In this wonderful season of gift giving, why not give your company the very best chance of success in 2007? It's not too late to think through a plan that will get you where you want to go. Doing so may be critical, in fact, as remodelers across the country begin to experience slower sales, fewer leads, and smaller job sizes.

The first step is to decide who in your company should get involved. There is no doubt that the most expedient approach would be for you, the owner, to lock yourself in your office and “just do it.” But going it alone can result in slow or no buy-in on the part of those who will be carrying out the plan. Failing to solicit input can also keep you from capitalizing on your staff's expanded brain trust and idea pool.

The most successful approach to annual planning involves your company's key players. Bring them onboard and they'll be your allies in helping to sell and drive the plan throughout the company. If your company is large enough, consider including representatives of each department (sales, production, administration). Or invite your top management team to take ownership of the plan.

Your 2007 plan includes these “must-haves”:

Three major company goals and metrics. Here's a real-life example. One of my clients has identified these goals/strategies that will transform his company:

  • A higher conversion of leads to appointments to sales.
  • Closer alignment of job estimates to actual costs to reduce significant slippage.
  • Improved client satisfaction.
  • He is now defining the tactics he'll use to achieve those goals, and the objective statistics he'll use to measure the change. What three changes in your company would significantly improve your success, and how would you measure improvement?

    Three major departmental goals and metrics. Follow the same strategy for each department of your company (administration, sales, estimating, design, marketing, production). Establish three goals, the metrics you'll use to measure improvement, and a point person responsible for driving the change.

    The operating budget. What is your plan for profit next year? The operating budget answers this question.

    Include these four components to strengthen that profit even more: First, build the annual company budget. Second, break the budget down by month. Don't simply divide each category by 12; actually think about each month's likely variables. Third, each month, print and review a “budget-to-actual” report. Fourth, at least quarterly, review the budget and revise if necessary.