By Jeff Sheets
You are nearly halfway through the year again, and generally, you look at numbers to see if the business is achieving the goals that you set at the beginning of the year.
Last year at this point, I gave you some numbers and ratios that could really help you manage your business better. This year, I want to look at you as an owner, as a person who lives and dies with your business, to make sure that you are doing the best you can for yourself, your business, and your own family. I want you to take care of yourself and encourage you that it can be better if you allow some changes to happen. I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of owners, and I know that one of the things that people look at me to do, either on the phone or in person, is to help them see a better future. I love helping people see greater possibilities in their business and life in general. Let’s take a look at some things that, at a mid-year point, might make you a better owner for the future.
#1 Avoid burnout
Have you been working store hours since March or even longer? As the season slows at some point, it is time to take a few days and get out of the store. I have worked in a retail environment where I had to be in the store for 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday for several months straight, and I know that at the end, I had to take time and get away because I was beat, especially mentally. Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense, and the defense in this case is getting away and getting your mind off the business. Do you have the proper people in place to take care of the business while you are away? If you don’t, this might be where changes need to be made. A leader needs time off, and if you can never get time off, then sometimes bitterness or negative thinking can creep in.
An example of this is when I walked into several small lawnmower repair/sales dealerships in the ‘80s. These were pretty much one-man operations. Generally, those guys were not people you wanted to talk to too much about buying equipment. They were so burnt out because of repairing and handling parts and equipment sales every single day that they really acted like they could care less about more business.
Burnout can have a negative impact on how you deal with customers and staff. If you find yourself with this type of problem, then ask yourself, “How am I going to do this better?” If your employees aren’t proficient enough to allow you to take time off, then what are you going to do about that in the future? Sometimes, OPE dealers get burnt out because they have either not taken the time to develop their trustworthy employees or don’t trust their current employees and need to find new employees that can be trusted and developed. Either way, this is the time to take stock and make necessary changes. I’ve written a lot about how to recruit new personnel and hire the right people to fill these positions (see my article titled “Recruit and Retain Top Talent” in December 2014 OPE or online at outdoorpowerequipment.com).
#2 New opportunities
What is at least one new thing that you could do to get re-energized in the business?
I recently worked with Extreme Outdoor & Rental in Ripley, Miss., where ownership had taken on a clothing line that really helped bring in new customers and generate sales (see photo below). “Implementing apparel into our offering generated above standard sales in several departments in a normally slow season,” said Jay Griffin, VP/manager, Extreme Outdoor & Rental.
While you may not be thinking about adding a new product, maybe it is time to invest in new business management software. You have limped along with a software system that has no inventory control, and it slows down the processes because you have to enter the data into inventory after a part or equipment has been sold.
Your new opportunity could be enrolling in a class on establishing a business plan or attending a manufacturer’s seminar or tech school.
The opportunities are endless, but they all start with taking stock of where you are and where you want to be in the future. Investigating opportunities now can mean implementation before year’s end. If you wait too long, then the year will be over, and you will have to start all over again without seizing the moment and doing something different.
As American Inventor Charles Kettering said, “There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” Just because your business has been exactly the same for the last however many years, doesn’t mean there aren’t new opportunities out there to help it change and grow. But, you have to be looking for them! At this mid-year point, it is a good time to look toward the future and new opportunities.
#3 Goals, goals, goals
Can I say it one more time? Goals! You can’t get far in life if you don’t have any goals. They serve as both a starting point and ending point, giving you both direction and a destination. They serve as a road map or a set of directions that get you from point A to point B in life. Without a plan in place, you can get lost, find yourself navigating difficult terrain, or find yourself turning around in the same old circle, day after day after day.
Having a plan, or a set of desired outcomes to reach, makes your life easier. A plan provides you with the following:
* A sense of purpose in life
* A sense of personal control in your life
* A sense of accomplishment once the final destination has been reached
* Increased self-esteem and self-confidence
If you have no goals or very few goals, either personally or professionally, it is going to be tough for you to move ahead. Generally speaking, good things don’t happen accidentally, but because you set a goal to progress toward. I’ll quote the wise sage Yogi Berra to reiterate the point, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
My purpose with all of these articles is to make sure that you look at everything that it takes to be successful in the OPE business. Sometimes, it isn’t about the numbers — it’s about you as owners and your well-being. You need to stop and evaluate your situation, and mid-year is as good as a time as any. Look back over the past five-plus months and see how far that you’ve come, knowing that there is always more that you can aspire to become both personally and professionally. You are not a robot that can just continue on working without experiencing some sort of success. You need to sense that some sort of progress is being made in building your business — one you can be proud of and not a place where you are just in a routine that really leads nowhere. Make sure you are not burning yourself out with too many long days and no time away. Challenge yourself to find new opportunities to move the business in new directions and bring in new customers. Now is the time to really start making these dreams into realities by setting goals and accomplishing them.
Jeff Sheets is the founder and owner of OPE Consulting Services. Whether a business is thriving or struggling to survive, Sheets’ rich experience in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors allows him to partner with business owners to customize unique strategies for their needs. For the past nine years, he has worked extensively with hundreds of outdoor power equipment dealers to create best practices in business structure, personnel management and financial profitability. For more information, he may be contacted at email@example.com or (816) 260-5430. You can also follow him on Twitter @opeconsult, connect with him on LinkedIn, and visit his website at www.opeconsultingservices.com.