How To Set Up & Run A MIX® Group Meeting

By Martin Hoover
Empire Heating & Air Conditioning 
Member, 20K MIX® Group


Our MIX® Group had a great meeting in Kansas City last month. James and Terri Gallet with Envirotech were our hosts and did an excellent job of setting up the meeting by arranging meals, facilities, and had an agenda for the group.

Preparation for our fall MIX Group meeting actually begins during our spring meeting. We always decide on the location and dates in advance. The host arranges for a block of rooms and the meeting location well in advance, so that all the members can make travel arrangements at their convenience. 

The group uses a common reporting format for financial information. For a fall meeting we report on the previous 12-months, ending June 30. Each member is responsible for inputting their numbers in a shared file, so we can determine KPI and financial performance. We report on many levels including:

  • Production per person - technician, and installer
  • Production per available man hour
  • Financial ratios
  • Working capital
  • Age of accounts payable and accounts receivable, etc.

In addition to the current 12-month period, Dan Weis of Weis Comfort Systems, Inc., also created a multi-year report for each member of the group so that trends, growth, and opportunities are clearly defined.

The 20K MIX group members also submit a state of the company report by each company. This document is a summary of overall operations for the selected period and typically spells out the challenges and opportunities of the reporting period.

Critical issues for each company are also submitted well in advance of the meeting. These reports allow each of us to know the issues our peers are experiencing, and make suggestions on how to overcome challenges we are faced with. A MIX Group is an indispensable resource that is built on trust, confidentiality, and a willingness to want to help others in the industry succeed.

In order to get all the preparation together and keep our meetings on track, we use a meeting facilitator. Using a facilitator has allowed us to be more productive and make the most of our time together -  It’s amazing how off track a group of type A personalities can get when discussing a topic. I would highly recommend using a facilitator once a MIX Group is established 

Our basic format for meetings:

Monday: We all arrive for a quick meeting to recap objectives for the host.

Tuesday: We do an onsite visit at the host's business and evaluate their strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. We return to our meeting location and work out a plan and present it to the host business owner.

An amazing aspect of this exercise is how often we can see issues in another company that we are blind to in our own businesses. We then take care of the logistics for our next meeting and set goals for the next six months.

Wednesday: We cover the critical issues submitted by each member and complete a financial review of the submitted information. Often, we find we share the same issues and we work as a group to find solutions. Some of our critical issues include:

  • Setting up an operations manager position and responsibilities
  • Recruiting and retention
  • Health insurance plan used and participation levels
  • Marketing
  • Split shifts for office and field employees
  • Cyber security and details of insurance coverage

Between our bi-annual meetings, we all participate in a monthly conference call to stay current and follow the progress of our goals.

If I had to pick one single thing that has helped my business the most, year-after-year, it would be my participation in an ACCA MIX Group. I have 10 company leaders from around the country I can call on for help and advice on any topic. These men and women know every detail of my business and have for many years. They have all visited my shop, dug through my financials, checked out my company's systems and procedures, and know my people. They also know my goals and hold me accountable to achieving them.

For more information, visit ACCA MIX Groups.

 

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ACCA is a non-profit association serving more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the indoor environment and energy services community. Our member firms are the nation's most professional contracting businesses, serving residential and commercial customers in every state. With roots stretching back a century, ACCA was incorporated in its present form nearly 50 years ago. Today, ACCA sets the standards for quality comfort systems, provides leading-edge education for contractors and their employees, and fights for the interests of professional contractors throughout the nation. Learn more about ACCA here.