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How to set business goals: a guide for service contractors
Every business can benefit from optimization and growth, but even if you’re tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), you won’t be able to quantify your progress without clear goals in mind.
When you set proper goals, you can identify areas where you’re excelling and make educated decisions about how to improve in areas that need help. But what does a “good” goal look like, and how can you set goals that are right for your business?
Setting SMART goals
When it comes to setting goals, there’s a sweet spot. Create goals that are too vague, and you won’t be able to come up with an actionable plan to achieve them. Create goals that are too specific, and you risk hyperfocusing on one thing, leaving other important aspects of your business on the back burner.
For example, a goal to “improve your sales process” is too vague. What does improvement look like? How will you know whether you’ve achieved it? On the other hand, a goal to “sell 25 full-frame window installation packages in the first week of July” is too specific, and might distract your team from other vital opportunities.
To help find the sweet spot of goal setting, we recommend using SMART goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Here’s a brief breakdown of each characteristic of a SMART goal:
Setting a specific goal usually involves answering the following questions: What are you trying to accomplish, what specific steps will be taken to move towards that goal, and who will be involved in the process? Specificity is also a key component of other SMART goal characteristics, so read on!
How will you quantify your progress and determine whether or not you’ve achieved your goal? This is where you’ll need to include specific numbers or percentages, as well as which KPI(s) you’ll be looking at to measure your success (e.g. increasing average customer satisfaction scores by 10%).
Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself or your team will only lead to disappointment and discouragement. For example, if you have a small team, responding to every client message within 10 minutes is not very doable — instead, you might set a more reasonable goal of responding within one business day.
What’s the purpose of your goal, and how does it fit into your longer-term goals? How will achieving it benefit your business and your team? The more relevant the goal, the more incentive there is for everyone to work towards it.
Selecting a specific time frame for your goal — whether it’s one fiscal quarter, six months, one year, or five years — is essential for measuring your success. Without a set date, your work will never be “done,” and you won’t get much satisfaction from it.
To illustrate, here are a few examples of construction goals and objectives that follow the SMART goal framework:
- The human resources team aims to hire two additional estimators by the end of the year in order to accommodate an increase in estimate requests. They will work toward this goal by sharing job listings on LinkedIn and other job boards.
- The marketing team aims to increase referrals by 10% in Q4 by executing a marketing campaign around our new referral incentive system.
- Our finance manager aims to reduce over-budget projects by 20% over the next two years by implementing a more accurate estimation process.
Key business goal topics for contractors
Goal setting can be helpful for just about any factor in your business, but you don’t have to improve everything all at once. It’s a good idea to identify a few top-priority goals to work on first, as well as “nice-to-have” goals you’d like to work on at some point in the future.
Here, we’ll provide some examples of business goal topics you may want to explore. It’s important to note that these are just broad ideas — you’ll need to add the appropriate details to turn them into SMART goals.
Growth may be sporadic or random, but growing with purpose can set you up for success. Understanding how much your business is growing can also help you set other, smaller goals that may be dependent on things like revenue or profit margins. Goal topics to explore include:
- Growing your client list
- Increasing revenue
- Increasing sales
- Hiring additional staff
- Opening or serving a new location
New products or services
If you’re looking for ways to increase revenue, updating your offerings can be a great way to attract new clients and earn more business from existing ones. SMART goals are particularly important for ensuring a well-executed rollout (and later measuring the impact of your new offerings). Goal topics to explore for new products and services include:
- Completing staff training
- Achieving particular upsell and/or cross-sell rates
- Reaching your target ROI
Employee growth and retention
It should be every business’ goal to improve employee retention; hiring and training is resource-intensive, and interacting with familiar team members can be a selling point for customers. As you make an effort to keep employees engaged, consider setting goals around:
- Upskilling and development
- Onboarding timelines
- Employee satisfaction (in general, with benefits offered, with leadership, etc.)
- Employee retention and churn rates
Depending on your trade, convincing an existing customer to come back is probably less effort than winning a new one. Returning customers often require less contract negotiation and reassurance, as they already know what it’s like to work with your business. Goal topics to consider include:
- Customer retention
- Customer feedback (reviews, ratings, disputes, etc.)
- New- to returning-customer ratio
Doing an internal audit of your business can uncover inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement, but those improvements often require significant time and resources. It’s vital to create SMART goals for any changes you make regarding your:
- Software and other technology
- Workplace culture
Reach your goals with Estimate Rocket
If you follow the SMART goal framework, every goal you set will be measurable in some way. But just because a goal is theoretically measurable doesn’t mean you actually have the means to measure it. Tracking KPIs with spreadsheets can be cumbersome and frustrating, and often results in siloed data and delayed visibility.
By leveraging the right software, you can streamline the tracking and reporting process so it’s easy to track progress toward your goals.
With Estimate Rocket, for example, you can track sales won, profitability, team member stats, sales by source, and more with just a few clicks. That’s not all Estimate Rocket can do, either — it’s an all-in-one, cloud-based platform for estimating and invoicing, project management, client management, and more. You can see an overview of its features here.
No matter how you choose to track your business growth, don’t forget to set SMART goals along the way — it’ll be worth the feeling of victory when you achieve them!
Want more tips for business growth? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Service Contracting Business.