How To Make A Plumbing Business Successful in 2018
Is this your year? It may not be unless you map your progress to your goal
The new year brings a lot of emotion with it. I guess that is why it is celebrated around the world in a big way. We acknowledge it regardless of religion, culture or geographic region because it signifies a new beginning. Sometimes we are thankful that it is behind us, and we get to wipe the slate clean and start over, mentally anyway. Your banker might not see it as a do-over.
There is the excitement in achieving all the things we have been wanting to do. In our personal lives, this may involve setting goals for our health, wealth, or relationships. Most people in our prosperous culture have a few pounds we want to shed or a little debt we want to have off our shoulders. Our businesses have many of the same issues in some form or another. The extra pounds may be the inventory control that is missing or the unproductive employee that we haven’t addressed. The debt could be the vendor relationships we have tolerated or just that, debt we allowed to accumulate because we didn’t keep the business operating as tightly as we should have.
On New Year’s we hear a lot about resolutions and setting goals for the new year that will be indicators of a year well-lived. I think these are important to set, but they are just the measurement. Activities are the vehicles that make the goals happen. For example, if we want to lose 50 pounds and set that as a goal, we need to also look at the activities that will make that a reality. Identify the daily disciplines, such as diet and exercise, that will make that goal happen over time if we follow the plan. These activities must be specific and measurable each day. Line out how many calories you will take in. Plan how many grams of carbs or protein you must maintain so your body starts burning the extra fuel you have been storing around your middle or wherever else. How long will you exercise or how far will you walk or run to reach predetermined burn rates? We must be specific about these activities or else we will not reach the goals we set.
This article isn’t meant to be about losing 50 pounds. It’s about applying this same philosophy to your business this year. It’s about identifying the daily activities that will deliver the year you are looking for. What are some of the goals you need to set? Only you can determine that, but I will share a few key areas that I think are important. I believe they are important because the most successful companies in the Nexstar membership excel in these key areas.
Staffing: After setting the revenue goal for the year and breaking that down by month, I recommend backing into how many technicians and support staff it will take to make that happen—that head count is the goal. Next, we must identify the activities that must happen every day to get us to that staffing level. Some examples of these activities would be reviewing ad placements and results. It may also include reaching out to a defined number of people every day who may be interested in working for you or know somebody who should. There may be a shortage of technicians in the industry, but that isn’t your immediate focus. Instead, how many technicians want to work with you is. Devote a portion of every day to recruiting.
Culture: This goes hand in hand with staffing, but it is another layer. Having a great culture effects employee retention, production, customer satisfaction, and makes coming to work a lot more rewarding. A great culture doesn’t happen by accident. Start by defining the goal. What does a positive culture look like? At Nexstar, we offer an annual employee engagement survey that helps our members gauge their employees’ level of satisfaction in several key areas. After determining the goal, look at the daily activities that drive this. Take the time to communicate with your employees and look for things to celebrate. Weekly coaching and feedback are things I often see happening in companies that have a great culture.
Training: When building your annual budget, don’t forget to include the investment in training your employees. You should know what comes next. Set the goal. The metric for the goal may be training hours per employee, certifications, or achievement of tasks that you establish as important to know. After setting the goal, look at the daily activities that will help your employees gain the knowledge they need to be the best at their craft. Training is never done. I spent a lifetime in the Navy, and we trained every day so we were the best sailors in the world. We all knew how to fire a weapon or put out a shipboard fire, but daily training created the muscle memory that made us the best. You want the best technicians, customer service representatives or managers in the world working for you. Even if you were fortunate enough to hire them, they wouldn’t continue to be the best without continuous training.
Marketing: None of the key areas above will matter for long if we don’t have customers to serve. When we build the plan for annual and monthly revenue, we must determine how many calls it will take to get us there. That is a great example of the goal metric for marketing. One word of caution here. The goal may be a moving target based on changing ad sources and the different revenue associated with each type. Said differently, the number of calls may change if the average revenue per call changes. Some examples of the daily activities may include reviewing your pay-per-click costs, analyzing cost of revenue by lead source, and monitoring results so you are investing your advertising dollars wisely. This is a quickly changing environment and will most likely continue to be. Make a marketing plan and monitor it. Having the calls helps you attract top talent and helps them earn proper pay.
Now that we’ve set a few goals for the company and discussed the activities that make them happen, there is one more moving piece to this process: accountability. For these processes to take root, we need to create a system of accountability. If we’re counting on the person in the mirror to get something done, we’re talking about personal accountability. This may be a checklist, report, or some form of planner that we use to hold ourselves accountable. Another great process is bringing in an accountability partner who will hold us accountable for delivering.
For other members of your organization, you will want reporting accountability. Daily, weekly, or monthly reports that show completion and status of activities may prevent them from stalling out. The delivery of these reports is better done verbally, in a meeting or coaching session, so feedback and assistance can be exchanged.
A lot can be achieved when a consistent approach is applied. This is true for the Grand Canyon, Warren Buffett, and countless other examples. Many dream of the magic solution or the silver bullet that will make your dreams happen quickly, but that’s not much of a plan. Be consistent in your activities and you will have the results that you designed and built. Make this your year!