Make your business work for you

As a business manager or owner, do you know how to assess your business and your plan to determine if you are progressing toward success or even traveling down the right road? Selecting the road and staying steady on its path requires regular analysis and fine-tuning of your business progress based on six key areas, each of which is critical to the success of your business: Personal Development You

As a business manager or owner, do you know how to assess your business and your plan to determine if you are progressing toward success — or even traveling down the right road?

Selecting the road and staying steady on its path requires regular analysis and fine-tuning of your business progress based on six key areas, each of which is critical to the success of your business:

  • Personal Development — You are your business, and your personal aspirations, practices and plans determine your business success.

  • Business Development — Both the human side and financial side of your business are critical and work hand-in-hand to determine success.

  • People Development — Your people are your business' second most important asset. You are its first.

  • Economic Security — Generally seen as more measurable, the current economic understanding and practices of your business also can reveal its ongoing health.

  • Customer Satisfaction — Customers are the long-term livelihood of your business. If you are not serving them, there is a need for immediate action.

  • Visibility — Consumer awareness indicates not only whether your company is being seen in the marketplace, but also how it is being seen — whether you are making the right impression.

Measuring your business strengths and weaknesses in these areas helps you gain valuable insight into how well your business is positioned to succeed and enables you to determine where to focus to achieve that success. While business components such as development, satisfaction and visibility may seem to be intangibles, measurement of these areas is just as important to success as is measurement of seemingly more definable areas such as revenue, inventory and customer counts.

One tool that can be used to assess these six critical, if seemingly intangible, components is a free online business assessment tool (www.nexstarnetwork.com/findoutNOW). The 61-question, confidential assessment provides an evaluation of your business strengths and weaknesses. The tool also will provide follow-up business lessons for improvement.

As you go through the eight-screen assessment, you will be asked to answer “yes” or “no” to questions, with a yes answer indicating that the item or process is fully implemented and properly functioning in your business.

Sample questions include:

  • Do you have written personal goals?

  • Do you benchmark your performance indicators against industry best practices standards?

  • Do you conduct annual performance reviews?

  • Do you train technicians in customer service as well as technical aspects of the job?

  • Do you know your percentage of callbacks?

  • Do you know the demographics of your market and the profile of your target customer?

The questions are designed to make you think about your business and personal aspirations. These questions aim to provide insight on your work toward building a successful company. The combined series of questions also are meant to identify areas for improvement.

Using your responses to score your results, the Assessment Tool provides immediate feedback, charting your understanding and implementation of key business topics and ranking each area as a percentile of success. Many first-timers find their scores ranking about the midpoint on the bar graph, with some bars stretching further — indicating business strength in those areas, and some shorter — indicating a need for improvement.

Once you have determined the areas on which to prioritize your focus for improvement, you can access further resources from “the Vault,” Nexstar's library of practical knowledge, including member case studies, practical application, reference and research written by members and industry experts. (Samples of Vault materials are available for free upon completion of the assessment, but the complete library is reserved for members.)

Practical application and case studies also are presented throughout the assessment survey, with a “Real Members, Real Stories” video footing each screen. In the videos, members detail, in their own words, how the assessment results and resources enabled them to make the necessary changes for improvement.

Are you working for your business or could assessment and development enable your business to work for you? Don't just do the work. Do what works to put and keep your business on the right road to success.

Greg Niemi is president of Nexstar Inc., a business-development and best practices organization that provides business training, systems and support to independent home service providers in the plumbing, electrical and HVAC trades. The organization offers services and best practices training in the fields of finance, marketing, recruiting, customer service and management.

Company donates water heaters

MIDDLEVILLE, MICH. — Bradford White Corp. has pledged 100 water heaters to Habitat for Humanity. Over the past 20 years, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Mich., has built 158 homes for families in need. Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that focuses its efforts on making home ownership available to families with income below 50% of the county's median family income.

The donated water heaters will be used for the “Building Today, Framing Tomorrow” campaign that has hopes of building 20 homes per year over the next five years.