July 13, 2015

Two Finished and None to Go

By Paul Bieber

Yup. The second wedding in as many weeks is over. First was our daughter’s two weeks ago, and this weekend our son, Philip, was married at the home of his bride. A wonderful fairy-tale time. The only thing that mattered was for Meaghan and Philip to have a great time. And they did. Now, Elaine and I are back home wondering what’s next on our calendar. Suddenly, six months of preparations are finished, and we can relax with nothing to do. What a wonderful feeling.

Well, now that I can’t write anymore blogs about weddings, let’s get back to business. How far into the future do you look in planning your business. Do you have the next job ready to go? Or do you wait for this one to finish before planning the next job?

At work, I was much more concerned with what was next rather than today, or tomorrow. You have a foreman or an office worker to take care of today. As an owner or manager, your time vista should be no less than a couple of days and as far out as you can handle. Trust the folks you have hired to run the day-to-day. You can’t trust them? Then either train them or replace them with someone you can trust.

Plan an hour a day of thinking of what is coming down the road. Use this time to study trends, speak with vendors, competitors and customers. Go to construction sites and see what is being built, and learn what you have to learn in order to compete. Create a down-time list of things to do, for yourself and for your employees. Let them add to the list of repairs needed around the shop. Keeping them involved in the down time list will ensure its success. Have vendor material available so your employees can read and study. Give them access to the internet to read the websites at the float companies, as well as your competitors. Let them see that what they said was too complicated to learn is being done by the company in the next town. Arrange tours to vendors a month in advance, in your traditionally slow periods, to your key vendors. And if you get too busy to let them go, that’s OK, too. A good vendor understands your business schedule as well as you do.

Set up a day for training on first aid and CPR; how about a half-day at a software vendor learning more about the system you use. Cross-training is one of the most important things you can do in your company, bar none. You should have a cross-train working day at least once a quarter, or more! 

Don’t be afraid of keeping your people too busy. A good employee will really appreciate the point that you want each person to gain knowledge and grow. A lazy jerk will not want to grow. So help him or her out the door when the timing is right. In your employment searches, emphasize that extra learning is a goal in your company. This will help you attract the best people. 

So, the wedding is over, I look to my to-do list and it includes a couple of consulting gigs, some work for a charity I support, and I am about to get active in a political campaign. It feels good to stay busy. I’ll bet you a nickel that it feels good to you and your employees. Help them go in this direction.