By Charlie Elder, AAM, Chairman
January is a month of new beginnings for many people. It starts off a new year with new expectations and new challenges. Often, people make New Year's resolutions to encourage themselves to do something this year that they didn't do last year. Most of those are good intentions but have very little commitment or follow-through and are often forgotten about by February.
Each year, I set goals for our business in several areas and we all work during the year to achieve them. We have goals for sales, expenses, gross profit, shop efficiency and customer satisfaction. I am a firm believer in setting goals and sharing them with your staff regularly. We share the goals we are shooting for, as well as sharing regular updates on our progress in achieving our goals. Each year that we meet or exceed our goals, the employees receive extra benefits to reward their performance.
Setting realistic goals is the first step, but implementing them is the key. Goals that are not regularly talked about, measured or acted upon, then become New Year's resolutions - not worth much. Like everything in business, the benefit of this tool is in using it. The act of writing down your goals and posting them will help you to execute them.
Some time back, Harvard Business School did a survey of 400 of its MBAs. Upon graduation they took a random sample and asked 200 of the graduates to write down their goals in life and review them at least once a year. They asked the other 200 graduates to verbally tell their life goals but didn't require them to write them down or review them. They tracked these individuals for 20 years. At the end of the study, 92 percent of the people with written goals had met or exceeded them. Only 37 percent of those with verbal goals had met or exceeded their goals.
Goal setting can be a powerful management tool for your business if you use it effectively. In our own business, it is one of the reasons we have been able to increase our business in 32 out of 34 years. That includes surviving two gas crises, several recessions, extreme inflation, and several wars, conflicts and Sept. 11, 2001. If you don't set goals each year for your business, I encourage you to try it. It can add dollars to your bottom line and create happier employees.
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