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Planning Our Future

Planning for the future is an important part of running a business. Successful companies, whether they have 10 employees or 10,000; whether they are trade associations or residential foundation companies; and regardless of economic conditions all have one thing in common: They convene periodically to assess their companies, the industry, and the future.

The world is changing, and that change is occurring at an ever increasing pace. An assessment that was completed 5 years ago is sorely out-of-date in today’s fast-paced world. While the computer and internet are primary motivators in the current pace of change, they aren’t the only factors that will impact how you do business – perhaps even your company’s survival. The CFA is not immune to that change and to make certain we have the best chance of survival the Board of Directors will convene on October 25th in Salt Lake City to hold a strategic planning meeting.

The session will be led by Wendy O’Brien of Constructive Communications. The process of planning is straight-forward but it is always helpful to have someone not involved in the day-to-day operations of running the business oversee the effort. The board (and other interested parties) will enter the session with and without preconceived ideas but will exit with an assessment of the current condition of the association and a plan of action for the next 3-5 years.

Planning begins with an honest assessment of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. It can be very difficult admitting that there are areas of your business that could be adversely impacting your operations, but identifying these shortcomings is critical to the process. You can’t improve or change a behavior or condition within your company until you acknowledge its existence. One of the goals of planning is to build on your strengths and improve or change areas in which you are weak. This can include facilities, personnel, management, communications, quality control – everything is on the table.

Another part of the process is to assess opportunities and threats, both from inside and outside the company. This can be one of the toughest assignments, in particular when it comes to speculating on threats from outside your company. Most companies don’t have the luxury of a marketing consultant so you must rely on your own observations for what is happening occurring. You might be able to identify opportunities for improvement inside your company, areas for new business, or industry needs that are currently not being met. Threats might be current, or they could be ones anticipated in the future. By midday there will be pads of paper taped on every surface with lots of thoughts and ideas. Focusing on the critical needs and developing a plan of action will occupy the balance of the day.

A good strategic plan balances needs and initiatives with available resources. Some ideas are “no brainers” while others must be evaluated carefully in terms of allocation of resources, both financial and personnel. Some of our assessments of the future will be incorrect and other might be “right-on.” The bottom-line is to gather information so that we can make decisions based on our best estimate of what the future holds rather than simply reacting to whatever the current demand is.

How do you run your company!!

Ed Sauter, Executive Director, CFA

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us