7 Steps to Closing Out a Successful Year as a Restroom Provider

‘Tis the season for setting employee objectives, evaluating insurance coverage, tax-planning strategies and reviewing worker benefits.

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Question: As new business owners, what advice can you share regarding end-of-year planning?

Answer: Our industry has fundamentally changed in 2020 and we need to be aware of this novel situation and continue to react accordingly.

Year-end planning encompasses the following major components:

1. Exploring tax planning strategies

2. Reviewing employee performance plans

3. Conducting employee reviews

4. Evaluating employee benefits

5. Reviewing all insurance plans

6. Performing a physical inventory

7. Examining year-end financials

8. Assembling documents for tax preparation

9. Comparing previous year’s goals with expectations

10. Creating goals for the coming year

Given the many new and unique challenges this year, this question will be most effectively answered in two parts. 

PART 1: In this column we will address activities 1-6 dealing with company and employee plans as well as physical inventory as close to the end of December as is possible.

PART 2: Next month, we will discuss activities 7-10 that concern financial aspects of the business after the close of business on Dec. 31, 2020.

DECEMBER YEAR-END PLANNING SUGGESTIONS:

1.Explore tax planning strategies – A meeting in early December is an effective business strategy in managing the company’s tax obligations. You may discover there would be advantages to purchasing equipment and taking delivery in 2020 as opposed to 2021. Depending on the numbers, this could range from taking delivery of another vehicle to simply purchasing first quarter supplies in December. Results will vary, but a planning meeting with your accountant or CPA is strongly recommended.   

2. Review the company policy manual – This year has necessitated many important changes in service and administrative procedures. Make sure that your policies require daily employee questionnaires as to their health in terms of COVID symptoms well as knowledge of fellow employees that may have these symptoms.

In addition, policies should also be in place for social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE including masks, gloves and, in some instances, face shields), proper daily cleaning and sanitizing of the service vehicles as well as office, work spaces and “community areas” such as the front desk, breakrooms, office supply areas and restrooms. Common-use equipment like printers and other technology should have cleaning policies and protocols included in the company manual.

In the event of a positive COVID test, written procedures should be in place outlining back-to-work testing and procedures.  

Some PROs have also distributed their written policies on COVID to their customers.

3. Review employee performance plans – The end of the year is an excellent time to review and modify these plans if new responsibilities have been added to or removed from their job duties.

With unprecedented changes in health consciousness everywhere, it is likely additional job responsibilities have been assigned to all employees. This information should be added to these performance plans so they accurately describe the job responsibilities for each employee.  

4. Conduct employee reviews – Prepare employees for the year to come in terms of evaluation and feedback. With such a challenging year, more positive feedback, where warranted, is an excellent tool in maintaining morale and motivation after a year of hard work and ever-changing demands and responsibilities.

As part of the review process, many PROs also work with employees to establish work-related goals for the coming year. Certain incentives for obtaining these goals could be established.  

5. Evaluate employee benefits – This is an excellent time to review with your financial advisor concerning the performance of any company financial benefits such as an IRA, SIMPLE lRA, SEP plan or a stock plan. Do any changes need to be made in the coming year? Should any new benefit plans be added? Are these plans optional to the employees? If there are employer matching benefits, does the matching percentage need to be adjusted? This yearly meeting with your financial advisor is important and it strengthens the business relationship.

6. Evaluate all insurance plans – Although renewal dates may vary, as you are analyzing and evaluating your entire business, taking the time to review insurance rates, claims, and terms and conditions from the past year is worthwhile. Evaluate all insurance policies including general liability, health, vehicle and workers compensation.

Also consider product liability insurance, key person insurance, inland marine insurance (for equipment that is stored on your property) and, building and property insurance, among others. If you would like to shop for new policies or providers, you would want to do this well in advance of your actual renewal date during the calendar year

7. Perform a physical inventory – The inventory process can be made less laborious by establishing an organized plan on which employees have been trained. An actual inventory in late December is strongly suggested as tax filing documents require inventory levels as of Dec 31.

Such a plan might include categorizing the equipment and creating a detailed inventory form for all employees participating in this process to complete. Everyone should be knowledgeable as to each specific type of equipment being inventoried.

Most companies in our industry delineate between “construction” and “event” equipment. Each type of unit is then listed. For example,

 Standard units

 Units with sinks

 Crane units

 Holding tanks

 ADA units

 Handicapped-accessible units

 Sink Stations

 Hand sanitizer stands

 Restroom trailers

Finally, each of the selected types of equipment are categorized as “construction” or “event.” 

EXAMPLE: One route service technician reports 45 construction units, five event units, one ADA event unit and three construction sinks. At the end of route this information is combined with that of each route service tech and delivery team member.

On that same day, the same form is used to do a similar count in the yard. At the end of the inventory day, all equipment is counted, classified as to “construction” or “event,” and input into a spreadsheet type of application. Until year end, updates are made as the daily inventory forms are submitted.

A few special precautions: Always compare this year’s inventory to last. Be sure to consider any new equipment purchased this year as well as any equipment that was either sold or destroyed.

Your company’s inventory process will differ in specific details, but the overall concept should be similar.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

As with all information in these columns, we present suggestions based on best business practices in our industry. Next month, we will continue this topic as we propose strategies to consider in January of each year. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and happy new year!   



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