Let’s Have Some Discipline!

Oct 24, 2005

It’s been said before that success comes from 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration. That’s one reason why I never worried about who saw our strategic business plan. Knowing WHAT to do is the easy part. DOING it is much harder. And to KEEP on doing it is much harder still— especially if you become successful along the way. So much about success in the A/E/P or environmental business comes from the discipline to keep doing what you need to do every day. Here are some areas that I routinely see firms slack off on— for no good reason: Press releases. If you want to get your name in print, you have to send out press releases. Some firms do as many as three or more a week! It takes consistent discipline to get out a press release on schedule every time. Collection activities. Unless you have an unlimited supply of cash (and some firms seem to act as if they do), you have to collect your money. Show me a firm with a 90-, 112-, or 169-day average collection period, and I will show you a firm that does not have the discipline it takes to follow the collection process that they already have in writing. You must do every step— calls after the bills go out, second notices, and turnover to attorneys, among others— on schedule. Client satisfaction calls. Many firms have policies to call clients regularly, yet few will do it on the schedule they set. I think sometimes we are afraid of what we might hear! It takes discipline to make the calls to clients on a consistent schedule to find out how the firm is doing its job. Prospect list updates. If you want to use e-marketing, direct mail, or just be able to send out a holiday greeting card, you must have a decent client/prospect list. It takes discipline to keep the list up to date. New names have to be added and information updated consistently. College recruiting. Even if your business takes a downturn and there are no current openings for new grads, you still need to keep up your college recruitment activities. You will lose your connections with the schools and students and NOT be in a position to ramp it up when the time comes that you are interested in hiring new graduates. It takes discipline to keep making trips and interviewing even when you don’t need to hire. Office upkeep. Many firms get a new office space or redo the one they are in, and they’re fussy about how it looks (for a while). Then everyone goes back to their old ways, and dishes stack up in the lunchroom, the dog-eared plans pile up in empty cubicles, and the parking lot gets weedy. It takes discipline to keep an office looking organized and professional. I’m sure some of you think I must be a nut on discipline, but I know how important it is to keep a firm on the path to success. Originally published 10/24/2005

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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.