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Winter marks a good time for contractors to gauge how their business is doing. It’s a time to plan a focus for the new year before production in spring ramps up.

Adam Linnemann, owner and consultant with The Green Executive and founder of Linnemann Lawn Care & Landscaping in Waterloo, Illinois, says performing a SWOT analysis is a simple way to gauge how the business is doing.

He recommends contractors start each year with a SWOT, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strengths: Things your business is good at

Weaknesses: Things your business struggles with

Opportunities: Areas where your business could expand

Threats: Things that could negatively impact your business now or in the future

“I recommend doing this yearly. This gives everybody an idea of where they stand in the company and what needs to be worked on,” Linnemann says. “Identify areas of waste within the company and start your improvement there.”

To perform a SWOT analysis, Linnemann says to set aside one day with the entire company to sit down and talk about the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. He recommends contractors get everyone in the company involved, including the owner, foremen, office personnel and crew members. Let everyone share his opinion during the analysis. This helps to give a full picture of the pros and cons facing the company. It also promotes camaraderie among employees, making them feel included in the company’s decision and direction for the new year.

“By including everyone, someone new we brought on in the last year might have a great idea of an add-on service or a new location to show us new opportunities,” he says.

For unbiased results, Linnemann says contractors should appoint a third-party person or company to run the SWOT analysis. This will help to keep the meeting on track and to promote out-of-the-box ideas. A third-party person or company could be an industry consultant, a professor or business management expert. However, a third-party person or company should also have some knowledge on the green industry to provide the best feedback.

In his experience, Linnemann said SWOT analyses have often provided him with useful insight.

“There have been some good decisions on dropping services that were quite frankly not our niche through these meetings and stop chasing those services,” Linnemann says. “We were able to identify weaknesses to focus more time on strengths instead.”