Planning For Success

Planning For Success

By Nancy Ward

It’s coming. Are you ready?! Don’t look now, but it’s true. 2014 is here! Where did 2013 go? Is that your feeling? As we look back on 2013, pull out your business plan and go to the “Goals” section. What percentage of those lofty goals did you attain? What?! You don’t have a business plan? Not even a list of goals? Okay, it’s time to buckle down and really get ready for 2014.

During private consultations with groomers, I find very few have written goals let alone a business plan. The difference between a dream and reality is a written plan. So many salon owners have said, “I don’t even know how to write a business plan.” More times than I can count I’ve heard, “Oh, I’ve got goals and plans in my head.” It’s easy to think about losing weight and dream about how great you’ll look and feel without the extra weight. To actually lose the weight, you must have a goal and a plan.

If you have team members (employees), have a brainstorming session. Try to do this after hours, as ringing telephones and barking dogs aren’t conducive to thinking. I usually tell my team about a week before our session to start jotting down ideas for the upcoming year. When we actually sit down to plan, we’re better prepared. I recently spoke with a fellow business owner who stated her goal was to double her gross revenue in 2014. I got excited and asked her what methods she had in place to achieve it. I was really hoping to get some great ideas on marketing, etc. Her reply, “Oh, I don’t have a clue. I’m just dreaming big.” Really? Let’s take a look at how to set realistic goals and a plan to make those goals a reality.

Start with a list of four to eight goals for 2014.
Remember that brainstorming session? Sift through all the ideas and place them in different categories. Make sure to file the absurd ones (trust me, you’ll get some!) under File 13: the trash can. Some ideas will involve increasing gross revenues, improving time management, stronger customer loyalty, improving working relationships within, creating a plan for disaster, expanding your facility, community service, etc. Under each category, list two or three ways to reach that specific goal realistically.

Write down those goals in order of importance.
After the initial session, it’s up to you to examine each category and decide which ones are the most critical to success in the upcoming year. One way to do that is by looking back on 2013. Did you have a marketing goal you didn’t reach? Did you spend too much time, effort, and dollars on a community service project that never took off? I know a person who took way too much time away from their salon and invested more of their own personal money than they could afford trying to put together a fundraiser for a no-kill shelter. That person is still trying to get on more solid financial ground and regain lost clients. By the way, the “fundraiser” wound up thousands of dollars in the red.

Write down the steps you’ll use to reach that goal.
Let’s say increasing your percentage of profit is one goal. (By the way, increasing gross revenues doesn’t always mean you have a corresponding increase in profit.) You’ll need to list ways to reduce waste and cut back on unnecessary spending, etc. If your kennel does exit baths for a nominal charge, purchasing a bathing system might not make sense if you have a small facility. On the other hand, let’s say your facility houses 50-plus dogs and they all get exit baths. Time saved and less shampoo used would result in the bathing system paying for itself in short order. Always try to consider how it would help your team members, as well. Cutting down on their workload can be very beneficial in more ways than one. Remember, happy team members are loyal team members. Do your homework. Don’t just guess and hope for the best!

Keep a written track of your progress.
You need to know month by month if you’re on track to reach those goals. You can’t wait until this time next year to discover you’ve missed the mark. Keeping good records is a must. You need to know what you spend monthly in every category of your budget from flooring to postage. The right kind of flooring can save you time spent cleaning and be safer for the dogs. You need to look at square footage, the cost for removal of the old flooring (yes, that can be a killer sometimes), ease of maintenance, and durability. Don’t be too quick to make a decision you have to live with for years. The best laid plans are of no value if you don’t follow them!

Food is another area where waste occurs more often than not. We encourage owners to bring their own food. Not only is it a cost-saving method, but also it usually results in less cleanup for us.

Keep a chart with goals written down for the year.
Include steps to take each month to reach them. If you’re staying on track, it’s easy to get excited and stay focused. Team members can play such a huge role in staying focused, especially if they are rewarded for their efforts. Set up some type of bonus program, ranging from pay increases, paid vacations, birthdays off, etc.

You have your yearly goal setting done. You really need a written three-, five- and ten-year plan. Maybe you really want to expand your current facility, purchase your own facility, lease a bigger facility, or open another location. If you have those written three-, five- and ten-year plans, you’ll be able to do just that. Having that written plan and the steps to achieve the goals keep you focused and on track. Some of those goals will change, be revised, and some totally discarded. That’s part of life and being a small business owner.

Notice how much I stressed the word written. Ever need four items from the grocery store? You run in and pick up three, because for the life of you, you can’t remember the fourth one. You get home only to find you actually only got one item right. What makes you think you can remember a list of goals and steps to achieve them for more than 60 seconds?

Now about that business plan. Looks like that will be a future article. For the time being, get started on your plans for 2014, written down, of course!

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