Let’s Get Planning For a Successful (and More Predictable) 2021!

The weeks following the holidays are a great time to evaluate the business and set goals for financial, marketing and employee performance.

Let’s Get Planning For a Successful (and More Predictable) 2021!

Jeff and Terri Wigley

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

Answer: Last month we examined our suggested “year-end planning” for December. The major components and descriptions of this plan were:

Year-end planning encompasses the following major components:

1. Exploring tax planning strategies

2. Reviewing the company policy manual

3. Reviewing employee performance plans

4. Conducting employee reviews

5. Evaluating employee benefits

6. Reviewing all insurance plans

7. Performing a physical inventory

This month we will discuss the items that can be addressed, analyzed and acted upon after the close of business on Dec. 31, 2020.

JANUARY BEGINNING OF THE YEAR PLANNING SUGGESTIONS:

1. Examining year-end financials

2. Assembling documents for tax preparation

3. Comparing previous year’s goals with expectations and results

4. Creating goals for the coming year

5. Planning attendance at industry trade shows (in-person or virtual)

6. OSHA 300 log preparation for Feb. 1 posting

7. Updating license renewal dates and certifications for the year 

    (for the company and employees)

8. Begin 2021 marketing and sales contacts for 2021 

    (particularly in the struggling event marketplace)  

Examining year-end financials — How did the company financially perform in the unprecedented and uncertain year of 2020? First, examine the absolute bottom line of the business, “net income.” Did the company make money or lose money for the year? If the company consists of different product lines, business units or services, examine the financial information of each unit as a standalone entity. Did one unit out-perform another? Did another underperform below expectations? This knowledge can help to identify areas of strength, areas of concern and, possibly, areas that could be downsized or eliminated. Use a Certified Public Accountant to help compare the financial goals with results. As an outside party, their analysis is purely numbers based but that is the information needed to make decisions and to set goals for 2021.

Assembling documents for tax preparation — Some PROs will combine the previous year’s financial interpretation CPA meeting with the opportunity to discuss the previous year’s tax return, traditionally due on March 15, 2021 — COVID-19 notwithstanding. Employee W2, 1099 and other documents are due to be sent to employees, contractors and other appropriate entities by Jan. 31.  Beginning this process in early to mid-January will ease the pressure of compiling this information in March when you should be concentrating on sales.

Comparing previous year’s goals with expectations and results — Financial goals should be only a portion of the company’s yearly goals. Employee growth and performance, customer satisfaction reviews, and marketing and sales goals are often established by PROs.

 Employee growth and performance — How did employees perform amid the chaos, confusion, uncertainty and pressure of 2020? Should some employees be considered for additional responsibilities and possible promotion? Could certain company policies and procedures be altered to encourage improvement and employee satisfaction?

 Customer satisfaction — Surveys, online reviews, phone calls (outgoing or incoming) or other customer comments are vital to the success of the business. Were your customers satisfied with the performance of the company in 2020 given the fact emergency orders, urgent deliveries and critical services were “the standard” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Did working from home satisfy your customers? Do any procedural or technological changes need to be made going forward?

 Marketing and sales — Did particular strategies prove effective/ineffective? Continue the successful strategies, perhaps social media advertising, and discontinue ineffective strategies, such as mass mailings or mass email blasts.

Creating goals for the coming year — Once the previously described analysis is complete, what should the goals for 2021 include? Remember, these should be clearly defined and measurable. Employee involvement is a key element in this process as well. Employees will strive to achieve and to overachieve in goals that they have had input. Establish goals in the financial, employee, customer and marketing and sales areas.

Planning attendance at industry trade shows — These gatherings of industry experts and fellow PROs afford the opportunity to see new products, establish new business friendships and contacts, take advantage of educational opportunities, and present an accurate view of the state of the industry, both now and in the immediate future. Traditionally, the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show in Indianapolis and the PSAI Convention and Trade Show are the major events that PROs should strongly consider. Please refer to their websites for additional information.

OSHA 300 log preparation for Feb. 1 posting — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement is sometimes overlooked by companies and the penalties can be rather severe. The 300 log is a listing of all reportable injuries and illnesses that were job related from the previous year. This document is posted in a “common area or prominent location” for employees and any licensing or other government personnel to view and to review. The OSHA 300 log is posted from Feb. 1 to April 30. Compiling and verifying this information in early January can also lead to possible safety goals for the new year.

Updating license renewal dates and certifications (for company and employees) — With the focus on company evaluation in January, renewals and certifications should also be reviewed.  When does your company’s business license renew? When do applicable federal or state Department of Transportation annual inspections of vehicles expire? Are there renewals of waste hauler permits?                     

Employee individual renewals for drivers’ licenses, CDL certification, DOT Medical Cards and other industry educational certificates should be reviewed with deadlines noted. Some PROs will make copies of the driver’s license and CDLs to ensure all are valid and in compliance. Obtaining the most current Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) from each driver in January is another way to ensure uniformity of record keeping and make sure all drivers are following governmental and insurance requirements. Furthermore, creating a log that lists the various deadlines for renewal is an effective way to avoid future fines and penalties.

While route service technicians have the majority of individual permits and licenses, do not forget the administrative team! If you have a notary public on site, when does that need to renew? CPR training needs to be renewed on occasion. One last safety item to consider is the annual inspection of fire extinguishers and, in some instances, smoke alarms.

Begin 2021 marketing and sales contacts for 2021 — Just as customer communication was vital in 2020, this year will most likely be similar. With virtually a nonexistent special events marketplace last year, begin to contact your customer base to ascertain their plans for 2021. By doing this, you expand the communication pathway with these customers and, hopefully, ensure a partnership with them that will lead to their future business.        

FINAL THOUGHTS:

As with last month’s column, we merely present suggestions based on best business practices in our industry. We wish everyone a happy 2021 as we seemed to have failed at that in 2020!  



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