Brace yourselves, growth is coming

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A major referral source for us is gearing up for a big summer push. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are worried if we can we keep up. This is a great problem to have, but we need to solve it. How do we assure them that we can meet their needs? This will be a big leap forward for us.

Thoughts of the day: First, make sure you want the influx. Assuming you do want the work, build plans to gear up and assign people to implement those plans. Put someone in charge of monitoring workflow and quality. Meet with your staff to fill them in on what’s expected. Build in time to celebrate successes and let off steam.

Big leaps forward can be both exciting and scary. Check on your history with this referral source. Have things worked out well with them in the past? Do you make a good profit on the work they send to you? Any problems with nickel and diming you after the fact? Do they play fair?

Think about how well this offer fits in with your long-term plans. Is the work right up your alley in terms of what your company does well? Does this lead to a robust future or simply give you a one-time bump? How much of your resources will you have to commit? What else might you ignore in the process?

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To gear up for a busy season, you might need additional resources. Use recruiters or put someone on staff who has experience recruiting. Ask them to build lists of candidates to talk to and start pulling in resumes now. If you’ll need additional managers, hire them now, and get them building their own crews.

You’ll need to talk to your bank now in order to line up the funds to ramp up. Ask your banker for an extension to your credit line to handle the ramp-up period. Make a list of expenses you will incur before revenue starts flowing. Ensure conditions of success can be met by setting standards for getting paid once you invoice the referral source. Find out if you can get deposits for work on hand, to manage cash flow.

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Talk to vendors about the increases in supplies you’ll be ordering this year. Ask for extended payment terms and discounts on quantity orders. Line up back-up vendors in case your primary sources have trouble keeping up.

Get your equipment serviced now. Find out what’s in good working order and make a list of what needs to be replaced. It could cost you more to service equipment than it would to buy new. Anything that you’re questioning about whether to replace it, factor in the opportunity cost – if the equipment is down, you can’t work and then you won’t be able to invoice for the lost hours or days.

Talk to other customers about their plans. Find out if everyone is gearing up or if it’s just this referral source. Think about who else you’ll need to service and make a plan for how to do that – most likely your busiest times will be everyone’s busiest times.

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Lay out a weekly projection of how work will flow in. Set standards for work quality. Have a manager build spreadsheets so that everyone can see how workload and quality are doing. Figure out how to automate people in the field so they can get real-time data.

Pull people in to talk about the opportunity and what it means for the company, including employees. Consider putting a hold on vacations during the busiest weeks. Ask everyone to get involved in brainstorming how to handle the work. Make sure to plan time to celebrate and let off steam, Friday afternoon cookouts or even a party once the job is done.

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Try “The Basics of Process Mapping, 2nd Edition,” by Robert Damelio.

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