Think of this summers rush of work as the meal conceived of and planned in the dreary light of February and March. Now that weve eaten it, our stomachs are full, and as the bright light of summer fades, reality once again sets in. If youre like many remodelers I work with, youre concerned about work in November and December; few of my clients have backlogs of  contracted work that would last longer than 4 months or that would provide one-third of annual volume.

So, what does 2015 look like? “Hard to tell” is the right answer, given the complexities involved in economic predictions. However, what YOU do to prepare for the future isn't complex, it's only complicated.

What's the difference here? Predicting the future is complex--virtually impossible to do with accuracy--because of the multitude of moving parts and emerging behaviors that have to be factored in. Preparing for the future is complicated, but it can be done by studying the related links in any system*, determining the most critical to the desired outcome, and focusing on high-probability events.

Focus Areas

Let’s work on preparing for your future in 2015. Begin by listing the areas most critical to your success in 2015:

  1. Leadership
  2. Marketing
  3. Sales and estimating
  4. Production
  5. Finance and administration

Leadership provides the vision and builds the culture that drives toward success.

Marketing defines and attracts the right clients and projects to the company.

Sales & estimating secures those right projects at a profitable price.

Production builds the projects according to the estimate & schedule and maintains superior client satisfaction throughout.

Finance and Administration tracks both metrics and communication between all parties involves to assure the stated goals of the project and the company are efficiently and effectively met.

Next, assign target metrics and timelines to each area. Sales is a good place to start, because few novice remodelers spend enough time and energy clarifying the sales process. Relying on “If a potential client comes in, I go see them” works when you’re getting started, but building a sustainable remodeling company relies on making clear distinctions between leads worth pursuit and clients who are nothing more than time sinks.

Process Mapping

Use a pictorial representation of your work, called process mapping, to define the critical steps in your sales system. A number of years ago, I worked with a successful remodeler and his team to define the process map for production, from sale to close out. Flip-chart pages posted around the conference room defined each step in the process, the applicable metrics, and which position on the org chart was responsible for doing which task. It took two days to tie down the critical steps to everyone’s agreement, but the company still uses the framework developed 10 years ago as the basis for profitable production.

The map for the sales process would begin with an activity that starts the ball rolling: A call comes from a brand-new potential client. The process map lays out what happens next.

Sample process map

See how much easier it is to visualize and therefore to discuss processes when they’re shown graphically? This flow chart above uses a “swim lane” map because it defines the inter-relationships between various departments. Additionally, you can put Alpha designations next to form titles to tell the reader that a specific document with that title (and file location) should be used in this part of the process. 

Just like working drawings note the location of the detailed electrical plan or fixture schedule, so too does the process map clarify the applicable forms. With process maps, you can make the complicated much simpler to understand and implement, thus enabling you to prepare for the future. That’s not complex, is it?

* System: A series of clearly defined steps which implemented by the right person with the appropriate training produces predictable results time after time

Geek out on the difference between complex and complicated:

Read more about swim lane process maps: