As summer arrives, not only does it bring the promise of warm weather, but it also brings on baseball season. Of course, here in St. Louis it is easy to know that Cardinal season has arrived. Every year, as baseball makes the headlines, I recall back to the days when I played ball. Lacking in ability, I tried to make it up by working hard at the game. As I worked on my hitting, I can still vividly remember many a baseball manager saying, “Welsch, keep your eye on the ball.” Easy for them to say, and, at least for me, it wasn’t always that easy to do. I did find that when I did keep my eye on the ball, I accomplished better results. Babe Ruth and Roger Maris’ records were safe, but at least I made contact.
As I think of us in our businesses, I remember back to that admonishment to keep my eye on the ball. As small business people, it can be very easy to take our eyes off the ball and lose sight of what we are really trying to accomplish. The day-to-day issues we must face often require immediate attention, and we get so busy solving those everyday issues that we don’t have the time to remember to keep our eyes on the ball or the bigger picture, as a whole.
MEN ON A MISSION
As contractors, we should all have a mission statement, which puts in writing the overriding goals of our businesses. I will share ours, as it is very simple: “To be the best heating and air conditioning company in the St. Louis area as judged by our customers.” That is the ball on which we need to keep our eyes. I hope you have a written mission statement that defines your overall purpose. If not, write one now.
There are a number of actions that follow this mission statement, such as the more quantifiable goals as to how you will work to accomplish this mission and even lists of day-to-day actions required to obtain those goals. In the end; however, the mission statement should be the ultimate goal.
As we move from one crises to the next, we’re forced to put out fires of all kinds along the way and answer to issues that occur with our employees on a daily or hourly basis. Given the circumstances, it’s very easy to get distracted from our main purpose. While there are many people pulling on us from many directions with issues requiring our immediate response, rarely is someone pulling on us to remind us of our overall goal. Rarely is someone on our shoulders reminding us to keep our eyes on the ball. That requires a personal commitment. At some point each day, or at least each week, we must all make sure we are on the right path to accomplishing our missions.
CLEAR AND CONCISE
Something that will help in this process is to make sure you have communicated clearly your mission statement to all of your employees. You will find it is much easier to obtain buy-in and cooperation from employees when they are apprised of the company’s ultimate mission. This doesn’t mean just giving them the mission statement in the employee handbook you provide when they start. That means continually reminding them and yourself as to your overall goals. It’s easy to get sidetracked with all of those day-to-day issues, and you may look up one day and find you are not really headed in the right direction. As the manager of your company, you don’t have a supervisor telling you to keep your eye on the ball — that is your responsibility.
The follow-up to this is to remember that, while it is important to manage inside the business to accomplish the day-to-day tasks, it’s also important to manage the whole of the business, almost from the outside, to make sure you are, in fact, keeping your eye on the ball.
On a side note, I want to thank all of the many people in the industry who have sent notes of congratulations on our company receiving the ACCA Residential Contractor of the Year Award.
Our entire company is responsible, and we couldn’t be prouder. We very much appreciate all of the kind words.
Publication date: 6/20/2016