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CASE STUDIES

Strategic Goal Setting

Janice has been running her company for seven years now and when it comes to goal setting she thought she had obtained some pretty good ones. Her company was performing well and was producing over 2 million a year in revenue with only eight employees.

 

Her struggle now was helping her team create and achieve goals for the company on their own. Although she was a successful goal getter herself,  she had no idea how to teach others how to do it.

 

She loved the S.M.A.R.T. approach she learned in her Sharpen the Spear coaching session but was not completely sure on how to expand on it in real and understandable terms to produce an outcome. Janice wanted to focus on sales goals first and foremost because that’s what fuels the economic engine to her business.

 

Knowing that a GOAL, as opposed to a KPI, is a one time occurrence, Janice was confused on how to create an objective goal that would increase the close rates from 51% to 61% and keep it there. The other part of that goal is discovering why people say no to their offers. She also needed the sales team to know why it needs to be done and why it will work.

 

It took some work but Janice finally settled on this for an objective goal…

 

“Increase our current sales close rate from 51% to 61% and gather data as to why people say “no” to our offer over the next 60 days”. 

After an estimate has been delivered and we have not received a confirmation of acceptance after two days, John will do a follow up call with the client asking these three questions: Did you have any unanswered questions regarding the estimate I can clear up for you? Are you still interested in doing the project? Is there a specific reason you’re not moving forward at this time? (enter all answers into CRM) 

The more we know about why people say no the easier it is to correct and turn those no’s into yeses. By simply following up (more than 3 calls to connect)  on delivered estimates we should see a 10% increase in sales since 90% of all sales happen on the fourth and later follow up call.

By reaching the 61% close rate not only will John’s commissions increase by volume there will also be a $1,000 bonus for the increase in sales and the collected questions data. 

As you can see 1. We have what the goal is 2. How long it should take 3. Who is achieving goal 4. What they are doing to achieve the goal. 5. How they gather the info and close more sales  6. Where they collect/enter the data 7. Compensation for achieving a goal. 8. Knowing why the goal will be effective.

After Janice completed writing out the sales goal she took it to the sales team to get feedback and verification this is a reasonable time frame to achieve this goal. The goal was met with enthusiasm due to its specificity and reward for achieving it. The sales team said they’ve never seen a goal so detailed yet so simple and understandable.

Janice also knew that when this goal is achieved that the new closing rate of 61% will be able to stay at 61% and not just be for the goal period. She saw it as a true triple win. John wins for achieving the goal making both increased commission and a $1000 bonus, the company wins with increased revenue and the ability to serve more people, and because of the diligence of the sales team, a customer gets to experience an incredible product they may have otherwise missed due to lack of follow up from the company's end.

Janice continued to write a list of vitally important goals and created a goal writing template. Her people can now write, follow and achieve goals the same way. This system began working consistently at all levels of the business. The burden of writing and managing goals was now lifted from Janice and spread out among the teams. This also built in its own accountability standards which inspired everyone to perform at higher levels.

With her teams empowered to achieve more, Janice now could focus on bigger challenges in the business only she is able to address.

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Key Performance Indicators - KPI

After going through the KPI module Jeremy realized his ability to track and measure some of his most important areas was virtually non-existent. He thought he knew them “in his head” but these were really just guesses and estimations not hard numbers.

Jeremy started going through the 12 areas of his business from the Sharpening  Assessment he had taken and saw the Finances section and he knew he could easily start there. Jeremy was great at making money but he wasn’t as good at collecting and tracking that money.

He noticed that his receivables were constantly late and slow to pay. This put a major strain on cash flow for the company and he found himself utilizing lines of credit and other debt creation options. Many times it was a stretch just to make payroll and that created unnecessary burdens on his staff.

Jeremy decided to create a KPI for receivables… 

CATEGORY: Finances

TITLE: No Receivables exceeding 30 days.

RECURRENCE:  30 days

RIGHT NOW POSITION: To maintain positive cash flow and avoid crippling debt and defaulted collectables.

BIG PICTURE: Maintaining a 30 day receivable collections policy prevents undue strain on payroll, operations and payables. Our company integrity stays intact as we treat our vendors the same way we expect to be treated and avoid hardship within our teams.

CONSEQUENCE: If the 30 day KPI cannot be maintained a decrease in the ability to serve our customers at the highest level will occur and this is not acceptable. This can directly affect those in the position of maintaining our 30 day collection policy including loss of performance bonuses and possible termination.

NEEDS TO KNOW: The Accounting department and specifically the Payable/Receivable team will maintain the monitoring of this KPI and report directly to account managers with collectible KPI monthly.

After Jeremy completed this first KPI he discovered that this was a relatively simple way to create a KPI and began to create a few more in his high priority areas from the Founder’s Flagship Assessment.

After six month's passed Jeremy began to see the effects of closely monitored KPI’s. Receivables were all beginning to be collected within the 30 day policy. It wasn’t perfect yet but already there was a 60% decrease in delinquencies and that was amazing to Jeremy.

Jeremy also found out from his accounting team that they preferred this system and loved the whole KPI concept and have implemented numerous others in their department.

Jeremy continued to do this throughout the entire company. Everything from sales to parts inventory. He saw a tremendous increase in both his bottom line and the satisfaction among his teams.

Now, 3 years after implementing KPIs company wide, Jeremy is able to forecast upcoming trends and be fully prepared to capitalize on them. He can also pivot quickly when numbers begin to shift both for the positive and the negative. If you ask Jeremy now, he’ll tell you this is one of his best tools for recession proofing his business!

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Hidden Decision Drivers

Tom has been building his plumbing contractor business for the past four years. In the beginning, like most new businesses, he jumped all the hurdles and persevered through the ups and downs. Now, as Tom is entering his fifth year, he begins to realize there seems to be a roadblock in his ability to move to another level.

Tom is a proponent of constant learning and he invests in books, seminars and attending trade shows for his industry. Tom was in his office looking at his book shelves and noticed he had a tremendous amount of business and self improvement books that he had consumed. He also started to wonder why, after obtaining all of that knowledge, not much has changed in his business.

He had just learned about Hidden Decision Drivers in his Sharpen the Spear coaching program. His first takeaway was “Governing Shoulds” and as he looked at all the books and thought about the seminars he’s attended he understood the trap he created for himself. Experts gave him new knowledge and said he should do it, and he agreed he should do it, but never did it. 

For example, he learned that time management and organization was a key element to success. Tom wants to be successful and he invested in books and courses to improve his time management and organization. The problem was he never found time to implement all the strategies he learned. Nonetheless he developed a strong belief that time management and organization were keys to success.

 

Tom’s next take away regarding Hidden Decision Drivers was “If knowledge alone would work, it would have worked already.” That was an ego gut punch to Tom, especially as he looked at the wall full of “Knowledge” he had consumed.

 

Fortunately, his coach didn’t leave him standing in despair, instead he told Tom he needed leverage. Leverage comes from slowing down and controlling your time, which made Tom laugh, since that was one of his "knowledge” attempts to improve his success.

 

Tom also knows how hard he works everyday to deliver the perfect experience for his clients and expects the same attention to detail from his staff. This tends to turn Tom into a micro manager, taking even more time from his day.

Being encouraged to just slow down a little, eased Tom's anxiety. This also enabled him to embrace his next takeaway that “Most decision drivers are fear based.” These are things like greed, guilt and insecurities. Tom connected the high speed at which he operated to reasons these Hidden Decision Drivers remained operational.

 

He made it impossible to self examine why he was doing what he was doing.

Tom admitted this was a difficult step because it was uncovering and acknowledging his weaknesses as not only a business owner but as a man too.

 

On the other hand, he was now able to correct these shortcomings by putting them into one of three categories. Those three categories are 1. Governing Shoulds 2. Wants 3. True desires.

The books and seminars were telling him what he “Should” do. The outcomes; time management, organization and success are the “Wants” the “Governing Shoulds” are supposed to produce. The problem is the only thing “Governing Shoulds” produce is guilt. As Tom thought about this, again looking at his cluttered bookshelves, that feeling of guilt was out in the open and salt was being poured on that wound.

 

The final blow was seeing that the “Wants” are basically a deceptive illusion that satisfaction comes from obtaining them.

 

Tom immediately thought about when he bought his second truck for his first employee to work solo and how that was going to solve his problem of overwhelm. Needless to say, that turned out to be a lie and actually increased the overwhelm.

The saving grace to this depressing downhill spiral was learning about the third category, “True Desires.” It made Tom go back to the very beginning when he started his business. The dreams and big vision for what he was going to create made him jump out of bed every morning to build his business. As time went by and the daily grind of operations increased, that vision was relegated to the back of the line for importance. 

Tom learned that True Desires are actually pieces of our identity or our true, harmonic, centered, balanced, fully active self. For Tom, this was like getting the green light to dream again. To refocus on the vision for his company that once fueled him every day. It gave him clarity on its importance and even though he didn’t have a complete understanding of how to get there yet, he knew the path existed and Sharpen the Spear was going to get him there.

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Business Trajectory & Personal Strategic Vision

Trevor was thinking back to his childhood about what resonated and influenced him the most. For Trevor this was actually quite difficult. His childhood wouldn't be described as ideal by most standards, so drawing on good people and influences seemed to come up a blank for him.

 

With prompting from his Coach, Trevor learned he didn't need to have specific people but more of what captured his imagination, or better yet, what qualities and ideals was he drawn to?

 

This brought clarity for Trevor and he started writing down words like warrior, protector, overcomer, liberator, loyal, endurance, commitment and champion. He remembered, at even the young age of five, he loved watching combat movies. His most inspiring movies were those where there was no way of succeeding - suicide missions - yet they still accomplished the mission, even at the cost of their own lives.

 

As Trevor thought back to when he was a little older, around ten, he remembered being that protector on the playground and in school. Whenever he saw someone being bullied he had an uncontrollable urge to intercede and put the bully in their place, and he did just that. He now truly understood what resonating influences were.

 

Next, Trevor had to start analyzing the concept of "Incremental Decisions." When he started thinking about all the small decisions he had made (many unconsciously) the pieces started coming together.

 

Things like being drawn to individual sports such as cross-country running, wrestling and boxing. Having minimal but faithful friends. Taking on wilderness survival challenges, even as a young teenager, and that included running away from home often to live in the woods.

 

Trevor joined the US Marine Corps at 17 years old. A big light bulb went off as Trevor was writing this event down in his list of incremental decisions. He realized the enlistment in the Corps was a fulfillment of those Resonating Influences and Incremental Decisions.

 

Trevor left the Marine Corps after his four-year commitment. He was driven to achieve more. He saw an opportunity in working for himself. This is how he would control his destiny. As Trevor wrote this down another epiphany hit him. After over five years in business, all of this individual effort and the unwillingness to ask for help, was why his business is struggling so badly to reach its full potential.

 

What he thought at the time were shrewd and strategic business and personal decisions, were actually major, self-imposed, stumbling blocks. His trajectory was off from the very beginning for the lack of personal understanding and vision.

 

Trevor now knows that having this personal understanding is the key to developing an effective roadmap and equally reaching incredible success in both his business and personal life.

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Strategic Vision

Jonathan Loved the Strategic Vision concept. He had definitely never considered creating a Vision for his business with this kind of depth. His first challenge was analyzing "WHO his company served." 

Jonathan manufactured high end custom wood vanities for bathrooms.  Aside from his customers being homeowners who could afford $3500 and up vanities, he really didn’t have any other information about his customers. They just found him online on platforms such as Etsy and Pinterest. As Jonathon attempted to think about different details about his clients he didn’t know where or how to begin the process.

He remembered in his coaching call that if you’re stuck, just start creating a list of the things that pertain to him. In other words, create a client profile for himself.

He started putting down the basics…  

Homeowner (400k value), married, three children, two cars, prefers resort vacations, loves fine dining, appreciates fine/custom craftsmanship in all things, has eclectic taste, enjoys a unique living space, pays to have his lawn manicured, loves to come home to a clean and organized home, enjoys fitness and healthy eating, is a strong Christian believer, enjoys searching for antique furniture, friends have similar tastes and interests.

It was becoming quite a list! Now he understood the goal and also realized he was a lot like his ideal clients.

Next was the “How do we serve them best” question. To Jonathon, the best part of this whole Strategic Vision was that he is future casting. This meant it was what he wants things to be like in the next 18 - 24 months, not what it is right now. He was able to dream a little for this and write down what he considered the perfect customer journey. Everything from the first customer contact, ordering, manufacturing, shipping and follow up/review/referral processes.

 

Jonathan focused on every aspect and person in his business and how they became the hero in their part of the customer journey. Whether it was office work or staining and clear coating the final product. Jonathan also remembered who this Strategic Vision is for. It’s not a marketing piece, it’s for internal use only. That means it will be read by those already on the team and potential hires. Jonathan really wanted to capture the essence of what and why they do what they do. 

Weaving this into story form was a little bit challenging at first because Jonathon didn’t consider himself a writer. Jonathan’s Sharpen the Spear Coach gave him a few samples of Strategic Visions written by other business owners and that gave him clarity. The best part is he was encouraged to take what was relevant to his SV and copy/paste from the samples. No need to reinvent the wheel when it’s already there!

The final piece was “Why should it serve them?” Why is this valuable to all those involved? This took a little bit of deep thinking because the obvious answers of, “they get paid to do it, the customers get a great product and the business makes money,” was incredibly superficial. Jonathan also realized that when he first began this business eight years ago, those were exactly the answers he would have given and been satisfied. Thankfully, he no longer thinks that way. Value connects with purpose and now that he has laid out the complete Vision where he wants his business to go his people will become willing followers. This will begin to draw those who are truly called to serve in the positions he has available. This shared purpose is going to change the entire culture of his business and Jonathon is very excited about that. It’s almost like a total reset of his business and that’s amazing.

After Jonathon completed the first draft of his Strategic Vision he uploaded it into his STS coaching platform so his coach could review it. He also remembered, near the end of the module, there were eleven questions you could ask regarding fulfilling or writing your Strategic Vision correctly. These were so helpful in speeding Jonathon to completing his Strategic Vision correctly.

“This is going to be a game changer for my business,” Jonathon told his coach. His coach reminded him that this Strategic Vision is the cornerstone of his entire business and that he will be constantly referring back to it, not only during the coaching program, but when he speaks to his team as well. Questions like, “How does this serve our Strategic Vision?” and “Are we fulfilling our Strategic Vision with these decisions?” along with a host of other Vision directed questions. 

 

For Jonathan, this was one of the more difficult things he has done in his business and that was kind of shocking to him. The overall clarity it gave him though is absolutely priceless. He now sees the full potential his business can be and that’s exciting!

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Capturing the Time Thief

Sonya owns and operates a clothing boutique with 3 locations and 27 employees. She opened her third location only three years after opening her first location. There are currently two more openings in the planning stages. 

Though all three are profitable, Sonya finds herself working 12-14 hours a day and is pulled in multiple directions “putting out fires” in her business daily. She’s reached a point of overwhelm and is afraid she will not be able to continue to scale with new locations because there’s only so many hours in a day and only one of her.

Sonya also feels that since her calendar is always full, and even though she still handles emergencies, She can’t seem to find the quality time to address the big issues in her business. 

One of the first things Sonya learned in her Sharpen the Spear Coaching program is she must pre spend her time. More importantly she needed to pre spend this time on the big issues ( big rocks) for her business AND her personal life. Those big issues began with defining her roles.

 

Her two biggest roles were Wife and Owner. She defined the one THING in each role she must DO. As a wife she needed to DO daily quality time with her husband. As an owner the one thing she must DO is empower her teams to operate without her.

 

Next was, what is the WAY she must be in each role. As a wife the WAY was to be attentive to her husband. As owner the WAY was to be empowering to others. 

After defining these, Sonya was thinking to herself “How do I do that every day, week and month?”

That’s when she learned the term that would change her entire way of thinking about business and her personal life. The term was Sharpening Activities. A Sharpening  Activity is a patterned action or recurring task that you perform in order to successfully contribute to the Strategic Vision in the context of your job function. 

The other important factor to Sharpening Activities is you combine them to maximize leverage. Combining them produces the greatest results with the least amount of effort and frustration. That was incredibly appealing to Sonya. She realized that if they’re not repeatable, sustainable, logical, easy to use and effective, they were wasteful and lacking strategy.

Sonya used her personal Strategic Vision and created Sharpening Activities to coincide with its achievement. The first one was Date Night with her husband every Thursday. The next was what she called “Day Exchange”  which was 30 minutes where she and her husband spent 15 minutes each sharing the day's events to clear their minds of it. Another one was 4 days a week she devoted one hour to fitness/workout time.

This looked great on paper but Sonya still wasn’t sure if she could commit this to her current schedule. Now it was time to do a calendar audit. Each day she began to examine her daily calendar and designate each event with a circle, square or diamond.

 

Circled activities are “fire fighting” activities. Squares are things done with regularity and diamonds are Owner Only activities (her 5%). When Sonya looked at her Strategic Vision and her calendar she would put an ‘A’ by the most effective activities that fulfilled the Strategic Vision. If some of those “most effective” were missing on the calendar she added them.

Sonya looked at her calendar with the many circles and very few squares and diamonds. That’s when it really came to light that she spends 85% of her time on fire fighting. Even though her current method has been effective she fully understands it’s not sustainable or scalable. It’s time to make a very hard decision. She either continues with what’s comfortable and “Known” or she does the hard work of saying NO to the circles and increasing the squares with an ‘A’ and defining the diamonds.

Sonya committed to eliminating the circles (through system creation).

 

The deciding factor was that she already knew she needed to empower her people to take greater control of their roles and responsibilities. Seeing a method of control via Sharpening Activities not just for her, but everyone in the company, made total sense.

One year after learning the Sharpening Activity process, along with many other strategic lessons in her Sharpen the Spear Coaching, Sonya now has all 27 employees operating completely in the Sharpening Activity system. An unexpected bonus was that all her people actually love the system because of its simple accountability and tracking features along with a performance based pay program. Sonya is able to now duplicate this system with every new location she opens.

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