Four Months into the Year – Is the Business Plan Still Alive?
“They” told you to do it. “They” said involve employees. “They” said everybody was doing it. “They” said you would feel better if you did it.
So the infamous business plan was completed, but where is it now? Stored in the computer gathering dust? What is being accomplished? Is it actively referred to and used in making business decisions? Is achievement of the goals in the plan being tracked? In other words, is the business plan the living, breathing direction that your company is following to accomplish its goals?
If not, review these necessary steps required to re-energize the active use of the business plan.
- It is never too late to make sure that every team member is aware of the business plan and clearly sees how his or her position fits into the overall company goals. Each employee needs to understand how crucial he or she is to the execution of the plan.
Why? – Everyone on the team is extremely important and no one person can do it all or replace a complete team. Everyone needs to understand the company goals and direction that represent the 12- month journey to success.
- Every company and department meeting should reference the status of the business plan.
Why? – The Business Plan needs to be a living document in the organization, not something that is set on a shelf to collect layers of dust. It becomes part of the culture of the company. The plan tests ingenuity and innovation going forward. It represents the architectural design for the development of people and revenue opportunities.
- The business plan KPI’s should be tracked. Actual performance against planned performance should be reviewed and explanations attached for “ahead”, “on”, or “behind” plan.
Why? – The KPI performance validates all action items. Many companies use a dashboard approach showing actual versus planned. At monthly meetings, reviews explain how the goals were accomplished or why they were missed. Other companies use a large wall chart with the key goals listed and a green---yellow---red color coding system for each goal for each month to indicate the level of performance.
- Schedule meetings with credit manager of the company’s major suppliers to review the business plan.
Why? – First of all, other companies are not doing this. You will position your company in a different league, a more professional league, by sharing this information and having an informative discussion with your major suppliers. Questions can be answered with detailed support data. In addition, credit managers belong to local associations, and they network. This creates positive chatter about the company.
- Review the business plan with key salespeople or Territory Managers.
Why? – By treating the TM as a consultant, you will challenge that person to become more consultative in dealing with your business. This salesperson can become an important consultant for your company and the growth it can experience.
- Schedule a meeting with a bank loan officer and review line of credit requirements that the business plan supports.
Why? – This event will be most unexpected by the loan officer. You have a heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical company with a business plan? This sequence may help negotiate better loan rates, secure funding for a new building, or a building improvement. Bottom line, the bank now is better informed about the company management and direction and likes the lower risk of a loan corroborated by the planning of ownership.
- Share the business plan with key business associates, other small business owners, not necessarily in the same line of work, in your local area.
Why? – How better to improve than sharing and learning from other business owners? Take successful marketing and efficiency ideas from other types of businesses and see if the same type of approach can be used in your company.
- Find another similar heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical high-performance company and share ideas and hold one another accountable for business plan results.
Why? – Learn from the experiences of others, modify your business plan, and implement the ideas from another high performing company that make sense. Let the idea that someone else will be reviewing your KPI's and results as a motivator to accomplish the goals laid out in the business plan.
- Suggest employees do mini-business plans (playbooks) specific to their role definitions.
Why? – Yes, the first quarter is over, but it is never too late to get all team members on their own mini plans to accomplish the KPI's for their department or their jobs. Make it part of keeping the company business plan on track by reviewing individual department and individual plans every quarter.
- Celebrate short term and long-term business plan victories.
Why? – When a goal is met or achieved, communicate it, and celebrate. Let everyone know that creating the business plan was a worthwhile exercise and that management is using and following it. Make the business plan part of the company culture.
Don’t let the hard-work of creating a business plan be a worthless exercise. Use it. Work it. Measure it. Adapt it. And Celebrate it!
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