You might ask, "What do you mean a growth plan? I am just trying to survive!" To that I say: Your Business Is Either Growing or Shrinking
However, if you don't have a growth plan, your business is going to shrink. With a well thought out growth plan, you should be able to position yourself for a decade of superior performance, once this recession ends.
Now is the time to be on the offensive!
Look back through history. Aggressive companies took advantage of rough economic markets to gain competitive advantage. Well-run companies enjoyed watching their weaker sisters fade away. After the first few months, competition shrank as poorly run, under-capitalized competitors wound down their operations and closed their doors.
There is always demand for affordably superior service. Poorly run companies can't deliver that, can't keep their costs low enough to make money, and eventually go out of business.
Don't be one of them. Don't sit around waiting for that to happen to you. Take command. Now is not the time to pull back into your shell.
Remember all those things you choose not to do during the boom times (like prospecting and networking) because you didn't like to, or didn't have the time to, do them? You'd better learn to love them and put full effort into them. The same goes for every member of your team.
Time For A Growth Plan
Develop a short term growth plan for your company. Today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today.
Include your senior leadership team. Bring them in at the start. Ask them what they would do if they were in your shoes. If they can't think of ideas, maybe you need people who can figure out how to grow the company.
Your plan needs specific time lines and performance benchmarks. Your entire staff needs to be focused on the plan and passionate about carrying it out successfully.
Your growth plan should be centered around your competitive advantages. Do not diversify into services or pursue projects that you don't already have the skills for.
What are your core competencies?
Look at your core competencies and your competitive advantages. What do you offer that your major competitors don't offer? Why do you land the work you do? How can you provide high value with relatively low cost?
Once your plan is developed, share it with everyone in your company. Tell them what you are going to do and why. Explain where each of them fits in the plan. Explain each person's role.
Make sure everyone on your team steps up. Is everyone in your company doing everything they can to sell your services? Is everyone thinking about how to solve yours customers' problems? Are they working together, putting aside petty differences, and helping each other out?
Have a friend call in and pretend to be a lead. Have him note how the phone was answered . How the lead was handled. How your staff qualified him. How promptly and enthusiastically your staff addressed his inquiry.
Stack Your Team with Superstars
Don't be afraid to hire someone who is "over-qualified". Too many companies are. They believe the over-qualified employee will leave as soon as he finds something better. In most cases, this simply isn't true.
Good people often get a charge out of helping their company grow. Especially if they know something ($$$) is in it for them after the growth goals are achieved.
Which team members are part of the solution and which aren't? If they aren't part of the solution either train them or replace them. Keep your great people and let go of the average ones. Great talent is available. It's on the street. Go find it.
Let's Talk Sales
You can't grow without a strong sales team.
I have talked with several executives whose sales staffs tell them they are great at sales, but when I see what they are doing, they are nowhere near as good as they think. Not even close.
In fact, I have seen hundreds of sales personnel who should have been replaced immediately. Of course, they didn't think so.
But when I looked at what they were doing, or weren't doing, it was obvious to me that they would never deliver the results expected and needed.
Several created customer service problems. Several offered discounts before the customer even asked for them. Several promised things they knew the company couldn't deliver - then blamed the problem on operations. Others didn't put forth the effort to create new contacts or follow up on possible opportunities.
How do you know when you have a great sales person? He (or she) acts like a total DIVA while delivering the incredible results! Most great sales people are hard to deal with as they KNOW you can't survive without them. It's the price you have to pay - especially in this market.
Swallow your pride and put up with the Me-Me-Me behavior. Your business' future may depend on it.
Look for high-caliber salesperson from outside the construction industry.
Over the decades as a sales manager, I have had far better luck hiring industry outsiders than I have had hiring industry insiders. By placing greater emphasis on selling skills than on industry knowledge, I expanded my pool of candidates while reducing the likelihood of failure.
Why is that? Learning the products, workflow, and buying behavior of an industry is far easier than developing sharp selling skills. Furthermore, good sales people bring in new ideas and techniques as they don't know that "this is the way we have always done it".
A "good" sales person from the industry doesn't believe he needs to learn anything. They already know everything. Industry outsiders are much more likely to keep their ears open and mouths shut - waiting for their prospect to play his hand and tell the sales person exactly how to close the deal.
Let's Talk Money Management
Check your budget. What needs to be tightened? What line items need to be increased? What do you expect from that increased spending?
If you have a bonus plan and need money for growth, negotiate a deal with your team to temporarily suspend the pay out for a year. Move the payout two years down the road. That will help you retain your good people while keeping the money you need for growth in-house.
The bottom line is businesses need to improve the bottom line now more than ever before. Too many companies confused "a good market" with "good marketing". Get back to your entrepreneurial spirit and develop your growth plan - then make it happen.
To paraphrase an old saying "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their companies!"
Grow It or Suffer The Consequences
It's Up To You!
Kerry Fulton is an expert sales coach available through The Contractor's Business Coach. Visit http://www.FilthyRichContractor.com for additional information, to sign up for the Contractor Best Practices Newsletter, or to join their Private Club for Contractors.