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Outsourcing As-Built Plans

Outsourcing As-Built Plans

For many years, it has been common practice in the architectural community to outsource related professional services such as structural calculations, interior design, and model development to companies.  But for one reason or the other, As-Built drawings have not reached the same level of ubiquity as a stand-alone service. In simple terms, an As-Built Drawing is a plan that depicts the condition of a property.

An As-Built plan should accurately reflect the way the building was originally built, plus any changes that may have occurred on the property to date.  But an As-Built drawing is NOT a design drawing – it will not reflect any planned changes or remodels to the building.  That is why you say the drawing is “As-Built”.

Who Needs As-Built Plans?

Asbuilt drawings are an essential starting point for ANY remodel project on a residential or commercial property.  In order to create a new design and construction drawings, you must first know the exact layout and conditions of the structure you are working with.  Therefore, As-Built plans are most commonly used in the following industries

– Architecture:  It all starts with the architect, at the earliest phases of the design process.  Architects are the single biggest users of As-Built drawings.  Also related to architecture would be interior designers, contractors, and other property consultants that use the plans for the same purpose.

– Real Estate: As-Built drawings enhance marketing plans by providing prospective customers with a realistic view of a property which makes the use of such drawings quite important to real-estate agents and homeowners marketing properties.  The plans can also be used to confirm Square Footage, do space planning, and more.

– Facilities Management:  For very large buildings or for companies with extensive real-estate assets, As-Built plans are a critical tool for the continual assessment and management of their physical portfolio.

Objections Towards Outsourcing As-Built Survey

In some local geographic markets such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is quite common amongst the architecture community to outsource their As-Built surveying to a specialized independent firm.  These architects have realized the benefits that come from working with a professional measuring company that can create an As-Built plan more accurately and quickly than they could do themselves.  However in other markets such as Seattle, there is a much greater resistance towards the outsourcing of As-Built services.  Objections include:

– Relinquishing Control: Many architects find it difficult to relinquish control of any part of their design process due to fear that the service provider could negatively affect the project.

– Loss of Billable Hours: Some architects rely on the fees they charge for building measurement and don’t want to absorb a rise in project costs – even though the As-Builts are usually billed at a much lower rate than the high-end design services.

– Quality concerns: Many architects fear that outsourcing could lead to an inaccurate or incomplete As-Built product – despite the fact that the professional measuring firms typically have better tools, technology, and experience.

The Benefits of Outsourcing As-Builts

When properly done with an experienced and reputable firm, there are numerous benefits that come from working with a professional As-Built company:

– Increased Efficiency:  By starting each project with a consistent set of As-Builts, you can streamline your entire design process.  You and your staff can focus your time and effort on what you do best, with the confidence that comes from knowing you are working with accurate As-Built drawings.

– Better Results:  With the tools, technology and experience that come from focusing solely on As-Built measuring, you will receive a more accurate and detailed set of drawings than you would be able to create yourself or by using your own staff.

– Flexibility:  Your project should NEVER be delayed because you are too busy to get out to the property and take measurements.  When you outsource your As-Builts, you are paying for the service only when you need it, and not maintaining costly equipment and staff when you don’t.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your As-Built strategy or a particular project with an expert at PPM, pleaseContact Us. Thank you for reading!

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Laser Scanning to Revit: As-Built Case Study

Laser Scanning to Revit: As-Built Case Study

After 15 years in business, and over 13,000 As-Built surveys created, PPM finally took the plunge in February of this year and purchased our first laser scanner.  Starting with the “good old days” of tape measure, paper, and pencil, we have tested and implemented several different technological advancements in As-Built surveying over the years:  First it was the laser distance meter, which for about $500 literally changed the game for us (“You mean I don’t have to pull this tape 120 feet to get that measurement?”).  Then we started using the “COW” (Computer-On-Wheels) method where you skip the paper and instead bring your laptop with you on a rolling cart and create the As-Builts right there onsite.  After that, there were several iterations of more advanced surveying systems based on tablet computers with Bluetooth connectivity to the laser meter – enabling a skilled user to draw linework and insert objects directly from the measurements taken.  Each one of these and other innovations have enabled PPM to continue to provide the maximum value in the As-Built industry.  Laser Scanning will enable us to take our service to a whole level.

After 8 months of research and testing various laser scanners, we decided to go with the Zeb Revo mobile laser scanner from GeoSLAM.  The Zeb Revo takes 43,200 measurements per second, and generates a 3D point cloud that can be used in AutoCAD or REVIT to create traditional 2D As-Built drawings or 3D BIM models.  The device is extremely accurate (1/2” tolerance even in large spaces) and since it is mobile it is incredibly efficient – you hold it in front of you as you walk through the space capturing the 3D data.

One of the 1st projects we scanned with our new toy was a 5,000 SF industrial building in Huntington Beach.  There was a new tenant moving into the space, and our client was the architect in charge of the tenant improvements.  He wanted a REVIT model of the existing conditions of the building, so we decided the laser scanner was the perfect tool for the job.

It took about 2 hours to scan the entire building:  Interior, Exterior, and Roof.  In addition to the scan, we always take some traditional measurements as a double-check to make sure the scan is accurate, and also to capture any data that the scanner might have missed due to obstructions in the way.  When the scan was completed, we had a point cloud model that looked like this:

Building exterior including roof detail and parking lot (yeah it gets everything)

A portion of the interior scan

 

Next came the much more time-consuming part – turning this point cloud into a REVIT model.  Our REVIT skills are rapidly improving but still not nearly where they could be, so it took us about 40 hours to model the building to the level of detail needed by our client.  Here’s a couple of those same perspectives in the finished REVIT model:

The learning curve was steep on this project, but our team came together to ensure the As-Built project was completed accurately, on-time, and with all of the details that our client needed.

We still have a lot to learn and improve when it comes to laser scanning and BIM modeling, but we are committed to making it happen.  In the last couple months we have been training all of our employee surveyors how to use the Zeb Revo for As-Built surveying, and we are now using the laser scanner for about 4-5 projects per week.

If you want to learn more about how PPM using the laser scanner for As-Built surveys, have any questions, or would like to discuss a potential project, please give us a call at 855-AS-BUILT, or use this link below to shoot us an email.  Thanks!

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An ICONic Small Business Road Trip

Infusionsoft – A Better Way To Take Care Of Our Customers

We recently completed a major milestone at PPM, something that has alluded us for 15 years since our founding.  No, I’m not talking about a revenue goal, or a signature project, or a critical new hire… those things are all great indeed but only this particular milestone could be described as “Epic”.  On April 24-27, PPM had our first ever ROAD TRIP!!!

For the last 3 years I have been attending ICON, a small business conference in Phoenix that is put on by a company called Infusionsoft.  Infusionsoft makes an excellent small business CRM software that PPM has been using for about 4 years now – but in addition to that they also run various programs to share their considerable knowledge in the area of small business culture, organizational structure, growth strategies, and more.  I have made some great connections and learned so much at ICON every time I go, and I have always returned with some big new ideas to implement at PPM – most notably the importance of establishing and committing to a set of Core Values in your business, a practice we undertook in 2015 after I heard an excellent talk from a former Human Resources boss at Southwest Airlines.  Talk about a good source to be hearing about the importance of culture and values!

But prior to this year I had always attended ICON alone, leaving my coworkers back in Long Beach while I made my annual pilgrimage to the desert.  This year, I took advantage of some ticket deals and decided to give more PPM’ers a chance to experience this event which I have benefitted so much from.  I purchased 5 tickets, and I immediately set my mind to this question:  What’s the most fun way to travel 400 miles with a group of 5 people that you enjoy being with?  From somewhere deep inside, I heard the 20 year-old me answer loud and clear… Road Trip! (not gonna lie – the cost saving might have played a minor part as well).  To choose the team that would accompany me, I asked everyone that was interested to submit an application where they would say why they want to go, which sessions they were interested in and why, etc…  We ended up with an A+ team:  Cesar Luna, Alyson Buyuklian, Taylor Ferry, and Ai Mong De Leon.

I rented a minivan (oddly, Hertz didn’t have any Volkswagen buses) and we left Long Beach at 6PM on Monday.  The music was playing and the bass was pumping as we hit the I-10 freeway with Chipotle burritos in hand.  The only other stop we made was a bathroom and provisions break at the Circle K in Blythe.  Did you know that there is a Tapatio flavored Doritos now?  I learned that in Blythe, and they are delicious.  After 6 hours on the road, we pulled up to our rented house in Phoenix just after midnight, with the gas tank reading way past the slash after the “E”.  Living dangerously…

ICON Road Trippers, riding dirty in the minivan

The 3 days of the ICON conference were awesome.  We all spread out to attend the topics we were most interested in hearing, and then met up a few times a day for lunch and the keynote speeches.  We got to hear from some amazing people including Jillian Michaels, Marcus Lemonis, and Clate Mask the CEO of Infusionsoft.  I could see the whole team getting inspired and motivated to bring back some new ideas to implement in PPM and in their own lives.  We also took the opportunity to meet with a few new clients in the Phoenix area including Circle K and American Installations.

The Main Stage at ICON 2017

But more importantly, it gave all 5 of us a chance to spend some time together.  In addition to all that quality time in the minivan, we went to a Diamondbacks baseball game, a nice dinner, and just hung out at the house in the evenings playing Apples to Apples and watching 1970s game shows on TV (our favorite – old school Family Feud where the host Richard Dawson kisses all the ladies).  It was a special treat for me to get to hang out with these great people that I see almost every day at work.  We are a closer team because of it.

Cheering for something at the D-Backs game

We drove home on Thursday afternoon after 3 long days and nights.  The ride back wasn’t quite as lively, as there was a significant amount of snoozing, but fortunately Sirius XM has a 90’s station so that kept the mood upbeat (except of course when “Everybody Hurts” by REM came on.  I had to pull over and get something out of my eye).

ICON 2018 – HERE WE COME!!!

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Springtime: Sunlight, Flowers, Baseball, and As-Built Survey Programs

Retail Renovation Season

A week ago today, March 20th, was the 1st day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.  Here in Long Beach where I live, we don’t pay much attention to that because all of the seasons are pretty much the same.  But in most of the U.S., I have to assume that the start of spring is a big deal – heck, some people are so anxious for winter to end that they are even willing to give credence to the idea of a clairvoyant groundhog.  While we may not notice the change in weather here in sunny Southern California, at Precision Property Measurements we definitely DO notice the start of the retail renovation season.

The first sign of this change is the proliferation of trade shows focused on retail design, construction, and real estate this time of year.  Starting on Tuesday of this week, the Globalshop conference kicks off Las Vegas.  So the Oakland Raiders aren’t the only ones coming to Vegas – Tawny Correa and Luke Martindale of PPM will be there too for this retail industry event which combines design, merchandising, fixture manufacturing & installation, and a wide variety of shopper-facing technology & marketing.   Other trade shows either just passed or coming up soon this time of year for the retail design & construction industry include the SPECS conference (mid-March), AIA Convention (late April), and ICSC RECon (mid/late May).

Globalshop Conference – Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

These industry events take place during the Spring in order to fit the renovation cycle of the industry.  Based on what we have noticed here at PPM with our As-Built store surveying programs, and from conversations we have had with our clients, it seems like the general timeline for retail store remodels is something like this:

  1.  September – December:     Planning & Budgeting
  2.  January – March:     RFPs to line up vendors
  3.  March – July:     As-Built surveys (from PPM, of course!)
  4.  April – August:     Design and final pre-construction prep
  5.  July – October:     Construction

Which brings me to the 2nd sign that Spring has arrived:  over the last 6 weeks we have seen a big increase in the number of inquiries and RFPs we are getting to provide As-Built surveying for these programs, with many of them talking about launching in the next month.  These clients need accurate floor plan drawings of their locations so that their design team can spec out the proposed changed to the store, and the installers can then get in and out as fast as possible with minimal downtime for the store.  We are actively working with atleast a half dozen retail brands on the scope, scheduling, and pricing of their upcoming As-Built survey programs.

As much as we pride ourselves in being able to respond quickly and professionally to these inquiries, we constantly find ourselves wishing that we could have started talking to the client several months earlier.  A large nationwide As-Built survey program, potentially involving as many as 50+ store locations per week, requires a lot of planning to get right (and at the right price).  So the sooner that we can get involved in the process, the better outcome we can deliver for our clients.

Are you planning a “rebranding” or remodel program for your stores?  We would love to talk to you about how PPM can help you streamline the process from beginning to end.  Contact us to schedule an appointment with an As-Built surveying specialist.  But first go outside and enjoy the warm weather first.

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LA Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance got you feeling some “March Madness”?

What Is A Soft-Story Retrofit?

LA Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance

Yesterday was the start of the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, known as “March Madness” to most basketball fans and casual observers alike.  Sadly, my team, the California Golden Bears, didn’t make it to “The Dance” this year.  Although on the other hand, at least that means I probably have a better chance of winning the office bracket pool, because I didn’t have to (foolishly) choose them to win the whole thing. Gonzaga is my choice, in case you are wondering…

Here at Precision Property Measurements, our As-Built surveying company in Long Beach, we have started to get some inquiries from local apartment building owners asking about the recently passed “Soft-Story” Retrofit Ordinance in Los Angeles.  Understandably, a lot of folks are confused about the law, and unsure of what they need to do to comply.  I guess you could say these apartment owners are feeling their own version of March Madness as they grapple with the implications of complying with this mandatory new ordinance.

The Los Angeles Soft Story Retrofit program (Ordinance 183893 and 184081) is intended to reduce possible structural deficiencies in existing multi-story apartment buildings.  These deficiencies could possibly result in major damage and injuries during or after an earthquake in Southern California.  The ordinance follows an almost identical program passed by the city of San Francisco a few years ago.  To qualify under the mandate, a building would need to meet the following criteria:

  • Consist of 2 or more stories of wood frame construction
  • Be built under building code standards enacted before January 1st, 1978
  • Contain ground floor parking or other similar open floor space.

It is estimated that approximately 13,500 buildings in Los Angeles meet these criteria, and will likely need seismic strengthening under the Soft Story Ordinance.  Starting in May of 2016, the city began sending Orders to Comply to the owners of these affected buildings.  Based on the date that the Order to Company is received, the building owner must comply with the ordinance within the following time limits:

  • Within 2 years:  Submit proof or a previous retrofit, or plans to retrofit or demolish
  • Within 3.5 years:  Obtain permit to start construction or demolition
  • Within 7 years:  Complete construction

So for many apartment building owners, the clock is already ticking to comply with the Soft-Story Retrofit Ordinance.

If you are a building owner of one or more of the targeted buildings, PPM can help.  Through our Bay Area office, we have already been a trusted As-Built partner on over 100 Soft-Story Retrofit projects in San Francisco, so we are familiar with the process.  We measure existing buildings and create “As-Built” drawings, which depict the existing conditions.  As-Built plans are a required part of the permitting and inspection process.  We also partner with several highly qualified Structural Engineering firms throughout Southern California, who can take a lead role in guiding you through the entire process including compliance, permitting, construction, etc…

Please CONTACT US if you want to learn more about how we can help.  Now back to basketball!

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As-Built Happenings – New Initiatives and New Busta!

New Hire At PPM

>I’m sure I’m not the only one who is struggling to comprehend the fact that it’s already March.  I’ve tried to deny it but there it is, that little “3” in the front of the date field, staring at me in the bottom righthand corner of my screen.  2017 is whirring by so fast that I forgot to blog the last 5 weeks!  I’m not a big science-fiction guy, but in this case I think it is definitely possible, if not probable, that I stumbled into some kind of a time-travelling wormhole in mid-January and just came out in early March.

Whether I remember how it happened or not, some exciting new things are going down at PPM that I wanted to share.  In conjunction with 2 or our Goals for this year – As-Built Survey Technology Leadership, and Customer Communication  (see:  PPM’s 2017 Resolutions) – we have hired an amazing new staffer (or “Bustas” as we call them at PPM – after our Core Value “We Bust”) to help spearhead these efforts:

Greg Davies (Director of Survey Technology)

Greg became our 20th employee on the first day of 2017.  We first worked with Greg way back in 2014 as an As-Built surveyor, and then as a project management consultant, most notably managing our 500 store Ferguson As-Built survey program in 2015.  We hit it off so well we decided to make it official, hiring Greg on the first business day of 2017.

In Greg’s new position he is leading our expansion into As-Built 3D scanning and BIM modeling.  We just purchased our first laser scanner and we are already using it on live As-Built projects.  Greg is developing our processes and infrastructure so that we can start offering 3D point clouds and REVIT models to any client that needs a BIM deliverable.

A little bit about Greg:

  • Was born and raised in Chicago, home of the best team in baseball – the White Sox.
  • Has ~15 years of experience providing As-Built surveys as well as developing technology solutions in the real estate industry.
  • Loves living and working in Long Beach. Extended his list of favorite outdoor activities of running and cycling to include skateboarding and snowboarding.
  • Running both the LA Marathon and Chicago Marathon this year.

“After getting to know the PPM team over the last couple of years, I was really excited to start up full time and become an official member of the family. The team here is committed to providing both the highest level of quality as well as having a good time while doing it. This is the kind of family you want to be a part of.”

 

I am thrilled to have new talented and energetic Bustas joining our team – I feel like we hit a homerun with this hire (sorry but the other thing that happens in March is the start of baseball season!)  If you want to talk As-Built survey tech with Greg, give us a call.

Now back to work before April sneaks up on me when I’m not looking…

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10+ Years of As-Built Surveying Project Statistics

PPM As-Built Surveying Financial Forecast for 2017

Precision Property Measurements has been creating As-Built drawings for our architecture, design and construction clients for almost 15 years.  In that time we have surveyed over 14,000 buildings (and portions of buildings), and we have created proposals for another 5,000+ that we didn’t end up measuring.  For the last 10 of those years, we’ve kept all of those project records in a software platform that enables us to quickly and easily find and analyze data from all these projects.

As an unapologetic math nerd, it is one of my great joys to sift through all this data on a spreadsheet and look for trends.  With another year coming to a close, last week I downloaded all of our project information, threw it into an Excel spreadsheet, and did just that.   As an independent company that works with hundreds of AEC professionals on potential renovation projects, we are in a unique position to see what is going on across the building industry, particularly in our primary Southern California and Bay Area markets.  Plus, since the As-Built survey is just about the 1st thing that happens on a project, it provides a potential window into the activity that will be happening months or even years down the line in construction projects.

For the last several years we have averaged approximately 100-130 proposals created per month for As-Built surveying projects.  They are split pretty evenly between Residential and Commercial projects.  Here’s a few things I noticed from this most recent data mining:

  1. Q2 (April – June) consistently has the most new proposals coming in.  Q4 (October – December) is the slowest period by a good 20-30%.
  2. Residential As-Built projects grow steadily for the 1st half of the year, but then drop off as summer starts.
  3. Commercial peak in January, stay strong through about mid-summer, and then start to decline through the rest of the year.
  4. In general, the 2nd half of 2016 showed some signs of weakness for new remodel projects.  I’m not sure if this may have anything do with election jitters, rising interest rates, or maybe just a cyclical slowdown after 5-6 years of strong grown coming out of the Recession.
  5. So far in the first few weeks of 2017, however, we are seeing a strong bounce back, with proposal volume up about 30-40% over where it was in December.

2016 Stats.  # of Proposals (bar) shrinking, but average size (line) increasing

Looking at this data, I am cautiously optimistic for the industry in 2017.  While we did notice some possible headwinds in late 2016, this year has started off well, and we are entering what is traditionally the best part of the year for new As-Built project starts.  Like for most industries, the general strength of the U.S. economy will be the biggest factor, and I don’t see anything even close to the volume cratering we saw just prior to the 2008/2009 Recession.

To maintain our competitive edge at PPM and continue to offer the best value to our clients with our As-Built services, we are planning to focus on these 3 areas:

  1. Faster Turn-Around time:  Currently we average about 25 days, our goal is to get that down under 20
  2. Better Product Offerings:  We will be adding some 3D As-Built deliverables this year
  3. More communication:  We plan to reach out to our customers (current and future) more often to make sure we understand their needs.

Thanks for reading!

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New Year’s Resolutions for an As-Built Surveying Company

Resolutions For An As Built Surveying Company

Confession:  I’ve never been a big “New Year’s Resolution” type of person.  Don’t get me wrong I LOVE setting goals.  It’s just that I don’t like to time them around any particular event (such as the start of a new year).  If you want to make a positive change in your life – why wait for January 1st to get started?

That being said, as a small business owner, there is a natural cadence to business activities which lends itself nicely to using this time of year for making some new commitments.  If you read my previous blog on Setting Small Business Goals, I walked through the process on how we do this at PPM, our As-Built surveying company.  After 6 weeks of work on this we have now completed that process.  So I guess you could say these are PPM’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2017:

  1. Do a Better Job Articulating Our Vision for the Company.  The more we have grown, the more important I have realized it is to have a crystal clear, well communicated vision.  People need to know exactly what they are working to create.  You have to paint a picture for your staff what the destination is for your company, and what strategies you will use to get there.  You have to do this constantly and consistently.  I believe this is the #1 job of a CEO.  I think PPM has been slightly better than average at this for the last few years, but we need to crank it up several notches if we are going to grow into the true market leader we plan to become.
  2. Be More Clear about the Purpose and Responsibilities of all Positions.  See a pattern yet?  This goal is related to #1 because they both have to do with providing clarity and aligning everyone in the company together.  As we have grown from 7 employees to 20 in the last few years, creating brand new positions along the way, it has become harder to see the link between each position and the Company’s goals. Or between the performance and the compensation of the position.  So we are going to overhaul the way we track, value, and develop each position to provide much more clarity to our staff – freeing them up to be amazing at what they do!
  3. Connect More (and Better) with our Customers and Vendors.  This has been another difficult thing to keep up with as we have grown.  We have always stayed 100% committed to providing outstanding service on all of our live As-Built survey projects, but often this has come at the expense of maintaining good communication with those other clients and vendors that we aren’t currently working with.  We want to do better at this and stay in touch more.  We plan to develop some new systems which can help, but more importantly just devote more time and energy into this effort.
  4. Become Leaders in As-Built Surveying Technology.  Over the last couple years we have devoted most of our R&D time and money into internal systems and software.  As a result we are really good at Project Management, data analysis, and other internal processes.  But we have not made a major investment into our field surveying technology.  We are doing that in 2017.  We will become leaders in the field of 3D laser scanning, modeling, and other next-generation As-Built surveying technology.
  5. Have Fun!  This one is on there every year (and in just about every list I have ever created – even shopping lists).  Growing a small business is a lot of hard work, especially when you have BIG goals like PPM.  It’s easy to feel like you are always behind and just can’t seem to catch up.  But it is also a tremendous ride, and I am grateful every single day that I get to be a part of it with a bunch of great people.  I want to hear genuine laughter from everyone at PPM, everyday.  And I’m willing to make a fool out of myself to do it if necessary!

 

Got any resolutions (business or personal) you want to share?  Please post them in the comments!

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It’s mid-December – Do you know your Small Business Goals for 2017?

Our Small Business Goals

About a month ago I wrote about the Importance of Winning by setting, tracking, and celebrating accomplishments in your small business.  Then earlier this month, my article dealt with a very important (and hopefully fun!) seasonal obligation for small business owners – a Holiday To-Do List.  At PPM, our nationwide As-Built surveying company, we just had our Christmas party last Friday, and all Christmas cards and client gifts will be going out this week.  So with that part of December taken care of, we are shifting back into planning mode for the rest of this month, and setting some goals for 2017.

We started this annual process in 2008, our 6th year as a business.  Prior to that, we just kept working right through the new year, without giving any thought to what improvements we should make as a company, what opportunities we might be missing, or what specific goals or plans we have going forward.  I just figured that as long as we did a good job on our As-Built projects and kept our clients happy, the business would just keep on growing forever.

I was wrong. Very wrong. The recession hit us hard in 2008. I was caught totally off guard, and had no plans in place to right the ship, or even any clue how to.  hat it really did was expose our weaknesses as a business. Had there been no recession, we would have run into the same problems eventually – probably soon. In hindsight I think the recession was a blessing for PPM, as it forced us to take a hard look at ourselves and admit that the way we were operating the business was not a sustainable model for growth.

We got help. We signed up for small business consulting from a company called The E-Myth. Our coach worked with us as a team, and me as the Leader, to put systems in place to finally help us define what we wanted to be as a Company, and what steps it would take to get there.  Our Annual Strategy Planning process was born. We have refined it almost every year since, but there is no denying the results: PPM’s revenues are now over 10 times bigger than they were in 2008, with average annual growth of 47% since 2010. Earlier this year we were honored to be named as an Inc. 5000 company in 2016.


 

Here’s a few of the basic parts of our annual strategy planning process:

Vision

  • It all starts here. You have to paint a picture for yourself and your employees that shows what your company is all about, and where you want to go.  This creates the CLARITY that is needed to align everyone behind the same goal.
  • Specifically, Vision includes foundational statements such as your Purpose, Mission, and Core Values
  • These don’t need to be updated every year, just reviewed and updated as needed.

Timing

  • We usually need about 4-5 weeks for our Annual Planning, including the entire process. We want to be done by mid-January so we start in early December.
  • We also do a smaller Quarterly Planning process every 3 months. For those we take about 2-3 weeks at the very end of the quarter.

People

  • In some way or another, we want to get everyone involved with our strategy planning. Great ideas and feedback can come from anywhere, so the more you involve your team the more likely you are to get not only the best result, but also a plan that everyone is committed to follow.
  • This gets a little tougher the more employees you have. With our 20 people, we have a process to allow information to flow up and down the organization and keep everyone in the loop.

Process

There is quite a bit to this now and I would be happy to share more with anyone that contacts me directly, but here are the basic steps that we follow:

  • TEAM INPUT: We ask each department/team to provide their input on PPM’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, etc…
  • LEADERSHIP OFFSITE: Our leadership team (which currently consists of 4 members) spends 2 days away from the office meeting for the sole purpose of discussing and planning the direction of PPM.  This includes things like:
    • What are the Strategic Issues facing the company right now?
    • What strengths can we leverage to capitalize on our opportunities?
    • What are our specific priorities and goals over the course of the next year?
  • OPERATING PLAN: We break down our goals into specific tasks/benchmarks that need to be completed in order to achieve that goal. There is a deadline and an owner for each task.
  • COMPANY MEETING: We hold a company-wide meeting each quarter to discuss the plan and get fired up as a team about what we are trying to accomplish.

Strategy Planning like this is definitely a lot of work, and takes discipline to devote your time to with everything else you have going on. But it is absolutely necessary if you have aspirations to grow your business into something great – which we do at PPM. And once it is done, you can feel a lot better knowing that the plan is in place and all you have to now is the easy part – EXECUTE!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

A Few Thanksgiving Thoughts

It’s 3PM on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. This has to be one of my favorite moments of the year, as I wrap up the last few tasks for the week before 4 long days of family, food, and football.  The mood in the office is fun and upbeat, as I’m sure my coworkers are feeling the same way. Several already left a few hours ago – good for them!!! I don’t envy the one driving to Palmdale right now, but I’m sure she’s excited nonetheless as she sits motionless on the 405.

As I have gotten older, I have grown to appreciate Thanksgiving more and more. When I was a kid it was definitely fun to get together with my cousins, play basketball and card games, and drink 3 gallons of soda, but I also kind of looked at it as one more obstacle on the road to the REAL holiday holy grail … Christmas. After all we “only” got 2 days off from school (but now they get the whole week – what’s up with that?), and nobody was giving us any presents. And in particular I never looked forward to the inevitable moment where my dad would start the “Thanksgiving Spellout”, where we would go around the dinner table spelling out the word “Thanksgiving” (Or “Happy Thanksgiving” if it was an especially large crowd) and each person in turn would have to announce something that they were thankful for which started with the correct letter in the spellout.  You always hoped you would get “G” cause then you could say “Granny” and get MAJOR brownie points.

Now Thanksgiving ranks right up there with 4th of July and baseball’s Opening Day for my favorite Holiday. For starters I love that it always falls on a Thursday, creating the perfect 4-day weekend respite from work.  Most other holidays just fall on whatever day they happen to fall, and therefore can be harder to really enjoy (like Halloween on a Monday). Secondly, Thanksgiving to me marks the official start of winter weather, and therefore ski season.  Did I mention it was snowing in Mammoth today? Third and most important, I am appreciating more and more the actual traditional meaning of Thanksgiving – to be filled with gratitude and THANKS for all of the blessings in my life.  I have a wonderful wife, 2 great kids, a growing business filled with amazing people, and the health and energy to approach each day with optimism. I probably don’t appreciate all that I have been given nearly enough, and so Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to slow down a bit and just enjoy how amazing life truly is.

If you are reading this, I with you a Happy Thanksgiving, and all the best in your life and the lives of your loved ones. And if you are looking for an activity for the family to enjoy around the dinner table tomorrow night – I wholeheartedly endorse the Thanksgiving Spellout.

PPM Thanksgiving Potluck Feast (11/17/16)