per annum. The difference in results was largely due to the information generated through TARI®. Definitely a win-win situation.”

Richard Vincent, FCA, Robert M.C. Brown Vincent Partners, Sydney 2067, Australia.

“I can certainly see that there would be some doubters in believing that a simple management of a few key indicators can cause a major turnaround in business, but as I have mentioned to you, this has been achieved in the past and is a daily part of my practice…

There are many cases I can relate which range from corner stores to workshops making elevators and coal train wagons all of which are thriving on the simple aspects of TARI®.”

Paul M Cooper, CPA, Brisbane 4110, Australia.

“I wonder how we ever coped before TARI® became available…it has been a boon to our practice”.

D.E. Harris, FCPA, Harris Boscia P/L, Melbourne 3130, Australia.

“As you know we have been using TARI® for the benefit of clients for close on three years now. The simple but powerful concepts underlying this approach to management accounting contributes to a deeper comprehension of the key factors affecting the bottom line.

By way of example, one of our clients had traded for many years but never met the profit expectations of its owners… TARI® helped us analyze the company business into its separate components…and with their focus fixed directly on the key factor in each department, noticeable improvement occurred, with profitability in the year exceeding budget by 50%…

The bank is so delighted with the turnaround that it last week approved a new facility of $1m for expansion…”

Michael Williams FCPA, Balcam Williams, Melbourne 3004, Australia.

“As you are aware, I have been involved with TARI® for a period of approximately two years and have had some outstanding successes using the TARI® philosophy and its accompanying software.”

Tom Moon, FCA, T.W. Moon & Company, Sydney 2209, Australia.

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“After a successful year, thanks to the TARI® process, we are targeting much higher levels of revenues and profits from our existing business. In addition, we are now providing the new TARI® advisory service to our clients who will generate new revenue streams and fulfilling work for our employees.”

Connor Warin Chartered Accountants, Waltham Abbey, UK.

“We started running a manufacturing client in January last year, and got the hourly recovery from just over £28 to an average of £32.60 for the year. In this year, to date (29 Aug.), the recovery is £37.96 and productivity has improved from 63.8% last year to a remarkable 81.82% this year.

As a result there's a very good bottom line and a very happy bank manager. An offshoot is that the Revenue decided that they were not happy with the accounts, but we managed to persuade the Inspector to visit our client, when we were able to run through the monitoring process and the results, which were being achieved.

The result was that a potential investigation was immediately cancelled and we were thanked by the Inspector for our efforts in ensuring that the tax bill would be increasing!”

Mike Broderick, Chartered Accountant, York, UK.

“A fabricating client had rung up losses of $166,158 the previous financial year and a further loss of $80,000 for the seven months ending January this year.

We got him onto the TARI® program and within a matter of weeks he was into profit. In eight months February through September (with one week to go) he has recorded a net profit of $138,481.

As requested, we asked him to give his reasons for the changes and here they are: confidence when he quotes because he can compare the quoted, contribution with his benchmark; speed that he gets weekly results – each Friday after closing on Wednesday; and speed that he gets monthly results – 4 days instead of 6 weeks.”

Gary Morcom & Associates, CPA's, Albert Park,Victoria, Australia.

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“When we first suggested to this client that we could help, he made it very plain that as we knew nothing about jewelry, he didn't think we could!

However, he agreed to participate. Some months later, to our complete surprise, he stands up at a client seminar and sings our praises!

In response to your request, we asked him for his comments. He said he liked having a yardstick by which to gauge performance on a weekly basis. The information gained has assisted in developing product mix, formulating pricing policy, obtaining feedback on the effectiveness of marketing activities and given him a better understanding of the cycles impacting the business.”

Poole & Partners, Mooloolaba, Qld., Australia.

“The software is simple, flexible and easy to implement. The reports are concise and focused, which facilitate improved communication between the client and his advisors. The monitoring facilities are ideal in assisting accountants complete consulting assignment to banks in respect of business reviews or conducting administrations.

We have found clients have been confused by traditional financial statements, particularly understanding the relationship between profit and cash flow. Assisting clients understand this very basic relationship has improved relationships with their banks.

We are pleased with the results, particularly in the facilitation of closer relationships with our clients.”

W.A. Sexton, Senior Manager, Cairns Office, PWC, Qld., Australia.

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“TARI® has completely changed the way we look at our own business and those of our clients.

“Firstly about our clients. As you will be aware about 2/3 of our income is derived from work done for primary producers and we have about 80 business clients ranging from small building contractors to a handful of clients with a turnover greater than $1million.

“I originally had reservations as to whether we would be able to apply the concepts, but the results are far greater than our most optimistic expectations. When I decided to use TARI® I made a commitment to give it a fair go. I used it even though I knew that some of the time would not be recoverable initially and there was pressure to do compliance work. Looking back, that time was very well spent. I now look at all business clients (large or small) with a TARI® outlook. This means that now, a typical client interview would be 20% discussing tax matters and 80% business management issues. Previously the interview would be tax oriented with a few sympathetic mumbles about how the recession is affecting everyone. Now we can do a meaningful diagnosis of the 2 or 3 key factors that affect clients' profitability.

“Often when these are clarified for a client they change the way they look at their business. They will then work through their own solutions. Other times we will make 2 or 3 suggestions to improve the key indicator performance. Then they will take up the initiative and implement further measures.

“I have a client with an agricultural repair business. This business was largely subject to fluctuations in the surrounding farming area. The neighboring tire business was being sold and it would dovetail into his existing business. We did an analysis of both businesses. Then we did planning for both - in both businesses the target profitability could be increased by nearly 2/3 by improving activity and contribution indicators in each business. A consolidated planning report was then printed out. He then took these to his bank manager. The bank manager's response was "this is the best budget submission I have received from an accountant". He immediately granted an increase in the overdraft to meet working capital needs and was confident funding for the tire business would be available. The banker commented that he could see how the improved results were built up and could see that the increases were credible…”

Jeffrey A Gill, CPA, South Australia

Dear Keith,

I met Katia. Cordial greetings from her. She became a fanatic of your teaching now too. She is completely enthused about TARI® and will introduce this now to xxxxxxxx, a European pump company where she is now working as a business development manager. For me her comments were quite interesting: it is like a "depot" effect that your course has. Sometimes, it takes time until people run into dead-ends and need help. In these situations they remember what you have taught and change their minds. I thought you might rejoice.

Dr Andreas Kelling, Principal IBR MBA

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