In recent weeks many of the leading news stories have been and continue to be about a recovering and improving economy. Of course, daily events around the world and in this country, along with quarterly earnings reports, will continue to impact U.S capital markets. But overall, looking to 2013, things appear to be on the upswing. Economic fundamentals may be moving slowly, but they have moved upward throughout 2012, especially the housing market, an important component to the HVACR industry. The upward trend of our economic fundamentals will very likely continue, all of which bodes well for our readers.
I’ve listened to many economists, but the one I respect the most is Brian Beaulieu from ITR, and he is forecasting an improved economy. (And, if you’ve never heard Brian, visit the ITR website at www.itreconomics.com. You’ll find him not only interesting, but entertaining — yes, an entertaining economist. But most importantly, he’s accurate, and he’s one of the few economists I’ve listened to that routinely shows you what their predictions were two, three, even five years ago).
The economic-indicator improvements jive with what I’ve heard from contractors all year. Staffing has once again moved to the forefront. With increased business opportunities in new construction and storm-ravaged portions of the country, many of you have been on the short side of needed personnel both in the field and in the office. This is an area you will have to continue to work on throughout 2013. And, for those of you who have been able to keep on top of staffing — do you have the right people? If not, this may be a good time to consider upgrades in your organization.
I know that sounds as if I’m suggesting cut and replace, but that’s always the last resort. First, consider training. Have you offered the right training to the right people? Since the inception of this magazine, we have made training and education our cornerstone topics. If you aren’t offering training to everyone, how will they become better? How will your company improve? How will company morale and motivation improve?
I’m sure most of you have spent some time thinking about your company’s growth and profitability for 2013. Do you have a written plan? Have you shared it with your managers and asked for input? If not, consider spending the next few weekends working on this. Without an executable plan, you won’t be able to take advantage of the growth opportunities many markets will have this coming year. What could be worse than that? If you need additional information or help with strategy, goal setting, executing a vision and mission, or any other management topics, be sure to visit our website’s free archives for past articles. You’ll find a number of experts who have addressed many of these issues: www.hvacrbusiness.com/index.html.
One contactor I admire and respect develops a rather simple plan at the beginning of each year. He outlines five areas of improvement and becomes almost fanatical about small weekly improvements. Two examples that you all can relate to are marketing and financial reporting. Unhappy with his overall marketing plan and strategy, he hired a professional marketing firm to take over in-house
efforts, realizing no one internally had the expertise to move the company to the next level. The new marketing firm developed an 18-month program and meets bi-weekly with the management team for updates and new rollouts.
Financial reporting was another area he identified for improvement. The goal was more timely reports with more relevant information. For those of you looking for the same, look no further than our very own financial expert, Ruth King. All year she has written about specifics in this area. All of her past articles are on our website.
My point is that improving and growing companies can and is being done every day by many HVACR contractors. Be sure you’re geared up to move your company, and our country, forward in 2013.
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