Category: Planning

How I Built the Most Profitable Industrial Container Management Company in America (Part 2 of 3)

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you may want to read it before proceeding.

After I had set my vision for what I wanted to accomplish with the turnaround of this company, I needed a team that could help me turn that vision into reality. I needed everyone—from my office staff, to my production crew, to my delivery drivers—to be completely on board. If we were going to dominate the marketplace, we needed 100% buy-in.

I’ll have to exert some restraint to not turn this post into a book. There were many details Teamworkthat led to my success in molding a winning team. I’d like to share the high-level points here and leave it to you and your team to determine how these same principles and practices can be applied in your business.

I began by developing my big-picture vision into a set of daily outcomes—how many units needed to be produced, maximum end-of-line rejections due to defects, number of units/day delivered to clients, and so on. Note that I did not make a plan as to how I was going to accomplish these things, but simply that these were the tangible results I needed each day to make my vision become a reality.

Key #2: Role Ownership

Once I had the daily requirements determined, it was time to involve my team. I called a meeting in which I shared my vision and the daily requirements, in terms of output and quality, needed to bring this vision to fruition. I was met with everything from indifference to significant resistance, which was what I expected. After all, these people had collected their paychecks without these requirements in the past. Why change?

Then I got them involved in a way that was meaningful to them…

“I’ve told you what I want,” I said to the group, “Now you tell me what you want in exchange for making these things happen.”

It took a while for their creativity to kick in, but when they saw me readily listing the suggestions that were being made—many of which they clearly thought were excessive—the flood gates opened. When we were done making the list of proposals—which included performance bonuses, early shift termination when quotas were met, company-paid lunches, and other such perks—most people in the group were laughing and making comments about how ridiculous the thought of my accepting these demands was; obviously assuming I would never say yes to even a portion of their ideas.

I asked them if it would be alright for me to take a day and think about their suggestions. They agreed, and headed back to their work stations, still laughing, jeering, and even poking fun at how foolish this waste-of-time meeting had been.

I had already run numbers and knew what I could pay for the performance for which I was asking. Some quick head math during the course of our meeting had already led me to know I could provide everything for which my team had asked, and still have room to provide some additional surprise perks along the way. A formal calculating of the numbers that afternoon told me my preliminary beliefs were correct.

When the team gathered for our follow-up visit the next day, the laughing, scoffing, and attitude that had prevailed the previous day continued. Everyone took their seats, undoubtedly certain they would hear some less-than-exciting news as to my findings. I had debated whether to slide into the acceptance of their proposal, or drop my acceptance like a bomb. I decided on that latter approach.

The Answer They Didn’t Expect

“Thank you for all your suggestions yesterday,” I began. “I’ve run the numbers, and I’m ready to give you everything you asked for.” Many were still talking among themselves and focused elsewhere when I made that statement. Then the room became completely silent. “What?” came a query from my plant foreman. “Say that again,” he went on.

I repeated myself: “I’ve run the numbers, and I’m ready to give you everything you asked for.” You could have heard a pin drop. I went on…

“This is the way it’s going to work. I’m not going to issue any reprimands for being late. I’m not going to conduct surprise status checks on the production floor. And I’m not going to personally handle end-of-shift inspections anymore. That’s all up to you.

“If you have a co-worker who is not performing, it’s up to you to help him see the vision and pick up his performance. When a piece of equipment goes down, your shift is over for the day without pay. Your opportunity to earn money will resume when the equipment has been repaired. You own this opportunity. It’s up to you to make of it what you will.”

I’ve never seen a more wide-eyed group of adults in my life. They were floored!

“Are we in agreement?” I asked. The answer came in an enthusiastic affirmative. “Let’s make it happen then!”

Instant Change

From that moment forward, quality improved until we beat the best of the best in the industry. Daily quotas were almost always met an hour or more before the end of the scheduled shift (which represented somewhere in the neighborhood of double our previous output). Equipment failures diminished to nearly zero. Poor performing employees were coached by their peers to improve performance. On two occasions, a delegation of team members approached me about firing those who were not catching the vision and improving. I still smile with satisfaction when I think of those team members coming to me as a group to get their non-performing peers ousted.

My favorite part of each day was standing by the time clock as my team clocked out early, having made more per hour for the day for having met their quota, and being paid at that higher rate for the hours they would not have to work, as well. “We’re ripping you off, Bryan!” was a common phrase my smiling team members would chant as they gave me high fives on their way out. Although I never said it out loud, my response was always, “Keep ripping me off, guys… Keep ripping me off.”

There is, of course, more to the entire account than what I have shared; but in short, I got my team to buy in to my vision by allowing them to take ownership of their roles in a way that was beneficial to them. I didn’t dictate the rewards. I didn’t mold the culture of the team. They did.

Those who “got it” stayed around and enjoyed the benefits of our joint efforts. Those who didn’t went on their way and were replaced by people who wanted what we had to offer.

My team took control of their work. I had more time to build other parts of the business.

They had a better job than they could get elsewhere. I had a killer team that made things happen.

They made more money. I made more money.

It doesn’t get much better than that. Role ownership by all team members is necessary if we’re to build a top-performing organization. After all, a successful company is a community of successful people. How can you help your people become more successful?

Check in for my final installment of this series when I’ll share the third key that launched this company from losing money to being the top profit performer in its industry.

3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (and the 1 Tweak You Can Make to Consistently Achieve Your Goals)

A new year is upon us, and with it comes the annual ritual of setting New Year’s resolutions—a complete waste of time and exercise in frustration for most people. Here are three reasons this hollow tradition fails to deliver results, along with one powerful action you can take to break out from the crowd.

Reason #1: We’re Marching to Someone Else’s Drum

We don’t make resolutions at this time of year because we feel it in our bones. We do it Summit_Blogbecause everyone else does, and it’s something to which we’ve become accustomed. Those are poor reasons to do anything.

Is an annual check-up a good thing? Yes, absolutely. It falls right in line naturally with our daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly self-analysis. I’m a believer; but only when this annual event is part of our ongoing review and strategic planning process—not as a euphoric romp into the self-improvement realm that fades within a few weeks.

Don’t march to someone else’s drum. Own your regular introspection, planning, and goal-setting activities and employ them regularly on your schedule, in a way that actually works for you.

Reason #2: We Think Big, With No Plan That Leads to Success

“Think BIG!” We hear this trite statement all the time from hypesters—usually because they have something to sell us that we think will make our dreams come true because we threw some money at them. That’s simply not how it works.

“I want to make an extra hundred thousand dollars this year,” or “I’m going to lose 30 pounds” are flimsy goals, at best, without a plan that incrementally leads to those results. Are both of these possibilities for the right person? Sure. But jotting them on a list of resolutions with no plan to lead to their accomplishment is a waste of time.

Reason #3: We Already Know When We Make New Year’s Resolutions That We’re Not Going to Keep Them

You know you’ve had this experience. We all have. You think that somehow the magic of a new year is going to make something happen that hasn’t happened in the past. History has a way of repeating itself, and this scenario is no exception. You know when you write a goal if you’re going to see it come to fruition because you know your commitment level to achieving it. We all know how this works from our own past experiences.

No More Self-Inflicted Torture

So why do we engage and write these wistful dreams down anyway? If it’s for entertainment sake, and we’re honest with ourselves about this reality, perhaps there isn’t any real harm in it. If, however, we somehow believe our resolutions are going to see the light of day despite our inner-most belief that they won’t, why torture ourselves?

How to See Your Goals Come to Fruition

Are resolutions useless? No. We just need to see them in the right light and apply them in an effective way. I’m not going to cover a complete goal-setting and implementation plan here, but I do want to share the one principle-based action I’ve found to work consistently in achieving what we want in all facets of life. It can be summed up one phrase…

Make incremental, sustainable, measurable improvements.

Let’s look at each of these three adjectives and why they are the trifecta of ongoing accomplishment and success.

Incremental – It’s human nature to want the prize before we’ve completed the journey, so we often attempt to arrive at the finish line in one giant step. This rarely works. Eat the elephant in bite-size pieces and you’ll successfully devour it instead of finding yourself at the same point in time in the future with a partially eaten elephant and a plate full of discouragement. Additionally, small missteps are usually relatively simply to correct. Big missteps can be cumbersome to correct, or even irreparable and detrimental.

Sustainable – For me, this has been the real powerhouse realization in achieving my goals. We’re not just going to be consistent for the next week, or month, or even year. And our incremental steps aren’t going to be bigger than we can handle or daunting in any way. If we can’t see a step, process, or other action being sustained to the end of its necessity in accomplishing our goal, we don’t engage. Stop. Rethink. Revise. Then run the scenario through again. When we only engage in sustainable actions, our success skyrockets!

Measurable – Not only should our destination goals be measurable, but so should the incremental, sustainable actions we take each day in our journey to those goals. Measuring and analyzing our outcomes, then tweaking our plans based on our findings, will greatly accelerate success.

As you review this past year and look forward to what you want to accomplish in the coming year, commit to making incremental, sustainable, measurable improvements that will lead to your larger annual goals. Engaging in a sincere review and strategic planning session in this way, instead of just writing a few wishes on a paper and sticking them to your bathroom mirror, will help you arrive at your desired outcomes.


3 Benefits to Pausing for a Marketing Review and Strategic Planning Session

How did this year turn out for you and your business? Did your marketing accomplish what you wanted it to?

December and January are the perfect time Team Meeting_320to pause, review, and plan for the upcoming year. Here are three benefits to taking time to engage in a marketing review and strategic planning event…

  1. Improve Existing Marketing Activities

We can always improve on our results, even if they are favorable. In fact, we have to, or our efforts lose their edge and effectiveness.Refocus, Refine, andRedirect are constant watchwords that keep us fresh and viable in today’s noisy marketplace.

  1. Discontinue Ineffective Marketing Activities

Altogether too often, I see less-than-optimal (or completely ineffective) marketing activities remain on companies’ action lists. Why? In some cases, it’s fear that discontinuing that activity may prove detrimental because there was some unknown benefit lurking under the surface (I see this a lot with the “black box” of digital marketing). In other situations, it’s a lack of awareness of what is working and could replace these failing marketing efforts.

There are certainly other reasons as well. Bottom line: If it isn’t working,reallocate the time and money being poorly invested into something that will (or, at least, may) outperform the dead marketing activity. Which brings us to our third benefit…

  1. Identify and Implement New Marketing Opportunities

Marketing vehicles are changing at an ever-increasing rate. While theprinciples, and even over-arching strategies, may remain the same, the way we carry those out tactically may change regularly.

Unfortunately, far too many would-be marketing gurus choose to focus on these tactical vehicles and tools as if they are the essence of marketing. They are not. And chasing the latest fad in marketing tools can prove costly, and maybe even deadly, to your company.

Properly engaged, however, most wisely employed marketing tools, vehicles, and activities have their place in a successful marketing picture. So, how do we know what to do, when to do it, and how the results should look? That’s where our marketing team comes in.

If you have an established team, you have people who understand the principles that reside at the foundation of marketing. Others are specialists in areas of marketing that impact your business. And you have a leader with vision and an intimate knowledge of marketing directing those efforts.

Share the three benefits above with your team so their review and planning activities yield these results. Their awareness of these three desirable benefits will help them see how to improve, what to cut out, and where new opportunities exist as they apply their various areas of marketing expertise in the review and planning process for your company.

If you don’t have a marketing team, I can show you how to fix that. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot, either. Watch for my upcoming installment of “Marketing Demystified” on building and leading an effective marketing team to find out how. (Not getting my training notifications? Join my community at

Stay tuned… I have much more to share that will help you and your team find the greatest possible marketing success in the New Year!

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