Posts Tagged ‘Tom Sponsel’

Client Profile: ProSource Wholesale

When Dave Grande took over as the owner of ProSource Wholesale of Indianapolis, he had no experience in the commercial and residential renovation industry. But he hit the ground running and helped the franchise business continue to grow as one of North America’s largest trade-only wholesale suppliers for commercial and home improvement projects.

Established in 1991, ProSource boasts more than 140 showrooms across the U.S. and Canada. Grande owns the franchise rights to the entire metro Indianapolis area, overseeing three showrooms that offer flooring, kitchen and bath products for builders, remodelers, real estate agents and other trade professionals.

After 28 years as a manufacturer’s representative in the machining industry, Dave took a risk and jumped onboard the ProSource team, buying the first north Indianapolis location from his wife’s former neighbor in the spring of 2005.

Tom Sponsel immediately sprung to Grande’s mind when he was in the process of financially positioning himself to purchase the location.

“Tom and I go way back,” Grande said. “We went to Cathedral High School together. He was the first guy I called, and I’m so glad I did. Sponsel CPA Group was extremely instrumental in helping us acquire the business. Their relationship with the local banks persuaded people to take a chance and give us the loans we needed to start.”

After overcoming the economic downturn of the housing industry in the mid-2000s, Grande went on to open two more Indianapolis locations, one of which is currently managed by his son.

Sponsel CPA Group is proud to play a role in helping Grande run this growing family business.

Click here for more information about ProSource Wholesale.

How to Avoid Retirement Anxiety

By Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner
tsponsel@sponselcpagroup.com 

It’s never too early to start thinking about retirement. What’s especially important to consider is the fact that it’s different for everyone. It doesn’t have to mean a life of hanging out on the golf course or lounging in the sun. You may find yourself busier in your retirement than you were in the working world. Retirement can be whatever you want it to be!

The thought of retiring can also be overwhelming, as it marks the start of a whole new lifestyle for you and your loved ones. Don’t allow the status quo expectations of retirement at age 65 corner you into a decision that you are not ready to make. You need to not only include financial planning in your plan but also activity planning so you don’t become bored!  In order to avoid retirement anxiety, here’s a checklist of questions you should consider as you start the planning process.

  • When do you want to retire?
  • What are the major steps you need to take to prepare for retirement? (Who will take over your responsibilities in your business? Are you financially prepared? Are you mentally prepared?)
  • What are the main things you want to do with your free time? (Make a list of 5-10 activities.)
  • Do you want to move your homestead?
  • Do you want to travel?
  • What are your spouse’s needs/wants post-retirement? Are you in agreement?

If you are a business owner, you may not want to walk away entirely. Think about how active and involved you want to remain. Consider stepping down and taking on a lighter advisory role. Maybe limit your time in the office to one or two days a week.

Most importantly, don’t let retirement sneak up on you. Be proactive and intentional. Retirement anxiety comes from lack of consideration and preparation. So be sure to plan ahead of time and craft a crystal-clear vision of what you (if applicable — your spouse) want your retired life to look like. Also, be realistic. Know your limitations and be conscious of when it’s time for you to take a break from the business world. And make sure that break is exactly what you want it to be!

For further advice on preparing for retirement or assistance with your personal and business affairs, please contact Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email tsponsel@sponselcpagroup.com.

Focus on the Long-Term Vision

By Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner
tsponsel@sponselcpagroup.com 

Convincing stakeholders (employees, managers, shareholders, vendors and customers) to invest resources in your business can be a daunting task, especially if you are focusing on a Long-Term Vision over numerous operating business cycles. Staying committed to building a company isn’t always easy, as the day-to-day headaches can get in the way of the leader’s vision! But with a little time, perseverance, focus of a committed team and faith, you can work toward creating a consistent pattern of growth and keeping your stakeholders committed and energized!

In order to keep growing as a company, it’s important for everyone involved to never lose sight of the BIG PICTURE — that vision thing! Look beyond the ever-moving peaks and valleys of your place in your respective marketplace and focus on goals for the future. Perseverance is the key. The Stock Market ebbs and flows, but in the closely held business world, don’t get distracted by what goes on in the Publicly Traded Company world. Always be aware and vigilant over the macro-economic environment, but focus on the Key Performance Indicators for your respective industry and most importantly your business enterprise.

A good start is to develop a three-to-five-year plan. Determine the most essential resources you’ll need to reach the level of success you desire and have planned for. Outline your goals and the course of action you will take to achieve them. Establish a timeline with milestones to measure your progress. Share your vision with all your stakeholders and set realistic expectations. Remind them that the seeds of investments take time to germinate. The most beautiful flowers don’t bloom right away, so to speak.

Building a business takes patience and a positive attitude. Don’t let minor setbacks get you down. You’re bound to hit a few bumps on the road toward a bright future. Allow your LONG-TERM vision to be your “Guiding Light!”

If we can assist you with achieving success in your business or personal affairs, please contact Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email tsponsel@sponselcpagroup.com.

Responsibility Breeds Motivation

By Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner
TSponsel@sponselcpagroup.com 

Every good manager knows that the key to improving productivity is to hire talented people with skill sets that are commensurate with the needs of the workforce. But as a business grows and more managers are necessary to supervise a larger number of employees, breakdowns can sometimes occur when it comes to delegating responsibility.

Good delegation requires adequate orientation to the task or duty, timely follow-up, meeting deadlines and holding the delegate accountable for the quality of the project. Where managers become frustrated is when they do not see the results they wanted at the end of the process.

A mistake often made is when the supervisor takes the project back and completes it himself or herself. While it may serve as a quick-fix, it only increases the burden on the manager, reducing their capacity to act in a supervisory mode. And it sends the message to the employee that they do not have your trust.

While it’s tempting to blame problems on a lack of drive on the part of the employee, in my experience responsibility actually breeds motivation. The majority of workers desire to do well in their endeavors, and will raise their level of performance to meet higher expectations.

The secret is that the delegation of authority must be performed in a way where the employee is held accountable to the level of expectations. When a project is turned in with sub-par results, the manager should explain where their work is lacking and have them fix what’s wrong, rather than the manager allowing it to boomerang back to them to fix or complete.

Good management is in many ways a teaching process, and that takes time and patience. By omitting the learning experience that comes with timely feedback and accountability, a supervisor is only setting the employee up for more failure.

I believe that when employees know they are solely responsible for the delegated project and that you’re depending on them to deliver at a commensurate level and on a timely basis, they will become more motivated to meet those expectations.

If you really want to motivate your staff, you should delegate liberally, providing clearly defined expectations and giving employees the autonomy they need to complete a task. And let them know they’ll be held accountable to that prescribed high standard.

The only way to build a capable and qualified staff that will help your company grow is by investing your trust in them, so managers feel comfortable delegating important duties, and employees are properly motivated to deliver polished returns.

In the end, you’ll find you have a stronger team of employees, a less frustrated manager, and a culture of coaching that workers will pass on as they move up the chain.

If we can assist you with achieving success in your business or personal affairs, please contact Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email tsponsel@sponselcpagroup.com.

Does Your Business Have Any ‘Broken Windows?’

Tom SponselBy Tom Sponsel, CPA/ABV, CFF
Managing Partner

You may have heard of the “broken windows” theory, but probably in connection with politics and law enforcement. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani famously employed this philosophy in the 1990s to clean up his city.

The basic idea of broken windows, which was first introduced by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson in The Atlantic in 1982, is that if you let the little problems slip, like broken windows, vandalism and rampant graffiti, bigger problems eventually become insurmountable. Ignoring tiny errors or mistakes, invites ambivalence to much larger problems!!

Some years later author Michael Levine adapted the theory to the business world in his book, Broken Windows, Broken Business: How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards. His take was that if you let the little things degrade in your operation, particularly how you treat your customers, it will eventually impact the entire company.

When problems go unaddressed, they tend to repeat themselves. Soon a mistake becomes standard operating procedure. That sets the bar even lower for other areas of your operations. Employees start to take less pride in what they do, impacting productivity and morale. Clients notice they aren’t getting the level of customer service they’re accustomed to, and begin to look for other partnerships.

Say you’re walking by a restaurant and you’re hungry. You notice the windows are so dirty you can hardly see inside. Would you want to go in? Or you do enter and notice there is flaking paint and chipped plaster on the walls near the cooking area. Does the grumbling in your stomach suddenly stop?

Even though these things may have no impact on the quality of the meal you receive, they send a signal to customers — that management doesn’t care about the details and makes you wonder what else are they cutting short and ignoring a commitment to quality.

Transfer the example to a professional office setting. Is the carpet in the reception area worn? Is there nobody manning the front desk, or the person there seems disengaged and bored? Do your employees dress and behave in a professional manner? When people call your office, are they put on hold for long periods with an automated message telling them, Your call is very important to us?”

If you are the owner or manager of a business, you have to take on an almost obsessive-compulsive personality when it comes to how the organization runs on a daily basis. You must manage the organization in a very meticulous, deliberate way so that any problems are quickly discovered and addressed.

Take the initiative to see your company from the perspective of a current or potential customer. Are they getting the experience they want from the engagement? Are there shortcomings, even minor ones that could be remedied to improve how they view your organization and their overall experience in interacting with your company?

The best way to determine how people see your business is to ask your customers. Reach out to them for feedback from time to time, and ask them to report flaws in what you do. Invite constructive criticism—to make your operation BETTER!! Some industries even use secret shoppers or other monitoring services to report back with unfiltered information you can use.

We can apply the broken windows idea to virtually every aspect of a business. Is your website up to date and easy to use on every platform? Is it simple for people to find and contact your company? Is the method for receiving incoming inquiries monitored constantly and professionally?

In finding the little flaws in your business – and keeping them from becoming big ones – the secret is to think about the type of brand you want to build for your organization, and then work to make it reality. Envision the customer service experience you want your customers to have, then find out if that’s what they are actually getting. As the owner– it is OK to be OCD about customer service and your customer’s experience!!

If you find there are any broken windows in your business, even teeny cracks the customer can’t yet see, fix them quickly before they become the new normal. Duct tape may keep the glass from shattering, but replacement allows the customer to enjoy the experience.

If you need any advice about how to find and fix any issues challenging your organization, please call Tom Sponsel at (317) 608-6691 or email TSponsel@sponselcpagroup.com.

 

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