Looking For Some ‘Resolutions’ For 2018?

By Paul Starkey
Published on: January 19, 2018

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Happy New Year, everybody! And the industry is poised for a great one. “Smart home” and “automation” are keywords in the consumer lexicon. Builders are building; there were 930,000 single-family new housing starts in November, continuing a 5-year run of steady increases. The economic expansion is projected to continue throughout 2018 and into 2019. Yes, 2018 looks like a good year for custom integration firms. Our question is, “What will you do to make this an exceptional year for your company?”

We’ve got a couple suggestions you might consider “resolutions”; we think of them as best practices for getting things done and maximizing opportunities.

Get more work done by developing a weekly routine. Here are several practices proven to “add time” to your work week:

  • Start each day by working on the day’s #1 most important item, before checking e-mails or messages.
  • Schedule recurring tasks at the same time on the same days of every week. These include your weekly sales and production review/planning sessions, as well as your all-important work on the business time.
  • Set up a standard “quitting time” for your work day, and stick to it. Tasks tend to get completed in the time allowed. Allow less!
  • Finish each day by taking 15 minutes to make notes about tomorrow’s #1 most important item, and to put stuff away.

You’ll have to work to instill these disciplines in yourself and your company, but the rewards will be great. To quote Jim Collins, “A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness.”

Use better data to help you make better decisions. Of course, this implies you have data that is timely, accurate, and meaningful. A few key examples:

  • Project status reports: what’s been done to-date, what remains to be done, who owes who and how much. This is critical information that you can review weekly to help you schedule better and finish faster. For a pdf describing the specific reports we recommend, click here.
  • Mix & Margin reports: as part of your monthly reporting, these will help you identify opportunities to increase and maintain gross margins. The info graphic shows a company that has improved its margins but, with a higher percentage of labor in the mix, could drive margins even higher.
  • Productivity reports: hours sold vs. hours used, labor revenues per tech, utilization efficiency. We’ve found that adding just one hour of labor billing, every tech every week, increase operating profits by more than a full point.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”

The best data we’ve ever worked with is data presented via info graphics. VITAL has developed such a system built on Quickbooks financial reports. Called ‘Business Intelligence for Custom Integrators’, it has recently been updated to now provide the most comprehensive set of performance metrics in the industry. Contact me for more information.

To your success in 2018!

Keep it Vital.

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey is a 23 year CI industry veteran who led control manufacturer ELAN from infancy to a 150 person company. He is a visionary, keen on innovation, pioneer of on-line training, and numerous product innovations. He is co-founder of Vital Management.

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