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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Resolving the big picture and little details

In a couple of hours, our family will head to the airport for a 10 day vacation to visit family in Vancouver and friends in southern California. As we prepare to travel, I am also burning some midnight oil (with our accounting contractors who are also working overnight) to get to the bottom of some very real and critical business challenges.

About the time of our business planning meeting in October, something went off in our expense and income assumptions and practices -- and losses have been mounting when my immediate interpretations were we were in reasonably healthy shape.

We now have to make some hard and challenging business decisions, and our employees will assemble tomorrow for a special meeting to discuss the situation. We've always practiced open book management but (gulp) the books have not provided a clear perception of what and why things are the way they are. I certainly don't hold anyone but myself responsible for this problem.

Of course, in 2009, you can take a vacation yet still remain very much in touch with your circumstances. High speed Internet, instant banking information, and conference calls allow me to stay in touch and work on the problems -- and something can be said for seeing these things from 30,000 feet (in business class, but on points rather than with cash.)

The answers we will find will combine elegance with creativity and practicality. I won't force top down solutions on the team; rather, we will provide the most accurate information possible and invite everyone to share in the problem-solving exercise.

So what does this airing of our internal business situation have to do with construction marketing? The answer to this question is at the core of most marketing challenges. Unless you are running a fraudulent scheme, your inner business workings define your marketing place -- h interactions between your employees, and your employees and current, potential and previous clients will give you the answers about whether you are succeeding or failing.

You need to get the details (and numbers!) right, of course. In the end, however, the numbers are created and the results are determined by you, your employees, your contractors and suppliers, and your clients. You can find your answers by respecting and recognizing the people around you.

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