As I travel the country doing consulting and business management
seminars, I’m disappointed and concerned at the lack of goal
setting exhibited by many kitchen and bath dealers. They may have
broad goals: sell more, work less, have more fun, make more money.
But for the most part, the dealers I speak with haven’t taken the
time to write down monthly, yearly or longer-term specific goals
for themselves or their employees. Virtually all large businesses
do this, and yes, that definitely includes the “big boxes” who
every day are cutting into “our” business.
Goals provide direction. If you can see it, you can achieve it.
Goals help you see where you’re going and how to get there.
As an owner or manager, it’s your responsibility to set the
overall direction of your business, and to set goals for your
business and your employees. You also need to develop and implement
the plans to achieve these goals. Your supervisors and employees
should be included in this process, both in the goal setting and
sharing of rewards when goals are met.
There’s a good lesson in the classic story, Alice in Wonderland.
Do you remember this exchange between Alice and the Cheshire
Alice: “Would you tell me please, which way I should go from
CC: “That depends a good deal on where you want to go.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where.”
CC: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Alice: “. . .so long as I get somewhere.”
CC: “Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you only walk long
Unlike Alice, I believe that kitchen and bath managers do care
where they’re going. So why don’t we use more road maps?’
Benefits of goals
Goals provide direction. To get something done, you must have a
definite vision a target to aim for and to guide your efforts and
those of your firm. Once you have the vision, you can translate
that into goals that will take you where you want to go. Without
goals, you’re doomed to waste countless hours going nowhere. With
goals, you can focus your efforts and the efforts of your staff on
only the activities that move you in the direction you want to
Goals tell you how far you have gone, and provide milestones
along the road to accomplishing your vision. If you set goals for
monthly sales, gross profit, expenses and net operating profit, and
track each one monthly, you will know where you’ve been, where you
are and how far you have to go.
Goals help make your overall vision attainable. You won’t
achieve your overall vision in one giant step; rather, you’ll need
to take a lot of small steps to get there. For example, if one of
your goals is to increase your gross profit margin on sales, you
probably won’t just add 10% more all at once. Rather, you’ll need
to increase by 1% here, 2% there, etc. Goals enable you to achieve
your overall vision by dividing your efforts into smaller, more
Goals make everyone’s role clearer. Setting goals with employees
clarifies what the tasks are, who will do them and what is expected
from each employee. Goals also give your employees something to
strive for. It’s a proven fact that people are more motivated when
challenged to attain a goal that is beyond their normal level of
performance. The average employee works at 60-70% of his or her
productivity potential. Our job is to set goals, and rewards, that
will motivate them to increase their productivity.
The following is a great guideline for setting “SMART” goals. Goals
S Specific: When goals are specific, they tell
employees exactly what is expected. Because they are specific, you
can easily measure your employees’ progress toward their
M Measurable: If you don’t measure the activity
of a goal, you’ll never know if the employee is making progress
toward the completion of the goal. And, if you can’t tell your
employees how they’re doing, you’ll have a hard time keeping them
motivated. Both you and they need to know where they’ve been, where
they are and where they’re going.
A Attainable: Goals must be realistic and
attainable. Yes, they should make the employee stretch a bit to
achieve them. But goals that are set either too high or too low
will be ignored.
R Relevant: Each individual goal must be a
piece that will aid in achieving the overall vision. Sales people
will have sales and profit goals, accounting people will have goals
related to accounts receivable, accounts payable, monthly
T Time Bound: Goals must have starting points,
ending points and fixed duration. Commitment to deadlines helps you
and your employees focus efforts on completion/achieving the goal
on or before a due date.
SMART goals will lead to smart managers, smart employees and
Simple goals are usually best. The easier your goals are to
understand, the more likely your employees will be to achieve them.
Goals should be concise (no longer than one sentence), compelling
and easy to read and understand. An example might be: “Your goal
for 2000 is to increase sales by 7.5%.” Next, you should develop a
“report card” that shows the monthly sales goal and the results of
each month and year-to-date.
In previous columns, I’ve talked about the importance of job
descriptions for every employee, employee handbooks, which spell
out the policies and procedures of the business, and regularly
scheduled employee performance evaluations. By doing these and
setting goals as well, you are saying to the employee, “Here’s your
job and what’s expected of you; here are the guidelines and
procedures on how to do it; here are the goals and rewards you can
expect if the job is done well and here’s how you’re progressing.”
This is the perfect time of year to do your goal setting. Evaluate
each employee’s job; develop specific individual goals for each,
and tie a monthly, quarterly or yearly reward (money works best) to
the goal. Try to evaluate what impact meeting these goals would
have on your overall business and then set your monthly and yearly
By setting goals for each employee and regularly evaluating
their progress, I believe you will be amazed at the increase in
both productivity and motivation.