I’m back to dive deeper into the strategic initiatives that can help all of us improve ourselves, our businesses, and our industry. Hopefully, we can take these initiatives back to our HVAC businesses and make some improvements.
I had someone ask, why am I giving our insider information away? The way I see it, this isn’t insider information. We want a strong industry with reputable companies leading the way and lifting all of us. I bring these ideas here to help us all think about how we can improve our businesses, which can hopefully make a difference in the communities and industries we serve. Just think, the more each of us as individual companies can continue to push forward in providing outstanding service, the quicker and stronger the HVACR industry can continue to rise.
As a business owner, you have many distractions and often don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish the ever-growing punch list. But the ironic thing is, you need to take time away from the day-to-day to strategize in order to truly make a difference in your businesses long term.
The time you take to plan will pay you back 10-fold. This is the time you need to take to think about what is it that you do. What makes your business unique? Where do you want your business to be in five, 10, or 20 years from now? What will technology or regulations do to your business? How can you expand your product line and/or service area? What type of customers do you want? How are you going to get them?
You need to write this down, think about it, say it, believe it, and communicate it to your people. This is a cornerstone of building your business.
Planning has a lot to do with setting goals and establishing the steps and tasks it’s going to take to achieve them. What’s one of the first things that comes to mind as you start planning out your road map? Oftentimes, it’s the roadblocks — things that will stop you from getting there. This is where you will find out how interested you really are about growing and improving your business.
For example, you have a person in a job function that needs to get a part of the process done, but they don’t have the actual skill set to do it. How are you going to train them? Do you have time to do that? Do you need to find someone else to do it? This is a roadblock. It could be small or large, depending on the urgency of the task. At GAC Services, we first consider any and all ideas for how to get around particular roadblocks. We involve managers and personnel to help brainstorm. The key is not to let these limit your business.
Ultimately, think about the root cause of the problem that is causing the roadblock and solve around that. By re-engineering how you’re going to get around it, you’re one step closer to your goal, are now a stronger planner, and are ready to tackle the next roadblock that will come up.
ADJUSTING THE PLAN
When the situation changes or something comes up, adjusting the plan is fine.
At one point, our team had just two CSRs and now has over 15. When smaller, we had a way for them to be on the same page about the customers that might be calling in. That was enough to keep the business running smoothly. But, with more than a dozen, we needed to reevaluate the need for training and uniformity across the team. We brought in a coach to ensure all customer experiences were similar, no matter who answered the phone. When we continue to grow and add more personnel, we’ll need to adjust our plan again to match our business’s needs.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION?
Once you get into planning and problem-solving mode, it can be tempting to stay in your office and think through all of the possible outcomes and paths there are. For me, I want to solve problems as soon as I find out about them — right then and there. It can be overwhelming to try to over-engineer the path you need to take and equally overwhelming to figure out where to even start. We recommend just taking a step toward the solution you want. Planning incrementally to get to where you need to be seems better than both paralysis of action or bulldozing the entire business.
PLANNING IS PRACTICE
Think about planning as practice. As an athlete, you would practice all week and “play” on the weekend. Great athletes put in hours of practice, but all everyone sees is their performance in a game. Our businesses don’t have defined time like sports, so we need to ensure we have the knowledge and skill to make improvements to win while we play the game of business.
A main part of this planning and strategic thinking process is about fueling confidence. You feel confident when you’re an expert. But becoming an expert comes only after you invest in it. Think of all the time and effort as practice for future problems you’ll need to plan to solve.
And then the actual implementation — that becomes the game of running a business. You implement what you’ve been practicing. You’ve spent time thinking, laying out the strategy, and figuring out the tactics to execute while in the game. That’s where the fun really starts.
Look for the next article where we’ll dive into employee development as a key initiative for your business to succeed. Stay tuned!