How to Get Stuff Done and Over the Goal Line

Here’s a small productivity hack on how to help you all get more stuff done and over the goal line

Consider you have a solution to a potential problem in the organization and you want to pitch it to the your co-workers, management or Executive Team. Notice how these two emails below are very similar in content but very different in their messaging.

Example 1 

“I’ve included you all on this email to get your feedback on my potential solution.  If anyone has any comments, concerns, or suggestions please let me know. Once I get all your feedback and approval I will move forward with my solution.”

Example 2

“I’ve included you all on this email to get your feedback on my potential solution. If anyone has any comments, concerns, or suggestions please let me know within the next 24 hours. Otherwise I will be moving forward with the solution.”

In Example 1 you have left this open ended, hamstringing yourself until all feedback is received. You’ve created an impediment and now you’ve lost control of the process – not good.

In Example 2 you’ve given everyone an opportunity to provide feedback but you’ve time-bound it, so you are still in control of moving forward on your timeline. Silence is considered approval. This will promote a strong sense of urgency as well.

It’s s small adjustment but if you deploy strategy #2 you will be able to get things over the goal line quicker.

How Should CEOs Spend Their Time?

In October 2011 I looked back on that first year and the even more difficult weeks and months that followed as I settled in to my new role as the CEO at FCP Euro. At the time we had just surpassed 10 million in revenue but we were struggling with profitability and severely under-capitalized, desperately needing to make major people, technology and infrastructure investments to stay relevant in a quickly changing competitive landscape. The culture was quickly deteriorating and I was spending most of my time tactically executing and firefighting, not seeming to make any meaningful financial or operational improvements.

So I started asking myself- “As CEO, how should I be allocating my time?”

Fast forward 6 years later to present day; FCP Euro has reached 30 million in annual sales, we’ve got a healthy balance sheet, a strong market position, and a thriving company culture. Thanks to a good mentor and some discipline I’ve finally got my orientation correct.

The Role of the CEO

The role of CEO must be one of charting the course for the company while constantly evaluating and weighing its implications across all dimensions (financial, competitive, human, regulatory, etc.). As in all executive roles, there is a balance between today’s exigencies and the commitment to the formulation and pursuit of a long-term strategy. The higher the executive rank, and the greater the depth of teams being led, the less time an executive should spend on short-term challenges and the more time he should spend on medium to long term planning and execution.

A ship being sailed and steered by a commander is always a good analogy: A commander who is strong on the oar might help get the boat to the other side faster, but probably will be off course by 1,000 miles (which could be fatal).

Another analogy is one of fire-fighting: many executives fall prey to the romance of being a great fireman (“No crisis can defeat me! Watch again tomorrow and you’ll see another round of heroic deeds!”) instead of the romance of being a great leader who steers his company around storms and rarely through them. This happens because a well-run organization becomes less thrilling day-to-day, and successful people tend to be adrenalin junkies who need their fix.

All start-up company executives need to make this transition as the company progresses (and starts to hire more staff).  Heroic fire-fighting should start to get reduced and replaced by thoughtful planning and execution that in turn relies on teams of people who are empowered to handle the tactical day-to-day blocking and tackling.

CEO Time Allocation

The time allocation I’ve adjusted my orientation to is roughly as follows (not carved in stone anywhere):

Day-to-day = 15%
Current fiscal year = 35%
Longer term strategy / market position = 50%

A critical, but often overlooked key to effective CEO time management is carving out time to think, as opposed to constantly reacting. During that thinking time, you’re not only thinking strategically but also thinking proactively and longer-term. You’re literally thinking about what is important versus what is urgent – and those aren’t the same. Trying to strike that right balance is key to success in any executive level role.

Most early-stage company CEOs are 60/30/10 (day to day/current year/long term strategy) and with coaching are trying to get to the above 15/35/50.  Having the right executive team is a key part of that, of course, and the same is true for each executive

Bootstrapped and Profitable; The Story of the $25 Million Online Retailer FCP Euro

FCP Euro was established by Harry & Kathy Bauer in 1986 as a small brick and mortar auto parts store in Groton, CT. Transitioned to an online store in 2001 by their son Nick Bauer and longtime friend Scott Drozd, we have grown to become an industry leading eCommerce provider of Genuine and OEM Parts for European cars. Throughout our journey the company’s values have remained the same: selling only the highest quality replacement parts, providing unparalleled customer service, and providing the do it yourself enthusiast with technical support to help fix and maintain their vehicles.

Present day, FCP Euro has grown to nearly $25 million in annual sales still internally funded through the continuous reinvestment of it’s profits. On our website we offer over 350,000 SKU’s across  all European makes, with the sharpest focus on high quality Original Equipment and Genuine replacement parts. We’ve committed ourselves to building a culture of service, quality, and continuous improvement, because we know that if our employees care deeply about our products  and services that it will be reflected in what our customers receive. Located in Milford, CT our 25,000 square foot FCP Euro Distribution Center stocks nearly $1.5 million of inventory and has developed a highly efficient distribution model that has the ability to ship out almost all orders placed within 24 hours.

When you place an order with us you receive something very unique and special: a Lifetime Replacement Promise. Everything sold by FCP is backed by an industry-leading comprehensive, lifetime parts warranty – including wear and tear items like wiper blades or brake pads. We’ve spent over a decade tirelessly cataloging our own products and developing a comprehensive proprietary parts database with precise and accurate fitment data so you also get peace of mind that you’re going to receive the correct replacement part for your car. Additionally, you will receive industry leading customer service with a 365 day return policy and free shipping over $49. Our goal is to keep our customers for life.

It’s our vision to be the most valuable and trusted European online auto parts retailer in the world through our pursuit of quality and service. To do this, we will continue to innovate our customer experience through better utilization of technology and data management. As we continue to expand across other European makes, we are committed to handcrafting and curating each vehicle’s catalog with the same precision that we did over the last 15 years – ensuring only the highest quality replacement parts and the most accurate fitment data.

The growth and success we’ve experienced over the years is because of customers like you, who faithfully support our business. We appreciate your trust, and we’ll do our best to continue to give you the kind of service you deserve. Your continued patronage and suggestions are a vital part of our growth. And for that, we are most grateful.

Watch and enjoy!

5 Reasons Why Your Business Will Fail

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

We all know that making mistakes can be a hugely positive learning experience, so what about business failures? Blogs, books, and podcasts are full recipes on how to succeed but largely silent about how to cope with failure. Why is it taboo to talk about failures in the context of business and leadership? Understanding and learning why business fail can give us greater insight into how to successfully manage and grow our business.

So why do business fail?

Is it a lack of leadership or bad management? Shrinking or declining industry? Cash flow problems? Lack of business acumen or financial skills? Lack of planning?  Over the past 15 years I had the opportunity to lead FCP from inception to over $20 Million in annual sales. We’ve teetered on the brink of insolvency more than a handful of times and I’ve learned a lot along the way.  In my real world experience businesses fail for 5 primary reasons:

1. Bad Numbers

“If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know you’re business” – Marcus Lemonis

Arguably the most important part of any business is the money that comes in and the money that goes out. With bad numbers, or no numbers at all, you’re flying blind – and you’re not in control. Without good numbers you won’t be able to track the performance of the business which will always lead to bad decisions. If you’ve got good numbers and you watch them closely, they’ll tell a story. Understanding that story can be one of the most important factors that determine your long term success.  We’re not talking about the kind of understanding of numbers that an outside hired accounting firm that files your taxes has, but someone inside the business in a financial leadership role that tracks and reports on critical numbers monthly, quarterly, and annually.

2. Bad People (Culture)

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker

The people of your business, their habits, and values collectively make up the culture, good or bad. Without a strong culture your change initiatives will fail, there will be limited interaction and collaboration between employees and departments, and no progress will be made on critical business initiatives. There will be high levels of inconsistency and ambiguity, and there will be a sharp decline in levels of service resulting in a loss of customers, ultimately reducing the value of your brand. If you don’t have the right people or culture in place, your business (and brand) will not succeed.

3. Lack of Focus

“Here is the prime condition of success: Concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, and know the most about it.”— Andrew Carnegie

As businesses grow and become more successful they often tend to diversify away from their core business. Businesses decide to focus growth on the weaker areas of the business, mistaking them for areas of opportunity, and the core business suffers as a result. This results in lack of clarity, over-commitment, and improper allocation of business resources. You need more infrastructures (and costs) to support more product and revenue generating opportunities and you become increasingly complex, making it difficult to adapt to change when you’re less agile. With so many priorities, you and your team’s bandwidth quickly diminishes and you’ll end up doing nothing well.  If you’ve got more than one or two core businesses, your business is likely to fail.

4. No Change Agents at the Top

“It didn’t matter how bleak the situation or how stultifying their mediocrity, they all maintained unwavering faith that they would not just survive, but prevail as a great company. And yet, at the same time, they became relentlessly disciplined at confronting the most brutal facts of their current reality.” – Jim Collins

Every business must have a change agent at the top to endure over the long run. It’s the type of head-on management style that feels comfortable facing harsh reality of the situation, can evaluate a business without bias, have tough conversations, and can deliver those brutal facts that influence and impact the businesses decisions and strategy.  Often small and medium size business owners are conflict adverse, feeling the need to be liked by everyone, or just stubborn to change. Even when the business owners are confronted by employees with the problems I the business and they recognize they employees are right, they refuse to change and continue to make the same mistakes over and over. If you don’t have change agents exposing problems and creating solutions, your business is likely to fail.

5. No Purple Cow (No Clear Differentiators)

“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” – Seth Godin

Finding and creating your market differentiators is crucial for business success.  A “purple cow” is a marketing concept developed by Seth Godin that states that companies must build things worth noticing in their products, and if their product that isn’t in itself unique and somehow remarkable, like a purple cow, is unlikely to sell, no matter how well it’s advertised. With the internet, consumers now have global access and chances are your products and services are offered by someone else somewhere in the world. If you have no differentiator and you can’t answer “Why would a customer choose my business over a competitors”, your business is likely to fail.

In your opinion why do businesses fail?

Effective Management: Developing Your Employees, Building Teams & Growing a Department

Have you been told you’re too friendly to be an effective manager or leader? It’s not your job to be liked. Your job is to be the be the most effective leader and manager you can be for your employees and team.

Measure your effectiveness as a leader and manager on:

  1. How well you understand what your employees highest potential is
  2. How well you help the employee realize what their highest potential is
  3. How much of that you are developing and unlocking

Developing Your Employees

An effective manager provides their employees clear direction, goals, expectations and feedback as well as an overall understanding of where they fit in and what’s next for them.

  • If you asked all of your employees if they know where they currently stand, do they REALLY know where they stand?
  • Would their overall response be “I think I’m doing pretty well?”
  • 85% of employees say that career growth is the key reward at an organization. If we asked your employees what’s next for them and their career, do they have a clear vision and pathway from you?

Actionable item: Create a list all of your employees and next to each one write a sentence or two summarizing where they REALLY stand. Then tell them – directly, with support and candor. Get the dialogue started on their career. Ask them “what’s next” for them.

Building Your Team

An effective manager has a relentless pursuit for uncovering deep-rooted problems within their team, candidly discussing problems and solutions with a key group of people, then implementing and driving a plan to completion.  As much as you would like to think your employees tell you what’s wrong, there only telling you what you want to hear. The essential pieces of feedback are left unsaid and you’ve got to make it your mission to find it.

  • Are you being honest and transparent with yourself and your team about the REAL issues plaguing your department, employees, or team? What are the issues people are talking or thinking about, that they are not willing for comfortable to discuss.
  • Are you discussing the tough issues with your core team weekly and working with them to find solutions?
  • How frequent are your one on ones? Not the “How’s everything going” one on ones, but the “tell me what’s really busted in our department” one on ones.

Actionable Item: Go on a fact finding mission throughout the week. Solicit employees for their feedback and let them know you want to hear ALL the issues so you can start addressing the problems. Meet with your core team on Friday and prep them to come to the meeting with the top departmental issues, top people issues, and top opportunities. Use the Friday meeting as an nondiscriminatory brainstorming session, prioritize the issues order, and then over the weekend develop the directives for the upcoming week based on the feedback session.

Growing Your Department

A well run department has specific work guidelines, consistent communication of goals and progress, clear performance expectations from its members, and strong reinforcement and adherence to those performance expectations.

  • Do your employees have a defined structure with clear boundaries, defined roles, and know their work expectations?
  • Are members clearly and immediately addressed when expectations are not met?
  • How well would your team rate the quality and frequency of your group communication relating to the progress and goals of the department and how it fits into the organization and strategy?

Actionable Item: Create a list of general performance expectations. Print out the job descriptions that each employee received and make sure that they are current; expectations are clear, and the job duties and roles are still relevant. If they aren’t, then you need to rewrite them immediately and re-establish job role and duties with your employee.

Managing High Growth Companies

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity as CEO to experience times of slow growth when we were on the brink of insolvency to periods of high growth where the demand is far greater than the capacity of the workforce. Both are equally as challenging. Here are some characteristics of high growth companies as well as some strategies for managing through the change.

Characteristics and Challenges of High Growth Companies

  • Short term focus versus long term focus – stuck in day to day
  • Substantial increase in volume of work, increased problems and frustration
  • Employees with inadequate skills and business with inadequate systems
  • Internal turmoil – new employees, decision making changes, turnover
  • Talent management – employees aren’t growing or maturing at same rate as company
  • Recruitment – trouble hiring employees who are action oriented and comfortable with change
  • Development of employees –not providing appropriate time for career development and goals
  • Decreased morale and satisfaction with manager and position – employees feeling stretched

Strategies for Managing High Growth

  • Vision and values need to be reinforced by management team
  • “How can we do this better” as a response to “I have too much work”
  • Communication has to be clear and frequent – what, why and how
  • Actively managing versus passively managing
  • Handle employee concerns or complaints serious – as if they were customer complaints
  • Carving out time to focus on long term
  • Improving and simplifying systems – both process and technology
  • HR to play larger role in employee-manager relationship management

Inside FCP’s New Ecommerce Distribution Center

Humble Beginnings

FCP was established in 1986, by Harry and Kathy Bauer, as a brick and mortar store, in Groton, CT. They set out and served the local European and Asian Import auto parts market for years, making first-rate customer relationships and service, blended with top tier quality products, a priority from day one.

FCP's original location. - Groton, CT

FCP’s original location – Groton, CT

In 2001 their son Nick, noticing customers were venturing online for purchases, began selling the stores inventory on Ebay. This was followed shortly after with a new website.

I joined Nick, in 2002.

Together, with only two computers, five employees, a small 2,000 square foot office, and a tractor trailer filled with inventory, we grew the business to $8 Million in annual sales by 2007. We did this by keeping with the same priorities that the original brick and mortar store had, focusing on customer service, relationships with our community, and only the finest products at the most affordable prices.


In 2008, we moved the business to a 20,000 square foot warehouse and 6,000 square foot office in Old Saybrook, CT.  At the same time, we introduced an order and warehouse management system to the business that allowed us to automate and streamline all of the basic eCommerce functions. This included a point of sale for the call center, automated inventory sourcing for purchasing functions, picking and shipping for the warehouse, inventory management for supply chain and fulfillment improvements, as well as a basic CRM (customer relationship management) functionality. We expanded the business to 33 employees and grew it to nearly $15 Million in annual sales by the end of 2013. All of this was done through re-investments of profits and a small credit facility.

At the time we were headquartered in an old-outdated-manufacturing plant, and it was during this period of growth and expansion, it became apparent that we were quickly outgrowing our current facility. The town was a tough fit for where we were headed. It was not conducive for a strong talent pool and the design and infrastructure of the warehouses and offices were not adequate to support growth.  When this was realized, we began looking for our new eCommerce distribution center.

Space & Building Requirements

FCP’s Square Footage Growth Plan

We then consulted with UPS supply chain solutions in order to help develop an Inventory Square Footage Growth Model based on current and future warehouse operations and growth projections. During this process, UPS conducted interviews with key FCP personnel and analyzed three years of sales and SKU data. By examining SKU and order characteristics, such as order size, lines per order, weight and cubic space per order and SKU, they were helpful in estimating the square footage needed. This was based on our existing racking dimensions and future growth projections. They also proposed new warehouse layouts that included optimized pick locations and cube optimization in our new distribution center.

UPS also assisted in developing a warehouse requirements and document that included specific building requirements, such as the interior layout, plumbing, HVAC, fire protection, general lighting, warehouse floor layouts, vehicle dock doors, general yard, interior, and structural frame of our new distribution center.

The Location

We also hired CTRR, a real estate advisory firm that provides strategic transaction and advisory services to better reduce risk and cost, while increasing value in commercial real estate commitments. These recommendations were based on our warehouse requirements document, produced by UPS Supply Chain Solutions.

CTRR was able to provide site selection and inspection services – financial terms, occupancy costs, geographic parameters, security needs, site infrastructure, accessibility – as well as, test-fits, preparation of offers, negotiation of business and operational terms, financial analysis of term sheets, and negotiation of the final term sheet.

When all was said and done, we settled on Milford CT. It was an excellent location within two hours from both New York City and Boston. This prime location also has quick and easy access to I-95 and the Merritt Parkway and opened us up to a larger talent pool with it’s close proximity to New York City.

Office Design & Furniture

Our overall floor plan layout was designed by RTSPC Pinnacle, an architectural design firm that specializes in commercial space build outs.

They refined the original office area layout by addressing potential conflicts within our existing building elements, provided room configuration plans that accommodate desired furniture and furnishings, as well as furniture plans for the offices, open areas, and meeting and pantry spaces. They also provided power, voice, and data receptacle locations in a plan to correspond with the room configurations.


FCP’s brand new reception area

RTSPC consulted on the interior design palette for our floor, wall, ceiling, and lighting finishes. They recommended specifications for office furniture and furnishings, including private offices, open area work stations, meeting and pantry furniture, and window film (glass meeting rooms) versus window blinds. By surveying and evaluating our existing furniture and furnishings for potential relocation, they were able to find cost effective ways for us to reuse instead of throw away. They were also able to provide recommendations on custom designed items, including custom millwork and personal furniture specifications, that differed from job function, level of seniority, and personal preferences.  – View FCP’s Final Design Control Document

We went with RTSPC’s recommendation for furniture, which included Allsteel’s Benching Solutions, to better help inspire creativity and collaboration within teams and promote the feeling of community. For seating, we chose the SitOnIt Sona Chair; an elegant-slim-profiled chair, that is ergonomically friendly. For our guest chairs, we chose SitOnIt’s Focus Side Chair and in the conference room sits Compel’s Mojo chair.

FCP's Call Center

FCP’s brand new call center

Echoes and reverberation were a big problem in the call center at our old facility, so we designed the new facility with noise reduction in mind. Fabricmate’s Sound Dampening Acoustical Baffles were brought in to absorb the reflected sound in our new call center. The baffles were suspended from the overhead structure of the call center by cables. They have already proven to provide fantastic sound absorption, even when all of our representatives are on the phone simultaneously.

Allsteel’s Benching Solution complimented the acoustic baffles with sound dampening dividers. This stopped at head height when sitting down to make sure that the room still felt open and collaborative, while providing just the right amount of privacy. View FCP’s Final Furniture Design Control Document

RTSPC Pinnacle took FCP’s company culture, brand, values, and cultural bottlenecks into consideration throughout the entire design process. This ensured that the final product was aesthetically pleasing while complimenting the brand, as well as functionally designed to cure cultural bottlenecks throughout the organization. Our furniture was provided by The Atlantic Group.

Warehouse Design & SKU Optimization

FCP's new Distribution Center Layout (click for larger image)

FCP’s new Distribution Center Layout (click for larger image)

We went with W&H Systems, a material handling system and warehouse consulting firm, based out of New Jersey, to assist in the layout and design of our new distribution center layout. This was to maximize efficiency and space and avoid any unnecessary re-work in the future. They performed on-site observations, interviews, and time study data gathering, to assess the current flow of material, equipment, space utilization, and processes.

The areas of observation included, receiving of materials, put away, replenishment, pick (freight and small package), pack, ship (freight and small package), and returns. While working with W&H Systems, we developed a layout that improved the receiving and put-away process, optimized the “Just in Time” operation that accelerates our orders, and inventoried the existing racks and shelves, in our Old Saybrook facility for re-purpose.


Best practices were also discussed in depth, specifically relating to inventory management, equipment, space utilization, and processes (receiving, put away, replenishment, pick, pack, ship, and returns). Highly visible magnetic signs lined the aisles for easy designation  of picking zones as well as a “responsive” magnetic labeling system that allows to expand and contract the amount of locations on any particular shelf to maximize cube optimization. All of this resulted in a layout that was optimized for space. It produced significant labor savings, from the transport of inventory to the order picking to shipping.

The Future

FCP’s growth has mirrored my own growth and the growth of the employees that proudly call our new facility their home.  The employees here continue to educate one another, refine our model, and build great, innovative things.  Just in the first two months after our move FCP has already implemented an Online Pickup Center and built an automotive DIY video studio.

This facility is not the pinnacle for us, it is our foundation for scalability and growth. A long time ago we decided that to build an iconic brand and enduring business, significant investments needed to be made into the company, culture, and customers. It’s not the easiest way, but it’s the right way.

How To Build a Profitable Online Business: The Art of Scalability

The path to success for building an online business isn’t about growth – it’s about your ability to scale. While the two terms are often mistakenly interchanged, there’s a huge difference between growth and scalability. Scalability is key to growth and profitability, but growth is not key to scalability and profitability.


When you are “growing” a business, you are adding expenses at the same rate you’re adding revenue. Growing for the sake of growing can be really bad and growing bigger is not always better; it can destroy value by exceeding the capacity of your workforce and operations, it can put a stress on your service levels and financial controls, add more complexity and bureaucracy to your organization, and it can accelerate your business into a different competitive space where it will compete against more efficient competition with bigger balance sheets. Growth stresses people, processes and controls and fundamentally changes the dynamics and culture of the business if it’s not managed appropriately.


Scalability on the other hand, is when you are adding revenue at a faster rate than you are adding resources. By definition, “scalability” is the ability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work in a capable manner or its ability to be enlarged to accommodate that growth. In layman’s terms, highly scalable companies demonstrate the ability increase capacity without a huge increase in overhead and have minimal impediments to growth. When you’ve developed a business that can add revenue without having to add resources, infrastructure, or expenses to support that growth  – you’ve unlocked the key to profitability and sustainable online business.

So, what are the keys to scaling an online business? High customer lifetime value and loyalty, low acquisition costs, and high operational efficiency.

Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value is a predictor of profitability of during the relationship with a customer. Improving your customer lifetime value improves your profitability and return on marketing investment. In other words, you can afford to spend more on marketing since there is a high likelihood those customers come back repeatedly, covering your acquisition costs. Improving customer lifetime value is often done through loyalty programs and customer service initiatives.

Low Customer Acquisition Costs

Customer acquisition costs are the costs of a business to acquire a new customer that includes marketing expenses, discounts, or incentives. When you develop and innovate your marketing strategies to improve your customer acquisition while reducing the costs to acquire those customers, you have built a scalable acquisition model. Business models fail when comes when the cost to acquire customers exceeds the lifetime value, or the ability to monetize those customers over their average lifespan.

High Operational Efficiency

Improving operational efficiency hash a positive impact on company culture, improves profitability, provides you a more stable cash flow, and allows you to exponentially increase revenue while incrementally adding resources. Process improvements, business process outsourcing, and increased training and development of employees are just a few of the many strategies used to improve operational efficiency.

While both scalable and non-scalable businesses can be successful and grow — only scalable businesses can achieve sustained periods of strong profitability and high-growth characteristics that are attractive to investors and strategic buyers.

Annual Letter to Employees from the President & CEO

As the CEO it’s my job to set the tone of the organization for the upcoming year. For us in 2014 we want to make sure we stay true to our vision and values as well as keep focus on the core business, something that we didn’t do in the past. As a manager or leader of your department or organization, you must set the tone for your team. Nowhere in a business is influence more valuable than where tone is set from the top

Here’s a copy of our annual letter from the President & CEO that we sent out to our 33 employees:


Nick and I would like to thank you for all of your hard work and outstanding contributions this year. We know how much time and energy this company demands and we deeply appreciate all of your efforts to make it a fantastic success.  Our loyal customers can always count on you, your team can always count on you, and we can always count on you to go that extra mile.  We have to thank you again for all you do for FCP.

2013 was a transformational year for us. We have enjoyed double-digit revenue growth bringing us to nearly $15 million in annual sales, we returned to profitability; and, most importantly, we re-established our values and made significant improvements to the organization developing a solid culture of service, support, and recognition. 

As we grow and become more successful, it tends to attract bigger and better opportunities. As we succeed, a key challenge becomes prioritizing those opportunities, and what we’ve learned from experience is that trying to do too much results in a lack of clarity, over-commitment; and we wind up disappointing people, exhausting ourselves, or simply failing.

To prevent this complexity we have made a commitment to only pursue opportunities that help strengthen our core business, the core that has produced over a decade of remarkable revenue growth, the same one that has helped us through 2013 stronger than ever.

Now, we have a simple goal for 2014: Stay focused, follow our vision, aim for simplicity, and continue building our great team. We have committed ourselves to never lose sight of what we are trying to achieve. We will continue to focus our energy and attention on our vision:  to set the standard for quality and service in the automotive industry. 

FCP is entering a new era, in a new facility, with great talent, and a great plan.

Let’s welcome 2014 as our new home, we’ve all earned it.

Happy New Year,

Nick & Scott

What did you do to set the tone for your department or organization for 2014?

Constructive Criticism: 3 Simple Ways to Give Effective Negative Feedback

Let’s skip the “praise sandwich” and learn how to give candid constructive feedback.

In my previous article, The Power of Positive Reinforcement, I emphasized the importance of recognizing and reinforcing positive behaviors. There comes a time though when delivering negative feedback is inevitable. Most managers in my experience find it very difficult to give negative performance feedback, but if you show that you are motivated by the desire to help and not to punish, it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant task.  Here are three ways that I preface constructive criticism or negative feedback to encourage my employees and keep them motivated:

Let them know that they are valuable enough to invest time and resources into them:

 “I appreciate all you’ve done for us. The company is very supportive of your efforts and committed to putting resources behind your growth and development. There are a few areas where I think we can make some improvements to make an even bigger impact on the organization. “

Let them know that you are supportive of their development and success:

“You’ve shown a lot of commitment to this organization and drive to improve yourself. I know you have ambitions and want to improve so please realize that as your manager, I’ve got to be hard on you. “

Let them know that they contribute to the success of the organization:

“You’ve really made a difference here. I’m glad you joined the team and I’m happy to see the progress you’ve made.  If you put in more time in these areas I know you can add even more value to the organization. “

Remember, the goal of any feedback, positive or negative, is to improve the behavior of the other person to bring out the best in your entire company. Learning how to deliver negative feedback will produce positive results and strengthen the relationships with your employees.

So, how do you give negative feedback? I would love to hear your thoughts!