Expect the Unexpected: Prepare Now for Whatever 2021 Will Bring

By Paul Bieber

We can all see a better year coming. Vaccines could be available by the time this article is published, and our new government leadership should be ready. But what about you? Can you turn the page on 2020—the year of elections, the virus and the short baseball season—and be ready for 2021? Here are some New Year’s thoughts you might consider.

It Starts With You

Put a smile on your face and that will transfer to your team at work. It’s your attitude that drives your company. If you’re grouchy and angry, expect that your team will be as well.

Get to know your employees better. Have breakfast or lunch with each person during January. This is not a formal review; just an hour of enjoying learning about each other. Have your goals for 2021 ready for discussion and how each person fits in. If you have a large company it’s okay for the person’s manager to do this after you’ve met with your leaders.

Meet with your key vendors. Treat them as part of your team and discuss pricing for the year, what they need to do to earn more of your business and how their customer service is really more important than the prices they offer.

Until we are all vaccinated, wear your face mask without hesitation. Set the rules for your company and keep your people safe. No mask? Don’t come in the door. Tell your customers they must wear masks for your team to work at their location. Now, more than ever, enforce a 100% mask environment. Lead by example, and wear your mask unless you’re alone in your office.

Your company will be different this year. Explain to your team what happens if they are quarantined. Will you pay regular salary or is it accrued sick or vacation time? Many companies find that working from home has advantages over being in the office. Are you planning to begin or continue on this route? Are you looking for new products to sell? Find out what customers ask for when they call and that will help you plan for new products. Look at new markets such as security glazing or home security.

Prepare your employee benefits for 2021. Most insurance companies have rewritten benefits. Understand them so you can teach your team. Give out a pamphlet to your team listing all of their benefits and their share of the expense. When you look at giving raises, your employees should come out ahead after paying their share of the benefits cost.

Time For Change

It may be time to grow your company. Fortunately, for our community, glass shops and fabricators are busy. Look around for underserved communities and think about opening a branch. Look at companies for sale and see if they fit your company’s style. Is it time to let a family member manage their own business? Do you have a key employee who might leave to run his or her own business? Giving this key employee their own shop to manage will keep him or her in your company.

2021 will be a tumultuous year. You will need to have a couple of scenarios for your business: growing, holding your own or shrinking. I see our industry growing, especially in the residential marketplaces, and shrinking in the commercial areas.

Right now, I am holding a mug of tea to toast all of our readers, wishing you a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.