Business Builders Blog

Clarity + Confidence = Control

It was a simple question… “How’s your year going?” As I watched his expression change and heard the strain in Bob’s voice as he spoke, the angst was palpable.

“Nearly a whole month of not being able to work on projects, and a slow start back, with unexpected setbacks dictated by circumstances out of my control, has taken its toll,” he said slowly.  His eyes reflected defeat.  As we talked it was evident Bob felt a lack of control in his business.

Almost every business owner I’ve talked with over the past two months can relate to this experience at some level.  (more…)

Doing this 1 thing can help alleviate your worry…

As Don sat down across from me the worry and angst on his face was palpable.  “What’s up?” I asked?

“I know we’re in better shape at the beginning of this year than we were last year at this time, but I’m worried that it’s not enough.  I’m concerned that the economy is going to turn, and we won’t have enough work.”

I can relate.  We’re all wondering when the economy is going to take a turn. And none of us have a crystal ball that will tell us that.

But what we do have is data.  Data that can help us alleviate at least some of that uncertainty and worry.

I asked Don if he knew how much his backlog was as of the beginning of the year.  “No” he explained, “we have just been pushing to get as much work done as we could by year-end to meet schedule deadlines, and we’re trying to ramp up bidding right now.”

With all the balls we must juggle as business owners, it can be difficult to take the time to stop and look at the data.  And yet, it is exactly that which will allow us to get more clarity, focus, and certainty about what we need to be doing to “have it all turn out okay.”

Finding relief in the numbers        

Looking at the data will let you move from worry and uncertainty, to have certainty and focus on what actions you need to take.

I asked Don if he could easily access this information, and could we look at it together. He said yes, and as we started to dig into his project reports we pulled out the following information…

               The balance remaining on contracts at 12/31/18.  I asked him to include T&M projects and an estimated amount that he would bill for the balance of the project.

               Value of contracts on projects signed, and not yet started

With this data in hand, we spread out over 12 months the amount he projected to bill on each project by month.  I suggested he be conservative.

Then we took his revenue goal for the year and split that out by month, taking into accounts fluctuations of when he is busier or slower.

We then tallied up the amount he projected to bill each month in total and compared that to his revenue goal by month. 

This allowed Don to see exactly how much he was short or over per month and for the year to meet his revenue goals. 

As we reviewed the data, Don’s face began to soften, and the look of worry faded from his face. 

He suddenly smiled and said “wow, that’s the biggest backlog I’ve ever had at one time! And while I’m a little freaked out by the fact that I have that much more to sell this year, I now can at least see exactly how much that is!”

When you can see it, you can do something about it


In today’s video I walk you through how to use this kind of tracking tool and give you a link to a worksheet I’ve developed that you can use right now to develop your own backlog tracking worksheet.

As I told Don, and I’d recommend for you, if you want to have more peace of mind and alleviate the worry of whether your going to make it, update this spreadsheet every month.

Even if the numbers don’t show a picture you want to see, it will at least let you get clear on how much of a gap exists between where you are and where you want to be, so you will know definitively how much you still need to sell.

Hope you find this information helpful. 




p.s.  Get my Backlog Tracking Tool at no charge, and start having a greater sense of clarity and stop the worry!

p.p.s.  If you found this article helpful, please share it with an associate or friend?

p.p.p.s.  In my book, The Profit Bleed, I talk in more depth about other ways you can get more peace of mind and stop worrying.  AND start having more control over the results of your business.  For a limited time, it’s available for FREE, so check it out.

Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently.  Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of contractors achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.

Need to Know Lessons About Motivation

Back in the early years of my business I was struggling.

Not from a lack of direction, workload or help either. It was all there in abundance. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve. And I had clear goals for my team as well.

But, no matter what I did, these goals were frustratingly not being met by my team.

And according to a recent survey I did, 77% of the respondents are feeling exactly how I did. They’re struggling with the same obstacle. Their teams not taking ownership in their jobs.

They’re trapped feeling like they need to micromanage their staff to get anything done.

This feeling had caused me a great deal of stress over the years, even before I’d started out in my own business. Despite several leadership courses and books I’d digested on the topic.

It was when I was faced with unhappy clients that were about to leave, that I knew I had to do something different. I needed to learn how to motivate my team.

That started me looking to the great thought leaders on the topic of management and leadership. The first few were Michael Gerber and his book The E-Myth, and Dan Pink’s talk on Motivation.

In this post I’m going to share the two key lessons I learned that have been the cornerstone of my own transformation as a manager and leader.

1. Successful Leaders Don’t Micromanage

This was the first realization that transformed how I motivated my team.

In Michael Gerber’s book, which I read several times as I stood face-to-face with the prospect of losing my business, he made a clear distinction that revolutionized how I led my team.

I could no longer be a micromanager for the results my staff were meant to be achieving.

I needed to delegate the business’ workload and know – with confidence – that the work was going to be done. Correctly. Without me having to step in and fix it every single time.

Otherwise there’d be no point in me delegating. And there would be no weight taken off my shoulders. I’d still be working a job, instead of running a business.


Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

What information are you looking at regularly that helps you keep your finger on the pulse of your company?  It’s a powerful question.  If you want to grow your company, and become more profitable, you want to set goals and get feedback so your clear about where you’re headed, and where you are on the path.

Have a revenue, gross profit margin (your rate of return on work) and net profit goal.  Most people have a revenue goal, but rarely have a margin or net profit goal.  If you want to increase your bottom line, get clear on your targeted revenue, gross profit margin and net profit goals.  Each month review your profit and loss statement and see how your doing.  Look at the month, quarter and year to date to see trends.

Set a goal for dollar amount bid, and targeted close rate. It’s easy to just respond to the bids that come in the door and think that’s all there is.  But it’s not.  When you get intentional and set bidding and close rate goals, you’ll increase the odds of meeting your revenue goals.  Try this simple formula – take your revenue goal, divide by your targeted close rate %, the result is how much you need to bid in dollars.  Too high? Increase your close rate.  Every other week track your results and see if you’re on track or if you need to make a course correction in either the amount your bidding, or your close rate.

Setting goals and tracking even just these few key performance indicators in your business will give you greater clarity and confidence to know what actions to take to help you grow your bottom line.

Make it an extraordinary day!



What your customer really thinks!


Have you ever worked really hard to win a project and then lost the bid? Have you ever wished you knew a way to get people to refer you more easily?  You may think you deliver a great product and great service, but do you know what your customers actually thinks?  Below is a post from my associate Marcia Yudkin, where she talks about the results of a survey done with homeowners as it relates to contractors’ credibility in the minds of customers.  Having worked with many successful contractors over the past 25+ years, I can tell you that the responses were spot on!  (more…)

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