Looking back, 2016 was an incredible year for myself and the company. From personal accomplisments to company wins, I'm proud of what the Communications for Research team has been able to achieve. As we look ahead to 2017, I wanted to share a glimpse at where CFR has been, where we are now and where we are going:
Something to Learn About Me
Since becoming the owner of Communications for Research five years ago, I continuously strategize and develop goals that form a vision of what the future will hold. In fact, I keep an ever-evolving document that contains weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual, and lifetime goals. When updating this document each week, I review significant portions of the past, present and future to understand the status of each goal. Every year in December I take the time to reflect and develop extremely well thought out goals and plans for achieving them in the coming year.
Typing out feedback to myself, developing my thoughts on specific topics, and committing all this time to goal setting can feel like a distraction. However, when I am diligent in reading what I have written and going through the goal-setting process, it always becomes apparent how big of an impact all of this planning has on the focus I bring to everything I do and the things that I accomplish.
For those that have read books on personal enrichment and business success, the concept of goal setting and visualizing what you want and how you will go about achieving it is not new. Everyone’s dreams and goals for the future are a major driver of their actions. My dedication to self reflection, goal setting, strategic thinking, and continuous improvement drive me every day.
With that being said, my annual strategic planning process starts with reviewing everything I have written in the past year. This often starts with going back even further to help reflect deeply on what led me to be in certain situations and how things are tied together. I then step through each of the 10 personal and 8 business functional areas as I have it categorized to think through what I know I want to happen within the next year. At this point, I come up with a theme in my mind for what I want to be focused on for the next year. Then I begin laying out specific goals, timelines, and thinking through what it will take to make what I want to have happen, actually happen.
I challenge myself to recognize interdependencies, learn from where I failed in the past, and understand the resources and effort that will go into each individual goal as well as achieving the collective whole. All that goal setting talk may make it sound like I have it all figured out, but that is far from the truth. I continually have to re-assess why I under achieve in certain areas and what sacrifices may be necessary to continue to do better.
The underlying theme that I wrote and reflected on in development of my 2016 strategic plan for myself and the company was “Get Better”. As I'm sure you know, getting better does not happen all at once. The cumulative effect of diligent work towards improving at least one thing at a time and making progress is that, over time, you really do improve. Without further ado, here is a list of personal and business accomplishments from 2016:
I bought Communications for Research on May 2, 2016. I met my goal of becoming the primary owner within five years of joining the company. I poured over the numbers a thousand times, sought counsel from the right law and tax professionals, and navigated countless conversations with my father (who we bought the business from), my new business partner Curtis Burrow, and my family to make it happen.
Every year since turning 23 I have gained weight. In addition, my fitness level was negatively effecting my levels of focus and ability to stay engaged. Those trends had to end in 2016. In 2016 I lost 5 pounds through implementing some impactful changes to my regular diet and exercise schedule.
My relationship with my wife and kids is stronger than ever. With two kids under three years old and what seemed like a couple of very stressful years behind us, 2016 felt a whole lot better. We acted with purpose in creating alone time and one on one time between each of us regularly. In a year where I worked more hours than I ever have in the past, we successfully made sure to have regular experiences as a family that brought us together.
New hire call center representative training and front-line supervisor training was completely overhauled. Doing this correctly meant literally re-writing every policy, changing pay scales, and approaching training in an entirely new way. In the end, doing all of this hard work was worth it.
Q4 call center turnover is the lowest it has been since we began measuring it consistently in 2013.
We had 20 people reach a year of tenure with us within the last 3 months which is a drastic increase in longevity for a large portion of staff.
We set defined resource allocation metrics and implemented them.
Regular reporting and discussions on efficient decision making is drastically reducing non-billable time that was not adding value
We refined our dashboard productivity reporting.
Internal transparency on performance across a dozen key metrics that pulls in data from multiple sources is a game changer.
Looking Ahead to 2017
These operational accomplishments listed above combined with new business development achieving the goals set for number of new customers, revenue from them, and new customer onboarding processes that assist with earning repeat business made for a great year in 2016.
What is the theme for 2017? Balance.