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April 2007

Business Building

Masonry MagazinePlay Business Like Golf

One of my dreams is to play the top 100 golf courses in the world. To date, I have been fortunate enough to play more than 30 of them. Every year, I look forward to Golf Digest magazine's new rankings to add to my wish list.

Now, imagine getting invited to play golf at a brand new, top-rated golf course. You're excited, obviously, and plan your trip for months. On the first tee, you hit your shot right down the middle, approximately 240 yards. Not able to see the green yet, you hit a three wood down the left side of the fairway, 215 yards. The green should be close now.

As you approach your ball, you still can't see the green so you ask your playing partner for directions. He then informs you that this course is unique, as there are no greens, pins or holes to aim for — only a long fairway meandering through the beautiful countryside. The object of this four-hour round is to enjoy the scenery and try your best. No score will be kept; just golf all day until it's time to quit.

Can you imagine playing golf without greens, targets, pins or holes? Just hit the ball down a continuous fairway. Seems absurd, doesn't it? Look at your business — is it much like this game of golf? Are there clear targets for you and your employees?

Why Golf?
Think about the game of golf. It takes four-plus hours to play in the hot sun, fighting the elements. You hit a little white ball into the rough, lakes, traps and out of bounds. You miss shots and look for lost balls. Every once in a while you hit a good shot, but you can always do better. So what makes the game of golf so attractive or appealing to millions of crazy people?

Golf is a competitive and challenging game. There are many different types of shots, club selection is a personal choice, and the game is enjoyed with friends working toward a common goal. No matter what you shoot, you can always improve. The targets are clear and the greens are easy to see — everyone knows exactly what they're shooting for. Par is a good score, and everyone knows the rules and what's at stake.

Do you play the game of business like golf? Do all of your employees, project managers, superintendents, forepersons, field crews, business teams, departments and divisions know the rules? Do they have clear targets and know where the pin is placed each week? Is their game competitive and fun? Do they know when they make a par, birdie or bogey? Is there a reward for hitting a good shot or being successful?

Unfortunately, most employees don't have clear targets. When there is no competition, there is no incentive to work harder, improve or do more than the minimum. Work is the same old thing month after month, year after year. No new terrain, targets, holes to play or anything different.

Clear Targets
To make your business more like the game of golf, give everyone clear targets to hit. Try one of these ideas:

Weekly targets for the most masonry installed, most customer sales calls, most invoices processed, most bills paid, or most contracts let.

Monthly contests for the most referrals, fewest service call-backs, fastest schedule, fewest crew days on a job, largest invoice, best new idea implemented, or most leads.

Quarterly achievements for the most estimates, largest proposal, best customer service action, fewest accidents, most job profit, most man-hours saved versus the estimate, most new employees recruited, or accurate on-time job cost reports.

As a golfer, I always play better when there is a small wager on the game. The stakes don't have to be very high to keep my mind on the game. A $2 bet keeps me focused, improves my concentration, and lowers my score every time.

Likewise, try adding small prizes to your business targets to get the team excited about winning the game. Simple and fun incentives work as well as cash.

The list of ideas to target can be endless. The key to a good game of business is to shoot for something! Any target is better than no target. Keep them simple and clear. Align the targets toward your top business priorities. Involve everyone and have fun. Playing business like golf is the perfect attempt toward shooting par. Keep your head down, tee it high and watch them fly!







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