By Verne Harnish
BE-CI works in a field that provides an essential service most people don’t think much about: building envelope consulting. Its team keeps buildings watertight and energy-efficient.
The company, based in Destin, Fla., and founded in 1995 had grown to $3 million in annual revenue with 21 employees by 2014 when CFO Mike Fell, whose father had founded the family-run company, came across Scaling Up: Rockefeller Habits 2.0.
The owners wanted to scale but challenge in communication on the leadership team were slowing growth. Fell reached out to Scaling Up Certified coach Doug Wick at Positioning Systems to get help in applying the book’s principles, after reading Wick’s blog.
“We had a vision of wanting to grow in the vein of Jim Collins’ 20-Mile March,” recalls CEO Joseph Ferrell, who is one of four owners of the company. The 20-Mile March is a concept in which companies set a rigorous performance mark they are determined to hit consistently, like marching across the country by hiking 20 miles a day, as a way to prevail during turbulence.
Working with Wick, the leadership team overcame its challenges and grew to $10.7 million in revenue last year with 67 employees. With 11 offices throughout the Southeast, including a new one in Miami, it is now expanding to the West. “They established the clarity and harmony they needed to really spread their wings and fly,” says Wick.
Here is how they achieved their goals, using the Scaling Up system.
Bringing the leadership team together
One of the first things Wick did to get the company on track was to help the leadership team put the structure in place necessary to moving ahead rapidly. The first step was establishing regular meeting rhythms, such as a daily huddle for the leadership team, and making sure there were clear lines of accountability.
Given the communication challenges going on—a problem that is not uncommon in family businesses—Wick also had the team read Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Once the group worked on building better communication, the team was able to function more cohesively. “We achieved a level of harmony like we never have before,” says Ferrell.
Uniting around core values
Although BE-CI was operating around certain core values, these were mostly unstated. Wick led the team through a discussion about which ones mattered most. They agreed that People, Knowledge, Servant and Balance would be their focus. Being clear on what the core values are helped foster better decision-making.
“Those core values were always there but you have to put a name to them,” says Ferrell.
Creating a culture of execution
During discussions with Wick, BE-CI’s team realized that the number one thing their team could do to gain and retain customers was getting in front of them. Setting up repeatable site visits, where they would have an opportunity to sell their services, was key.
Working with Wick, the leadership team set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of 162,500 site visits by 2030. To make sure every employee moved forward on the goals that fed into this bigger goal, BE-CI recently rolled out digital scoreboards that sit on every employees’ desk, allowing them to see how everyone in the company is doing toward meeting their goals for the year. Each employee was assigned a ‘winning number’–a metric that moved the company towards its goals. “This helped us focus the company and align our efforts in order for us to hit our BHAG,” says Ferrell.
Keeping cash flowing
Staying focused on the BHAG of achieving more site visits allowed BE-CI’s team to keep the business’s finances strong. “Doug helped us see that it results in profit,” says Ferrell. “That helped us galvanize our focus and decide where we needed to spend our marketing and training budget.”
As Ferrell came to see it, “Cash gives us oxygen—and options.” And with the company continuing to use the Scaling Up system, its leadership team is fortunately in a strong position to continue funding its growth.