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Murphy's Law: Be Resolute in 2010

January 18, 2010
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Mike Murphy

Being one who has never written a New Year’s resolution, much less adhered to one, this poor role model for future personal accomplishment did however wonder on New Year’s Day what this industry might do differently in 2010. From residential, light and heavy commercial, to industrial and institutional business practices in the HVACR world, there must be a lot of resolutions floating around offices this month.

With all the strategic business planning and SWAGing that normally takes place this time of year, might some include anything from the following lists?

THE BASIC LIST

Make a strategic business plan. This is a very good resolution, unless the thought only sits on the list for another 12 months. Make a plan, and stick to the plan, until you have to adjust the plan. Making adjustments is not a bad thing - be practical and revisit your strategic business plan more than once every year.

Set goals and objectives. This usually stems from the strategic business planning process, and is the drill-down part of the process that allows you to measure the results of your New Year’s Day dream sequence.

Become LEED-accredited. Having one person among your staff who is not only familiar with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), but also fully accredited is nearly a prerequisite for commercial projects in many major markets. LEED is also coming to bear in the residential new construction market, as well.

THE INCREASE LIST

These are the resolutions that are the easiest to rattle off in a business plan. Increase this, increase that. It sounds easier than it often is.

Increase sales. Is this really a valid business resolution? Nearly every business takes on this annual goal, though in the recent past, losing only a few percentage points has been seen as a win for many.

Increase gross profit. Manage the top line and the direct costs that go with it.

Increase net profit. Manage everything.

THE DECREASE LIST

Next are the resolutions to “get rid of this, get rid of that” items. Put a lot of thought into these before you get too happy about all the cuts.

Decrease expenses. No doubt everyone who has just begun to creep out of the Great Recession can relate to this one. Yet, hearken back to the adage that says, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” Moral of the story: Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Salespeople still have to stay in front of customers. It is not a negotiable expense.

Decrease accounts receivable. Be careful what you wish for; you don’t want to be looking back at a year of lower revenues and celebrating the resulting lower AR. Better idea: Reduce aging of accounts from 90 days to 45 days, something that is both measurable and beneficial.

Decrease weight. Immediately after gorging ourselves from Thanksgiving Day through the Sugar Bowl, this has got to be the most common New Year’s resolution of the American public - lose weight. Many companies have in-house workout facilities, or offer discounted local gym memberships for employees, and some even have in-house weight loss programs. In a business environment, healthy people are productive people.

THE ALTRUISTIC LIST

Recycle more refrigerant. Well, maybe for some, this really should be interpreted: Recycle some refrigerant. Be that as it may, everyone must start somewhere.

Become a green company. Chances are you already are a somewhat green company in many ways, but just don’t market yourself that way. You help people to save energy in a very direct way, and that is about as good as it gets. You don’t have the problem some industries do as they attempt to calculate the equivalent number of cars they have taken off the road from recycling their office trash - a hugely bogus contention as no one is leaving their car in the garage as a result of an overflowing recycling bin. Reduce somebody’s monthly utility bill and they’ll get it - you won’t have to explain equivalent cars on the highways.

THE NEWS' LIST

Best wishes in the new year from the folks at The NEWS. We hope you will see a few of our business resolutions in action: A monthly digital electronic edition for those who are moving in that direction, more educational Webinars than ever before - one per month, and a continued commitment to be everywhere the news is happening in the HVACR industry.

Publication date: 01/18/2010
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