2017 YEAR –END REVIEW AND PLANNING

By now you probably have a good idea of your year-end numbers.  As you look back over your year, take the time to list what worked – and what didn’t. Here are a few recommendations to help you review 2017 so you can plan for 2018

  1. Profitability: Where were you most profitable? Where were you least profitable?  I would look at
    • Service line or division or department – You should easily be able to compare your different divisions. Total sales is not your only indicators! You want to compare AFTER your job expenses including field labor (cost of goods). If you use the Class tracking in QuickBooks, which I highly recommend, comparing divisions will be easy!
    • Type of customer – If you review your customer list and start looking for patterns as to the type, you may find you really like some and would love to drop others and your numbers support your decision. Some ideas for type could include residential, commercial, builder, HOA’s, property management, government, age or other demographics.  QuickBooks can help you track this easily. Identifying the type of customer(s) you like (besides those who pay quickly ;-) will also simplify your marketing.
    • Location – Are you finding a certain municipality or county or subdivision or… hasn’t been profitable? Or maybe it’s been a gold mine for you. Perhaps it’s time to consider moving to a new location so you’re more centrally located or it’s been so profitable it’s time to consider a second location.
    • Type of jobs – Over time you’ll find that there are certain types of jobs you enjoy, are more profitable, easier to estimate.  Maybe you decide certain types of jobs you will no longer do because you lose money on them or you just really don’t want that type of work or that they’re too small – or too large.  I know many are often afraid of turning away projects, but if you underestimate your costs or the crews are inefficient, you aren’t helping your business.  When you narrow the type of work you do, you’ll find it will be easier to estimate and your crews will be more efficient.  It will also be easier to market to the types of clients and jobs you prefer!
  2. Overhead: Have you reviewed your overhead costs lately?  If not, maybe it’s time!
    1. I find it’s easy to forget about payments that are automatically paid by credit card or deducted from your bank account. I know I made changes in a couple subscription plans that saved money in my own business.
    2. I’ve also seen that those using Enterprise Solutions are frequently paying more than needed – especially this year with pricing changes Intuit made. If I know you use Enterprise, I make it a point to reach out to make sure you have a plan that fits your needs – often I can get payments reduced.  If we haven’t spoken, let me know – I can find out what your current plan is and discuss whether or not there is a better option.
  3. Staffing: Were there changes in staffing? Consider both out in the field and in the office. Sometimes a new employee could be a reason to add or drop something. For example, a new employee with certain skills may suggest you’d like to use more of those skills, which could mean different jobs or different clientele.
  4. Time: Many of you are conscious of time out in the field, but what about office time? I find few companies clock how long it takes to do office tasks and often there are inefficiencies.
    • Are you still doing paper time sheets or using the old punch time cards for employees to clock in/out? Maybe it’s time to go mobile – there are lots of good products out on the market – of course some better than others!
    • Are you entering data in one place and then some version of that same data in a second place (like a spreadsheet and then in QuickBooks – or vice versa)? Could there be a way to integrate the data so you don’t have double-entry resulting in saving time?
    • Are you doing work-arounds? Maybe it’s time to re-assess – can it be done in QuickBooks or will an add-in product solve your problem?
    • Are you running reports in Excel? If so, is that because you can’t get that information from QuickBooks? I frequently find that setup and lack of training are key reasons you’re not getting some of the reports you want/need from your software and hence using Excel to generate the report.
    • Are reports taking a long time to run? Perhaps there’s some file maintenance that needs to be done or upgrade in computers or networks. Slow computers add to your labor costs as people sit and wait – including you!
    • Are there faster ways to get your work done? Unless you live and breathe QuickBooks like I do, you might find there are features and/or “tricks” to get the information you want that you don’t know about.
    • Sometimes it pays to talk to a professional and I’m happy to take a look and discuss your situation.
  5. Software: Is your current software solution still a good fit for you?
    • QuickBooks Whenever I’m working with clients I start with discussing what version of QuickBooks you’re using and your pain points. Sometimes QuickBooks can do what you want – you just didn’t know it could or how to get the results you wanted.  If your current version won’t do all you want, we discuss pros/cons of keeping what they have, upgrading and/or getting an add-on product.  I recommend having a needs list and a wish list.  Most times, you won’t find something that fits all of your needs and wishes so you have to decide what’s most important – and that’s unique to your business.
    • Add-ons –Is it time to add a 3rd party product to solve for one or more of your pain points? Add-ons come in 2 “flavors”
      • Task specific – these often solve 1 issue – e.g time tracking, payroll, estimating, CRM, etc.
      • Industry specific products typically solve for more than one pain point within your industry, will use your lingo because they “understand” you. You’ll find that add-ons have differences so there’s no “one-size fits all” solution – you will still have to decide which one best fits your business.
      • And of course, I always want to know how the products integrate with QuickBooks; that’s one reason why I like the Intuit add-ons because I know the integration will be good. If job costing is important, there are better ways than others for those job costs to come in to your QuickBooks if you want to maximize the reporting in QuickBooks.

If you need help either getting this data or wondering how to adjust your setup and/or procedures, let me know – I’ll be happy to work with you

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