How to Set Goals for Contractors and Trade Businesses

a man and a woman looking at a piece of paper

Compared to some industries, you’d be forgiven for assuming that contractors and trade brands don’t use the most tech-heavy tools and platforms out there. However, you might be surprised to find out how tech-savvy the market truly is. This is especially true when contractors and tradespeople need to set cohesive, achievable business goals.

Commonly, these goals address multiple facets of the industry and are often tailored to fit specific roles, from machine operators to maintenance personnel. With the right goal-setting framework, it’s easier for these businesses to not only compete within a more saturated market but to thrive as well. Here’s how to handle goal-setting for contractors and tradespeople worldwide.

Adopt OKRs early and efficiently.


OKR, which stands for objectives and key results, is a commonly applied framework used by global brands and major enterprises. OKRs help brands avoid common goal-setting bottlenecks and breakdowns while limiting downtime. Your metrics, or your key results, operate similarly to KPIs. However, where KPIs are often focused on quantitative data, OKRs are usually more qualitative. For most instances, organizations will have anywhere from three to five high-level objectives at a given time and three to five key results per objective.

Most OKRs depend on common threads that include the ability to score goals objectively and key results, set stretch goals and ambitious goals, and develop measurable timelines. Timeliness, for most, is one of the most important pillars of how OKRs work. Common OKRs include quarterly growth goals, preventive maintenance metrics, and continuous improvement. Due to OKRs’ reliability, it’s easier than ever to get insight into how well your brand performs.

OKRs also functions across your entire organization but can break down all the way to the individual level. There are also departmental OKRs that help track key results for varied teams, such as your maintenance team, machine operators, or quality assurance representatives. Since OKRs have such distinct applications, it makes sense that contractors and tradespeople depend on them to set more effective goals. OKRs help boost team alignment, improve your work environment, and track quality maintenance. No matter how you schedule OKRs throughout your brand, they must exist. While you can track KPIs alone, sole KPIs won’t provide the insights that key results do.

If you’ve never used OKRs before, you’re in luck. The OKR framework lends itself to templates and examples. Some platforms allow you to rework templates within the OKR framework and streamline maintenance tasks or maintenance activities for your goal. OKRs make for smoother progress reports and are invaluable for your company strategy and your workflow.

Contractors and tradespeople think proactively.

Productivity loss is but one major loss amidst a market filled with them. Even with good OKRs to track ongoing progress, it’s also important to invest in proactive maintenance and management concepts. This can lead to sustainable improvement across your business and benefit the manufacturing process so that reactive maintenance can’t. Instead, taking a proactive approach means contractors are better equipped to make effective decisions, address client needs, and pivot as local markets demand.

Many trades include 5S best practices to streamline varied processes across their businesses. Top names also depend on total productive maintenance (TPM) to make goals more readily achievable and develop a proactive stance to anticipate ongoing business needs. The TPM process works to reduce common bottlenecks that can hamper your goals. While the TPM process can’t guarantee zero accidents, total productive maintenance on each piece of equipment strives to reduce accidents, much like total quality management (TQM) strives for reducing defects and common manufacturing pitfalls.

With a combination of these two approaches, you’re able to ensure that your business can run smoothly. Instead of losing production time to reactive equipment maintenance, slow changeover, reduced equipment availability, and other issues, you can use TQM and TPM implementation to benefit your technicians, administrators, and everyone else, from reliable engineers to maintenance staff.

Goal setting often requires some finesse.


When you remove barriers to success, it’s that much easier to achieve your brand’s overall goals. While this may sound like a blanket statement, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for all contractors and tradespeople. For one business, part of the goal-setting refinement process includes early equipment management and proper equipment operation. Other businesses will focus more on addressing quality issues over the next quarter or developing a safe working environment. Goals can be at the individual level or the company level, as long as they’re in place and have value.

By setting company goals, TPM goals, and KPI tracking methods, you’re empowering your team members, focusing on upkeep, and setting your business up for success. While it’s okay to hover around the baseline, most businesses want to thrive. To boost employee engagement, impress stakeholders, and remove common workplace bottlenecks, it’s important that you set smart, effective, and achievable goals.

Ahmed Guillen leads OI's editorial staff. He is passionate about professional development and helping our readers navigate starting and enhancing their businesses and investments.

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