Signs of hope in Dashboard Survey

Readers responding to the second annual BizTimes Dashboard Survey are roughly just as optimistic about their companies’ future for 2013 as they were heading into 2012.

Readers were asked at to assess the outlook for their companies in the New Year.

Despite all of the political uncertainties and noise that have marred the past year, the readers by and large remain bullish about the year ahead, with the majority of respondents predicting increases in their company revenues, profits and hiring.

According to the survey, 66.7 percent predict that their company’s revenues will increase in 2013. That is up slightly from 65.5 percent who forecasted increased revenues for 2012.

Meanwhile, 13.9 percent foresee less revenues in 2013, which was more than the 8.3 percent who forecasted declines for 2012.

In the survey, 61.1 percent are projecting increases in company profits in 2013, down slightly from 62.2 percent who foresaw profits for 2012. Again, the rate of companies projecting declines in profits increased to 13.9 percent from 9.0 percent.

The hiring outlooks in the survey were particularly encouraging, as 50.0 percent of the respondents plan to add staff in 2013, up from 43.5 percent headed into 2012.

Other key responses to the survey included:

  • 30.6 percent plan to make significant investments in equipment in 2013, up from 26.3 percent a year ago.
  • 16.7 percent plan to expand their office or plant space in 2013, up from 12.0 percent a year ago.
  • 47.2 percent plan to incur health care benefit costs of up to 10 percent in 2013, down from 49.3 percent a year ago. Of those forecasting increased benefits costs, 47.1 percent plan to pass along at least some of the costs on to employees, the exact percentage reported a year ago.
  • 63.9 percent expect to increase their investments in branding, advertising and marketing in 2013, up from 62.0 percent a year ago.
  • 63.9 percent have a social media strategy, up from 56.3 percent a year ago.
  • 8.3 percent have developed a smart phone app, down from 9.5 percent a year ago.
  • 58.3 percent will provide employee pay raises in 2013, down from 62.1 percent a year ago.
  • 58.3 percent plan to increase the prices of their goods or services in 2013, up from 57.3 percent a year ago.
  • 41.7 percent described the state’s business climate as improving in 2013, down from 51.8 percent a year ago.

Some of the open-ended comments of the respondents reflected the political chasms of our time.

“Wisconsin’s trend line is definitely pointing in the right direction,” said Dan Nelson Jr., president of Nelson Schmidt Inc. in Milwaukee.

“Leave government out of business. As recently noted on the fiscal cliff issue. They can’t decide to get out of the rain or snow or whatever weather we have today,” said Randy Thostenson of Fluid System Components Inc. in New Berlin.

Another respondent, who asked not to be named in this report, said, “Gov. Scott Walker’s promise to create 250,000 jobs was a joke. He won’t come close.”

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