Planning For Next Year and Beyond Part 1

We’ve found that the majority of shop owners do not formally plan how they’re going to grow their businesses from one year to the next, and especially beyond that. They work hard every day toward two main objectives — increased profitability and personal time away from the business, but tend to fall short in achieving both objectives due mainly to a lack of formal planning.

Most shop owners usually are so overwhelmed with day-to-day operations issues that they don’t have the time to devote to formal business planning. Part of this planning includes reviewing past performance to discover trends. This leads to establishing new goals, formulating implementation processes, and monitoring the progress of achieving the new goals.

One method of getting started is to schedule time to devote to the planning process. One of the most widely used methodologies by both small and large businesses is taking business retreats. This lets you get away from the stress of daily operations to focus on the planning process, and enjoy yourself at the same time. It also clears the heads of other staff members you choose to involve in the planning process.

Once you decide to implement the process of formal business planning, decide who you’re going to involve in the process. Schedule the dates, times, and locations for these planning meetings. While you should prepare to discuss all the important areas of your business, this article will touch on four major areas — human resources, financial trending and forecasting, marketing and business promotion, and long-range plans, meaning your plans for eventually exiting the business.

Human Resources

Many employee issues could be avoided if shop owners took the responsibility to make sure the staff knows exactly what is expected of them and holds the staff accountable for their performance.

There are many good tools that can be used to establish guidelines for behavior and expectations for performance. Among them are:

  • Detailed Job Descriptions. Job descriptions should reflect the company philosophy and describe the responsibilities, duties, and requirements for each position.
  • Skills Assessment Form. Developing a skills assessment form begins with using the job descriptions as a guide to determine the skills each employee should have. This form should be used as a hiring guide as well as a way to determine what training may be needed.
  • Employment Application. Creating a detailed employment application makes interviewing and selecting staff with desired skills and behavior much easier and significantly more accurate.
  • Employee Handbook. An employee handbook is, in essence, a set of behavior guidelines for all staff — company policies as they relate to attendance, hours of work, time off, company benefits, employee communications, cell phone use, and the use of company property such as computers, internet, tools, etc.
  • Employee Training Plans. All employees, regardless of their position, require ongoing training to remain efficient and productive. By using your skills assessment form as it applies to each position, you can determine your staff’s training requirements.
  • The industry has done a great job of sourcing, supporting, and utilizing training for its technical staff. However, shop owners still have a long way to go when it comes to training for the other staff positions — for example, training in the use of computer software/hardware for all staff, sales training for service advisors and support staff, and management training for key employees.
  • Performance and Behavior Review Form. Most shop owners do not conduct performance and behavior reviews of their employees because they’ve never been trained to do so, and do not have a specific written form that would make the job easier.
  • Nondisclosure/Noncompete Agreement. There appears to be a trend of employees quitting their jobs and starting their own businesses, often in direct competition with their former employers. In many instances they not only take other employees with them, they may take many of their previous employers’ customers as well.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, a nondisclosure/noncompete agreement, if written well by an attorney, is completely enforceable. You can begin implementing this agreement by explaining to your employees that it’s for their protection as well as for the protection of the company. After all, if any employee leaves and takes other employees and business with them, it will have a profound effect on the business and remaining staff. With proper explanation, most employees will see the value in such an agreement, and would be very willing to sign one.

Your employees are your company’s most important and valuable resource you can use to achieve the level of success you want for your business. Part of your planning for next year should include sourcing these tools and the training necessary to properly implement them. Without happy, healthy, and productive employees, you’ll find it very difficult to reach those objectives that are important to you.

Next time, join us as we continue to explore planning for the future, and we delve into Financial Trending & Forecasting, and more!

Written by RLO Training