Make a Plan, Know
In a previous article, I discussed operating
metrics. Hopefully, by now you are gathering your first set
of those, and by this time next month you are going to have
a good idea where to focus your efforts for increasing sales
or and/or profits.
Let us discuss making a plan and understanding
your customer. It's funny how we wave our arms in the air (figuratively
speaking) and talk about what we are going to do, but never
get around to putting the plan on paper. Equally humorous is
how later we have selective memory and justify our lack of success
by remembering only what we want to recall from that plan.
There is no substitute for putting the entire
plan down on paper. Some of the benefits of this exercise are
• With the plan on paper, you can show it to
key employees for comments and ultimately use it to get their
• You can use it for the bank and gain great
respect. You may want to "dial it back" for the bank so that
you can always exceed the banker's expectations.
• In the process of putting it on paper, you
will find many assumptions you thought you understood but which
don't play out as anticipated.
• Putting it on paper will force you to go
back and look at prior periods to "test" your assumptions. Great
enlightenment will come from this process.
You will probably realize, as a result of putting
it on paper, that you haven't been gathering all the operating
information and metrics necessary to make fully informed projections.
Setting goals on paper will also allow you
to set milestones. In other words, if you are now at $100,000
per month in sales, and you are predicting that you will be
at $135,000 per month in 12 months, it's easy to see that you
need to have one or more milestones along the way. Although
you may not have achieved 50 percent of the forecasted increase
in 6 months, it's reasonable to assume that you will have achieved,
say, 40 percent of the goal. If, at that point, you haven't
achieved the milestone, you need to figure out how to get back
on track. Don't wait until year-end to make adjustments (or
When I do consulting, I always find the lack
of operating metrics and no written plan to execute against.
Know your customer. Meet with your staff, and
decide who that core customer is. Following that, in every planning
meeting, make sure you are matching your product, warranty and
service level to that customer. Recyclers, I believe, have tried
to be too much for too many for too long. Many of us believe
anyone driving a vehicle (regardless of age, whether it's import
or domestic, customer's location, wholesale or retail purchaser,
or type of part needed) is our potential customer. To thrive,
and achieve significant success, you simply must decide who
your customer is.
Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!