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PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

So, you’ve taken all the advice in our Slippery Rock Gazette articles for the past year, your business is running more smoothly, and now you are wondering what to do next. 

The answer: 

Craft your 2023 plan for the business now.

As you consider what 2023 may have in store, you may have questions like:

  • I think I need to add an install crew – will I have the sales to sustain them?
  • I want to start a marketing campaign – can I afford it?
  • If I add a salesperson, when will I need to add that new templater?
  • As we grow, I know we need more shop employees – but it will increase my costs – can I afford them?

A great aid in answering these questions is to put together a month-to-month plan that not only forecasts your sales but also helps you think through what staff changes you need to make as your sales change.  For this article we’ll assume increasing sales during 2023.  If you are expecting the opposite, the same logic applies – but in reverse.

First step – Head to www.FabricatorsCoach.com/free-helpful-tools to download the spreadsheet.

Step 2 – Forecast your sales changes for 2023.  Hopefully you are continuously talking to local economic development people, local home builders’ association, chamber of commerce, and your customers to keep your finger on the pulse of your local economy.  Use this data plus your experience to forecast sales levels for each month.  Remember to include the impact of your normal seasonal patterns.

In the spreadsheet, you can enter the sales volume you anticipate for each month, or you can estimate the additional jobs you expect to add for each month.  To use this feature, you will also need to have some data on the average sales price of your jobs. The spreadsheet will calculate the monthly impact of those added jobs.

Keep in mind that this is your best guess based on the information you have today.  It won’t be perfect, but it is essential for planning out next year.  As the year progresses and as you have new information, go back and adjust your forecast accordingly.

Step 3 – If you aren’t already tracking Throughput Dollars ($T) for each job, take several jobs from each market segment you serve and calculate $T for each.  Then divide the $T by the sales price of each job to get an average percentage.  Use this number to estimate your Monthly $T.

Step 4 – Forecast your monthly Operating Expense (OE) for the end of 2022.  If you don’t anticipate making any changes between now and the end of the year, you can use your most current average OE.  Enter you OE in the Base OE line for January.  Note that this number is automatically repeated for the other months.

Step 5 – Determine the personnel changes you need to make to accommodate the changing sales levels.  Make a list of the positions you need to add.

If you expect sales to increase next year and your current templater is already fully loaded, you may need to add a templater early in the year.  If your salespeople are spending too much time handling paperwork and scheduling, you may need to add a dedicated scheduler or an office support person.

Knowing how loaded the people are in the various functions is critical to this part of the analysis.  While you likely won’t have data to verify this, making your best assessment now is a great first step.  A key concept here is playing to your strengths and the strengths of your people.  A classic example is having capable salespeople handle customer service calls or scheduling functions while sales are increasing.  Capable experienced salespeople are hard to find – why waste that capability on something other than sales?  Hire someone else to handle those non-sales tasks.

Also note and estimate any other significant additional costs like the marketing program shown in the example spreadsheet.

Step 6 – Estimate when each position needs to be filled based on your sales projections.  Then estimate the monthly cost of that position – wages and benefits.  List the positions in the Additions section of the spreadsheet.  Enter the monthly costs in the OE Adds line.  The cumulative impact will be carried through the subsequent months.

Last step – Review the Net line to see the impact of both the sales increase and the OE increases.  Think through each month and confirm that your plan for adding those new positions correlates with the sales increases.  You’ll likely want to sleep on this and review it over several days.  Don’t be surprised if you make several changes.  It also helps to review your thought process with other key people in your company and get their input.

Keep in mind that you are essentially predicting the future – and you won’t get it right – so don’t obsess too much over the details.  The point is to get you thinking about what next year may look like and to help you plan ahead for how to deal with the changes you expect.  As you progress throughout the year, it is helpful to enter the real OE number and the real $T number as each month is completed.  Also update any of your sales or staffing forecasts.

If you continue to work with this tool, it will become an essential part of your management rhythm.  Using tools like this help you spend more time running your business instead of it running you.

If you want another set of eyes to help review the finished product, email me and I’m happy to take a look.

You deserve to have a business that makes you money, but also allows you time to enjoy it. Contact me at Ed@FabricatorsCoach.Com or call 864-328-6231.

This article was published in the December 2022 Issue of the Slippery Rock Gazette, find it at: 

https://www.slipperyrockgazette.net/index.cfm/pageId/4793/Planning%20for%20Success/

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