A self-diagnosis of your company can help you achieve your goals.

Some people call it long-range planning or goal setting, but it really is daydreaming. I like using the "2020 vision" title to predict what you can foresee in your company in the year 2020 ("2020 Vision -- Controlling Your Destiny," March 2003). The primary purpose of predicting both long-range and short-range goals is to prepare a road map and plan of attack that will make your dreams a reality. You don't want to be traveling south if you are trying to get to Canada!

Your first and most important step is to look at where you are now and what it took to get you there. Consider all of what you've done right and what you've done wrong, along with all those "should haves" and "could haves." We call this a self-diagnosis.

Webster's defines diagnosis as: "Investigation or analysis of the cause or nature of a condition, situation or problem." That's exactly what you need to help you formulate reachable goals. You should also get a second opinion to ensure that your dream does not become a nightmare.

Keep in mind that this goal setting is also very beneficial for you and your family's personal life, as well as for each of your employees. That new apprentice may be dreaming about being a foreman, project manager or estimator. As each member of your team fulfills his or her hopes and dreams, you can easily understand the reality of your 2020 vision coming true.

There is one factor that you can rely on with your long-range planning. Your son who is now 12 years old will be 29 in 2020. Your estimator is now 47 and will be 64. Determining those ages is very basic, but you cannot guarantee they will still be working for you. This is why it is so critical that you incorporate each employee's personal goals into your company's 2020 vision.

You can also be assured that you will always have access to an ample supply of skilled craftsmen who are willing and able to perform whatever tasks you contract, since the good Lord will continue to place those inherited traits into tomorrow's children. Your long-range plans, short-range plans and do-it-now commitments must produce and maintain that "best job in town" reputation. The best employees want to work for the best company.

You will not have to concern yourself with any of these factors or long-range plans unless you maintain that "best company in town" image. Honoring your word, producing quality workmanship, and meeting or beating critical path schedules will guarantee those very critical repeats and referrals that successful companies thrive on.

Your long-range 2020 vision must also involve fiduciary controls and financial planning. Making a fair profit is only half of your challenge. Keeping this money and putting it to work will pave the road to wherever your heart desires.

Open Your Mouth And Say 'Aaah'

I have been helping contractors diagnose their own companies throughout the 50 states and Canada for over 30 years. Let me share some of the key "symptoms" you should examine in your company. Since profit is our primary goal, you should enter after each item what it will cost, how much it will make you and how much it could cost if you are not doing it (e.g., Cost__________ Return__________ Penalty__________).
  • A written master plan for 2003, a five-year plan for now until 2008, and your 2020 vision plan.
  • Written company policies (including hazard communication) discussed and signed by every employee.
  • A written chain of responsibility assuring that each employee answers to only one boss. (This is our industry's No. 1 cause of costly turnover.)
  • Written scope of work (job descriptions) for all management personnel to determine fair compensation for extra performance.
  • 8-for-8 daily jobsite production scoring on timecards.
  • Active performance files for recording above or below agreed-upon (8-for-8) performance for all employees.
  • One-on-one performance reviews to adjust compensation as needed, but not less than yearly.
  • Safety and first-aid commitment and training.
  • Every job is completed ahead of schedule.
  • Positive cash flow with no delays with punch lists or warranty work.
  • All recruiting starts with a note in every employee's paycheck.
  • New employees and job transfers get assigned Green & Gold mentors for a 90-day jump-start.
  • Database skill inventory that provides ample lead time to train and precertify employees for specific job tasks.
  • Scheduled after-hours training every week and jobsite blueprint color tracking.
  • Active video "how-to" lending library to assist employees with new tasks, tools and materials.
  • Work with local school's co-op intern programs.
  • Team-building human relations training for all supervisors.
  • Customer-relations training for service techs and entire management team.
  • Pretrained second- and third-string players for every key position on your team.
  • All management positions are promoted from within.
  • Pre-bid and pre-job value engineering to capitalize on your experience and expertise.
  • Prefab and bag & tag timesavers and profit control.
  • Warehouse control on material returns, tools and equipment.
  • Effective "moving billboard" advertising on every company vehicle.
  • Morale and cooperative attitude is good in your office.
  • Jobsite morale and motivation is good at every site.
  • Exit interviews help maintain low turnover rate.
  • Profit-oriented marketing strategies for diversification and distance.
  • Prehire drug testing and compulsory tests with any accident.
  • Family succession for ownership and management.
By sharing these symptoms and cost analyses with your key management personnel, you will help solidify their commitment, as well as getting their diagnosis on each item. Stress the importance of being open and truthful. The truth may not be what you like, but it will certainly help you pave the road to 2020 perfect vision.

If you need help with any of this planning or just want a second opinion, give me a call at 407/699-8515.