As the great Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Despite his many talents, I don’t believe this Founding Father ever worked for a staffing firm. However, this famous quote is very applicable to our industry. As we enter each new year, it’s critical to have the proper plans in place to be successful in our demanding and competitive business.
Here are four key annual planning components that I recommend every staffing executive should keep in mind as you chart your path to success in 2016:
ONE: Budgeting and Buy-In
It’s critical for each department to have an operational budget as you head into any new fiscal year. An operational budget provides guidelines and insight for each functional manager into what it takes to run the business. If your budgets are created and managed at the executive level, know that input and participation from mid-level managers can be very helpful for proper planning and outlook. Line managers can identify upcoming expenses or revenue opportunities that may have been missed, or can see ways to limit expenses or generate additional revenue that executive leadership is too far removed from to recognize. The team that’s running the day-to-day business will often have a better feel for expenses and revenues, and where each should be properly allocated.
By creating an inclusive budgeting process, agency executives also create “buy-in” from the team. If managers are part of the input process, it’s easier to create accountability when it comes to managing to that budget. An inclusive process also underscores the aspect of teamwork – that everyone is “in it together” and individual voices are heard when it comes to running the business and creating success.
TWO: Hiring Based On Milestone Growth
One of the trickiest parts of annual planning and budgeting is knowing when to bring on new team members. Hiring new employees too early can mean a drain on cash flow when your business might need it the most; hiring too late might mean a missed opportunity or burning out an overloaded staff. A good way to plan your internal hiring is to do it based on “milestone growth points” – hitting certain business objectives that trigger the hiring process. These triggers can be financial milestones based on revenue or margin, or they can be based on business objectives such as reaching a certain number of clients in a particular region or vertical. Whatever these growth points are, they should be in place to help prevent knee-jerk hiring, and ensure long-term growth, not just addressing short-term pain.
THREE: Examine New Market Opportunities
As recruiting businesses grow and prosper, diversification often becomes a consideration. Expanding your business into uncharted territory is often a daunting task. It’s a mistake not to thoroughly examine new market opportunities, and perhaps introduce a pilot program to test the waters to see if it’s right for the business. These new opportunities can be completely new lines of business, new territories, or new revenue streams built off existing business. While these new opportunities may eventually prove fruitful, or not, assigning resources to proper annual planning will ensure a thoughtful and deliberate examination of these opportunities.
FOUR: Incentive and Recognition Programs
Well-executed incentive programs can be a great way to complement commission plans, to help incent proper behavior, and recognize team members for a job well done. Incentive programs can be monetary and tangible in nature (spot bonuses, trips, merchandise, dinners, etc.) or they may simply be recognition (“Recruiter of the Month,” “Wall of Fame,” congratulatory emails, etc.). Either way, it’s critical to the health of the business and the performance of the team to recognize top performers – at all levels and all job functions. Executives should build these programs into the company’s annual plan (and budget) and make sure that these recognitions are highly visible, supported and awarded regularly. They can make a big difference in how appreciated and satisfied your employees feel in their roles.
So, listen to the guy whose likeness adorns the $100 bill; take the time to create your business’ annual plan to ensure that you’re planning to succeed!