Maule: Crystal Lake Chamber laying out strategic plans

The Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce is in the process of finalizing its strategic plan.

It is a very exciting time and there are numerous fantastic ideas bubbling up from many different areas. But like all things, we face the same challenges our members face: How do I move this great idea into a tactical plan? And how do I know if it is working? 

When it comes to key performance indicators, businesses should concentrate on three critical areas: outcome, performance and process. 

• Outcome: Outcome is that point on the landscape we would like to achieve or target we are aiming for. What is it we are trying to achieve? What does success looks like? Outcome often is the easiest to identify, but it is then imperative to identify what you are striving for with measurable goals to build your business plan around. Even qualitative things can be measured. If your goal is to increase customer satisfaction, what will you be using to determine a satisfied customer? Increase in sales? Retention? Referrals? Or perhaps a before-and-after survey to gauge why your customers choose to do business with you instead of your competition. If you start with the desired outcome, you can work backward to determine the steps necessary to reach your goals. 

• Performance: Performance goals are action-oriented and have key landmarks to guide behavior. Performance goals are those metrics that measure what you will do. For example, set six appointments a month with new customers or increase dessert sales by 25 percent. Performance goals are an example of providing framework for wanted behavior.

• Process: Process provides the structure during a growth period or time of change. How do we accomplish this task and why? Process goals are the tools to achieve performance goals. They are the building blocks of long-term success, the micro steps toward significant change. They are the daily decisions that lead to lasting change. For example, adding the process of displaying dessert to all dine-in tables in an effort to increase dessert sales or creating a new script that offers an additional service to ultimately lead to an increase in revenue. 

Outcome, performance and process goals are the three-legged stool of sustainable change. The use of key performance indicators provides the structure to drive change and also the feedback, with which to manage it. More importantly, the use of these three critical goals will help you to remain focused and set priorities on how to use your limited resources of time, talent and capital.

Strategy is only an exercise if it is not married to an actionable plan that is implemented and then monitored. Process metrics help us to achieve performance goals, which lead toward attaining our identified outcomes.

We look forward to the coming months as we begin to implement our own key performance indicators to continue to satisfy our customers. We will keep you posted. 

I also would like to welcome our new members All-American Training, Clearly Brilliant Windows, First Baptist Church of Crystal Lake, Lifestyle Fitness Institute, Money Mailer of the Far NW Suburbs, Pep Boys, USANA Health Sciences and Whole Life Amputee Support. We thank you and all of our members for your continued investment in the chamber. 

• Mary Margaret Maule is the president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.