Five solutions to help you succeed in 2016
By Jeff Sheets
We’re nearing the end of the year, which forces us to take stock and try to come up with what to do differently next year. We usually think of these as “resolutions,” but I want you to know why I see it a little differently.
Resolutions don’t work very well. Do you know what the average length of time someone keeps a resolution? Statistics show that the average person keeps a resolution for six weeks. Only 12 percent of those who make a resolution actually stick with it for a whole year. We need something better than a resolution because resolving to do something is simply not enough. We need motivation, and that is where looking for solutions to really affect your business is what you want — not just empty words that will cause you to be even more disillusioned by a lack of success.
Following are five solutions that you need to be working on this year to push you and your business forward in 2016!
This is a number one solution to many owners’ problems. The owners I speak to never have enough time to get the things done that should get done for their business. Instead, they are stuck doing very routine jobs because they have never given anyone the responsibility of these tasks. If you continue to do all of the work that your employees should be doing, then you and your employees will wind up losing. They may not do things exactly as you would do them, but as long as they are willing to try and put their best foot forward, it helps free you up to be able to focus on things that will drive the business in a better direction. I suggest using the additional time to get out of the dealership, which is good for you, so that you can be more involved in the community and hopefully generate business that would never come your way if you hadn’t been delegating responsibilities. This is just one suggestion, but think what you could do if you had more time to be an owner and not just a somewhat-well-paid administrator.
#2 Stop just getting by with old stuff
You have to upgrade equipment or systems periodically. Are you limping around with old lifts for your service department, or worse yet, with no lifts at all? Has your showroom been updated in the past 10 years? Are you running the same version of software that you did five years ago? The list can be endless, but pick one or two things that you are going to replace or upgrade before the season starts. When you replace old things with new things, it gives you and your employees a feeling of progress. Every year, you need to do these types of things, so that there is a new sense of optimism in the business. Each year, I recommend doing at least one thing that benefits the employees and one thing that benefits your customers. You want everyone that is involved in your business to feel that you are moving forward and not just content staying the same way you were last year. Get employee or customer suggestions, so that you know what things they would appreciate. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you celebrate the new equipment or changes.
#3 Move forward, and let some things go
This can be both personally and professionally. What are some things that you just have to move on from? Could it be a product line that really doesn’t produce much and you rarely sell because you think there is a better line? It might be an employee you’ve been hanging onto that really is not pulling his or her weight, leaving you to always pick up that person’s pieces. Another example might be something that you have contemplated doing for a long time, but just haven’t pulled the trigger on? Perhaps adding an outside salesperson or going to an incentive-based pay structure for sales and service. Whatever you need to move forward on, if you never take the step, you will never know if it could have made you or your business better. Obviously, the changes have to make sense financially, but again, moving forward will do a lot to make you feel better about your business and yourself too. I challenge you to let go of at least one thing personally and one thing professionally. Once you have implemented the changes, don’t look back — just continue on, knowing that you are moving in a new direction by going forward and letting go of the past.
#4 Seek out good advisors/inspirers
The term “lone wolf” is not a good one, despite what some people think. A wolf is better in a pack because together they can hunt and protect each other. To be really good at what you do, you generally need help, and the more complicated a business becomes with employees, expenses and products, the more help that you need. I like finding business owners who have more experience or have progressed further in their development and ask them for the inside scoop on how they got to where they are. They can inspire you because they may have been exactly where you are now and can tell you the steps that you need to take to get to where you want to go. Many owners would love to mentor others and share their experiences, but it takes one thing…you need to ASK! If you don’t ask, then no one knows you would be interested in the help. Once you have asked and secured an advisor, make sure that you schedule a monthly meeting with that advisor — either by phone or in person — and ask that person questions prepared ahead of time. If you’re going to ask for help, make sure you respect your advisor’s time.
#5 Invest in your community
Be willing to give back to others in your community, and use your business as a vehicle to do it. That might mean donating equipment to not-for-profit organizations that help with storm damage or using your business for a food or blood drive. Sometimes giving back feels really good and can motivate you in your business as much as increased sales and profits. This can be mentoring other small-business owners or helping people understand how to use outdoor power equipment with an editorial column or a radio show. Make it a goal to find at least one way to give back to your community this year. It will benefit everybody and establish a good reputation for your business as more than just a place that sells and services equipment.
My hope with this article is that you don’t just resolve to do something, but you take action and find solutions in each of these five areas. I’ll borrow the following quote from Tony Robbins, motivational speaker and author: “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” Do not just write a list of possible solutions and throw it in a drawer. The benefits of following through on these five points can be the difference between having and enjoying a great business and just getting by. Get excited about 2016, and do it!
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.