Operations

Roadmappin’ It: Planning For Your Company's Future

Lexi Tucker
Posted on December 13, 2019

Kristen Carroll and Dave Verno of The LMC Groups helped operators understand key points to creating a business plan for success in 2020.

Kristen Carroll and Dave Verno of The LMC Groups helped operators understand key points to creating a business plan for success in 2020.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Every business needs a plan to help guide it into the future. Sure, you could make decisions on the fly and hope for the best, but who knows your company better than you and those who work for you?

That’s why it’s vital to sit down with your managers and even lower-level employees to help you create a business plan that will help you maintain a profitable and desirable company culture.

At the 2019 LCT East Show, Kristen Carroll and Dave Verno of The LMC Groups hosted a session titled, “Seeing 2020 and Beyond: Developing Your Business Plan For Success” that helped walk operators through what they need to consider when concocting a roadmap to their future.

Carroll has started several companies throughout her career, and in each one she’s always had a business plan. “It's truly a roadmap for your success. I am now at the point where I create them with almost scary efficiency and realistic expectations,” she said. “Honestly, any goal you have, whether it's a budget, business plan, or running a marathon, it all begins with a series of steps.”

Getting Started

Your business plan is only as valuable as the effort you put into it once it's been completed, as well as the process you take while you're doing it.

At The LMC Groups, they start their work with the CEO or the top leader within the organization, but also discuss it with the management team. Eventually, even the employees are brought into it. “Without buy-in and everybody seeing this is something we're serious about, but also hearing from the voices of the people who might see obstacles and roadblocks we're unaware of, it's not going to be successful,” Carroll said.

In addition, it must be a continuous process. When you come up with a five-year plan, you should update it as the years go by. If the plan is too abstract, you’ll be asking why you’re not achieving your goals and making money. “If it's an abstract, it's just out there floating along with the ether, with all your other thoughts, dreams, and ambitions. Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Optimistic To Realistic

Some points you need to remember when starting your plan include:

  • What are you deeply passionate about?
  • What can you be the best in the world at?
  • What drives your economic engine?

Challenge yourself to figure out what you’re doing that does not fit into one of these circles. “When we at The LMC Groups did this, we discovered there were things we were doing we might be good at, but weren't the best in the world at it. Or we might be awesome at it, but we weren't making any money doing it, so it wasn't driving our economic engine. It's about figuring out what you are the very best at, what people actually need, and what you can actually make money doing,” Carroll explained.

Before you even start your business plan, you must think in that framework when you're considering what services you want to offer. How does whatever service you're thinking about starting or all the services you're offering fit into the above categories? If they don't, it's a good idea to discontinue it and focus on the ones that do. Drill down on what you believe are your centers of excellence so when you're doing it, you know you will be the best in it, it fits a need, you’re passionate about it, and you will profit from it.

Discover Your Mission

Kristen Carroll has tons of experience in creating business plans as a business owner herself.

Kristen Carroll has tons of experience in creating business plans as a business owner herself.

What's your company's core purpose? “I think a lot of times people spend a lot of time wordsmithing a mission statement. They try to memorize it, and then it doesn't hold a lot of meaning; but it's done and it's a checklist on your wall or it's in your presentations. I think it doesn't really matter if you know the exact words of your mission statement,” Carroll said.

Verno agreed. “The words are not as important as the passion. I've worked with a lot of nonprofit organizations over the years, and to them everything is mission driven, and no one will be able to tell you the exact wording or anything, but they all have the same similar focus.”

When crafting your mission statement, think of the key purposes of your organization. What are you there to do?

Vision Vs. Mission Vs. Values

Your vision differs from your mission. Your mission is the core of what you're there to do. Your vision is where are you going. Your values are what you care about as a company that will help define the decisions you make.

Verno said you as a company want to stay within where you feel good. “If you start providing services to someone that has values outside of your moral values…it's going to upset. Even if it is profitable, it may just disrupt employees. People may not want to be working for you if you're doing business with a certain segment.

“It's also something your employees get engaged about. It doesn't mean everybody has to start a nonprofit. It just means the organizational values will speak to the employees and engage people, so they become ambassadors of what you're doing rather than just employees. When you bring this back to your team, and you go through this with them, you want to find out what do they see as the company’s values, or what your values should be. Develop that together so you have their buy-in,” Carroll said.

Look To The Past To Improve Your Present

Dave Verno says you can’t just make the plan and leave it on a shelf — you have to reference it time and again to make sure you’re staying on track.

Dave Verno says you can’t just make the plan and leave it on a shelf — you have to reference it time and again to make sure you’re staying on track.

Verno recalled the saying, “you can learn as much from what you didn't accomplish as what you did.”

Being honest with yourself and analyzing what has worked and what hasn’t will help you craft achievable goals for the future. Being honest with yourself is vital to growth.

“If you figure out where you want to go and where you're taking this thing, then you can figure out the steps you need to get to get there. You’re doing an awful lot of work to not think about what your goal is and where you’re going and what you're ultimately trying to get out of this,” Carroll said. “If we're here and don't really know why or what we're working toward, that's a great way to go about each day like, ‘I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm super busy all the time. And hopefully, it's going to work out into something.’ Personally, I'd rather know where my roadmap is taking me, and this is where I can exit stage left and it will have all been worth it."

Another way to think about your exit strategy is what will make all this effort and stress worth it for you?

Headache Cure

Owning a business means dealing with headaches, so have plans to address them so you can focus on building the company. Carroll and Verno recommended focusing on these key areas:

  • Finance
  • Growth
  • Service
  • People
  • Values

Carroll doesn’t recommend having more than three to five overarching goals for your organization in each area. It’s not a to-do or task list; they are the goals you need to get where we're going for your vision and for who you want to be as a company. Here are just a few points to consider for each category you can mold to best fit your business.

Finance

  • What's your net income percentage?
  • How is your profit margin across your segments?
  • Has there been a revenue increase or decrease?
  • What are your fixed and variable costs?
  • How do you price your work for profitability?
  • How will you budget?

Growth

  • What is your growth percentage goal?
  • What is your growth capability based on your understanding of your market and what part of the market share you possess?
  • Which of your services are profitable versus which aren't?
  • What areas do you want to grow in? Why not grow in the areas where you're profitable? Why not find growth by making your unprofitable areas a little bit more profitable? And if you can't make it profitable, why not stop doing it or sell it to somebody else?

Service

  • Are you conducting client surveys?
  • How are you maintaining consistency (vehicle type, water, etc.)?
  • How do you solve service failures?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses versus your competitors?

People

  • How do you recruit people?
  • Where do you recruit them from?
  • Are you holding on to employees who will hold you back out of desperation?
  • Are you doing things that make people want to come to work for you?

Values

  • What are your core values?
  • How are they expressed through what you do as a company?
  • How do your employees feel about them?

Getting Buy-In

You are nothing without your team. They need to feel connected to what they are working to achieve. Be sure to consult them for feedback and their thoughts and make them an essential part of the process. “It's not just to be nice or get them to fall in line. It's because you'll be better and stronger if you have more perspectives making these decisions for you,” Carroll says.

On a final note, once you create the plan, don't just step away from it, Verno says. “Don't just put it on a bookshelf; follow it through.”

Related Topics: 2019 LCT East, Atlantic city, business growth, business management, casinos, hotels, Kristen Carroll, LCT Events, LCT Events Education Series, leadership, The LMC Group

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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