Note: This is the third in a series from Meg Burdick of Burdick’s Cleaning. See Meg’s previous message about the challenge in keeping repeat customers here.
Hey Chuck, Bill and Steve,
Hello from the front lines! Even though John and I have built what appears to be a successful operation I’m embarrassed to admit that we have never had a formal written business plan or strategic goals in place. Maybe something jotted down on a post it, a discussion that John and I had, or an idea in our heads but nothing more. We’ve been lucky that we’ve been able to accomplish what we have in a somewhat haphazard way.
I’m finally learning that knowing what to do and how to do it aren’t enough if you don’t do it! There is always something that has gotten in the way of us formalizing these things. With me it has been everyday tasks and, to a degree, not knowing how to do it and finally some fear too! After SFS, I realized that we needed to put an end to that viscous cycle. This had to be done and we had to make a commitment to do it.
For us, that meant accountability from a 3rd party and the realization that we don’t have to do it all ourselves. So we have hired a local small business consultant. Not only will we have a weekly pre-scheduled two hour meeting (so there is no way to push it off for other things that come up), we have also made a financial investment and we don’t want that to go to waste!
Steve comments: Wonderful, Meg! You and John are adding ‘accountability” in your business lives. I am convinced one of the reasons the success rate of franchises is higher than independent owner-operators is they make their franchisees “accountable”. Without accountability the days/weeks/months/years just fly by and while a carpet cleaner very likely may make a living no real progress is made as a company. At SFS we recognize you may need additional hand holding/help than even we (and this web-site) can provide. So we encourage you to reach out for more support.
At the end of our time with our consultant we hopefully will have a) completed a competitive analysis of our competition, b) a full internal appraisal of our company, c) have a concrete organizational structure for now and where we plan to go, d) identify our three year plan and the critical goals and action steps needed to reach those goals. We will also know what type of marketing we need to do, and the cash flow and budget we need to reach our goals. Finally, we hope to walk away with a comprehensive business plan (bank loan worthy) and our mission and value statements.
Steve’s comment: John and Meg chose to go with a local, hands-on business consultant who may very well do a smashing job. (We want progress reports, Meg!) However, many of our SFS members have had great results with a industry specific consultant, our very own Chuck Violand. As Meg and I both allude to in our previous paragraphs, a huge advantage of hiring a consultant is the process makes you accountable!
It’s a bit scary to finally commit to doing this. The entire process is hard work. It really forces you to look at yourself and expose your weaknesses in an effort to turn them in to strengths. I think (hope) that our only regret will be that we had not taken the steps to do go with a consultant sooner. (Which is exactly how I felt about SFS after I attended it!)
If we were able to experience the growth we did without a systematic plan in place, I can only imagine the gains we will see with one in place. The consultant sees no reason we can’t double our business over the next year.
Steve’s comment: Just remember to keep your Business Infrastructure in lock-step along with your growth, Meg. I know John is a strong and dedicated guy but I’m not sure how much more work you will be cranking out of just one crew! Poppa Nick will be happy if there is a new truck mount needed as part of your future growth! 🙂