Planning Ahead

We recently began the process of planning our editorial coverage for 2006. As I was mapping out how we would decide what topics we should cover and thinking about the ways we could best meet the needs of remodelers, I tried to put myself in your shoes. I asked myself: "What are the things that remodelers keep telling me when we're on the phone, talking at trade shows or exchanging e-mails?" I q...

May 31, 2005

We recently began the process of planning our editorial coverage for 2006. As I was mapping out how we would decide what topics we should cover and thinking about the ways we could best meet the needs of remodelers, I tried to put myself in your shoes.

I asked myself: "What are the things that remodelers keep telling me when we're on the phone, talking at trade shows or exchanging e-mails?" I quickly realized that there was an important underlying theme to all those discussions. Whether they are looking for information on marketing tactics, sales strategies, project management, customer service, design ideas, or all of the above, the one common element that ties them together is the need to have a plan. A plan for marketing. A plan for sales, for project management, etc., etc.

And when you add up all those plans, what you're talking about is the need to create a business plan for your organization. Frankly, if you don't have a business plan in place, or if you haven't revisited your plan in the last couple of years, you need to get to work on it sooner than later. Nothing can erode the profitability of your company faster than a lack of a solid business plan. Ideally, you should revisit your business plan on an annual basis. Realistically, every other year would suffice.

The best place to start is by creating a list of goals you'd like your company to achieve in the coming year. Ask yourself some of these basic questions. Do you want to increase your net profit or gain a larger share of your local remodeling market? What profit levels can you realistically attain, considering the size of your market, your competition, the economy and other factors. What changes, if any, will be required within your organization in order to support these goals? Will you need to hire more staff, increase your marketing budget, open a showroom?

From the answers to these questions, you can begin to develop a strategy. Organize your plan around three to five major goals. For each of these goals, create an action plan that includes a timeline, and assign responsibility to someone on your staff to monitor its progress and report to you monthly.

Finally, don't hesitate to modify an action plan, or even a major goal, in the event of some unforeseen obstacle that requires it. In the grand scheme of things, you'll already have gained a lot by having a plan.

630/288-8057, michael.morris@reedbusiness.com

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