Does anything get brushed off as easily as the New Year's resolution? We all start out with good intentions and make commitments to change our ways for the better—a new diet or set aside more personal time, etc. The best of intentions runs into the realities of daily life and change is hard.
However, we live in a time where realizing the best of intentions can mean the difference between prosperity and despair or success and survival. And while we are in the middle of the busy heating season, all too soon things will slow down and the time will reappear to work on major strategic planning goals.
-Do you know the real costs of doing business? Exactly how much does each area of operation really contribute to the top line or take away from the bottom line? Do you have the resources and expertise required to get real world figures in these areas? And if not, can you pull an appraisal together in a timely manner before the next heating season rolls around?
-Is your staff the best it can be? Are they the best people you can employ? Do they have the appropriate skill sets to do more, faster and with greater quality? Are you set up to be the "employer of choice" for such people?
-Are you sufficiently diversified with your profit centers to keep the money rolling in year round and reduce the risk of future changes in some aspect of the marketplace?
-Do you have the oil product under control? Are your purchasing and sales programs set up to keep both your bank account and your customers happy? Is hedging something you practice and is it working out the way you expect? What about price protection programs?
-Do you need new oil delivery equipment or wish to offer alternative heating and cooling appliances? If so, are you set for the appropriate trade shows so you can see what the industry has to offer?
-Do you want to have more of a voice in Washington or the local state house? If so, have you made the initial efforts to become more involved at either the association or personal levels?
Now is the time to start thinking about such things. Soon is the time to start acting on these best of intentions. The biggest difference between the leading operations and those that fall behind is a willingness to constantly evaluate the current business model and business environment and make sound, structural decisions to address challenges and maximize future opportunities.
Life can be chaotic and setting aside time for the big picture analysis can be a challenge itself. That is the case for any operation, but especially smaller dealers who wear many hats and never have enough time, money or help. But it is even more critical for those operations to bite the bullet.
This year, make the commitment and unlike the typical New Year's resolutions work hard to follow through on it so that future New Years are happier and more profitable.