New Year's Resolutions
Brent J. McClendon, CAE
Executive Vice President
International Wood Products Association
I’m taking a break from raking leaves at my house to write this column on New Year’s resolutions. It is an opportunity to promise yourself that in the New Year you will be healthier, wealthier, wiser, … you get my point. The resolutions I’m offering have relevance for your business and personal life. It’s been a tough 2009. Now it’s time to dust ourselves off and march into 2010 with a new set of goals and expectations.
Social Media. The time has come for our industry to fully embrace. IWPA jumped in with two feet in 2009 by creating a fan page on FaceBook, a group on LinkedIn, a new blog, and even a Twitter site. Join the conversation or just watch from the sidelines, but either way get up-to-speed as quickly as possible. As a test to see how easy and efficient the process, we established our presence on all four sites in one day. You can too!
Embrace Technology. The potential from email marketing (e.g. Constant Contact), web-based content management software, and web-usage tracking tools (e.g. Google Analytics) greatly expands your ability to customize messages for different audiences and track the success of each initiative. Knowledge is power and the tools available today are certainly quite powerful. IWPA has completely modified our entire technology system and have seen immediate benefits.
Make your business association work. Whether you are a member of IWPA, local Chamber or some other trade association – maximize your dues investment! As an association exec, nothing is more frustrating to me than finding out about a member’s problem or question after the fact. We’re here to help your company deal with government compliance issues, marketing, networking and a host of other services.
Join your business association. Ok, so somewhat self-serving and yes, I’m quite biased. However, only through groups can we effectively make a difference with our congressional leaders and regulatory agencies. Your voice is magnified through a group whether in advocacy or marketing. IWPA’s online membership directory is receiving 1,500 unique hits / month as more and more purchasers know where to turn for their sourcing solutions and we’re seeing this number continue to swell.
Attend Conventions and Tradeshows. Times are tough no doubt. You also recognize you can’t grow by cutting. So what to do? Our approach is to take a rifle-shot focus and maximize our exposure while events where we know we can see our members and potential members. Our upcoming April 28-30, 2010 convention in Miami Beach takes that idea and puts it on steroids. Overseas delegations from around the world. Most major importers. All together under one roof. That is our formula for success and we welcome you to take advantage of this opportunity.
Compliance check. Our industry is operating under new laws and regulations. Develop a due diligence plan if you don’t already have one to compliment your purchasing policy and environmental statements. A key component for successful plans is a designated employee/owner charged with implementation and monitoring. All companies need to comply with the Lacey Act regardless of whether or not a declaration is required for a particular product. Follow up with your suppliers and continually update the background documentation you have regarding their sourcing. For Lacey Act compliance help, click here or contact IWPA directly at 703-820-6696.
Plan for the future. Plywood importers supplying California customers must comply with formaldehyde emission standards as stipulated by the California Air Resources Board. Become an expert! Keep at your finger tips the full regulation and answers to most common questions by downloading the FAQ document at www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/compwood. htm. There is new federal legislation pending to apply much of the California standard nationwide so get fully up to speed now.
Customer Service. Make it a point to talk with your customers in addition to a routine sales call. Read an interesting tweet from IWPA? Forward it. See a story for a new application for plywood in International Wood or some other magazine? Send it. Brand your company as one where the “customer comes first.”
Review, review, review. Look at all of your service contracts. Are you getting the best deal possible? We did this at IWPA and identified significant savings on health insurance, telephone and internet contracts - and even our cleaning service! Talk to your accountant and see if your business is affected by any new state or local tax plans that can save you money.
Go back to school. It is difficult to spend any money on extras, but training for yourself or your employees is an essential. There is a lot of new technology for marketing, inventory, customs, accounting, etc. that can save you money in the long run. Venues to learn are offered by community colleges, private vendors and Webinars. This is one area where IWPA is not cutting back, we’re investing in our employees. That was 10, but here is one to grow on!
Health and Fitness. Now that you have your company humming along don’t overlook the basics of your own health. Sure this is a typical New Year’s Resolution, but try to re-double your efforts this year and celebrate even small steps forward. Greater conditioning is proven to lower stress and increase energy levels. And to do all that is listed above, being in good shape will be a great asset. Wishing you a successful, rewarding and joyous 2010.
Import/Export Wood Purchasing News - October/November 2009