Volume 50, Issue 12 - December 2015

Shop Savvy

Your Best Year Yet
How to Make the Most of 2016

by Paul Bieber

2015 defined in under a minute: We’ve experienced solid sales and profit; we had a hard time finding qualified help; we laughed off threats of a glass shortage; we accepted price increases; we worked hard for a change, and it sure felt good; we spent money on trucks and fabrication equipment and we smiled more.

“Oh, great seer in the northern lands of New Hampshire,” you ask, “what will the future bring?”

More of the same, I hope.

Looking Ahead

I am writing this article just two days after the senseless attacks in Paris, and geopolitical headaches are the only unpredictable aspect of the U.S. economy next year. Our economy is strong now and still getting stronger. Don’t worry about a quarter- or half-percent raise in interest rates. We are talking about a quarter or a half-dollar per hundred dollars of loan. We have had low interest for so long it has started feeling like a guarantee ensconced in the Constitution.

I would plan on a good year coming everywhere in the U.S.—particularly if you are in tornado- or hurricane-prone areas. More heavy lami and impact-resistant materials are on the way. There will be multi-family housing units going up all over the place. There will be renovations galore.

All you have to do is dig for the sales. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Look at building permits; stop at every construction site you see and ask who the GC is; read the newspapers about who is planning an expansion or a new store.

Call your old customers asking to meet and discuss energy-saving glass on their new projects. Low-E has so many variations now. Call your fabricator to schedule a technical training session for you and your sales force so you know how to prove to an owner that low-E saves money in the long run.

Also Good to Do

• Learn about switchable glass;

• Clean up your showroom;

• Paint your trucks and keep them clean and neat;

• Give your employees sharp-looking uniforms they are proud to wear;

• Schedule next year’s vacations now so you have coverage to install glass every day next year;

• Set realistic goals for the year, sharing the goal and the path to get there with your team;

• Learn more about energy savings in aluminum profiles;

• Delegate your administrative duties to an assistant so you can work on the glass business, and;

• Don’t waste time on junk mail, email, plans beyond three years, lottery tickets, learning things that don’t complement your business or your employees, or anything that moves your focus away from glass and metal.

On the Other Hand …

Do give good benefits packages for your people; they will appreciate that more than a raise. You should be spending more on your people than any other part of your business. They are an asset that can walk out the door—replacements are hard to find.

Health insurance is still the 800-pound gorilla. Don’t be frugal here.

The most valuable tool you have is an honest, timely and encouraging employee review and communication program. If you spend more time with your employees, you both will benefit. Encourage them, mentor them, and share successes with everyone. Counsel privately and promptly when needed.

If you are teaching something new, repeat it, and then repeat it again. Nobody, absolutely nobody, learns everything on the first run-through. Your company will be better off with scheduled training rather than excuses for problems that occur.

And now, the important stuff. You all laughed at me last spring when I predicted the Mets would win the World Series. They were so close. And next year is just around the corner.

I wish you, your company and your families health, happiness, safety and profitable commerce this year.

the author

Paul Bieber has 37 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.

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