Starting the year strong means getting everyone on the same page, motivated to pull in the same direction as you. Here are eight steps to ensure a successful new year.
1. DECIDE how you want to do business, and then get everyone on the same page.
You want to set the tone for how your business operates. What is your service philosophy toward clients? What are your “Dos and Don’ts” policies that are sacrosanct and must be followed for your company to run seamlessly? Lastly, what are your company values by which you will run your business? Setting the tone for these at the beginning of the year reminds old employees and on-boards new employees to your “company way” of doing business.
2. BREAKDOWN annual sales targets into specific goals for salespeople and crew leaders.
Your budget is based on a set of revenue and sales goals: the minimum revenue goals you need to “sell and build” to reach your minimum profit. Both your salespeople and your crews need to understand these goals and be prepared to execute.
Your salespeople also need to set stretch sales goals.
Keep in mind that not all salespeople will hit their stretch goals (or even their expected goals) each year, so you don’t want to plan for perfection; you need wiggle room in your cumulative goals, so you still hit your annual revenue budget even when not all sales goals are hit.
3. MOTIVATE employees by showing them how to get a raise and a bonus (incentive).
Regarding base pay: every employee should know what they need to do to get a raise. They should have specific learning goals related to their career ladder that they need to achieve to get a raise.
Regarding a bonus: once every employee knows their goals, show them what’s in it for them. Encourage them to think like an owner by rewarding them for hitting benchmarks that also reward the company. A good incentive system turns working into a game – and who doesn’t like playing and winning a game?
4. STEER all employees to the personal goals they need to achieve to meet expectations.
Related to the point before, every single employee plays an important role (cog) in the machinations of your company. They need direction and feedback so they know how they are doing, what they should keep doing, and what they should both stop and start doing. Sitting down with them one-on-one a few times throughout the year will keep them focused on their own goals and align them to the larger goal of the company.
5. MANDATE communication expectations, so the whole team stays on track even as the spring rush hits.
You need a system of daily, weekly and monthly communication in order to keep your entire company on track. The daily communication is the most important.
For example, at the crew level, mandate how communication needs to happen each day to make your company work smoothly – for example, a daily huddle to kick-start the morning; having the crew check in before the end of the day, alerting the boss to their status; and where applicable, ensuring all administrative work is completed and handed in at the end of each day. Decide your daily, weekly and monthly communication strategy, and stick to it.
6. RESET client service standards.
It is easy to forget that the client is the most important factor in the rush of work in the spring. Sit down with your clients this winter, invite a group for lunch, and have a conversation with them – and record it – and use their feedback to motivate and focus your troops. Find out from the clients’ perspective what you do well, where you can improve, and if there are additional services they wish you offered.
7. ENSURE your employees live a culture of constant, never-ending improvement, so the whole team is engaged to “win” this year.
Do your employees feel safe to suggest better ways of working? Do they feel safe to tell you the tools they need?
If you want to engage their hearts, you need to engage their minds. They need to feel the freedom to give feedback, make requests and comment on things they see that are not in alignment with the company goals and values. Free-flowing, two-way communication is critical to a healthy, growing company.
8. CLARIFY the owner’s role in day-to-day operations to ensure this plan stays on track.
Lastly, the owner needs to make it clear to himself or herself what the role is they need to play. To be a successful leader of a company, think “marching band leader” – you can’t lead the band and be playing the trumpet in the band. And worse, you can’t be playing multiple instruments in the band at the same time while you are also trying to lead it.
You have to decide your specific role and delegate the non-crucial activities.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was contributed by Jeffrey Scott, a business consultant specializing in the landscaping industry and facilitator of the Leader’s Edge peer group.