In October, as I was preparing for our Industry Summit meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., I came across a survey that shared that builder confidence regarding housing starts was up. The interesting part of this survey is that it had been eight months since builders had felt this same optimism. I wondered whether this optimism would be shared by the Summit's attendees, an eclectic group of large, mid-size, and small dealers from across the United States.

The good news, apparent throughout the Summit's discussions, was that even though business was off, the dealers' moods were positive and optimistic for a rebound in business in 2007.

It was interesting to hear executives speak about their vision for their company and share ideas for future growth opportunities. The true success of this Industry Summit comes from networking with others and that business owners who are so busy working for their business take the time to work on their business. They made a conscious decision to disengage from daily employee issues, customer orders, and generally hectic schedules to engage in aspirational discussions about where their companies are headed, where they anticipate roadblocks for growth, and where opportunities lie ahead.

Jason Jennings, the Summit's keynote speaker and author of It's Not the Big That Eat the Small . . . It's the Fast That Eat the Slow, focused business owners on thought processes to utilize as they direct their companies' future. Jennings believes all CEOs should ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is the real potential for the business unit?
  • Do you need to be offering other products/services to achieve your full potential?
  • Would offering other products/services take your eye off the ball?
  • What is your real BIG objective; how quickly can it be achieved?
  • What additional human and financial resources would be required to achieve your big objective?
  • Do you have access to those resources?
  • What would you do with the wealth created?
  • What are you willing to invest (time, money, other resources) to achieve it?
  • Do you have the right people in the right positions to achieve the big objective?
  • How many more customers do you need to achieve the big objective?
  • What does each customer need to spend in order to achieve the big objective?
  • Is the world changing faster on the outside than you're changing on the inside?
  • Are there divisions/departments/products or service lines that should be dumped?