Flooring and Football – A Strategic Parody

Owning a flooring company has more similarities to owning an NFL Franchise than you may think.  A football organization is structured with an Owner (same as you), Head Coach (General Manager/Director of Operations), Offensive Coordinator (Sales Manager), Defensive Coordinator (Controller/Accountant), Special Teams (Installation/Warehouse Manager) and the players (Sales Associates).  You both have an offseason (the winter), a draft (staffing), and have to deal with finicky fans (customers).  Although, there are many similarities, I have found one glaring disparity:  football organizations are great planners and flooring owners leave a lot to chance!

In the current landscape of the NFL, when looking at the entire roster, no team is substantially stacked with better players than the other.  Just like in the flooring industry many customers believe that no store is substantially stocked with better products, selections, or service.  That is why game planning is so crucial to winning in both the NFL and in your flooring business.  You have to outwit, outplay, and outsmart your competition to win.  It is much easier to run a company with extraordinary systems and ordinary people than extraordinary people and ordinary systems.  With the right planning and right systems you do not have to rely on luck, economic conditions, or exceptional talent to win in your business.   

I came across a study titled “State of the Business Owner” published in 2012 by EMyth, packed with a ton of great information.  In the study they identified two types of owners:  planners and pessimists.  The data showed that planners ran larger companies, took home more personal compensation, grew faster, and plan to grow faster in the upcoming year. This study also pointed out that companies that had a written description of the desired future state of their business grew 50% faster, were 30% larger, and their owners took home 30% more in compensation.  When those plans called for a person/persons accountable to these plans the companies grew 60% faster.  Lastly, it was stated that business owners that use their balance sheet and income statement to make decisions earned 60% more and were 45% larger. 

Through our studies we found that flooring owners that create annual budgets experienced 60% more in volume and earned over $20,000 more per year on average than those who just wing it.  We also realized that owners that conducted offsite strategic planning sessions, with instrumental members of their team in attendance, had more productive employees, ran larger companies, and were substantially more profitable.   Are you starting to really make the connection yet?  In the NFL teams with a solid game plan tend to win more games, players, coaches, and the owners tend to make more money from endorsements or incentives, and once they taste success they plan even more to keep winning. 

With all of that good data, I was a bit puzzled that only slightly over 50% of flooring owners create budgets and why just under 25% do not read financial statements each month.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; flooring owners tend to believe that if they work as hard as possible all good things will come while the mentality of an NFL owner is to plan as hard as possible and all good things will come!  The true measure of success is not the amount of time you put in, it is the amount of improvement you demand of yourself and your company each year.  The EMyth study referenced that recent studies of human productivity have shown that when it comes to creative and strategic work, taking time to recharge and engage with influences away from work actually boosts overall productivity[i].   The study found that midsize companies were almost always run by owners that took 20 to 30 days off per year.  That means that for many of you who take less than two weeks off per year now have statistical permission to take at least a couple of additional days off to plan for next year.  Can anyone say strategic planning 2014 in Cabo?

So let’s plan out the year just like an NFL owner would plan for the upcoming opponent:  first we have to watch game film on the opposing players to highlight opportunities and weaknesses (SWOT analysis when shopping the competition), then we have to build a play book to exploit those weaknesses (strategic plan), now we have to set goals such as the balance of running vs. passing plays, time of possession, takeaways, and points allowed (budget), hold practice sessions with the players to coach on game strategy (training plans and sales meetings), and get all of players fired up and on the same page to accomplishing the goal of winning the game (all staff meeting to convey strategies and goals for the upcoming year).  Keep in mind that in a football game, if the strategy used in the first two quarters of the game is not as effective as planned, halftime adjustments are made and the game plan is adjusted to more effectively counter the current circumstances. 

In our strategic think tank, that most would call an office, we have a ton of motivational quotes all over our walls to keep our team moving in the right direction.  There is one, strategically placed above my office door, that I hope will provide any motivation you may need to create a strategic plan and budget for 2014.  It reads, “The BEST way to predict the future is to INVENT it!”




[i] Evan Robinson