Everyone has heard the cliché "actions speak louder than words," but how many of us actually practice this idea by doing what we say we are going to do? Now that the asphalt maintenance season has ended or slowed, it is time to devise an action plan for implementation this year and beyond. This article will focus on tips or "principles" to consider when creating your plan.
(These and other tips will be covered in greater detail during my presentation, "Attitude in Action: Developing Your Sales Genius," at the upcoming National Pavement Expo (NPE) in Charlotte.)
Throughout the years as an NPE presenter, one thing never changes: I am always shocked to learn that most people do not spend much time on planning for personal or professional growth. That is why I am compelled to speak on ways in which you can overcome obstacles that may impede your ability to create a plan and take action. The results of which will improve yourself, your business, and, subsequently, the asphalt industry as a whole. I have learned and refined many ideas for setting and achieving goals by reading books, closely observing other successful people, and adapting and applying a defined set of principles to my personal and professional life. Anyone can adapt to these principles and experience significant improvements, but it does require time and action!
1. Become an expert. You can begin to strengthen your expertise by attending industry events such as NPE. Seminars and workshops cover many topics designed to improve different areas of your business. At the end of each session, presenters are available to take questions and provide expert answers. The show floor is also a great opportunity to network with exhibitors, who are eager to share their knowledge with you.
The information you learn from these events should be disseminated to team members and applied on-the-job, which will demonstrate to customers that your company possesses true expertise. But, don't stop with conferences or trade shows. Make sure to use all possible methods to obtain industry information such as the internet, continuing education courses, and trade publications. In addition, set learning objectives to be completed within a specific time frame.
2. Believe in yourself, your company, and your product. Armed with expertise, you will gain confidence necessary for success. To achieve great things personally and professionally, it is important to believe in yourself, your company, and your product. A strong belief in these three key areas creates a synergistic effect resulting in more competent decisions, better products, and effective solutions. Of course, on some days it is more difficult to believe in or feel passionately about business. There are times when you may feel overloaded with too much to do and too little time or resources to help accomplish the work. In these cases, your attitude can help elevate your passion. The right attitude affects not only your productivity, but it also affects the way others perceive you.
The next time you are in a group of people, see if you can pick out the ones who are "believers." These are the individuals that act, dress, speak, and carry themselves differently. They can be identified because they are confident without being arrogant. In addition, they can speak about what differentiates their company without mentioning the competition and they know and believe in the benefits of their products without over-promising.
3. Be imaginative. However, success is not just about possessing expertise and belief, it also requires imagination. The asphalt industry is small in comparison to the automotive, medical, or concrete industries for example. So significantly less money is spent on research and development for equipment and products.
That is why it is extremely important to be imaginative. It is an unfortunate fact that many innovative ideas will never make it to market. In my personal experience, I have seen hundreds of inventions and improvements that are only used by the inventor. Only a few have actually taken the necessary action to bring their inventions to market.
One successful example is a friend of mine who came up with an alternative solution to heavy concrete cones used to hold posts and signs in parking lots. The disadvantages of concrete cones are their weight, cost, and damage inflicted if they come in contact with a vehicle.
So my friend, the inventor, designed a sturdy and highly visible plastic "post protector" that is lightweight and easily movable. Once in place, it can be filled with inexpensive sand or gravel. Another benefit is its highly visible, yellow coloring which never needs to be painted, saving recurring maintenance costs. Because of this inventor's imagination, belief, and expertise, his unique product is now available in almost every city in the country.
He accomplished turning this idea into a marketable product during the off-season of his successful maintenance business and, as a result of investing the time, has made a handsome profit. Remember, your imagination is only limited by the time you devote to developing it. Always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to capture ideas in order to make your goals a reality.
4. Utilize "peak vision." No matter how many principles you choose to adopt for your action plan, make sure you document your ultimate goal in a vision statement.
The most successful manufacturers and applicators utilize "peak vision," for their market and industry. This vision is not some abstract thought-process; rather, it is a statement or statements comprised of ideas and goals, all mapped out for execution and completion at a particular time.
Once you formulate your peak vision, be sure to place it in a prominent place where you can see it and refer to it daily.
My goal in presenting is to give back some of the information I have gained over the last 28 years in the asphalt business and, hopefully, to inspire others to improve upon our ever-growing industry. I will be available before and after my seminar so that we can continue to learn form each other. I look forward to seeing you there.
A veteran on both the contracting and manufacturing side of the pavement maintenance industry, Guy Gruenberg, chief operating officer for Rose Paving, Bridgeview, IL, will present "Attitude is Everything: Developing Your Sales Genius" at National Pavement Expo, Feb. 15-18 in Charlotte, NC. For more information visit www.nationalpavementexpo.com.