Fourth quarter push

Nov 02, 2016

We’re down to the fourth quarter. It’s either been your best year ever – in which case you want it to end up as such – or it hasn’t been – and you have to make something happen. Either way, we all need a good fourth quarter.

But just because we need it there’s no assurance it’ll happen. We have to do something. We have to act. Here are my thoughts:

  • Take stock of where you think you’ll end up right now. That means you may need to get all of your managers to revise their revenue and sales projections. Hell, you should be doing this every month (at a minimum), already! Make sure you aren’t deluding yourself about how great things are because that self-delusion can encourage procrastination – never a good thing.
  • Figure out the easiest sales and the easiest ways to hit your revenue goals. Usually the easiest sales are sales of new work to existing clients. So get out and see ALL of them. And if you cannot see them, at least call them. As far as increasing revenue goes, the easiest way to increase it is accelerate schedules and put out extra effort. When things start to slow down people tend to slow down. You need to do the opposite. You need to accelerate your current jobs. Have a good fourth quarter. Put more heat on to get NEW work sooner rather than later.
  • Take a hard look at your labor costs. What can be cut? During good times costs tend to go up. Hiring gets out of control. Too many overhead people get added. And tolerance for non-performance/less than high output goes up, too, because something is better than nothing. Look hard at your labor. It’s the number one cost. And I have never been in a company where we didn’t see labor that could/should be cut.
  • Look at ALL of your costs. IT costs can easily spiral out of control as everything is changing so rapidly. You may not need all of those Rackspace servers or software licenses that you once had to have. And what about special “sweetheart” rent deals to one or a few principals where rent rates paid by the company are 40 percent too high? Or special leasing companies that add costs needlessly and allow one or a few older owners to take more money out of the company without paying taxes on it? These things need to be confronted because you cannot afford to carry any more costs than necessary.
  • Start looking ahead to NEXT year. What is going to happen in 2017 is largely determined by what’s happening now. Do your planning now, before the new year starts, so when the year DOES start you aren’t playing catch-up. Get those plans done early and out to everyone so they can see the path to success and greatness in 2017 and beyond. Don’t assume that everyone is inspired and can see the opportunity like you can. They all may need some help – and the business plan is a big part of that.

So 2017 – believe it or not – is nearly here. But it isn’t here yet. We’re still in 2016 and we need to finish the year on a high note. Let’s make this fourth and final quarter one we can all be proud of!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at

This article is from issue 1170 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here to subscribe or get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.